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Rolls-Royce Droptail Coachbuild Roadster arrives at Monterey Car Week

The new bespoke Rolls-Royce is the first two-seater in brand’s modern history

Rolls-Royce has revealed details of its next ‘Coachbuild’ program that has led to the creation of four exclusive Droptail roadsters, the first of which has debuted at Monterey Car Week in California. Designed and manufactured by the specialist Rolls-Royce Coachbuild team, each car will be built to the exact specification of its individual owner, starting with this La Rose Noire commission. 

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This exclusive clutch of Rolls-Royce Droptail Coachbuild Roadsters represent the first time the British marque has built two-seater cars in its modern history. All take direct inspiration from coachbuilt models constructed in the early decades of the 20th century, commissioned for the American market and built by external coachbuilders using a Rolls-Royce chassis and engine. These models were typically purchased by younger, less traditional Rolls-Royce clients, and were a clear step away from the four-seater configuration preferred by most Rolls-Royce customers at the time. Rolls-Royce aims to channel the same ethos in these new Roadsters. 

All the cars carry direct cues from unique coachbuilt models like the 1912 Silver Ghost ‘Sluggard’ or 1925 Silver Ghost 'Piccadilly’, but also include more playful references to the more modern hot rod scene and the wild proportions it has made famous. This can be seen in the Droptail’s much lower windscreen and exaggerated features in comparison to Rolls-Royce series production models. 

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Rolls-Royce has reimagined the Pantheon grille by introducing an undercut just as the vertical strakes meet the bonnet. This creates a distinctive brow that also houses the bespoke headlights. In a similar fashion to many of the brand’s other ‘Coachbuild’ products, the upswept rear end has been taken to an extreme, with precise layering and use of secondary surfaces to trick the eye into thinking the body is floating above the unique 22-inch wheels.

Despite only having two seats the body is still 5,300mm long, revealing an open cabin that’s entirely bespoke, with a newly designed dash and centre console. In a gentle nod to Rolls-Royce’s usual maritime inspiration, the two-seater body features upright buttresses behind the driver’s head integrated directly into the aluminium bodywork.

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In place of a folding fabric roof, Rolls-Royce has designed a solid and removable carbon fibre hardtop that doesn’t just provide weather protection, but also transforms the car’s exterior aesthetic thanks to its unique design. The roof also incorporates electrochromic glass which can vary its opacity via a switch inside the cabin. 

To create each of the four units in the Droptail Coachbuild Roadster series, Rolls-Royce has substantially re-engineered its aluminium chassis, using both traditional metal works and extensive use of carbon fibre for the new model’s construction. Under the bonnet is a twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre V12 engine, which for the first time in a Coachbuild commission, includes a 30bhp power increase compared to its most powerful application in a standard model, the Wraith. This brings power up to 654bhp and torque to 840Nm. 

The La Rose Noire commission revealed here has a unique pomegranate paint finish inspired by the Black Baccara rose. This is contrasted against a dark finish for most of the exterior detailing, with only certain elements - such as the exterior door handles and grille strakes - featuring a bright polished finish. 

Perhaps the most dramatic element on the car is the complex parquetry featured inside the cabin. Here, 1,603 triangular pieces of Black Sycamore veneer are arranged in a unique pattern creating the effect of fallen rose petals. This hand-crafted element took a single craftsman nine months to complete and shows the extreme lengths Rolls-Royce goes to in pursuit of its luxury vision, and those of its customers.

The remaining three commissions will be shown off in due course, but for now us mere mortals can only wonder about the size of the bill. It is worth remembering that previous Rolls-Royce Coachbuild commissions have been rumoured to be the most expensive new cars, ever made – a mark this new quartet might well match. 

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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