The world of super-luxury cars is evolving fast. While a few years ago we had high-end car manufacturers offering bespoke services mostly for interiors and paint jobs, we are seeing a shift towards high-end manufactured coachbuilt cars by “mainstream” car brands again. Like in the early days of the automobile, more and more brands are now offering full bespoke services. The most recent announcement came from Rolls Royce, which said it would return to the glorious days of coachbuilt cars. To back up that claim, the famous Spirit of Ecstasy presented the Rolls Royce Boat Tail, the most expensive new car you can buy. Oh, and it comes with a bespoke Bovet 1822 watch!
Rolls Royce has a long history of fully bespoke or coachbuilt cars. And while you can still pretty much request whatever you like on the interior and exterior in terms of colours or trim, coachbuilt cars are a whole different ballgame. This means one-off or highly limited cars, mostly handmade bodies, to very specific demands of a client willing to shell out a huge sum of money.
In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of the one-off, handmade body on top of an existing chassis with ample amount of custom work, ready to cater for the ultra-rich. Usually, these kinds of project cars are done by a third-party coachbuilder like Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera or Zagato and not by the actual manufacturer of the car. Of course, the influence of brands like Bugatti is huge, however small this segment may be. Bugatti has managed to create a line of one-off interpretations of the Veyron and Chiron and find clients for those very cars even if they cost far more than the already staggering prices of the “standard” cars.
Rolls Royce’s return to this dwindling art of the automotive world is, to me at least, pretty big news! And the car that backs up that statement is quite impressive. It may not be to everyone’s liking, and there are certainly some questionable elements, but it is striking. The car is called the Rolls Royce Boat Tail – another hint to a long-gone style – and it is currently the world’s most expensive car money can buy. But what is it exactly?
Well, it is the ultimate grand touring convertible ever made, period. And there’s not just one, but three of these cars made according to Rolls Royce, each one probably to match client specifications. The Rolls Royce Boat Tail is a six-metre long car, based on the platform of the Phantom, already a sizeable machine and perhaps the best car Rolls Royce has ever made. It is said to also include the twin-turbo V12 from the Phantom (thus with BMW origins), which would mean it makes 563bhp, but there’s no word yet if Rolls Royce has modified this. Digging into the statistics, a whopping 1813 new and bespoke parts had to be made.
For the Boat Tail, Rolls Royce has drawn inspiration from J-Class yachts and vintage Rolls Royce cars with a similar Boat Tail styling. What “Boat Tail” implies is that the rear section of the car’s bodywork is shaped like the rear deck of a boat. Basically, a sloping body that rounds off towards the back, with styling elements straight out of the world of sailing. This was a style that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s, with plenty of carmakers playing around with the concept. The most famous example is the 1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster, but there are plenty more along the same lines. Brands like Talbot, Delahaye, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Bugatti, Duesenberg, Mercedes-Benz, Pierce-Arrow and Stutz made cars in this style.
The Rolls Royce Boat Tail features a distinct dark and light blue paint job and interior that extends to the wheels. The car features a new frontal facia with LED lights and that iconic vertical Rolls Royce style grill. A chrome lip on the bottom continues down the sides of the body to the rear section of the car. And this is where things start to get interesting, which can mean two things: interesting good or interesting bad, entirely up to you.
While the car is primarily designed as an open-top luxury tourer, Rolls Royce supplies it with a canopy roof if you want to take it out in bad weather. I can’t see this being used often as it looks to be a manually erected roof, with no room to take it with you. The “solution” is to take the tonneau cover to stretch over the interior when the car is parked (or docked).
The Boat Tail has a rear section that is styled almost exactly like a boat’s deck, even down to the wood trim. You can almost see the shape of a Riva Aquariva yacht, complete with a “stepping” platform in the lower half – what you would normally call the bumper. Underneath this deck, which is a perfectly fitting term, is the party piece of the Rolls Royce Boat Tail. At the touch of a button, the two wood panels open up to reveal the “hosting suite” underneath. This includes a double fridge, champagne flutes (branded Rolls Royce, of course), ice bucket and branded napkins. Furthermore, there is storage space for a matching set of folding chairs, cocktail tables and a folding parasol extending out from the car.
Other amenities on board are a special Montblanc pen in a handmade aluminium and leather box stored in the glove compartment, a set of umbrellas hidden in the doors and an exclusive, bespoke Bovet 1822 timepiece. Allegedly the owner(s) of this car are avid Bovet 1822 collectors. Shortly after the news of the Rolls Royce Boat Tail release, rumours emerged that Hip Hop power couple Jay Z and Beyoncé are the owners of this ridiculously expensive toy. And just how ridiculously expensive it is? Well, a cool GBP 20 million! But it’s not making a real big dent in the fortune of the two, as they are worth over a billion dollars together.
And what about that watch? Rolls Royce has worked on the car for about four years, all the while in close collaboration with Bovet. In return, Bovet has been developing a pair of his-and-hers watches per request of the car owner. The result is a pair of watches with many details connecting them with the car. For instance, a dial made with Caleidolegno wood marquetry shaped to resemble the grill of the Rolls Royce with its vertical slats, or a miniaturised version of the car on the reverse side of the watch. And in true Rolls Royce fashion, a hand-carved and engraved 18k white gold ‘Spirit of Ecstacy’ is placed in the lower half of the front face.
Bovet has developed a mounting system to place the watch in the dashboard as a clock. Bovet’s patented Amadeo system already allowed the watch to be worn on the wrist, like a pocket watch or pendant watch, a desk clock and now a dashboard clock.
All in all, it is an impressive car with an impressive set of watches to match. Certainly not for everyone, not only financially but probably also aesthetically, but you can’t ignore the level of craftsmanship employed by both manufacturers.
What do you think of it? If money is no object, could you see yourself cruising down to the French Riviera with an endearing damsel at your side and a Bovet strapped to the wrist?