19 February 2020
Custom cars have come a long way since the blinged-up days of MTV’s Pimp My Ride. When once scissor doors, glow stick neon paintjobs and subwoofer stereos were the height of cool (in some circles, at least), today a bespoke motor is an altogether more sophisticated creature. Just as customisation has infiltrated our homes, wardrobes and even the way we travel, so too has it made its mark on, er, marques.
Rolls-Royce reports its personalisation service, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective, as receiving an unprecedented number of requests in 2019, with almost all of the 5,152 motors the manufacturer created last year featuring some sort of bespoke aspect. In some cases, this meant adding a champagne fridge, a television or climate-controlled humidors.
In others, the commissions have been more challenging. The Pebble Beach 2019 Pastel Collection (pictured), for example, is a triad of motors refreshed in colours inspired by the palette of the wildflowers on California’s Monterey Peninsula. All Black Badge models, the marque’s Ghost, Dawn and Wraith racers were reimagined in light green, coral and yellow respectively, with refreshed interiors to match.
Another customer, a Swedish billionaire, paid for a one-million-satin-stitch rose garden to be embroidered on the interior of his Rolls-Royce Phantom in homage to his wife and two of his four children, who are named after flowers. The Rose Garden at Goodwood, the home of Rolls-Royce, served as inspiration for the brand’s bespoke designer Ieuan Hatherall.
“There is a transcendent beauty when a rose garden is in full bloom,” Hatherall said. “The patron wanted to create that same feeling of awe; an abundance of flowers to lift the spirit and celebrate nature’s decadent beauty, in the Rose Phantom’s serene interior.”
Big ideas and even bigger pockets keep the brand’s bespoke division busy. Last year, the marque unveiled the most expensive new car ever made, a one-off custom build dubbed the Sweptail reported to be worth $13m. The owner approached the marque in 2013 with the idea to create a one-of-a-kind car drawing from the luxury yachts of the 1920s and 30s. A single-piece glass roof, the largest grill ever fitted on a modern-era Rolls and a raked stern directly inspired by the world of racing yachts kept the client happy – and Rolls-Royce grinning all the way to the bank.