Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rolls-Royce Unveils Sweptail Coupe; World's Most Expensive New Car

Rolls-Royce Unveils Sweptail Coupe; World's Most Expensive New Car 
By Marrs

-Villa d’Este for Concorso d’Eleganza, Italy
When Rolls-Royce unveiled the Sweptail coupe at the Villa d'Este Concours over the Memorial Day weekend it caused quite a stir, but not only for it's lavish lines, exquisite attention to workmanship, jaw-dropping price estimate (speculated to be $12.5 million USD) and sheer audacity... it also pointed a tightly focused laser squarely at the future of high-end motoring in a way that perhaps few understand outside of Rolls-Royce themselves. Hinted at in the press release below, right there in the first paragraph, we read, "This Vision Vehicle envisaged a world of completely personal luxury mobility where new technologies would allow every Rolls-Royce to be designed in their owners’ image, should they wish." What does that mean exactly? Well, that subtle line speaks volumes about Rolls-Royce's future commitment to electric vehicles, and specifically making use of one of the most relevant aspects of current electrified autos, the separate chassis containing the battery packs and hardware that would allow every new car from Rolls-Royce to be a candidate for a bespoke body and interior.

Remember that many electric cars today do not use the traditional unibody method of construction that has reigned supreme for at least 60+ years, replacing the body-on-frame style that was common previously.  While this may seem like a step backwards, it is actually best suited to today's production methods, having one, or only a handful, of standard electric powered chassis that could accept a manufacturer's range of bodies, each essentially snapping into place on the chassis. While future makers such as Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and others will most assuredly attach bog-standard production line bodies to their cars, some top-market builders such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, and so on, will take absolute advantage of the opportunity to once again, just as in their glorified past, offer fully bespoke automobiles just like the Sweptail we feature here today. 

In the accompanying video, we see that this body and interior were created in exactly the same manner as they would have been 100-years ago, hammering by hand sheets of aluminum over wood bucks until the body lines begin to take shape, fitting, shaping and refitting again and again until the lines are all just right, hand stitching the full leather interior, polishing the massive grille until it gleams like a still pond in moonlight. Yes my friends, the elegance and glory or coach building is back, and in a huge way, and yet it slips past the world's automotive cognoscenti in the clever guise of a one-off automobile built simply to the whims of a well-monied individual. No, this is no one-off, perhaps in the truest sense of the word, in that another just like it will likely never be built again owing to it's place in the world as a truly special and unique automobile, but a piece of the Sweptail will be in every future Rolls-Royce in the sense that it's the first example of what these finest-of-the-fine will become in just a few short years once electrification, and eventually automation, are upon us. 


When, approximately one year ago, Rolls-Royce presented 103EX to the world, it invoked its coachbuilding coachbuilding heritage to inspire its future clientele. This Vision Vehicle envisaged a world of completely personal luxury mobility where new technologies would allow every Rolls-Royce to be designed in their owners’ image, should they wish. Such a Rolls-Royce would represent the truest meaning of luxury – a personal, Bespoke motor car like no other for each individual commissioning patron.

The mere idea of a modern coachbuilt Rolls-Royce was not enough for one Rolls-Royce connoisseur however. This individual approached the marque with his own idea of a two-seat Rolls-Royce that he wanted to be created in the here and now. That motor car is here, now and is christened ‘Sweptail’. In a nod to the swept-tail of certain Rolls-Royces from the 1920s, admired by the client so much, he asked Rolls-Royce to reimagine this feature on his one-off motor car.

Presenting the car to the media at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este on Saturday 27th May 2017, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars said, “Sweptail is a truly magnificent car. It exudes the romance of travel for its own sake, and immediately places ‘Sweptail’ in the pantheon of the world’s great intercontinental tourers. Rolls-Royce’s history as the world’s leading coachbuilder is at the very core of its identity as the world’s leading luxury brand. The arrival of 103EX shone a light on the future of Rolls-Royce in this field, and ‘Sweptail’ is proof, today, that Rolls-Royce is at the pinnacle of coachbuilding. We are listening carefully to our most special customers and assessing their interest in investing in similar, completely exclusive coachbuilt masterpieces. At the same time we are looking into the resources which will allow us to offer this unique service to these discerning patrons of luxury.”Through this commission, Rolls-Royce has proven once again to be the world’s leading luxury goods provider.

‘Sweptail’ – how the vision became the reality“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.”

In 2013, Rolls-Royce was approached by one of its most valued customers with a very particular request. A connoisseur and collector of distinctive, one-off items including super-yachts and private aircraft, this gentleman came to Rolls-Royce to realise his vision of a one-off luxury motor car like no other.

