One of only four unique expressions of the Rolls-Royce Droptail, Amethyst Droptail is a breath-taking coachbuilt masterpiece that celebrates its commissioning client’s cultural heritage, family legacy and personal passions.
Inspired by the amethyst gem – the birthstone of the patron’s son and an enduring symbol of purity, clarity, and resilience – Amethyst Droptail was commissioned by a patron whose family business has grown from a gemstone boutique to a multinational corporation with diversified interests. This exceptional motor car is defined by the client’s passion for quiet artistry and subtle flourishes.
Commenting on the project, Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce’s Head of Coachbuild Design, said: “Created for an individual with a passion for modern design, the minutia of haute horlogerie techniques and whose family has a special connection to gemstones, Amethyst Droptail is a remarkable projection of connoisseurship, contemporary design and personal heritage.”
The inspiration for the Droptail’s exterior came from the patron and co-creator’s expressed desire to celebrate the cultural heritage of their home region, and in particular, the Globe Amaranth wildflower, which blooms in the desert near one of the client’s homes.
The duotone exterior paint finish captures multiple stages of the flower’s bloom. The main body colour, named Globe Amaranth, is a soft purple hue with a delicate silver undertone and a captivating iridescent finish. This is beautifully contrasted by a deep purple Amethyst paint, used on the motor car’s upper coachwork.
Additionally, in sunlight, the motor car also reveals a gentle hint of mauve paint on the inside of the 22-inch wheels, providing a subtle but elegant contrast to the mirror-polished aluminium surface; a touch that the client compared to the colourful lining of their favourite bespoke jacket.
The exterior is finished with a subtle but highly complex treatment to the carbon fibre used to construct the lower sections of the motor car. The result of two years of development, the marque’s craftspeople created a chevron pattern book-matched along two axes, which adds geometric decoration to Rolls-Royce Amethyst Droptail’s technical exterior surfaces.
The carbon fibre itself is finished with a fine layer of lacquer tinted with Amethyst pigment, which in most lights reads as body colour. This intricate and technically demanding detail is hidden until the motor car is closely scrutinised, speaking of the client’s passion for subtlety and restraint.
The most challenging requirement demanded of Rolls-Royce’s artisans is the flourishes in the Pantheon grille treatment. The exterior grille surround and ‘kinked’ vane pieces are partially hand-brushed and partially hand-polished with a precise line demarking each finish – a surface treatment that had never been attempted on this scale before. The concept was suggested by the commissioning client’s son, a collector of haute horlogerie who was inspired by the brushed hands of a historically significant piece in his archive.
Beneath this extraordinary expression of contemporary craftsmanship is an intricate lower front air intake. This highly detailed piece was digitally designed and ‘printed’ in a lightweight composite and incorporates 202 hand-polished stainless-steel ingots, each of which has been painstakingly painted by hand in the Globe Amaranth hue.
The front end is resolved with a Spirit of Ecstasy figurine surrounded by amethyst cabochons. The cabochon treatment, whereby a gemstone is shaped and polished into a rounded form rather than faceted, was requested by the client to avoid a conspicuous sparkle. This subtle detail recalls the client’s early enterprise in the precious gemstone business.
The materials and crafts features in Amethyst Droptail were personally curated by the commissioning client and his family. The material selection began with a sample of Calamander Light open-pore wood offered by the client. The colours of this initial wood sample served as the inspiration for the motor car’s leather treatment. The gently contrasting leather, in the aptly named Sand Dunes hue, was developed to perfectly match the caramel strands on the Calamander Light open-pore wood.
Rolls-Royce has also created the most extensive wooden surface area in its history, with the material extending from the motor car’s fascia and doors to the shawl panel, cantilevered ‘plinth’ centre armrest and onto the aft deck. Additionally, a completely new veneering process was developed specifically for Amethyst Droptail, with each veneer sheet placed upside down to expose the raw wood texture.
To ensure the interior wood parts were compatible in a variety of climates around the world, they were tested to meet the same rigorous endurance standards as the exterior parts. Prior to its final construction, more than 150 samples underwent over 8,000 hours of testing. This included a full sunlight exposure simulation and lightfastness assessment, as well as testing for durability in temperatures ranging from +80°C to -30°C. The deck’s protective coatings, developed specifically for Amethyst Droptail, have been granted their own patent.
The primary leather hue, named Amethyst, complements the exterior surface and is finished with a subtle pearlescent lacquer, reminiscent of the Amethyst gemstone. The client also requested the adornment of the rotary dials with these rare gems. As with the gems at the base of the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine, they too are shaped in a convex cabochon style rather than faceted. The stunning depth and clarity of each stone are of a standard usually reserved for fine jewellery. Each stone was examined by experts within the client’s organisation before they were personally and individually approved by the client.
A removable hard top has been designed to give the Rolls-Royce Droptail two distinct characters: without its roof, the Droptail is a lithe, open-top roadster; with the roof installed, it is a formidable and dramatic coupé. The roof incorporates electrochromic glass that allows the surface to change colour and transparency instantly.
The client challenged Coachbuild designers to develop a glass that would alter its hue in order to correspond with the colourway of Amethyst Droptail. In response, the Rolls-Royce Coachbuild Collective developed a unique chameleon effect for its electrochromic glass: when deactivated, it is completely opaque and has a subtle purple tint, mirroring the motor car’s Amethyst exterior finish. Once the glass is activated at the touch of a button, it becomes translucent with a hue that matches the Sand Dunes leather colour used in the interior suite.
Rolls-Royce Amethyst Droptail fascia is graced with a unique timepiece commissioned by the client from Vacheron Constantin. Handmade in Geneva, the piece, named ‘Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon,’ has an intricate hand-wound movement and is securely housed in a specially designed holder, enabling it to be removed and stored separately from the motor car if desired.
The timepiece features a bi-retrograde display with instantaneous return of the hours and minutes as well as a bi-axial tourbillon. Vacheron Constantin and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars worked closely together to ensure the forms, materials and colours of the timepiece were in harmony within the motor car.
“Within Rolls-Royce design,” says Rolls-Royce’s Design Director Anders Warming, “Amethyst Droptail will stand in our history as a representation of how accurate our creative response can be in projecting the soul of an individual commissioning client through both literal and highly conceptual expressions of personal luxury.”