Rolls-Royce La Rose Noire Droptail a dark floral love letter to customization

Rolls-Royce’s boat-themed custom vehicle developments have gone from the 2017 Sweptail to the 2021 Boat Tail and now the Droptail — to be precise, the La Rose Noire Droptail. This is the first of four coachbuilt Droptails, handed over in a private gathering near Pebble Beach to the family that commissioned it. The name La Rose Noire blows a kiss to the Black Baccara, a hybrid tea rose created in France around 25 years ago and a favorite of the matriarch in the family that commissioned the Rolls-Royce. The flower’s petals shimmer from almost black to dark red-burgundy and pomegranate depending on the light and the angle of view. Two hues represent this fierce luster on the car: a deep red called True Love and a darker red called Mystery.

Painters applied the iridescent True Love to the body with a secret base coat followed by five layers of clear lacquer, each lacquer layer blended with a slightly different tone of red. Rolls-Royce says it took more than 150 experiments to perfect the final product. True Love appears again on the Pantheon upper grille, the shade painted on the backs of the grille vanes. Rolls-Royce 3D-printed the lower intake in a composite material, accented with 202 stainless-steel ingots painted in True Love. Mystery bows on the 22-inch alloy wheels, contrasted with millwork that exposes the alloy spokes underneath. And a new chrome plating process created the darkly reflective Hydroshade tint of the brightwork.

Removing the custom roof with its electrochromic glass panel reveals a cockpit that Rolls-Royce used to set new standards for its craftsmanship. The buyers wanted parquetry with a motif of scattering rose petals. Rolls-Royce decided the best way to achieve that would be to create and finish 1,603 Black Sycamore veneer triangles by hand, and lay 503 red veneer pieces asymmetrically among them to represent the petals. The woodwork runs across the instrument panel and in an element along the doors, then down the tail. The application was so intense that a single artist worked in one-hour stints no more than five hours a day in a sound-insulated room “to ensure the focus required.” 

Then there’s the treasure in the instrument panel. The commissioning family went to Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet for a custom timepiece, a 43-millimeter Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph GMT Large Date. The family asked Rolls-Royce to create a setting to allow mounting the timepiece in the car, while keeping the timepiece portable when the owner wished to wear it. The result is a recessed fixture in the dashboard for the Royal Oak’s case, the timepiece secured in its fixture by two tiny, powered doors. When the watch is being worn, a titanium watch blank engraved with a rose petal is placed in the recessed fixture. Audemars Piguet craftspeople sculpted the blank as well as matching motifs for the speaker grilles elsewhere in the cabin. A leather pouch in the door pockets holds the watch band or the titanium blank when either is not being used.

Finally, there’s the custom Rolls-Royce champagne chest created to hold the specially commissioned vintage of Champagne de Lossy bubbly. Because there’s going to be lots of celebrating when this one comes out of the carriage house.

Now that Rolls-Royce has set this as the new bar, we’ll be looking for the next three Dropttails to raise it.

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