royce mills

SWEPTAIL, bespoke Rolls-Royce for one specific customer

Every aspect of the material treatment of ‘Sweptail’ exudes handcrafted quality and exacting attention to detail. In short, it is a Rolls-Royce – but like no other before.
The owner of this car, who doesn’t wish to be named, obviously has deep pockets. Very deep pockets, since the special Rolls is rumored to cost around $13 million. The unnamed gentleman came to Rolls-Royce to realize his vision of a one-off luxury motor car that would evoke the beauty of coachbuilt Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 1930s. He asked for a two-seat coupé featuring a large panoramic glass roof.

“Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of Haute Couture,” comments Giles Taylor, Director of Design at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “It is a Rolls-Royce designed and hand-tailored to fit a specific customer. This customer came to the House of Rolls-Royce with an idea, shared in the creative process where we advised him on his cloth, and then we tailored that cloth to him. You might say we cut the cloth for the suit of clothes that he will be judged by.”

Inspired by the beautiful coachbuilt Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 1930s, the client’s desire was for a coachbuilt two seater coupé featuring a large panoramic glass roof. Amongst his inspirations were the dramatic 1925 Phantom I Round Door – the svelte tapering glasshouse, dramatic dash to axle proportion and up-sweep of the rear departure angle of the 1934 Phantom II Streamline Saloon. Other classics from the marque’s golden age informing this car were the 1934 Gurney Nutting Phantom II Two Door Light Saloon and the Park Ward 20/25 Limousine Coupé.

The grille is the largest fitted to any modern-era Rolls Royce. It’s milled from a single piece of aluminum, before being hand-polished to a mirror shine. Further back you’ve the “swept-tail” that gives the car its name, while Rolls says the way the bodywork wraps under the car “with no visible boundary to the surfaces” is “akin to the hull of a yacht”. Meanwhile the “bullet-tip” centre brake light and lower bumper “combine to create a greater feeling of elegance in motion”.

The “highlight” of the exterior though, says Rolls, is the panoramic glass roof. They claim it’s “one of the most complex ever seen on a motor car”. It’s certainly among the biggest. Creating the ambience of the interior of the motor car, the glass of the roof is framed by polished aluminum rails that channel it into a vanishing point at the rearmost extremity of the cabin. The panoramic glass roof illuminates a minimalist interior, ‘decked’ out in materials as rich as you’d expect from the marque. Dark ebony wood and ‘Dark Spice’ leather are complimented by lighter paldao wood and ‘Moccasin’ leather. The minimalist ethic is taken to the extreme with the dashboard, which ditches everything except for one single physical control – everything else is hidden away to allow the materials to star.


Behind the two enormous front seats, instead of a rear bench you’ll find an vast expanse of wood, ideal for storing designer suitcases. The center armrest is a chiller for a bottle of vintage champagne and two crystal champagne flutes.

Notes II in West End,  November 1987:

Rosemary Ashe (who got that red dress many months after the premiere)
John Aron 
Mary Millar 
Royce Mills
David Firth (Monsieur André AND the original Raoul understudy) 
Michael Ball
Claire Moore (that dress with stripy hem was also worn by understudy Maria Kesselman. not sure if they shared it, or if one inherited it from the other).