Rolls-Royce Is Bringing Back Coachbuilding, Sort Of

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Rolls-Royce is one of the top players in the luxury car game. Cars are built for the wealthiest of the wealthy, the most exclusive of the most exclusive. Now, there’s another new and opulent offering from the British luxury marque, dubbed the Boat Tail. Rolls-Royce calls the Boat Tail an “utterly unique” coachbuilt vehicle. Coachbuilding is a lost art, and Rolls were once purveyors of this art in the early 1900s. But what exactly does that term mean?

What is coachbuilding?

The 2021 Boat Tail | Rolls-Royce

Like many car-related things, coachbuilding has its roots in horses. Way back when people still used horses for mass transit, the coaches for horse-drawn carriages were built bespoke for the wealthy, hence the term “coachbuilt”. When the world shifted to the use of those new-fangled automobiles, the coachbuilders adapted. Discerning and wealthy clientele would bring a coachbuilder a chassis complete with engine and drivetrain, then the coachbuilder would construct a custom body around it.

Funnily enough, Rolls-Royce has its roots in the practice. The British coachbuilder-turned-automaker became one of the more popular choices for this practice, along with other famous names like Alfa Romeo, Bentley, and Ferrari. As production techniques advanced, coachbuilt cars became a thing of the past. Now, Rolls has brought back the term with a twist. The British brand will now build a select few clients a totally bespoke, or in their words coachbuilt car. Of course, this isn’t coachbuilding in the strictest sense as the car is all Rolls, but the brand has been around long enough to play with the word as much as it wants.

Would sir like a glass of Champagne?

Boat Tail branded silverware in the back compartment of the new Rolls, including champagne.
Silverware in the Boat Tail | Rolls-Royce

RELATED: What Makes a Rolls-Royce Car Special?

Enter: the Boat Tail. Coming in at a massive 19 feet in length, the Boat Tail is loosely based on the same platform as the Phantom. While Rolls-Royce is quiet on the motor, it’s safe to assume the Boat Tail is powered by the same V12 as the Phantom. However, that is where the similarities end. The new car’s body took eight whole months to fit to the underpinning chassis, and according to Rolls, the rest of the car uses 1,813 new parts.

Construction of the Boat Tail is totally unique. The body and its features were created for one customer, not unlike what Aston Martin did with the Victor. Per Rolls Royce, the customer also owns the Boat Tail’s 1932 counterpart, which was restored in anticipation of the new car’s arrival. It was surely an absurd sum to have Rolls go to all this trouble, but only the best will suffice for the wealthiest of their patrons.

The new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is a masterclass in luxury

A blue Boat Tail photographed at sunset with the roof down
The 2021 Rolls-Royce Boat Tail | Rolls-Royce

In addition to all this coachbuilding work, Rolls also put some new luxury touches on the Boat Tail. The rear of the Boat Tail is designed with a hosting suite that opens up butterfly-style to reveal a number of amenities. These amenities include a silverware and drinks set, complete with champagne, and some chairs, and a table. Opulent to say the least; and why you would need this instead of a trunk means I’m too poor to get it.

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