Unveiling of Rolls-Royce's Sweptail
by Jeff Firmin
Upon the unveiling of Rolls-Royce's Sweptail at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este I was immediately reminded of those many glorious bespoke motor cars created by Rolls-Royce throughout the 1920s, 30s & 40s. Developing technologies in subsequent decades rapidly diminished the requirement for such admirable skills to the point of just the relatively few niche operators in existence today, whose primary role now is to ensure these early classic beauties are kept alive for the continual enjoyment of their current custodians and those fortunate few in the future.
This divine level of craftsmanship was the foundation upon which the legend of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was built, thus providing the ultimate in luxury motoring, tailored to the customer's exacting requirements. In the early years Rolls-Royce built the chassis and running gear, whilst specialist coach-builders created the bespoke bodywork and interiors of the highest order, many of which have been thoughtfully cherished throughout the numerous decades since, so allowing us to still admire them in all their original glory. Take time to attentively cast your eyes over those hand crafted automotive masterpieces, such as the Silver Ghost, Phantoms, Silver Wraith and Silver Dawn ensuring you allow your eyes time to fully absorb the lines, the curves, the flow, the details and the grace of such exquisite design and build.
Many would contend that the current offerings of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, or those of my other true automotive love, Bentley Motors Cars, fall short in comparison. Whilst certainly leading their respective markets with, in my humble opinion, relative ease, today's cars are standardised more than ever; a consequence of the modern production approach of the now four thousand plus vehicles built each year at Goodwood, and well in excess of ten thousand in Bentley's case. You can of course tweak your car with an incredible selection of features to enhance your travelling environment to the very highest levels. But, unless you send your new car off to one of the now, unfortunately rather rare, specialist coach-builders, to be redesigned to your personal desires, your car will remain in 'standard' form.
That changed in May 2017, when the Sweptail was introduced to the world. In one stroke Rolls-Royce Motor Cars stamped its authority on Bespoke automotive creation once again. Other marques may flirt with the notion but Sweptail demonstrates that only Rolls-Royce truly delivers. Debates, generally polite, about whether the final design works as a whole, etc, etc. are predictably divided. Ultimately, such discussions are irrelevant as this is the vision of one very special customer. And what he or she desires will be.
"Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of haute couture," said Giles Taylor, director of design at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. "It is a Rolls-Royce designed and hand-tailored to fit a specific customer."
"This customer came to the House of Rolls-Royce with an idea, shared in the creative process where we advised him on his cloth, and then we tailored that cloth to him. You might say we cut the cloth for the suit of clothes that he will be judged by."
And so to Sweptail. Although it is a glorious, bespoke motor car, its genetics do show through. It couldn't be mistaken for anything but a Rolls-Royce. From the front, we can see the dominant presence of Phantom but as your eyes glide down along the flanks, Phantom design merges into Wraith and then into a tail that is clearly yacht inspired.