The UK automaker is keeping the art of coachbuilding alive.
Coachbuilding is the art of taking a pre-assembled vehicle chassis and constructing a custom body to sit on top of it. Aside from a few small companies like Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, coachbuilding is virtually nonexistent in the modern era because new cars no longer ride on a separate chassis, making it much more difficult to change the body without interfering with structural points. A few major automakers like Rolls-Royce keep the art alive with fabulous one-off creations like the $13 million Sweptail from 2017.
"The ability to personalize almost every aspect of their motor car is one of the main reasons our patrons come to us. But we know some wish to go further still," said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos. "In 2017, we stunned the world with our first fully coachbuilt motor car of the modern era, the spectacular Rolls-Royce Sweptail. This was, by definition, an entirely unique commission; but in our minds, it was the start of a journey."
After taking four years to develop the Sweptail, a rakish two-door coupe based on the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the feedback on the final design was mixed at best. The car's large panoramic glass and 1920s-1930s design are unmistakably unique, but not everyone fell unanimously in love with the rear styling. Rolls-Royce has not officially announced any new one-off projects, but the UK automaker reportedly had several clients call to express their interest after the Sweptail was revealed four years ago. It looks like Rolls-Royce may not leave those requests unanswered for long.
"We have formally re-established our Coachbuild department for those patrons who wish to go beyond the existing restraints, and explore the almost limitless possibilities this opens up for them. We are able to offer our customers the opportunity to create a motor car in which every single element is hand-built to their precise individual requirements, as befits our status as a true luxury house," said Muller-Otvos.
We would love to see Rolls-Royce go beyond its already extensive Bespoke offerings, which include more than 44,000 paint colors among other unique options. Rolls-Royce has crafted some incredible coachbuilt creations over the years, a few of which are pictured here.
The 1926 40/50HP Phantom I Brougham De Ville (nicknamed The Phantom Of Love) was built by Charles Clark & Son Ltd of Wolverhampton for Clarence Warren Gasque, an American businessman who commissioned the car for his heiress wife, Maude.
Some other examples include the 1928 17EX (pictured below in blue), an experimental convertible based on the Phantom, 1934 Phantom II Continental Drophead Coupe, a boattail coupe designed by A F McNeil and built by Gurney Nutting & Co, and the 1972 Phantom VI limousine, the final Rolls-Royce to use a separate chassis. The example pictured above was built by H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward Ltd, with special features to show off the car's amazing capabilities to prospective customers. It includes a television system, refrigerator, flower vases, and tables with stools that could clip onto the front end.