The brainchild of three die-hard fans and the esteemed marque’s new Coachbuild program, the Boat Tail is one of Rolls-Royce’s most interesting models to date. Crafted using a traditional technique known as coachbuilding, the new automotive takes cues from the hull of a J-class yacht, with the nautical influence clearly seen in its distinctive rear end. Like any Rolls-Royce, it’s packed with a range of exquisite features serving to enhance the car’s beauty and user enjoyment. While Rolls-Royce has traditionally been very discreet with the prices of their bespoke vehicles, talk on the road is that it’s a serious competitor for the title of most expensive car in the world, which is currently held by Bugatti’s La Voiture Noire.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the car’s specifications, perhaps we should shed some light on the Boat Tail’s history. It begins with the revival of Rolls-Royce’s Coachbuild department and the artisanal skills unique to the marque’s craftsmen. In 2017, this revival spawned the celebrated one-off bespoke model known as the Sweptail which embodied the dawn of a new era for the brand’s hand-built vehicles and their collaborative approach to design.
From the legions of dedicated fans, three individuals approached the marque with a shared love of modern nautical designs and a single demand, “show me something that I have never seen before.”
From discussions between Rolls-Royce and these three clients, three iterations of the Boat Tail were born, each sharing the same body but with their own personalised touches.
At first glance, the Boat Tail possesses Rolls-Royce’s iconic design identity, being based on the same aluminium platform as the acclaimed Phantom and Ghost models. Apart from some shared DNA however, the Boat Tail is a completely different beast. As mentioned, the car’s design was inspired by the nautical designs of J-Class yachts and the original “Boat Tails” of the 1920s and 1930s, from which it derived its name. Those vintage automobiles were unique creations in their own right, constructed by grafting the “hull forms of sailing boats onto the rolling chassis of a Rolls-Royce.”
The near 5.8-metre-long behemoth of a grand tourer comfortably seats four occupants and has a removable “canopy” roof. Power is provided by Rolls-Royce’s 6.75 litre twin-turbo V12 engine, the same one used in the Phantom and which puts out 563 bhp.
Speaking of the Phantom, the Boat Tail shares a number of safety elements with its distant cousin. However, with the level of personalisation that went into crafting this vehicle, it necessitated the creation of 1813 bespoke components. Even the design of the venerable 15-speaker Bespoke Rolls-Royce Audio System had to be rethought to make it work with the altered spaceframe architecture. Specifically, the entire floor structure of the Boat Tail is used as the resonance chamber for the system’s bass speakers.
In the rear of the vehicle, sits its most extravagant feature, the hosting suite. To ensure that this signature appointment worked optimally, it required a unique electronic treatment in the form of five electric control units (ECU), which needed nine months of dedicated research and development. When activated, the aft deck lids open to a specific 67-degree angle, revealing two fridges specially designed to store and chill the clients’ favourite caviar and champagne at the optimal temperature.
Apart from food, the hosting suite also has a storage compartment which holds two carbon fibre stools, crafted by the Italian firm Promemoria. In case of rain or excessive sunlight, the Boat Tail even has a parasol which conveniently slots into the aft deck of the vehicle to shield owners from the elements.
Last but not least are a pair of specially crafted Bovet 1822 timepieces, made in collaboration with the Swiss manufacture for the couple which commissioned this particular model shown. To highlight the spirit of collaboration, there is a special slot in the Boat Tail’s dashboard where the watches can be inserted, serving as the vehicle’s clock.
The Boat Tail is a Rolls-Royce unlike any other. It represents the pinnacle of bespoke automotive creation and a spirit of collaboration and ambition never seen before. In the words of Torsten Müller-Ötvos, “Boat Tail is the culmination of collaboration, ambition, endeavour, and time. It was born from a desire to celebrate success and create a lasting legacy. In its remarkable realisation, Rolls-Royce Boat Tail forges a pivotal moment in our marque’s history and in the contemporary luxury landscape.”