one-off rolls-royce boat tail coupé sets new voyage of hand coachbuilding

May 27, 2021

rolls-royce embarks on a new era of modern coachbuilding with the utterly unique commission, the boat tail. the movement – a step up from the british marque’s renowned bespoke treatment – began in 2017 with the introduction and then international plaudits of the sweptail. now, with a special and permanent coachbuild design team, patrons are empowered to create even more personal expressions of taste and lifestyle. the revealed coupé debuts many firsts, including a champagne hosting suite and parasol which both open up in synchronized, santiago calatrava-inspired mechanisms.

the rolls-royce boat tail sets the british marque on a new voyage into coachbuilding, one that reflects upon their historic roots. a dedicated coachbuild design department, together with skilled engineers and craftspeople, interpret the desires of clients and integrate them into transformative, truly unique cars. the process looks beyond existing constraints, even the scope of their renowned bespoke capabilities. to do so, the artistic vision translates the intimately personal content of the patron as well as the broader cultural context in which the design exists, such as architecture, couture, color palettes and more. the boat tail rebirths this hand-built nature and debuts a novel design approach.

‘coachbuild provides freedom to move beyond the usual constraints. normally, there is a natural ceiling to rolls-royce bespoke by way of the canvas. at rolls-royce coachbuild we break through that ceiling, embracing the freedom of expression afforded by coachbuilding to shape a concept directly with our commissioning patrons,’ tells alex innes, head of rolls-royce coachbuild design.

‘with boat tail, we have achieved this. we have created a trio of exceptional cars which, although they share a common body style, are each imbued with the unique, highly personal imprint of the commissioning patron, thereby telling different stories. boat tail is unprecedented. boat tail is a distinct counterpoint to industrialised luxury,’ adds the designer.

three potential patrons shared a deep appreciation of contemporary nautical design, specifically the pure form and hand-craftsmanship of J-class yachts. this perfectly paired with a long-held ambition of the design team at rolls-royce to create a modern interpretation of the boat tail typology, where coachbuilders would graft the hull forms of sailing boats onto the rolling chassis of a rolls-royce. three cars would share a common hand-formed body but each would be individually personalized, employing age-old skills with modern technologies. the first boat tail reflects the client’s furthered fascination with their own restored 1932 rolls-royce boat tail.

the boat tail introduces a new aesthetic for the brand as it combines an historical body type with contemporary visions. nearly 5.8m long, the design has a graceful stance yet pairs sculptural forms with playful functionality. the front profile seamlessly integrates the iconic pantheon grille and headlights, with the latter creating an intense brow line. over the grille, the exterior color – a complex tone of nautical blue with embedded metallic and crystal flakes – shimmers, rises and falls from the gradated bonnet across the rest of the body.

the design has a subtle nautical reference throughout, not only at the rear. the wrap-around windscreen recalls the visor of motor boats wheras the A-pillar’s gentle rearward lean, large volumes at the front, and the tapered rear create a gesture as if rising out of water under power. a progressive negative sculpture in the lower bodyside references the running boards of the heritage designs, specifically that of the owner’s 1932 restoration. at the back, the body resolves in a gentle sharpening that is counterbalanced by the horizontal emphasis of the wide, deep-set lamps. as if an aft desk, the linear wood grain of the grey and black, open pore caleidolegno veneer is visually elongated by brushed stainless steel pinstripe inlays.

inside, the interior leather reflects the bonnet’s color transition with the front seats in darker blue while the rear seats are finished in a lighter tone. detailed stitching and piping adds an even more intense hue. the reduced fascia acts as a minimalist canvas that accentuates the jewel-like features of the unique, specially commissioned BOVET 1822 timepiece. in similar fashion, the instrument panel dials adorn a decorative technique named guilloché, used by fine jewellers, watchmakers and now car-makers. the open pore caleidolegno wood lines the lower cabin and floor, reminiscent of wooden hull forms, to offset the softness of the blue cabin.

the wooden rear deck houses a first for the automotive world. at a press of a button, the cover opens in a santiago calatrava-inspired cantilevered gesture to reveal a hosting suite. it unveils a treasure chest of true rolls-royce al fresco dining, including cuisine, aperitifs and engraved cutlery made by christofle in paris. a double refrigerator elegantly cradles and cools vintages of armand de brignac champagne, naturally. as well, a unique parasol extends as if a telescope to shelter guests. elegant cocktail tables rotate from either side of the suite, and two contemporary stools drop out for occupants to sit and sip in shade.

project info:

marque: rolls-royce motor cars

model: boat tail

design team: rolls-royce coachbuild