The client immediately established a close rapport with the design department led by Taylor, who set about bringing the idea to life.

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. As a connoisseur of Rolls-Royces, he was inspired by many of his favourite cars from the marque’s golden era of the early 20th Century, as well as many classic and modern yachts.

The grandeur, scale, flamboyance and drama of the 1925 Phantom I Round Door built by Jonckheere; the svelte tapering glasshouse, dramatic dash to axle proportion and up-sweep of the rear departure angle of the 1934 Phantom II Streamline Saloon by Park Ward; the elegantly falling waist-rail, swept tail coachwork of the 1934 Gurney Nutting Phantom II Two Door Light Saloon, and the flowing roofline, rising departure angle, and again the swept tail coachwork of the 1934 Park Ward 20/25 Limousine Coupé were all considered by today’s Rolls-Royce designers in the creation of this very distinctive motor car.

Over the course of a number of years, Taylor and his team of designers engaged with the client in a wonderfully intellectual journey as they worked together to realise the customer’s distinct vision and bring it to life.

“Our job was to guide, edit and finely hone the lines that would ultimately give our client this most perfect of Rolls-Royces,” comments Taylor.

The result of this one-off coachbuild project is the completely unique Rolls-Royce ‘Sweptail’.

‘Sweptail’ – A distinct visionThe ‘Sweptail’ is without question a Rolls-Royce that fits to the marque’s DNA. Its initial formality when seen from the front signals that this is one very different and distinct Rolls-Royce. One’s attention is first attracted by the confident and solid character of the front profile, centred on a new treatment of the iconic Rolls-Royce Pantheon grille. The largest of any modern era Rolls-Royce, the grille is milled from solid aluminium before being painstakingly polished by hand to a mirror finish. The periphery of the front face of ‘Sweptail’ is framed in brushed aluminium.

As one moves around to the side of ‘Sweptail’ one finds that it is the striking silhouette that defines its unique character. Flowing as they do from upright and formal frontal aspect, the lines of ‘Sweptail’ resolve into a sveltely elegant form. The scale and grandeur of this regal looking coupé is evident. From the leading edge of the windscreen, the roofline accelerates as it fires backwards towards the rear of the motor car, overshooting the boot lid edge to emphasise its length. The longer side window graphic and wide C-pillar finisher underscore the length and proportions of this more wondrous of conveyances.

The coup de gras of the rear is the ultimate homage to the world of racing yachts that inspired the client, with its raked stern. Seen directly from behind, the rear taper contrasts strongly with the front of the motor car, shaping a completely new perception of a dramatic Rolls-Royce Coupé.

Both the roof line as it tapers towards the centre line of the car, concluding in a ‘bullet-tip’ that houses the centre brake light, and the sweeping lower bumper area of the motor car, combine to create a greater feeling of elegance in motion.

The cleanliness of the surface of ‘Sweptail’ is maintained as the bodywork wraps under the car with no visible boundary to the surfaces, a treatment that is akin to the hull of a yacht. The underside of the motor car was designed to deliver the visual of a progressive upward sweep at the rear departure angle of the car, culminating in the swept-tail that gives ‘Sweptail’ it name.

And finishing off the uncluttered rear of this one-off motor car, is its identifier and registration number, 08. Two individual digits milled from ingots of aluminium and hand polished.

The panoramic glass roof invites one into the magnificent interior, along with the natural light
The highlight feature of ‘Sweptail’ however is that specifically asked for by the client. An uninterrupted glass roof, one of the largest and most complex ever seen on a motor car of any marque, allows the cabin to be flooded with natural light, animating a host of beautifully handcrafted materials and componentry.The size, scale and complexity of the glass roof’s curvature is a marvel to behold, and from above again accentuates the speed and elegance of ‘Sweptail’. Creating the ambience of the interior of the motor car, the glass of the roof is framed by polished aluminium rails that channel it into a vanishing point at the rearmost extremity of the cabin.

Regal but modern interiorThe cleanliness and grandeur of the bodywork from the side view, the lengthened side windows and the panoramic glass roof combine to illuminate the two singular occupants of this most singular Rolls-Royce and its modern, minimalistic handcrafted interior. The provision of only two seats in a motor car of this size exudes the romance of travel for its own sake, and immediately places ‘Sweptail’ in the pantheon of the world’s great intercontinental tourers. This is furthered by the overall design of the interior, which has been conceived in a classic two-seat GT configuration, echoing the touring nature of its exterior body lines.

And what a place to be as one watches the world slip by through the vast windows and roof, detached from the outside world in a cocoon of luxury whilst feeling one is part of that passing landscape.

