Rolls-Royce is developing a second ultra-low-volume model with bespoke bodywork.
The car is planned for the "near future", according to design chief Giles Taylor, and follows the one-off Sweptail model shown at the Villa d'Este concours event in Italy last year.
Taylor implies that there could be more than one example of this next model, although the number will be in the low single figures.
The company is exploring models with hand-beaten bodywork as part of its fast-growing bespoke business, says Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös, with the department now staffed with more than 100 designers, engineers, customer liaison staff and more.
“It's the future of luxury,” he says. “People don't want something others can get. They want something very unique. We've invested quite a lot in this. Bespoke is very important - without it, we wouldn't sell as many cars.”
One of the challenges of making panel-beaten bodies is “having the capacity to do it”, Müller-Ötvös adds, because these skills are hard to find. A promising solution “is 3D printing of panels”.
Further in the future, perhaps by 2040, Müller-Ötvös believes the advent of autonomous cars and the reduced need for pedestrian protection features could allow more creative scope. “It could bring the old era back,” he says, referencing the last century when bespoke bodywork was built on a separate chassis.
Rolls-Royce’s bespoke department is an increasingly busy division in the company, having created several high-profile projects in recent history, including the Sweptail, and it fettled the four cars displayed at the Geneva motor show. Almost every Rolls-Royce ordered today features that department’s handywork at the request of the customer, the brand has previously revealed to Autocar.
The next ultra-exclusive car will likely be not quite as customer-involved as the Sweptail, however. Speaking at the Sweptail launch last year, Taylor said: “We will probably never repeat the level of involvement we had with a customer for this car [Sweptail] ever again, not because we don’t want to but because it’s always fraught with risk that someone may misinterpret the end goal. It’s a risk you might end up with something that doesn’t fit the brand or suit the customer."