Rolls-Royce unveils the latest Droptail

The luxury marque reveals the third iteration of Droptail Coachbuild, a highly bespoke commission and the first roadster body style in the company’s modern history

Motoring 1 Mar 2024

At Rolls-Royce, there really is no such thing as buying off-the-shelf. Every element of these luxury behemoths is customisable; right down to matching the exterior colour to your beloved pooch (a true story) and basing the design of the Starlight Headliner on the alignment of the stars the day your child was born. Theirs is a level of bespoke that remains unrivalled.

Still, the top tier of bespoke at Rolls-Royce is something that tends to be outside of the remit of even the most UHNWI customer. The Coachbuild division creates fully bespoke, one-of-a-kind custom cars inspired by the early 20th-century tradition of coachbuilding. Only four expressions of Droptail will ever be built, each a highly unique expression of the client’s character and vision. The last, Amethyst Droptail, was unveiled in 2023, and now it’s the turn of Arcadia, the first Rolls-Royce roadster body style in the marque’s modern history.

Arcadia is the result of a four-year collaboration between the (anonymous) client and the expert craftspeople at Rolls-Royce.

‘Rolls-Royce Coachbuild is the pinnacle expression of this incredible brand, and an unmatched concept in the luxury sector,’ explains Rolls-Royce chief executive Chris Brownridge. ‘In this department, the world’s most influential individuals collaborate with our designers, engineers and craftspeople to bring completely new ideas to life… Clients curate every facet of these masterpieces, which are brought into being by what I believe is the most talented team of experts in the luxury industry.’

And with such a team at your disposal, the sky’s the limit when it comes to design and ambition. The name Arcadia derives from the Ancient Greek concept of Heaven on Earth and the car was designed as a “serene space” for the client, incorporating minimalist themes and natural materials. Like a Michelangelo masterpiece, the exquisite, clean form of Arcadia belies the incredible skill and complexity beneath the surface.

‘The significance of Rolls-Royce Arcadia Droptail lies in its subtlety,’ comments Alex Innes, head of Coachbuild design at Rolls-Royce. ‘It is a projection of an individual who values clarity and precision in all areas of their life – from their passion for fine cuisine, their highly curated personal and professional spaces and affinity with contemporary design.’

The nautical-inspired Droptail blends Eastern and Western elements, such as the modernist tropical sky gardens seen in Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam alongside British biomimetic architecture, inspired by natural form.

The white exterior has an “effervescent sheen” created by combining the paint with aluminium and glass particles, while the carbon fibre lower sections of the car are painted in a bespoke silver. Inside the two-seater roadster are its most impressive features. Some 233 wood pieces, taking 8,000 hours to create, are incorporated into the design, with 76 pieces applied to the rear deck alone. The chosen material, Santos Straight Grain, is notoriously fragile and difficult to handle as it tears easily, proving a challenge for the Rolls-Royce team – but one they took on with typical aplomb.

Arcadia also features one of the most complex clock faces in the company’s history, which took an incredible five months to assemble; preceded by more than two years of development. An example of haute horology, the clock incorporates unique materials and craft techniques, including an intricate geometric guilloché pattern carved from raw metal and 12 hour-markers painted by hand. The rumoured £25m vehicle is one of Rolls-Royce’s most technically ambitious to date and an example of the marque’s tireless pursuit for perfection, inspired – still – by the words of co-founder Henry Royce: ‘Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better.’