Rolls-Royce Boat Tail: The Next Chapter commission revealed | CAR Magazine

Rolls-Royce Boat Tail: The Next Chapter commission revealed

Published: 20 May 2022 Updated: 20 May 2022

► Second of three hand-built Boat Tails revealed
► Phantom-based, but inspired by yachts
► Has its own cocktail lounge in the boot

Ah, the One Per Cent. This is the latest product from Rolls-Royce’s Coachbuild division, which makes one-off cars for ultra-wealthy customers. It comes 12 months after the first Boat Tail from Goodwood-era Rolls-Royce, and shares that car’s curves but differs in many details. A third and final Boat Tail will be along in due course.

Rolls-Royce isn’t giving a lot of detail away, but it’s a Phantom-based two-door 2+2 with the grille more smoothly incorporated into the nose than is usual for modern Rollers, the return of classic round headlamps, a wraparound windscreen and horizontal rear lights.

Like much else about the car, the rear end is heavily inspired by classic racing yachts. Topped by wooden decking, it opens at the push of a button and out comes a picnic/cocktail/galley arrangement that means you never need go to a McDonald’s drive-thru ever again.

Alex Innes, head of Coachbuild Design, said: ‘Building a motor car by hand offers a new realm of exploration and possibility: we can accomplish things and resolve challenges that normal industrialised methods would prohibit. This is the tale of two worlds: a modern motor car of contemporary design, made possible by historical techniques and time-honoured craft.’

Although bespoke bodies have often been part of the Rolls recipe over the decades, the modern manifestation started with the Sweptail in 2017. That elegant two-seat coupe with a vast glass roof was the trigger for various customer enquiries about building one-offs to order. When it became apparent that several of these wealthy clients shared a taste in yachts, the Boat Tail plan was hatched.

The first one, from May 2021, went to a couple who also own a 1932 Boat Tail. This new one has been specified as a tribute to the owner’s father, who began in the pearl business – and various pearls have been used to inspire the colours, and the dash clock is made from mother of pearl.

Coachbuild sits at the most extreme end of the Bespoke division, which plays an increasingly important role within Rolls-Royce. Whereas Coachbuild is about hand-built one-offs with significantly different metalwork, Bespoke is about tailoring your Phantom, Ghost or Cullinan to your individual tastes.

Read more on the original Boat Tail revealed in 2021 below.

The first Boat Tail commission

Rolls-Royce has doubled down on its land yacht aesthetics to produce this, the new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail. In many ways, it’s the continuation of two trends that have always been key to the high-end Goodwood brand: maritime style and one-off customization.

The front of the reimagined Boat Tail is fairly par for the course, and features Rolls-Royce’s huge pantheon grille, but there are several nods to the sea; a wraparound windscreen adds some nautical vibes, while the sides of the car feature lines which echo running boards.

As you’d expect from the name, most of the ‘one-off’ in this Rolls-Royce can be seen at the rear. Just like the 1932 Boat Tail which this car loosely borrows from, the new car resolves into a sleek, tapered form – once again echoing the shapes you’d see parked at a marina. 

Open it up, and it’s more functional than you’d expect. In addition to space for the car’s convertible roof, there’s room for important luggage such as champagne, coolers and crystal, and there are also fold-out tables to consume it all on. A parasol is also available if the weather is a little too extreme. 

Underneath, the Boat Tail shares the same platform as the equally one-off Swept Tail. Goodwood says it’s part of a series of three cars, requested by three patrons interested in J-class yachts and classic design. And that means we’re eventually going to see another maritime-inspired Rolls-Royce soon. 

Put Rolls-Royce’s latest boat car to one side, and it’s clear one-off projects like this will once again become a key part of the brand – both in revenue and identity. ‘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 differing stories,’ said Alex Innes head of Rolls-Royce coachbuild design.

Boat Tail is unprecedented. Boat Tail is a distinct counterpoint to industrialised luxury.’

By Colin Overland

CAR's managing editor: wordsmith, critic, purveyor of fine captions