Rolls Royce Sweptail: Just what sir wants
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A valued customer went to Rolls-Royce with an idea
His favourite cars from the marque's golden era inspired the owner and Rolls-Royce says they "cut the cloth" to his requirements.
A stunning one-off customised Rolls-Royce with an estimated NZ$18 million price tag swept into the record books when the wraps came off this week.
The highly personalised two-seater Rolls-Royce Sweptail, which takes its styling cues from luxury yachts, is believed to be the most expensive new car built and harks back to the "golden age" of grand touring.
The epitome of personalised luxury, the bespoke coupe was commissioned by an unnamed super-wealthy customer and unveiled at one of the world's most exclusive car shows in Italy, the Concorso d'Eleganza the Villa d'Este on the shore of Lake Como.
The Sweptail also has some secret and stylish James Bond-esque touches designed to "surprise and delight".
The centre console houses a one-off hand-built mechanism that, at the touch of a button, deploys a bottle of the client's favourite vintage Champagne from the year of his birth, and two crystal flutes. As the lid of the chiller opens, the mechanical action articulates the bottle to the perfect position for the owner to pick up.
Two concealed secret exterior compartments house attache cases with the owner's computer laptops.
The grand-tourer in the "romantic tradition" features a large panoramic glass roof and takes its name from the "swept-tail" design of coach-built Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 30s.
Rolls-Royce spent four years with the owner of the car, which is powered by an effortless 6.75-litre V12 engine.
Intriguingly, it bears the number-plate "08" which is perhaps a nod to the forthcoming launch of the next-generation Phantom VIII limousine. From next year, it is set to replace the Phantom VII that came out in 2003.
Rolls-Royce prides itself on its growing "bespoke" arm but admits even it was taken aback by the ambitions of this customer.
A Rolls-Royce spokesman said: "In 2013, Rolls-Royce was approached by one of its most-valued customers with a very particular request. A connoisseur and collector of distinctive, one-off items including superyachts and private aircraft, this gentleman came to Rolls-Royce to realise his vision of a one-off luxury motor car like no other.
"He approached the marque with his own idea of a two-seat Rolls-Royce that he wanted to be created in the here and now.
"The client immediately established a close rapport with the design department, who set about bringing the idea to life."
The spokesman added: "As a connoisseur of Rolls-Royces, he was inspired by many of his favourite cars from the marque's golden era of the early 20th century, as well as many classic and modern yachts."
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars chief executive officer Torsten Muller-Otvos said: "Sweptail is a truly magnificent car. It exudes the romance of travel for its own sake, and immediately places Sweptail in the pantheon of the world's great intercontinental tourers."
Rolls-Royce director of design Giles Taylor said: "Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of haute couture.
"It is a Rolls-Royce designed and hand-tailored to fit a specific customer. This customer came to the House of Rolls-Royce with an idea, shared in the creative process where we advised him on his cloth, and then we tailored that cloth to him. You might say we cut the cloth for the suit of clothes that he will be judged by."
The new car has been inspired by past classics including the 1925 Phantom I Round Door built by Jonckheere; the 1934 Phantom II Streamline Saloon by Park Ward; the 1934 Gurney Nutting Phantom II Two Door Light Saloon, and the swept-tail coachwork of the 1934 Park Ward 20/25 Limousine Coupe.