It seems that, for the super-rich of the world, one of the best ways of alleviating the stress and boredom of the ongoing Covid crisis and all its lockdown restrictions is to spec up an exotic car in a unique and personalised manner. And so, despite all the trading difficulties of the ravaged year of 2020, British marque Rolls-Royce has reported that its Bespoke Collective put in more work in the past 12 months than it ever has before.
Busier than ever before
The Bespoke Collective includes engineers, designers and craftspeople, based at the company's Goodwood base, who will cater to any whim of the high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) who commission customised Rollers. Apparently, almost every vehicle Rolls-Royce sold in 2020 was tailored in some way by the Bespoke division, and while both the designers of the car company and the clients who buy its products were confined to their homes as coronavirus lockdowns bit all over the world, Rolls-Royce claims it managed to maintain the 'unique, highly personal relationships' betwixt itself and its well-heeled customer base.
The motor-car maker also noted that the source of inspiration for much of the Bespoke work throughout 2020 was no longer coming from international travel and the associated grandeur of globetrotting on an endless budget, but was in fact given impetus by the 'rich and textural surroundings of the home, architecture and moments of stillness found in nature'.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce, said: "The Bespoke Collective scaled new heights of greatness in 2020 - that they did so against the backdrop of numerous, unprecedented constraints and challenges makes their accomplishments even more impressive. Never before have we seen such levels of Bespoke detailing in each commission, demonstrating that Rolls-Royce clients around the world have sought solace in creativity - commissioning introspective items of luxury that will stand the test of time to become lasting and poignant legacies.
"I am proud to say that at a time when our industry is beset with widespread cutbacks, we have worked hard to safeguard every job. Protecting the artistry of our talented associates demonstrates a conscientious approach to craft; one that protects the precious skills found at Rolls-Royce and preserves them for the future."
Here, then, are some of Rolls-Royce's own personal highlights of the Bespoke work it carried out in 2020...
DUSK IN TOKYO
Comprising a series based on four of the marque's current five different vehicles - namely, the Phantom, the Wraith, the Dawn and the Cullinan - this one paid homage to Japan's capital city. All four vehicles were finished in 'Dusk In Tokyo' white paint, while inside a Black Leather interior was complemented by Rose Gold Bespoke grilles for the cars' audio systems; in fact, on the Phantom, the clock case also was finished in the desirable metal. Even the Spirit of Ecstasy was switched to Rose Gold, too.
PHANTOM 'IRIDESCENT OPULENCE'
Part of the big Phantom saloon's unrivalled interior ambience comes from its hermetically sealed Gallery fascia. The 'Iridescent Opulence' built on this by housing more than 3,000 sustainably sourced tail feathers from peacocks and then hand-sewing them onto an open-pore fabric. A Mother-of-Pearl casing for the clock seals the deal, while embroidery and emblems elsewhere in the cabin pick up the feathery theme.
THE STEED PHANTOM EXTENDED
A long-wheelbase 'Extended' Phantom was the 'canvas' for this artwork, which had complex Bespoke embroideries of stallions on the interior of the rear doors. The sketch for the horses in question was presented to the R-R Bespoke Collective from a Chinese client with 'a very clear vision'.
'NEON NIGHTS' COLOUR TRILOGY
Some searing colour, here, as a Dawn, Wraith and Cullinan were all treated to some neon warpaint - and then the build run was limited to just four of each colour. All of these colours, believe it or not, were inspired by the natural world: so the Wraith's Lime Rock Green is akin to a hue found on the Australian green tree frog; the Dawn's Eagle Rock Red attempts to mimic the flowers of 'Ōhi'a lehua, an evergreen tree native to Hawaii; and then the Cullinan was finished in Mirabeau Blue, its colour coming from the Rhetus periander butterfly found in Central and South America.
