Rolls-Royce Claims Sweptail Was Only Beginning Of Coachbuilding's Rebirth


The rich are getting richer and they want more ways to stand out at the country club.

Wealth disparity has a funny way of manifesting itself in this country. Ever-ballooning auto sales are being made possible by echoes of expansion in the subprime auto loan market. On the other hand, sales of luxury cars are booming and one of the most interesting segments to watch, not counting the rise of performance luxury SUVs, is that of the high-end multimillion dollar limited editions and one-offs. For every 10,000 performance models sold, there's one Aston Martin Valkyrie, one Bugatti Chiron, or one AMG Project 1 in the works.

And it's not just the performance segment that's witnessing this phenomenon. Rolls-Royce, curious to see if the one percent of the one percent would bite on a highly exclusive and massively expensive one-off, spent four years building and refining the Sweptail, which was rumored to cost $13 million. And it's seems to have worked, at least according to what Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told Car Advice. To Müller-Ötvös, those for years toiling to make something truly special and exclusive were well worth it because the phone calls asking for follow-up models haven't stopped. However it's not like building these cars is easy. "You need to meet homologation, there are so many legal requirements you need to make," says Müller-Ötvös.

He adds, "But after we launched it I immediately had a couple of calls saying 'I want to be involved in the next one please.'" As expensive as that sounds, investment is of no concern to Rolls because these customers have the means to make it happen. "The market potential is not the problem, the challenge is to make it happen and ultimately to have the right capacity for these kind of projects." Even though low production makes this economy tough to scale, Rolls-Royce can cut costs. For starters, the company is employing a new aluminum space frame platform, which it dubs the "Architecture of Luxury," to give its bespoke products a malleable base on which to ride on. At that point, all Rolls needs to finish the build are 3D printers.

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