In the early 20th century, when autodom was still in its infancy, car manufacturing was, unsurprisingly, a much different process from today. While Henry Ford revolutionized the industry by introducing mass production techniques – including large-scale plants, standardized parts, and in 1913, the world’s first automotive moving assembly line – ultra-luxury marques continued to employ the coachbuilding method, or handcrafting the vehicle’s body around a central chassis. The meticulous process granted elite buyers the opportunity to essentially custom create their rides, and many vehicles bearing the same emblem shared few – if any – design similarities. Eventually, mass manufacturing models became the norm, and the art of coachbuilding dissolved into a sea of factory-installed options and aftermarket parts. Rolls-Royce is reviving the artform at its Goodwood plant. The British heritage brand has a deep history of subverting expectations and globally adopted practices (its brooding Black Badge series, for example, proves a half-million-dollar land limo can be ferocious). In 2017, in its first full coachbuild of the modern era, Rolls presented the Sweptail, a stunning two-seater topped with a “bullet tail” panoramic roof. It took four years to construct and garnered near-unanimous praise. Last year saw the debut of the Boat Tail, a reinterpretation of the iconic 1910 design and the world’s most expensive street legal vehicle with a price tag of $28 million. It was the first of only three that would be made, and fervor had been mounting for its follow-up until this May, when RR rolled out the second Boat Tail on the western shores of Lake Como in Italy.

The second chapter Boat Tail was commissioned by a magnate in the pearling industry, whose enterprise served as the focal point of the bespoke design. He shared four pearl shells from his personal collection with the designers at the start of the project, and each was reflected in the color scheme. The main hue, a blend of oyster and soft rose sprinkled with mica flakes of bronze and white for a brilliant pearlescent effect, is one of the most complex shades ever created by the British marque. A contrasting pigment of gold-flecked cognac coats the hood. The rear deck, finished in a rich walnut veneer with brushed rose gold pinstripes, splits open to reveal a full-service hosting suite, including an umbrella, fold-out chairs, dishware, and flatware. The second iteration shares a similar price tag just north of $28 million with its predecessor, and is expected to become the centerpiece of its owner’s vast collection of four wheeled classics.

ENTIRELY CONSTRUCTED BY HAND, the coach build features body panels fashioned from single sheets of aluminum to create an outline inspired by the racing yachts of the early 20th century.

ALEX INNES, Rolls’ head of coach build design, said of the custom build: “Boat Tail is a step-change in ingenuity and creative liberty. Building a motor car by hand offers a new realm of exploration and possibility: we can accomplish things and resolve challenges that normal industrialized methods would prohibit.”

THOUGH POWERTRAIN DETAILS weren’t disclosed, the Boat Tail is based on Rolls’ flagship Phantom, which boasts a thundering 6.75L V12 that delivers 563 horses and 664 lb.-ft. of torque.

THE DASHBOARD’S CENTERPIECE is a timepiece made from mother-of-pearl, carefully selected from the commissioner’s personal collection. The control switches and instrument dials were also fashioned from the same material.


ROLLS’ SIGNATURE PANTHEON GRILLE was milled from a single, solid billet of aluminum, and is topped with the Spirit of Ecstasy crafted from rose gold.

Paul Miller Rolls-Royce
331 Route 4, Paramus / 201.252.8001 /