The age of electrification is fast approaching at Rolls-Royce, with the Spectre poised to replace the gas-guzzling luxury barges that currently grace the company’s showrooms. To make the transition a little less painful and to celebrate the upcoming demise of the famous V12 in appropriate style, the British firm has just launched a small production run of very special coupes.
Meet the Black Badge Wraith Black Arrow Collection—phew!—a set of 12 cars available to order now that pay homage to a speed record of days gone by and wave goodbye to the Wraith V12 coupe.
Like absolutely everything at Rolls-Royce, nothing about this small production run of high-end cars is normal. The Black Arrow not only is the last-ever V12 coupe to be built by the firm, but it also celebrates the 12-banger in unique style.
All 12 cars are infused with references to a speed record set by Captain George Eyston at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1938 when the plucky Brit achieved 575.335km/h aboard his seven-ton, eight-wheel Thunderbolt that was powered by two Rolls-Royce V12 R Series aero engines.
The celebration of speed and V12 awesomeness starts with the paint job, which as you’d expect is totally over-the-top. Paint technicians—or should we call them scientists?—spent 18 months developing a unique two-tone color graduation that starts as Celebration Silver at the front and turns into Black Diamond as you move toward the back of the car.
The special texture of this paint job is meant to create a motion-blur effect, and is also inspired by the surface patterns found on the salt flats of Utah. Once painted on, it’s polished for 12 hours to give it that Rolls-Royce shine. Almost subtle yellow air intakes and pinstripes give a bit of contrast to the otherwise quite subdued exterior.
The inside is fitted out in contrasting black and yellow, with plenty of extraordinary details for the lucky owner to marvel at. The door panels and the panel between the rear seats are adorned by open-pore blackwood veneers made of 320 laser-cut pieces assembled to look like the cracked surface of the Bonneville flats.
The front fascia displays an artistic image of the legendary V12 engine, but of course, that’s not just a cheap print. Rolls-Royce technicians spent two months figuring out how to engrave the image onto a black-coated piece of aluminum, so what you see is actually the bare metal shining through, creating the final artwork.
If that’s not sparkly enough for you, then the biggest starlight headliner ever fitted to a Roller might be able to wow you. No fewer than 2,117 fiber-optic lights have been fitted to depict the Milky Way as it would have looked on the 16th of September 1938, the day when Eyston set his speed record.
Other hat tips to the historic event include the fascia clock with hand tips designed to look like the side mirrors of Thunderbolt; the dark markings on the steering wheel and the seats that reference the black lines painted onto the ground to guide Eyston on his record run; and the maximum speed reached back then, 357.497mph, that is proudly displayed below the dashboard clock.
There’s also a new material being used in the cabin, called Club Leather. Specially created just for these 12 cars, it graces the armrests, the transmission tunnel, and other bits, and provides a greater sheen and deeper colors than the natural grain leather used elsewhere in the car.
The engine is stock apart from a small, yellow plaque fitted to it that identifies it as being at home in a very special Rolls-Royce. If you plan to get yourself one of these last V12 two-door lounges on wheels, then it’s bad news: All cars have already been spoken for.