Forgive me for starting with a terrible cliché, but… you know that whole thing about ‘if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it’?
Well, when I first set eyes on Rolls-Royce Sweptail, a bespoke one-off motor created by the firm on commission, my first thought was ‘how much?’ And I’m a journalist, so… I really had to ask.
— Autocar (@autocar) May 27, 2017
Predictably, Rolls-Royce weren’t saying. A figure of £10million has been bandied around which is… kind of ridiculous. £10m would just about buy you five Bugatti Chirons. Or, if you prefer, 1430 Dacia Sanderos.
And yet, once you wrap your head around what Sweptail is, £10m doesn’t seem quite so wildly outlandish. Actually, outlandish is a fitting word to describe Sweptail. You could also use extravagant. Ostentatious. Magnificent. Grand. Majestic. And, yes, excessive.
Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce’s director of design, described Sweptail as “the automotive equivalent of Haute Couture.” For the ‘connoisseur and valued Rolls-Royce customer’ who commissioned it, Sweptail is as much about making a statement as making a car.
I’ll be honest: it’s not really my thing. Sure, it’s beautiful, and sure, it’s exquisitely crafted. And sure, there’s incredible attention to detail and some head-shaking, jaw-dropping features (such as the system to deploy a bottle of 1970 Dom Perignon). But, frankly, it’s several steps beyond anything I can relate to. It’s not really a car, to be honest. It’s a peek into the ultra-luxury lifestyle of the ultra-rich, a money-no-object world of luxury yachts, private jets and fine dining.
And that is exactly why Sweptail has significance beyond being a one-off combination of car, engineering, design, fashion, art and theatre: it hints at a future direction for Rolls-Royce.