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 coupA(c) 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.