The interior is ruled by a philosophy of simplicity and minimalism leading to a distillation of componentry and a purification of clutter. The value of beautiful materials takes precedence here, resulting in a fastidious suppression of switchgear to the absolute minimum to make way for the richest of materials applied in the most honest of fashions. An uninterrupted and harmonious visual experience of every surface inside the cabin is ensured.

Generous quantities of polished Macassar Ebony and open-pore Paldao adorn the interior, creating visual and tactile contrasts for the owner, both classical and contemporary. All their forms however are thoroughly modern as they echo the exterior lines of ‘Sweptail’, hand-formed to encircle the occupants with some of the most beautiful natural materials in the world. This choice of dark and light, Ebony and Paldao, is set off by contrasting light Moccasin and Dark Spice leathers that adorn the seats, armrests and dashboard top.

But it is what those materials have been made to do that is the most fascinating aspect of this one-off cabin. True to the spirit of a transcontinental GT that Rolls-Royce established in the 20s and 30s, in place of the rear seats is a vast expanse of wood creating a mid-shelf with an illuminated glass lip, and a hat shelf which flows to the outer limits of the interior volume. Sitting under the rear opening backlight through which it can be accessed, the hat shelf is in itself a thing of beauty, highly polished and inset with luggage rails.

Behind the occupants, a feature named the Passarelle flows from the rear edge of the windscreen to resolve in a teardrop as it connects to the hat shelf to join all interior volumes. This element also includes the only visible presence of this singular motor car’s name as ‘Sweptail’ is discreetly debossed into the surface, exactly on the centre line.Other modern materials and modern uses of those materials feature. The Macassar Ebony veneer seen around the cabin has been handcrafted to adorn the dashboard in the most modern way. The cleanest Rolls-Royce dashboard to date, the minimalist ethic not only dictates that only one control now appears on it whilst all other switchgear is discreetly relocated, but that the clock blends seamlessly too. In a world first, the face of this singular Rolls-Royce clock is also handmade of the thinnest Macassar veneer, visually embedding the clock into the fascia.

The delicacy of this particular piece of veneer allows for its rear illumination to pass through to show the hour marks, meaning the only physical elements on the clock are its hands that are precision machined from titanium. This use of titanium then extends to the faces, numbers and hands on all three hand-assembled instrument dials.

Two final surprise and delight features have been secreted inside ‘Sweptail’ to the stringent standards of the client.

Concealed in the outboard walls on either side of the motor car, behind the opening of the coach doors, are two identical panniers. Each pannier, when activated, deploys forward to present the owner’s bespoke made attaché case which has been carefully packaged to exactly house his personal laptop device. The cases themselves have been hand-constructed from lightweight carbon fibre, wrapped in the finest leather that matches the interior of ‘Sweptail’ and detailed with machined aluminium and titanium clasps and locks.

These attaché cases are twinned with the full set of luggage also developed by Rolls-Royce Bespoke for ‘Sweptail’. The luggage resides in the trunk of the motor car, a trunk beautifully clad in the same wood as the hat shelf and inset with polished aluminium luggage rails.

The coup de gras of this one-off masterpiece is as personal to the owner as every other feature of ‘Sweptail’. The entire centre console now houses a one-off hand-built mechanism that, at the touch of a button, will deploy a bottle of the client’s favourite vintage champagne – the year of his birth – and two crystal champagne flutes. As the lid of the chiller opens, the mechanical action articulates the bottle to the perfect position for the owner to pick up.

A most personal, coachbuilt Rolls-Royce for a 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.

Enjoy this video presentation of the Rolls-Royce Sweptail's design and construction.

Monday, May 22, 2017

57th Annual Portland Rose Cup Races, July 7-9, 2017

Tickets now on sale for this summer’s 57th annual
Rose Cup Races presented by George Morlan Plumbing
PORTLAND, Ore. – Tickets for the 57th running of the Rose Cup Races presented by George Morlan Plumbing are on sale now at This year’s event will take place July 7 through July 9 at Portland International Raceway (PIR), 1940 N Victory Blvd. Gates are open from 7:30 am to 4pm daily.
A sanctioned event of the Portland Rose Festival, the Rose Cup Races is the premier amateur road racing event in the Pacific Northwest, featuring racing competitors from both the Oregon Region Sports Car Club of America and the Cascade Sports Car Club.
The event showcases seven classes of racing, including Big Bore GT, Spec Miata, Vintage, Spec Racer Ford, Small Bore, BMW Pro 3, and the Great American Stockcar Series (GASS), which provides high speed door-to-door racing in identically prepared NASCAR-like V8 ground-pounders. The race weekend also features for the first time drone racing from the Professional Aerial League (PAL), alongside freestyle exhibitions and drone education activities. Attendees can also enjoy car club corrals, vendor displays, and a variety of food and beverage concessions.

