Behold: the new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail | Top Gear
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Behold: the new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail

Open-air, nautical-themed tourer is Rolls-Royce's first properly coachbuilt car since 2017's Sweptail

Published: 27 May 2021
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Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, welcome to the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail – a near-six metre long grand tourer with a removable “canopy” roof and something called a “hosting suite” hidden beneath the rear-deck.

Based on the same basic platform as the Phantom, and likely fitted with its V12, Rolls has hand-built a grand total of three of these things for customers who “share a deep appreciation of contemporary nautical design”. The car’s aesthetic is inspired by J-Class yachts and ‘Boat Tail’ Rolls-Royces of yore, which were created when coachbuilders began grafting “the hull forms of sailing boats” onto rolling Rolls chassis in the Twenties and Thirties.

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Indeed, the couple that commissioned the car pictured also own a 1932 Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, which they’ve just had restored to coincide with the arrival of their hugely expensive new toy.

The Boat Tail is road-legal, and Rolls claims it’s undergone all the same dynamic testing as its core models. Though it’s based on the company’s existing aluminium architecture, which took eight months to adapt to the Boat Tail’s proportions, the new car features 1,813 new and totally bespoke parts. Even the stereo hasn’t escaped untouched, with Rolls adapting the 15-speaker system to use the whole floor structure as a resonance chamber.

Then there’s the “hosting suite”, which has five ECUs all its own and a special wiring harness that took nine months to develop. With the push of a button the rear-deck opens butterfly-style to reveal to what is effectively, sorry Rolls, a glorified picnic set. One side is dedicated to drinks, with a double fridge designed specifically to hold (and rapidly chill to the correct temperature) the customer’s favourite kind of Champagne. The other is for nibbles.

There are fans to keep your caviar from spoiling in the warm temperatures for which the Boat Tail was designed (Rolls has tested the system up to 80 degrees Celsius). Meanwhile a parasol springs up from the centre line for shade, and there are a couple of little tables and storage compartments for two stools.

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What if it rains? Well, like other Rolls-Royces (and some Skodas) the Boat Tail does have a pair of umbrellas hidden in the door cards. Rolls doesn’t talk much about the “fixed canopy roof” – which it looks like you have to erect/stow manually, and keep in the garage when not in use – but does confirm the Boat Tail is supplied with a tonneau cover for “static transitory shelter”.

The clock is worth mentioning. Besides Rolls-Royces and Champagne, the owner of this car also collects Bovet watches. Over the course of THREE YEARS Rolls and Bovet developed two tourbillon timepieces that can either be worn on the wrist or mounted on the Boat Tail’s dashboard.

How much did all this cost? Who knows, but count on many, many millions.

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