Jack Goff, best known for racing bumper-to-bumper in the BTCC, was handed the keys to the coachbuilt creation. We asked him what Sweptail is like to drive

Even among the exotic machinery at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Rolls-Royce Sweptail caused a stir.

That’s not a surprise: Sweptail is a bespoke ‘coachbuild’, developed by the British firm over four years to a customer’s exacting requirements – and which Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller Otvös says is “probably the most expensive new car ever.”

Goodwood 2017: pictures and live video

Sweptail took regular trips up the hill over the Festival of Speed weekend. And who was trusted with driving a car that touches on ‘priceless’? That would be Jack Goff, best known as a rising star racing a Team Eurotech Honda Civic in the bumper-bashing MSA British Touring Car Championship.

It might seem a strange choice, but when he isn’t going door handle-to-door handle on Britain’s racing circuits, the 26-year-old works as a driver for Rolls-Royce, driving the firm’s cars at events all over the world.

But even in the rarified air of Rolls-Royce machines, Sweptail stands out. So how do you drive someone else’s virtually priceless creation up the Goodwood Hill?

Simple: carefully.

“First things first, don’t scratch it,” says Goff. “This car is not about breaking the outright record up the hill; it’s about travelling in elegance, style and comfort. That’s very much the Rolls-Royce philosophy.

“Rolls-Royce can have fast cars, but they’ve got to do it elegantly, and Sweptail ticks all those boxes.”

Rolls-Royce evaluating options for more coachbuild cars

Goff received some ‘helpful’ advice from his BTCC team ahaead of Goodwood: “I was at Eurotech last week, and they showed me all my damaged front bumpers from this season, and told me not to do that driving Sweptail. I am far more aware of not scratching this car.”

Goff admits he’s lucky to be trusted with driving Sweptail: “It’s a massive privilege. I’ve driven some lovely cars over the last five or six years working for Rolls-Royce, but to be able to say you’re driving a one-off, bespoke coachbuild is fantastic.

“This car is the result of four years work between the customer and the Rolls-Royce design team – and they’ve trusted me to drive it at the home of Rolls-Royce.”

While the short Goodwood hillclimb, complete with unforgiving run-off in places, meant that Goff only had limited mileage in the car, he says it handles impressively.

“It feels very much like a Rolls-Royce,” he says. “It’s a big car – a big car – but when you’re behind the wheel it actually feels lightweight and nimble.

“Some parts of the hillclimb are quite tight and twisty, but it handles them with ease, which is a testament to the engineers at Rolls-Royce.”

Even when parked in Goodwood’s ‘first look’ paddock, there was a crowd gathered around Sweptail for much of the weekend. That attention remained even when Goff was driving Sweptail from the paddock to the start of the hillclimb – he had six minders to help him work the big machine through the crowds. Goff says he can understand the reaction.

“The car’s had a lot of press, and it’s a stunning car, an absolute masterpiece,” he says. “It’s a piece of art. Everyone’s reaction is ‘wow’ – you can’t see a fully coachbuilt car like this anywhere else.”

Once Goodwood is over, it’s back to the day job for Goff: trying to win the BTCC’s Independents’ Championship. Goff was involved in a huge qualifying accident in the last event at Croft, in which several drivers were injured. While Goff escaped unhurt and was able to race, the qualifying issues wrecked his race, leaving him 18 points behind Tom Ingram in the Independents’ title race.

“With how close the BTCC is, it’s hard to make up ground when you have issues in qualifying,” he says. “Thankfully we didn’t lose too much ground in the title race.”

Goff couldn’t entirely escape his BTCC rivals at Goodwood though. “I had [triple BTCC champion] Matt Neal running behind me in a Honda Civic Type-R on one run this weekend,” says Goff, “so I had to keep an eye on my mirrors…”.

Read more

Goodwood 2017: supercar gallery

Opinion: why outlandish one-off concept could be the future for Rolls-Royce

Honda's 2017 BTCC racer tested (with video)

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Comments
11

2 July 2017
Seriously, how long does it take to draw it and then soft tool it (hand make?) the panels for a one off?! Most other car companies could set up a new factory, co-ordinate global suppliers, make T1/ T2 parts then hard tool them in less time!

 

 

 

3 July 2017
Autocar: What's it like to drive this ugly and stupidly expensive car your employer has created?
Rolls-Royce Employee: It's really great.
Autocar: You're not just saying that because they employ you, because they pay you money?
Rolls-Royce Employee: No, I really mean it. It's the best car I've ever driven, the most beautiful one we, I mean, they have ever created, and probably the best car ever made.
Autocar: Thank you. Hold the front page, guys, we have an exclusive!

2 July 2017
The RR Sweptail looks more an RR Cocktail of designs than a design which is respectful for the badge it carries.

3 July 2017
I remember drawing something very similar to this....when I was 14 (seriously)! So clearly a) I missed my calling b) a 14 year old back in 1980 could achieve what RR's current designers have done with a sheet of paper and some old TD kit..except in my design I didn't imagine an exaggerated smiley face at the back end :) Now where's that sketch so I can claim my £££'s.

3 July 2017
For the man who has everything except good taste.

A truly hideous looking thing.

3 July 2017
The general consensus is that this is a truly hideous looking car.
Despite RR publicity machine's superlative endorsement it must be like driving a panel van with zero rear vision given the extreme tapering & ultra-thick C-pillar.

3 July 2017
Very full credit to Autocar for not re-quoting the ridiculous made up cost figures that were being bandied around in the press for this car.

4 July 2017
Perhaps the designers at Rolls Royce need to look up the definition of "elegance." Or there again, maybe it's an attempt at satire.

4 July 2017
I'm a big fan of coach built cars but mainly because they hail from an era where there was much more restraint, style, class, dignity and elegance. Coachbuilders like Pietro Frua, Touring Superleggera, OSI et al showed incredible design vision. The Sweptail looks pretty much standard RR stock to my eyes with a stretched rear quarter and a silly smiley face to the rear which once seen, cannot be unseen, no matter how many RR puff pieces allude to it being a 'masterpiece'. All I see here is capitalism, greed, sycophancy, brand PR and shameless wad waving. It's interesting to see that it's registered in Guernsey, an island of only 25 square miles in size. Is this going to be used as an island runaround?

4 July 2017
I saw this at the top of the hill at Goodwood and it is fabulous; it looks much better in the metal than the pictures show. Buy British!

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