(Bloomberg) -- Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. has unveiled the latest of its exclusive coachbuilt series, the Rolls-Royce Droptail.
Inspired by high-speed sailing yachts of the 1930s, the roadster seats two and comes with a removable hardtop made from carbon fiber and electrochromic glass that alters the amount of light entering the interior at the touch of a button. Specific pricing on the vehicle has not been announced, but it is estimated to cost more than $30 million. Previous coachbuilt vehicles, which were less complex to make, cost more than $28 million, a company spokesperson confirmed.
The Droptail has a low-slung, sleek exterior that looks like a high-tech luxury yacht; only the door handles, Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, and RR monogram interrupt the clean lines from front to rear. (The door handles incorporate a hidden lock mechanism and a discreetly integrated indicator lamp.) Its nautically influenced roadster design differs from that of a convertible, which stores the top of the car in a rear compartment and automatically raises and lowers it upon command. Instead, the top of the car must be lowered manually onto the vehicle. This is the first roadster-style vehicle from Rolls-Royce in modern times, although early Rolls-Royce roadsters included the Silver Ghost “Sluggard” from 1912 and the Silver Ghost Piccadilly from 1925.
Measuring 5.3 meters (17.3 feet) long and 2 meters (6.5 feet) wide, the vehicle holds the same twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V-12 engine and performance specs as found in the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Rolls-Royce built a new monocoque frame from the Droptail constructed from aluminum, steel and carbon fiber. A company spokesperson declined to confirm the weight of the vehicle.
In a break from tradition, which dictates that the signature Rolls-Royce Pantheon-style grille has vanes that are positioned straight and vertically, the vanes on the Droptail grille bend toward the top of the radiator. A press statement described the new design as a “templebrow” overhang. The front of the car is punctuated by deep-set horizontal daytime running lights; the air diffuser in the back comes finished with a semi-transparent lacquer over raw carbon fiber tilted down in the rear.
Compared to other Rolls-Royce cars like the electric Spectre, the interior of the Droptail is minimalist, offering just three primary buttons on the curved shawl-style wooden dashboard and matching champagne chest. The buttons control quick tasks like hazard lights, while the bulk of the car’s controls are located in the center console. Extensive parquetry—more than 1,600 wood pieces hand-finished and hand-placed over a two-year period—lines the cabin.
Similar to, yet far more exclusive and expensive than, Bentley’s customizable $2.1 million Batur, the Droptail is the third installment of the automaker’s coachbuilt series, which allows the wealthy to design a one-off vehicle with specialized functions unique to their car. The program helps the company balance rising sales volumes while protecting its most important asset—the appearance of extreme exclusivity. Last year, Rolls-Royce sold 6,021 vehicles, up 8% over 2021 and the first time in its 118-year history that sales exceeded 6,000 in a single 12-month period.
Coachbuilt launched with 2017’s Sweptail, a two-door coupé with a sharply tapering outline and full-length glass roof. Then came 2021’s Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, an open-air four-seater with a rear portion designed to evoke the deck of a J Class yacht. Inspired by a trend in the 1920s, when Rolls-Royce grafted a boat-like hull onto the chassis of its cars, the Boat Tail required four years of planning and construction, comprising 1,813 new components and a wide deck-style umbrella on its back.
Four Droptail cars will be made. The first, the “Rolls-Royce La Rose Noire Droptail,” features an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept timepiece integrated into the dashboard. It was revealed during a private event Aug. 19 in Carmel, California.
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