Rolls-Royce’s new Coachbuild department has unveiled an utterly unique commission, the ‘Boat Tail’. The movement – a step up from the British marque’s renowned bespoke treatment – began in 2017 with the introduction and then international plaudits of the Sweptail. Now, with a special and permanent coach build design team, patrons are empowered to create even more personal expressions of taste and lifestyle. The revealed coupé debuts many firsts, including a champagne hosting suite and parasol which both open up in synchronized, Santiago Calatrava-inspired mechanisms.
At nearly 5.8m long, its generosity of proportion and clarity of surface present a graceful and relaxed stance. The front profile is centred on a new treatment of Rolls-Royce’s iconic pantheon grille and lights. The grille becomes an integral part of the front end, not an applique; a freedom of design bestowed only upon models within the Coachbuild portfolio. This progressive treatment softens Rolls-Royce’s familiar formality while retaining the marque’s undeniable presence. A strong horizontal graphic with deep-set daytime running lights forms Boat Tail’s intense brow line and frames classical round headlamps, a design feature recalled from the design archives of Rolls-Royce.
In profile, nautical references are very suggestive. The wrap-around windscreen recalls the visor on motor launches, while the gentle rearward lean of the A-pillar, the large, crisp volumes at the front and the tapered rear create a gesture that recalls a motor launch rising out of water under power. A progressive negative sculpture in the lower bodyside creates a lithe impression, while making an historical reference to the running boards of prominent heritage Rolls-Royce designs.
Viewed from dead rear, the body resolves in a gentle sharpening of the form. As with the front, a horizontal emphasis is established at the rear with wide, deep-set lamps – a break from the expected vertical Rolls-Royce lamp iconography.
Indeed, it is at the rear where the nautical references become more apparent. The aft deck, a modern interpretation of the wooden rear decks of historical Boat Tails, incorporates large swathes of wood. Caleidolegno veneer is applied in a feat of Rolls-Royce engineering; the grey and black material which is typically housed in the interior, has been specially adapted to be used on the exterior, with no compromise to the aesthetic.
The open pore material features a linear wood grain which is visually elongated by brushed stainless steel pinstripe inlays, serving as an optical nod to the typical wooden construction of yachts – both old and new. The honed skills of Rolls-Royce’s wood specialists have manipulated and book-matched the grain so as to contract with the geometry of the car. The veneer treatment extends to the lower transom area resolving the taper and overall volume astern. This bold truncation is a subtle reference to the hull lines of classic Boat Tail bodies.
From the rear, one perceives a strong graphical compositio n marked by further horizontal emphasis, accentuating Boat Tail’s great width. Deep-set lamps establish a dramatically low reference point, evoking the dipped stern and proud bow of a motor launch under power and on plane.
An explicit architectural influence is discovered in Boat Tail’s unconventional fixed-canopy roof. Adding to the sculptural form, the sweeping roofline concludes in delicate structural elements that touch down on the rear, redolent of flying buttresses. Of course, if inclement weather is encountered while the roof is removed, a temporary tonneau is stowed for static transitory shelter.
The exterior of Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is swathed in a rich and complex tone of the client’s favourite colour – blue. The hue, with an overt nautical connotation, is subtle when in shadows but in sunlight, embedded metallic and crystal flakes bring a vibrant and energetic aura to the finish. To ensure the smoothest possible application when rendering the exterior, a finger was run over the definitive body line before the paint had fully dried to soften its edges. The wheels are finished in bright blue, highly polished and clear coated to add to Boat Tail’s celebratory character.
A hand-painted, gradated bonnet, a first for Rolls-Royce, rises from a comparatively subdued deeper blue which cascades onto the grille, providing a progressive but informal aesthetic and a solidity of overall volume when viewed from the front.
The interior leather reflects the bonnet’s colour tone transition with the front seats swathed in the darker blue hue, recognising Boat Tail’s driver focused intent, while the rear seats are finished in the lighter tone. A soft metallic sheen is applied to the leather to accentuate its pairing with the painted exterior while detailed stitching and piping is applied in a more intense blue inspired by the hands of the car’s timepieces. A brilliant blue is also found woven at a 55 degree angle into the technical fibre elements to be seen on the lower bodywork, precisely orientated to emulate the spill of a water’s wake.
The fascia is distilled in its appearance, purposefully reduced to provide a modern aesthetic. This minimalist canvas accentuates the jewel like features of the completely unique BOVET 1822 timepieces specifically commissioned by the client for Boat Tail (see below). Collecting pens is another of the clients’ great passions. A particularly cherished Montblanc pen will reside in a discretely placed, hand-crafted, case of aluminium and leather, in Boat Tail’s glove box.
The instrument panel dials are adorned with a decorative technique named Guilloché, more commonly perfected in the workshops of fine jewellers and watchmakers. An elegant, thin rimmed two-tone steering wheel then bears the colours of the commission.
The tactility of the open pore Caleidolegno is brought into the cabin. Anthracite in colour, the veneer brings modern strength and depth to offset the softness of the light blue and metallic sheen. The wood is applied to the lower cabin and floor area, reminiscent of wooden hull forms, again, at 55 degrees, perfectly book matched on centre line providing a uniform appearance when viewed from either side.