Building bespoke low-volume or one-off cars has become a highly lucrative business for ultra-premium carmakers such as Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley and Aston Martin, but Rolls-Royce has elevated the art to an entirely new monetary dimension with its mega-exclusive coachbuilt specials.
The UK-based marque has just unveiled a jaw-dropping convertible dubbed La Rose Noire Droptail, which is the first in a series of four Droptail commissions that the brand will build and sell. Although Rolls-Royce doesn’t divulge prices for its bespoke models, past vehicles in its coachbuilt line are believed to have sold for more than $28 million, and La Rose Noire is likely to be the most expensive one-off to date, with a speculated price of $30m.
“Rolls-Royce La Rose Noire Droptail is a love story, thoughtfully captured and stunningly projected on to the canvas of a Rolls-Royce motor car,” said Rolls-Royce chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos at the reveal. “It is an expression of the deep and passionate partnership between a husband and wife who are the heads of a prominent international family. To be part of their remarkable story is a privilege.”
Rolls-Royce’s head of coachbuild design, Alex Innes, explains that the guiding inspiration for “this dark, bold and powerful commission” was the dark-burgundy black baccara rose (hence its La Rose Noire moniker), as this is a significant point of affection for the client.
Rolls-Royce previously based its bespoke models on the Architecture of Luxury platform that underpins the Cullinan, Ghost and Phantom, but La Rose Noire is built around a brand-new monocoque chassis constructed from steel, aluminium and carbon fibre, in a first for the coachbuild division.
Propulsion comes from Rolls-Royce’s familiar twin-turbo 6.75-litre V12, but its power output has been bumped up to 602hp – an increment of 30hp. Although its owners aren’t likely to cane the living daylights out of it, La Rose Noire should be rapid enough as the now-retired Dawn convertible sprinted from 0-100kph in under five seconds and easily hit its electronically governed top speed of 250kph.
Bespoke features of La Rose Noire Droptail
La Rose Noire is an enormous vehicle – almost yacht-like in dimensions – yet its svelte, low-slung bodywork helps disguise its enormous girth. The exterior coachwork is finished in True Love red and, like the Black Baccara rose, the vehicle appears to change colour depending on the point it is viewed from.
Rolls-Royce said it achieved this colour variation via a completely new paint process, which was allegedly perfected over 150 careful iterations. A base coat, the colour of which is “a closely guarded secret”, was followed by five layers of clear lacquer, each blended with a slightly different tone of red.
The duotone theme extends into La Rose Noire Droptail’s brightwork. The dark finish, named Hydroshade due to its liquid quality, was developed specifically for this project. These pieces are not painted; rather, a specific chrome electrolyte is introduced in the chrome-plating process and co-deposited on each stainless-steel substrate in a layer just one micron thick – roughly the same width as a strand of spider-web silk.
A removable hard top has been designed to give Droptail two distinct characters. In the words of Rolls-Royce: “Without its roof Droptail is a lithe, open-top roadster; with the roof installed, it becomes a formidable and dramatic coupe.” The roof features an electrochromic glass section, which instantly transitions to a near-translucent shade at the touch of a button.
Other bespoke touches in La Rose Noire include 1,603 wooden pieces hand-finished and hand-placed in the interior over an almost two-year period, a wearable 43mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept watch – which can either be worn or taken off its strap to sit in the centre of the dashboard – and a chest commissioned to house bottles of the mystery owners’ favourite vintage champagne.
Most expensive cars in the world
Although ultra-opulent, La Rose Noire Droptail isn’t the only coachbuilt car to wear a price tag that could easily apply to a premium villa on Palm Jumeirah. Rolls-Royce has already rolled out the megabuck Boat Tail and Sweptail, and other notable one-offs in recent years include Bugatti’s La Voiture Noire (The Black Car), which sold for $19m.
Bugatti has also rolled out the $9m Centodieci, of which 10 units were made to celebrate the EB110 that propelled the brand into the limelight in the early 1990s, while in 2020 Aston Martin released the one-off Victor coupe, rumoured to cost up to $6.5m.