Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has today presented a new hand-built edition to their fleet – Rolls-Royce La Rose Noire Droptail, a dark, daring and dramatic coachbuilt masterpiece.
So many elements of this car are a refreshing step away from the norm from the traditional designs from Rolls Royce in a project that gives us a look at an almost lost art of coach making. A host of unique features adorn this work of art and whether or not you like the end result or would want one yourself, one has to admire the skill. Personally, on first look I feel the brave and refreshing step away from some of their iconic hallmarks, is a welcome one.
This extraordinary motor car, presented to the clients who commissioned it at a private event close to Pebble Beach in California today, symbolises the distillation of experiences, significant moments and objets d’art cherished by its owners – an international family that exemplifies connoisseurship and luxury of the very highest order.
Rolls-Royce La Rose Noire Droptail is inspired by the allure of the Black Baccara rose, an intense, velvet-like flower that originates in France and is beloved by the mother of the commissioning family. The dark pomegranate colour of its petals appears almost black in shade, but in direct light, a red, pearlescent shimmer is revealed on the dark surface. These two colours form the primary palette of La Rose Noire Droptail. The first red shade is named ‘True Love’ in recognition of the romance the client wished to capture in this commission. The darker tone is named ‘Mystery’, inspired by the mysterious nature of the rose, which appears to change colour when viewed from different angles. Indeed, it was the essence of true love and the mystery of exploration and travel that captivated the clients throughout the commissioning process.
The exterior coachwork is finished in the lustrous and complex True Love red. Like the Black Baccara rose, the motor car also appears to change colour depending on the point it is examined from. To achieve this rich variation, surface finish specialists developed a completely new paint process, which was perfected over 150 careful iterations. A base coat, the colour of which is a closely guarded secret, was followed by five layers of clear lacquer, each blended with a slightly different tone of red.
The duotone theme extends into La Rose Noire Droptail’s brightwork. The dark finish, named Hydroshade due to its liquid quality, was developed specifically for this project. These pieces are not painted; rather, a specific chrome electrolyte is introduced in the chrome plating process and co-deposited on each stainless-steel substrate in a layer just one micron thick – roughly the same width as a strand of spider-web silk. This dark but reflective finish is continued on select metal details throughout the interior, each of which have been precision-polished by hand to achieve a high-gloss finish.
A removable hard top has been designed to give Droptail two distinct characters: without its roof Droptail is a lithe, open-top roadster; with the roof installed, it becomes a formidable and dramatic coupé. Exclusively for La Rose Noire, the roof is uniquely low-slung, which is further exaggerated with a faster and longer rake to underpin its assertive, glamourous character. Behind it, an ingot with the motor car’s name is included – a first for Rolls-Royce. The completely Bespoke roof also features an electrochromic glass section, which instantly transitions to a near-translucent shade at the touch of a button, inviting patrons to explore the world above.
This subtle flourish continues into the intricate lower front air intake. This highly detailed piece was digitally designed and 3D printed in a lightweight composite and incorporates 202 hand-polished stainless-steel ingots, each hand-painted in the True Love hue.
A significant exterior element is the treatment of the striking alloy wheels, which feature the dark Mystery paint finish. Like the flower itself, from afar the finish appears to be black, but upon closer examination, the sunlight reveals shimmering dark red undertones. The Mystery paint is applied to the entire surface of the rim and then, through a high-precision diamond milling process, areas of the paint are removed to expose accents of the base alloy material that are then polished. This treatment emphasises the directional nature of the wheel and its bold 22-inch size, underpinning this Droptail’s formidable personality.
A SINGULAR TIMEPIECE
The fascia of Rolls-Royce La Rose Noire Droptail is provisioned with an integrated one-off timepiece by Audemars Piguet, which was specially commissioned by the client. The 43mm Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Date is powered by a unique self-winding Calibre 4407 movement, featuring a flyback chronograph and a split-seconds mechanism. Masterfully matched to La Rose Noire’s colourway, it incorporates red counters and a red inner bezel, providing a bright contrast to the black ‘openworked’ dial highlighted with rhodium-toned bevels.
Integrating the timepiece presented a significant challenge: the clients requested that it should both be mounted in the motor car and also be removable, so that it can be attached to a strap and worn. This was realised with a powered clasp mechanism that gently presents the timepiece at the touch of a button. Personally I would have demanded the strap be able to be kept on the timepiece as one can when putting it into a watch box. For the time effort and craftsmanship, this little bit for me has let this down. Albeit a true work of art, it is a shame that a designer, who maybe doesn’t appreciate the art of wearing a beautiful watch needs to be as seamless as their designs in the car.
Once the timepiece has been removed, the aperture in the fascia is covered with an elegant titanium openworked blank head watch highlighting a white-gold coin displaying a rose engraving, hand-sculpted by Audemars Piguet artisans. Subtle rose engravings on the motor car’s Bespoke Audio speaker frets mirror this motif. Each of the pieces were meticulously crafted by hand in the Swiss brand’s atelier and represent the only literal expressions of the Baccara Rose in the whole motor car.
This bold and historic motor car is a romantic celebration of the couple who created it, characterised by passion and a restless desire for meaningful experiences. In commissioning this extraordinary expression of Droptail, this remarkable family has not only shaped their own legacy but also participated in the legend of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.