WRAITH 'INSPIRED BY EARTH'
This is our favourite. It is based on what our own planet looks like from space, with various other design cues coming from the entire Solar System. So the Royal Blue paintwork is a reflection of the fact 75 per cent of the Earth's surface is covered in water, while the air-brushed bonnet artwork is a satellite view of the Middle East, centred on the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The hand-painted Emerald Green coachline incorporates the Sun, the Earth and the other seven planets of the Solar System (in case you're wondering, Pluto got its ass busted back down to 'dwarf planet' status in 2006, after 76 years of being classified a full planet), while the seats are made from Moccasin leather to mimic the sand of the deserts in the Emirates. The best bits, though, are the use of a Bespoke Starlight Headliner in the roof, embroidered to illustrate all the planets of the Solar System and the Sun itself, while another satellite image of the Arabian peninsula can be found on the dashboard fascia. Very, very lovely, this one.
WRAITH KRYPTOS COLLECTION
Not one for Superman, this... wait; what? What do you mean, 'kryptonite'? Ahem. Actually, this one is for the code-breakers: just 50 Wraiths were built in this line, all of which are embellished with a cipher concealed in the Collection's Bespoke detailing. If clients can decipher the code, made of the seven letters of 'Kryptos' itself and also the embroidered double-R on the head restraints, then they will be 'aided on their journey of discovery' as they begin to identify these letters on the Wraith Kryptos' screen-printed metal fascia. Nope, us neither - presumably, you need one of these cars to work out what's going on. Anyway, the Kryptos was finished in a solid Anthracite base colour with blue-and-green mica flakes, while inside a Bespoke Kryptos Green leather is set against either Selby Grey or Anthracite secondary shades. The bicoloured headliner depicts an in-motion data-stream-type motif.
GHOST ILLUMINATED FASCIA
The first appearance of the latest-generation Ghost revolves around one of its showpieces - the Illuminated Fascia. It is made up of 152 LEDs and 90,000 laser-etched dots, to result in 850 stars glowing on the dashboard. It took 10,000 hours of development to come up with the Illuminated Fascia and the lights in each car are carefully colour-matched to the cabin's clock and instrument dial lighting.
THE MAHLANGU PHANTOM
Another Phantom, this one was commissioned by a South African client who is a big fan of that nation's artist, Dr Esther Mahlangu. One of her works of art was said to be 'highly personal' to the client, and it was incorporated into the Phantom - taking up a position front and centre. Dr Mahlangu, remember, once did a BMW Art Car back in 1991 (it was an E34 525i) and some of her designs used to feature on the tailfins of British Airways' planes.
CULLINAN 'SPIRIT OF RUSSIA' COLLECTION
Over to Rolls' contentious SUV next, where four individual Bespoke commissions were dedicated to some of Russia's most famous mountains - so Elbrus, Krasnaya Polyana, Golden Mountains and Klyuchevskaya Sopka. That resulted in four different exterior colours being used to commemorate each peak, which were Iced Black Diamond, Iced Gunmetal Steel, Midnight Sapphire Blue and Premiere Silver, all of which were teamed to darkened chrome exterior detailing. Within, a map of Russia is depicted on the Starlight Headliner and mountainous forms are embroidered onto the head restraints. Each car's sill plates bear an inscription naming the mountain region that inspired its design, as well as the height of the tallest peak in each region.
DAWN SILVER BULLET COLLECTION
This Dawn's Aero Cowling is unique, while it is also finished in 'ultra-metallic' Brewster Silver paint. The 'Silver Bullet' name and silhouette is proudly displayed on the Aero Cowling, which turns the Dawn from a four- into a two-seater convertible, and just 50 examples of the Silver Bullet Collection were made for worldwide markets.
Two Black Badge Dawns and nine Black Badge Wraiths were commissioned for the UAE under the Sportive Collection, all of them featuring bold colour combinations and technical fibre for the fascia that has been intertwined with a coloured weave to match the exterior bodywork. All 11 vehicles also had hand-painted coachlines with a unique 'Sportive' motif.
ARCTIC WHITE AND HOTSPUR RED PHANTOM
Commissioned by a Texan collector of Rolls-Royces, this Phantom is Arctic White on the outside with a double coachline and double pinstripe in Hotspur Red. This latter colour is a hint to the interior, where every single surface of the car is finished in the same hue. Even the lambswool floor mats, the privacy curtains and the luggage compartment are rendered in Hotspur Red, while the Gallery in the main fascia is called 'Lakeshore Aurora'.