Exclusive: Rolls-Royce Boat Tail designer on coachbuilt car's key features

The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is the firm’s latest ultra-exclusive coachbuilt creation, and just three examples of the machine will be produced.

While the general styling of the three cars will be familiar, each model will be heavily customised to the specifications of its buyer.

Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce’s head of Coachbuild Design, gave Autocar an exclusive tour of the first Boat Tail machine to be revealed to highlight some of the key features – including a unique pop-up parasol, two working fridges and handbuilt matching timepieces.

Q. How did the design process work over the four years?

A. “We followed a normal design process: we built full-size clay models and invited the clients in to see them at differing stages.

“When some brands talk about bespoke, it’s very much after the fact and they’re guiding clients towards predetermined options. For us, such was the strength of the relationship that we were comfortable bringing them into the studio when the project was in its absolute infancy; and we didn’t have a crystallised view of what it would be.”

Q. How similar will the Boat Tail cars be to one another?

A. “The bodystyle is the only similarity between the three. If we wanted to do a modern Boat Tail, it needed to be more than one: when you look back at coachbuilding in the late 1920s, there was usually more than one. We felt three was the natural limit to safeguard that absolute exclusivity. [The clients] were heavily involved in shaping the design of the car, but the appointment of the cars, the details and the provisions of the rear hosting area vary considerably.”

Q. How hard were aspects such as the parasol to develop?

A. “These lovely little quirks really tried the patience of our engineering and technical colleagues. The parasol is a very Rolls-Royce solution. We could have done this by finding certain quicker and more modest ways to do it, but this really needed to be the very, very best and deliver a ‘wow’ factor when the client was using it.”

Q. Which is your favourite feature of the Boat Tail?

“The very fact it exists. In a world of instant gratification and immediate fulfilment, to have the time, space and freedom to assemble something that will mark a moment in history for the brand was extraordinary and a privilege to be a part of.”

Q. What do the Boat Tails say about Rolls-Royce’s future?

A. “We’re don’t necessarily work to a scale of volume, more to a scale of scope. As for this post-opulence movement, there’s a very different positioning between conspicuous consumption – which is broadening what you do today – and this, where you elevate in a completely different direction and create something more profound.

“We believe the future of luxury is singular: it’s about creating singular moments and objects that connect with the patron in a way that’s hugely powerful.”


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