Tickets cost $25 for one three-day admission with parking. Individual day tickets run $5 for Friday, $8 for Saturday, and $10 for Sunday. Parking is $5 daily or $10 for a weekend pass. A motorhome pass includes two three-day entries and parking and costs $125. Admission for children ages 12 and under is free when accompanied by a paying adult.

A limited supply of two special tickets is being offered this year: the first is a “Ride of Your Life” ticket for $150, which includes one three-day admission with parking, a souvenir hat, an exclusive T-shirt, a race day program, a scheduled ride for two laps in an exotic street car or racecar on Friday or Saturday evening, and a tax deductible receipt. The second is a $50 VIP ticket that provides special access behind the scenes of the races and an entry to a drawing to win a ride in the Pace Car at lunchtime for either Saturday or Sunday; this VIP ticket also includes one three-day admission with parking, a souvenir hat and a race day program. Details for both tickets are available at the ticketing website.

Friday, July 7, features practice and qualifying for all seven classes; Saturday, July 8, presents two 20-minute races per class; and Sunday morning, July 9, features warm ups, last chance qualifying and a number of feature races; Sunday afternoon presents opening ceremonies, feature races, and the Rose Cup Winners Circle.

The Rose Cup Races was the first major event ever held at PIR in 1961, and has taken place annually ever since. The event is promoted by Friends of PIR and presented by George Morlan Plumbing.

About Friends of PIR
Friends of PIR is a 501(c3) nonprofit committed to the preservation and enhancement of Portland International Raceway (PIR) as a resource for those who use it, including both participants and spectators; sustaining and expanding PIR's civic contribution as an institution in North Portland; and providing guidance and support for the ongoing management of PIR in a manner that assures its ongoing value as a venue for motorsports and other diverse forms of recreation and entertainment. For more information, visit

About Portland International Raceway
Portland International Raceway (PIR) plays host to a diverse array of events for participants and spectators of all ages, ranging from high speed road racing to motocross, car cruise-ins to bicycle racing, and swap meets to foot relays. Unique in that it receives zero tax dollars, the City of Portland Park provides entertainment to approximately 400,000 visitors each year. For schedule and event info visit
Thanks to Chris Crabb @ PIR.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Mercedes-Benz Goes All Game of Thrones on their Two Door Lineup

Mercedes-Benz Goes All Game of Thrones on their Two Door Lineup
by Marrs

Mercedes-Benz is apparently seeking to fill in every last remaining product gap in their lineup based on their latest announcements for future vehicles, including some rather drastic changes to a few of our old favorites, and a total elimination of three popular model ranges. The two-door cars are our focus today, with big news concerning the iconic SL, the SLC, the AMG GT, and the S-class coupe and cabriolet.

The next generation Mercedes-Benz SL, due in 2020, will ride on the same platform as the AMG GT, said to be a lighter-weight configuration that will shed much-needed pounds on both models. While the AMG GT will retain it's present two-passenger setup, the classic SL will morph into a 2+2 configuration, something previously offered only with the somewhat half-assed, “child seats” option, but this time, will receive true, if still small, rear seats serving permanent butt-coddling duty for your favored traveling companions.

The SL, somewhat controversially, will surrender it's retractable hardtop and come fitted solely with a more traditional soft top. The retractable hardtop has become a Mercedes-Benz design staple since first appearing on the 1996 SLK roadster, and on SL’s starting in 2003 with the introduction of the R230 cars.

Speaking of the SLC, formerly the SLK, we hope you weren’t getting too attached to the spiritual successor to the classic 190 SL, because the entire model lineup has been discontinued for future production.

This slaughter of the topless model range doesn’t end there, the S-class coupe and cabriolet, which feel like they were only recently introduced themselves, will also disappear from the production lineup.

What can we predict this all means? Most likely, it signals the development of new models to fill gaps as the traditional model lines grow in size and weight. I’d imagine that we will begin to see the C-class grow closer to what the E-class used to be, while the A and B ranges likewise increase their proportions. The CLA will possibly receive coupe versions, and the C and E-class cars will field their own coupe and cabriolet models. We can see the S-class coupe/cab surviving as a Maybach product, or that car being replaced entirely by a new, specialized version that would serve as the ultimate flagship. The sedan segments will probably continue to reach towards larger “crossover” proportions, while also losing some of the traditionally “sedan-like” styling cues, and not to mention grilles and faces, as the brand continues it's technological march towards electrified and autonomous cars.

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