Rolls-Royce Boat Tail - The Most Expensive Car Ever Built Has a Nautical Theme
By: Scott Way
The Stunning Blend of Nautical Design and Automotive Elegance is Rumored to be Owned By Jay-Z and Beyoncé
The internet came alight this week with the announcement that Rolls-Royce has commissioned the first of three nautically inspired custom-built motor cars. That's a hat tip to the boating world in its own right, but it's the pricetag (and the new owners) that will turn the most heads.
Rolls-Royce is being predictably being coy on the details, but the 'Boat Tail' is inspired by the $13 million Sweptail built in 2017. Since inflation is a thing, and since new car prices never go down, the Boat Tail will surpass the Sweptail in both cost and decadence (If you're curious, the current 'World's Most Expensive Car" is the Bugatti La Voiture Noire, which sold in 2019 to a thrifty buyer for $12.5 million US).
The stunningly built cabriolet has all the old money decadence you expect from Rolls-Royce, with an overall design quality reminiscent of 20's and 30's luxury cars like the Auburn 851 Speedster or Bentley Speed Six. When combined with a subtle mix of nautical insignia and ultra high-end luxury cleverly camouflaged throughout, the end product is truly impressive.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, claims the Boat Tail is concept was borne out of both tradition and luxury. "In 2017 we introduced Sweptail, which defined the dawn of the contemporary coach building movement. Sweptail set a new waterline of potential, and ignited a fascination among a small group of three clients who approached us to discover if they, too, could collaborate on a unique coach build commission. Our designers had a long-held ambition to create a contemporary expression of the boat tail typology, where coachbuilders of old would graph the whole forms of sailing boats onto the rolling chassis of a Rolls-Royce. When the design direction was proposed, the three patrons were of one mind. They shared a single demand, 'Show me something I've never seen before.' And the Rolls-Royce Boattail was conceived."
The Boat Tail has an elongated silhouette with an overall length of nineteen feet, which is long by normal vehicle standards but commonplace amongst ultra-luxury cars. For reference, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade comes in at 212 inches, or 17'5'', making it a full 18" shorter than the Boat Tail. That's not to say the Boat Tail doesn't make use of the space, however, as the body design presents itself as one singular piece without interruptions. The sleek shape draws your eye to the rear where the boating influence comes to the forefront. Boat tail design, when actually applied to boats, revolves around a sloping stern built to reduce drag and improve fuel economy on water. The concept has carried through time, particularly among ultra-luxury boat builders like Wajer Yachts, who use the same sloping design features (and azure blue colour scheme) on their Wajer 55S. Also at the rear, a button-activated rear deck opens up like a theatrical curtain to reveal a full hosting suite with a champagne chest, two bottles of Armand de Brignac vintage cuvée (more on that shortly), caviar and blinis. There's also a cocktail table with a full parasol which can turn a roadside picnic into the automotive equivalent of an anchor party. It's powered by a 6.75 liter V12 engine built on an aluminum spaceframe shared by other Rolls-Royce models like the Phantom, Collinan, and Ghost.
Other subtly clever details are the butterfly-hinged twin side opening compartments, a dashboard centrepiece with a cutout for one of two custom Bovet watches made for the owners, a champagne cooler made specifically to house bottles of Armand de Brignac, and an onboard crockery made by Christofle of Paris.
As for who owns this piece of vehicular architecture, the answer is in the details. Rumours had already existed that one of the three commissioned owners was from America and had some role in the music industry.
During the unveiling videos the choice of Armand de Brignac cuvée stood out a deliberate choice. The brand is partially owned by hip-hop mogul turned billionaire Jay-Z. The model colour in the videos also happens to be an azure blue, a likely stylistic nod to Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé's 9 year old daughter Blue Ivy.
Rolls-Royce themselves did the classic 'neither confirm nor deny' with a sly smile, telling Robb Report, “In broad terms, Rolls-Royce Coachbuild clients are significant individuals,” the spokesperson said. “They are collectors, patrons of the arts and men and women who have commissioned some highly celebrated architecture. Their ambition is to create a permanent statement: something profound that moves beyond the normal constraints.”
You can check out the evolution of the Boat Tail in the video below: