Luxury

Rolls-Royce To Call It Quits On Customer Coachbuilds After Sweptail

Beautiful as it looks, Rolls-Royce made a huge gamble when it designed the Sweptail.

Take a good long look at the custom Rolls-Royce Sweptail. It’s pretty right? Well enjoy it while you can because chances are slim that Rolls-Royce will ever make a car like this again. Oh it’s open to building more one-off coachbuild specials alright, at least according to what Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce’s director of design, told Autocar, but shake that proverbial magic 8-ball after asking if the company will build your own eight-figure cruising vessel and “outlook not so good” is likely to come up.

In all fairness to Rolls-Royce, the Sweptail project was monumental, taking four years’ time and, with an estimated price of $13 million, giving the coachbuild the status of being the most expensive new car ever sold according to CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös. But the risks may not have been worth it. “We will probably never repeat the level of involvement we had with a customer for this car ever again, not because we don’t want to, but because it’s always fraught with risk that someone may misinterpret the end goal. It’s a risk you might end up with something that doesn’t fit the brand, or suit the customer,” said Taylor. By no stretch of the imagination, Taylor suspects more customers to ask for their own custom Rollers after the Sweptail’s debut.

These customers won’t be entirely let down because Rolls-Royce does foresee a future in coachbuilding, a strong one actually. It’s just that this time around, the customer won’t be involved and the car will be purely Rolls-Royce from beginning to end. “We may pro-actively offer coachbuild cars in the future, where we create the project and then sell the one-off nature to a customer. That’s an idea, not a plan, but it’s something we could do,” said Taylor. CEO Müller-Otvös thinks that bespoke Rolls-Royce models are a given since demand seems to be far away from drying up. Part of the problem is that the architecture underpinning current Rolls-Royces makes it tough to build these one-offs in a way that they are compliant with modern safety standards.

New platforms from Rolls-Royce should eliminate that headache. “Our decision is to go to a spaceframe, aluminum-only architecture, and that technology, in principal, allows for us to do stuff like that," said Müller-Otvös. "But it needs a bit more investigation. I don’t want to over-promise to customers and under-deliver. Let’s put it like this: why not?” “Why not” embodies our thoughts exactly because, well, just look a the Sweptail and try not to get lost in its stoic steely gaze. So pop more champagne and ask the butler for another round of caviar, whatever you gotta do to stay excited, because more stunning Rollers should arrive in the coming years styled by the masters at Rolls-Royce and no one else.

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