Rolls-Royce Sweptail: 'Probably the most expensive car... ever'

Published: 28 May 2017 Updated: 30 May 2017

► Rolls-Royce Sweptail
► Design inspired by racing yachts
► Revealed at Villa d’Este 2017

The world of luxury motoring and racing yachts have collided, thanks to Rolls-Royce. This one-off, coachbuilt car is called the Sweptail, which is not only inspired by racing yachts but of the grand ’20s and ’30s cars built by the über-luxurious brand. 

It’s Rolls’s latest flex of its luxury muscle, after it showed off the crazy-looking 103EX concept in 2016.

The Sweptail was built after one of Rolls-Royce’s ‘most valued customers’ came knocking with a very specific request to build the one-off car. It looks very much like a modern Roller from the front: the bluff front end, thin LED lights and massive chrome grille see to that.

Rolls-Royce Sweptail inner rear deck

But it’s the rear half where the most significant changes lie; the silhouette of the car from the side slopes down to a point and the Sweptail comes with a rather hefty rear overhang – let’s hope parking sensors are standard.

The slender rear end is apparently the ‘ultimate homage to the world of racing yachts that inspired the client.’ There aren’t any visible panel lines, which Rolls-Royce is, again, keen to stress is like the hull of a luxury ship. Has that sunk in yet? [Sorry.]

Despite being about as long as an aircraft carrier, there’s only space for two passengers inside. Those lucky/wealthy enough to take a trip in the Sweptail will bathe in plenty of natural light – thanks to the enormous panoramic sunroof – and will sit in a cabin finished in swathes of Moccasin and Dark Spice leather upholstery, plus ebony and paldao wood veneers.

Rolls-Royce claims that the interior is its ‘cleanest dashboard to date’ and includes a wood veneer so thin that light can shine through in places like the clock face.

Rolls-Royce Sweptail rear end

The rear space comprises a ‘Passarelle’ (‘bridge’ in French), finished in Madagascar Ebony veneer. Choice details include the name Sweptail embossed into the centre line and a Riva Aquarama-esque deck for, er… hats. There are also discreet storage spaces for the client’s laptop and a bespoke luggage set. 

CAR speaks to Rolls-Royce CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös

Rolls-Royce chief exec, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, pulled the covers off the car at the 2017 Villa d’Este concours event and we sat down to chat Sweptail and what it means for the ultimate luxury brand. 

The Sweptail has been hailed as Rolls-Royce’s return to creating bespoke cars, but creating them can be difficult on a platform that already exists.

Müller-Ötvös hints at Rolls-Royce making future platforms more accessible for unique coachbuilding duties. ‘In theory [we can] because our decision is to go aluminium spaceframe architecture only, and that is the kind of technology that allows, in principle, doing stuff like that.’ He was, however, keen to stress that this would need further investigation before allowing any future customers to get too excited about ordering their own unique car.

The Rolls-Royce boss also mentioned how several potential customers have come to the brand to ask for a one-off car before, but this is the only one that has gone ahead thus far. Why now? ‘Because it needs the teaming of the right individuals to do it. For us it was also an adventure because it was completely new territory.’ 

Rolls-Royce Sweptail at Villa d'Este 2017

‘You want to have a partner on board who is sustainable enough, understandable enough that this might need detours, but it was perfect. He [the anonymous client] trusted us, we trusted him and it was the right moment to do it. It’s also the future of luxury long-term; that you go even more custom-built.’

So how much does the Sweptail cost? Müller-Ötvös refuses to give even a ballpark figure, but admits ‘it was substantially expensive. Substantially expensive. You can easily say that this is probably the most expensive new car in ages… or ever.’

Don’t ever expect to see the Rolls-Royce Sweptail in your nearest showroom, but it does prove that Rolls-Royce can still create coachbuilt cars with panache.

Check out all of our Rolls-Royce reviews here

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches