Economy Middle East spoke to Richard Carter, Director of Global Communications for Rolls-Royce Motors Cars, about the Coachbuild division and what it means for the select clients who are invited to be a part of it.
What is Rolls-Royce Coachbuild?
Coachbuild is a very unique competence to Rolls-Royce, in years gone by, back at the turn of the century and later, people bought cars which were basically just a rolling chassis and they had no body. They took their rolling chassis to coachbuilders to create the body of the car. That was called coachbuilding.
Then later, when cars became mass-produced, coachbuilding became too expensive and took too long. So, it faded away, as did the industry and the competence. About five or six years ago, we at Rolls-Royce, discussed the notion of bringing the coachbuilding back to life. Could we allow and provide an opportunity for very select clients of Rolls-Royce to create for themselves their very own car with its own unique body and its own unique execution?
The answer was yes. We’ve been very successful in doing that. We now have a number of clients who are working with us on the creation of Coachbuild projects which will appear over the next years. This particular car that we’ve unveiled here today has been four years in the making for a very special client of ours who had the idea of making a car that was in the Boat Tail typology. We loved that idea. We went with it. The result as you can see is exquisite.
How much do you want to grow this part of the business?
It’ll never be a huge part of our business. This is more a halo if I can put it that way. It’s at the very apex of luxury. To create a product like this, I would say, is to create the world’s greatest luxury product. You will notice I didn’t say the greatest automotive luxury product. I’m talking about luxury in the broad sense of the word.
Rolls-Royce is a house of luxury in the business of making gorgeous and wonderful motor cars in the same way that other manufacturers may be in the business of making gorgeous timepieces or beautiful leather goods and so on. We make magnificent motor cars as items of luxury. To do coach building is a bit like haute couture, but even better because it’s haute couture in a one-off way.
It’s that special gown that a lady has made for her and there is only one of them ever. It’s that special watch that is made for a gentleman, perhaps, and there is only one of them. That’s the same that we’re doing here. We’re making super special Coachbuild cars for very unique and wealthy customers. There will just be one of them, or in this case, with Boat Tail. There were only three customers who came to us and talked to us about the Boat Tail typology.
One of them, who owns a historic Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, got together with two of his friends and they came to us and said, look, could they cooperate with us on a Boat Tail type Coachbuild project and you see the results of that today here on the banks of Lake Como and I venture to say it’s extremely beautiful.
What would the criteria be for one to commission such a Rolls-Royce?
Yes, that’s a good question. It’s not by commission. It’s by invitation. We look for clients who are connoisseurs, and car collectors, understand luxury, and are able to devote the time and energy into doing a collaboration with us on a particular Coachbuild project. That will mean coming to the home of Rolls-Royce maybe six, seven or eight times during the course of the four years that the car is in creation.
Working with our designers and our Coachbuild craftsman, leather people, and so on and so forth. They will collectively design and bring the car to life. We look for clients who are able to dedicate the time and can afford it, these projects are not cheap.