Cars > Peek

The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is the most opulent convertible ever built

A single car is allegedly more expensive than some business jets

Wave a blank check at Rolls-Royce and it will give you something like this. PHOTO FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

Anyone who buys a Rolls-Royce might have the option to customize the vehicle in an almost unlimited number of ways, but it’s still a standard production model underneath. What if you wanted to have your very own Roller, designed and built to your exacting wishes? Then the accommodating ladies and gentlemen from Crewe in England will do two things: ask you to give them a blank check and introduce you to their coachbuilding department.

The result could then look like this: the Boat Tail, an out-of-this-world expensive, custom-made land yacht that is celebrating the art of the bespoke motor car for people with more money than they know what to do with. Only three of these machines will ever exist, and every single one will be different. But all carry a price tag that makes other luxury cars seem cheap.

Land yachts are normally associated with large American cars. But the Boat Tail truly is a land-bound yacht. PHOTOS FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

Underneath the gorgeous blue exterior of this almost-6m long grand tourer sits the platform and the 563hp 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 from the Phantom, but not much else was kept from that already impressive limousine. In place of the standard body glistens a hand-built design meant to pay homage to the original Rolls-Royce Boat Tails, a series of coach-built vehicles from the 1920s and the 1930s. The cars got their name from the sweeping rear section that was supposed to remind onlookers of the hull shape of J-class yachts from the time.

While this two-door palace can’t float, it does pack a few jaw-dropping features that will make you look twice. For starters, one of the clients likes to collect and wear watches made by Swiss firm Bovet 1822, but he doesn’t like the feeling of a heavy timepiece on his wrist while driving. Normal people would just take the watch off and place it in the glove compartment. We’re not talking about normal people here, though. The owner had two new Bovet watches specially made: one for him and one for his wife. Rolls-Royce, together with the Swiss watchmaker, engineered a solution where he and his missus can use their timepieces in place of the clock that normally adorns the dashboard.

Your plebeian neighbor's Maybach or Bentley can't do this. PHOTOS FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

Then, of course, there is the pièce de résistance that is the fold-out rear section, or “hosting suite” as it’s officially called. What you are looking at here is the poshest way to have a picnic ever devised. At the press of a button, two butterfly doors in the rear section open up, two tables fold out, and a small parasol extends so guests can dine in the shade. On the car shown here, the rear section is split into two compartments, with one side dedicated to beverages and the other to food.

Naturally, the drinks and the nibbles aren’t of the common nature. On the booze side, the owner requested storage for champagne and even had the compartment color-matched to his favorite brand of the French tipple. Switch over to the rolling buffet and you can help yourself to sandwiches and caviar with the help of engraved crockery and cutlery from French firm Christofle. The attention to detail went as far as creating bespoke salt and pepper grinders for the owners to use.

The owner's favorite bottle of very expensive champagne sits in the fridge. PHOTOS FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

So, how much will all this hand-built motoring beauty set you back? While Rolls-Royce remains tight-lipped about the exact price, it is thought that it hovers somewhere around the £20 million mark, which translates to an eye-watering P1.36 billion. What makes this rolling picnic basket so expensive? The materials alone—nice and exclusive as they may be—only make up a relatively small percentage of the price. The lion’s share of cost lies in the amount of time and effort spent to plan, design and build this insane machine. Rolls-Royce master coachbuilders don’t come cheap, and they have spent a significant amount of time on this car. To make the hosting suite at the rear function the way it does, five new ECUs and a redesigned wiring harness had to be created—a task that took nine months of research and work.

The rear deck is so complicated that it needs no fewer than five ECUs. PHOTOS FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

Overall, it took four years to make this project a reality. A total of 1,813 new parts had to be made, and every single body panel on it is unique and has been hand-formed from aluminum, including the side panel that represents the largest ever fitted to a Rolls-Royce car. Considering the firm claims to have entered the minimalist Post Opulence movement not too long ago, you could argue that this vehicle signifies exactly the opposite. But then, what do we know about a world where you have salt and pepper grinders made to match your car?

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.