Rolls-Royce's Sweptail is 'haute couture' on wheels

Not content with one of the most exclusive and expensive cars in the world?

Rolls-Royce has the answer in the form of the Sweptail, a bespoke one-off machine created for "one of its most valued customers with a very particular request".

That request, made in 2013, was "to realise his vision of a one-off luxury motor car like no other" to add to his collection of expensive things that float and fly.

The unnamed owner liaised for two years with designers and craftspeople to create a modern masterpiece inspired by Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and '30s.

The Sweptail is rumoured to have cost the owner about $17 million, making it the most expensive new car ever built (many classic cars have sold for more).

Despite its hefty size and price the Sweptail seats only two people, with the distinctive racing yacht-inspired tail tapering at the rear, inspiring the car's name.

Details, details…

Few details have been overlooked, inside and out.

The "new treatment" of the toothy Pantheon grille was milled from a polished block of solid aluminium, the interior is lavished with Macassar Ebony and open-pore Paldao wood, while there is contrasting Moccasin and Dark Spice leathers everywhere from the seats to the dash.

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Even the clock, the centrepiece of a minimalist dashboard treatment, was created for the car, with titainium hands and elegant backlighting.

There's even a hint of James Bond, with the classic materials and finishes contrasting with the panniers that slide out of the side of the car. Each is made from carbon fibre and wrapped in leather and houses a laptop.

Fancy a Champagne on the run? Even that's been thought of, with a centre console that deploys a bottle of Champagne and two crystal flutes; Rolls-Royce has even selected Champagne from the owner's birth year.

According to Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor the "Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of Haute Couture."

"It is a Rolls-Royce designed and hand-tailored to fit a specific customer. This customer came to the House of Rolls-Royce with an idea, shared in the creative process where we advised him on his cloth, and then we tailored that cloth to him. You might say we cut the cloth for the suit of clothes that he will be judged by."

A one-off, but more to come

The Sweptail may be a one-off, but Rolls-Royce has hinted it intends to do similar bespoke projects in future, ensuring owners prepared to pay many millions are rewarded with exclusivity.

"We are listening carefully to our most special customers and assessing their interest in investing in similar, completely exclusive coachbuilt masterpieces," said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. "At the same time we are looking into the resources which will allow us to offer this unique service to these discerning patrons of luxury."

Like Rolls-Royces experimental cars, the latest being the 103EX, the Sweptail could also give clues to future mainstream Rolls-Royces.

A version of that revised grille, perhaps, or some of the finishes and details, including the minimalist dash treatment.

Guaranteed to turn heads

Like a motor show concept car, just one Sweptail has been produced. But, unlike a concept car, this one can be registered and driven on the road, something the owner intends to do, even registering it with the numberplate 08, the two numbers hand crafted from aluminium ingots.

The owner of the car, who celebrated with a party at Lake Como, where the car was revealed for the first time, has not been identified.

However, the steering wheel is on the right, suggesting he plans to drive it in a right-hand drive country, which could be anywhere from the UK or Japan to South Africa or India.

It could even mean Australia, although the bespoke numberplate would suggest it's not destined for here. Which is lucky, because the import duty, luxury tax, stamp duty and GST would amount to something north of $6 million.