This is the Rolls-Royce Droptail, the company’s first two-seat roadster of the modern era and said to be one of the world’s most expensive cars. Less than a week after the launch of the marque’s £24 million La Rose Noire, the new Amethyst becomes the second of four individual Droptail models created for ultra-rich clients.
Following on from the Sweptail of 2017 and 2021’s Boat Tail, Droptail is based on a new monocoque chassis of carbon-fibre, steel and aluminium, rather than an existing Rolls-Royce platform. Under the bonnet is Rolls’ venerable 6.75-litre V12 producing 600bhp; more than enough performance to blow the caviar off your cracker.
Hand-built by artisans at Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood factory in West Sussex, the open-roof grand tourer is equipped with a removable hard-top that features electrochromic glass for rainy days. Inside and out, the attention to detail is just what one might expect from the Rolls-Royce of private commissions.
Named after the birthstone of the buyer’s son, the Amethyst stone features in both the exterior and interior detail. Commissioned by a family which has grown a modest gemstone boutique into a multinational corporation, the mystery buyer is said to be a patron of the arts, with a collection of precious jewels and many rare cars housed in a private museum.
The veneer rear deck is the largest wood surface ever produced by Rolls, while the interior wood alone underwent 8,000 hours of testing to ensure survival in direct sunlight. The fascia carries a unique Vacheron Constantin watch that can also be removed from the vehicle and worn.
Two more Droptail models are commissioned, and all pay homage to the early Rolls-Royce roadsters that cemented the brand’s reputation as a builder of unique, coach-built cars. Like recent Bentley and Aston Martin one-offs, they prove the bespoke market is thriving. There are, however, some new millennium cars that are arguably even more unique than a Droptail.
Created by Lamborghini racing arm Squadra Corse, the SC20 is another roofless one-off that’s road legal and breathtakingly different. While the naturally-aspirated 6.5-litre engine produces 759bhp, it’s the screen-less design that makes this roadster so special.
Commissioned for an enthusiast, the 2020 SC20 is based on an Aventador and then lightened, with lashings of carbon-fibre. As a piece of contemporary automotive exotica, the open-air SC20 is unequalled, although head-butting a bee at 168mph suggests a helmet would be prudent.
Not another MX-5 special edition but a rip-roaring, mid-engined supercar from one of the more unlikely manufacturers. Furai was revealed to an unsuspecting public at Detroit Motor Show in 2008, an homage to Mazda’s 1991 Le Mans-winning 787B. The sleek two-seater may be 15-years-old now but looks remarkably similar to the Aston Martin Valkyrie, launched earlier this year.
Equipped with a 450bhp rotary engine running on ethanol, the Furai’s name was unfortunate – it literally means ‘sound of the wind’. Designed by Laurens van den Acker, Furai made an appearance at Goodwood Festival of Speed before the Mazda came to an unfortunate end, catching fire while filming for a popular television show.
Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron
This Audi had to be included, if only for the bonkers moniker. Branded with the most un-Audi of names, the loony Hoonitron was built in 2021 for the late Ken Block - the legendary American rally driver, who died earlier this year in a snowmobile accident.
Designed by Marc Lichte, the name derives from Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division, while the car is an all-electric vehicle built specifically for drifting. Fitted with two electric motors sourced from Formula E and built on a carbon-fibre chassis, a combination of 670bhp and the Hoonitron’s instant torque delivery make it the perfect tool for sliding sideways.
Ferrari SP48 Unica
If you don’t like the rear windscreen of a Ferrari F8 Tributo, what can you do? When Ferrari design chief, Flavio Manzoni, set about creating the Unica berlinetta, it was said by some to be a unique commission for a customer who didn’t appreciate glass.
A product of the Special Projects division, the Unica features no rear screen and smaller side windows – although Ferrari naturally insist it is purely to highlight the car’s ‘masculinity’. Based on the Tributo, the 2022 Unica was thoroughly redesigned on the outside but kept the twin-turbo V8. Obviously, such extravagances require deep pockets but the Unica will one day likely be worth its weight in gold.
Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina
Ferrari didn’t want the P4/5 included in this feature because it was an ‘unauthorised creation by a private client’, so here it is anyway. Based on an Enzo Ferrari, the $4 million project was created for film director James Glickenhaus and unveiled at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2006.
One imagines the fax machines in Pininfarina’s legal department took a battering when the covers first came off the super Enzo, designed by Jason Castriota, with a hefty nod towards Ferrari’s 1967 330 P3/4. The V12-powered P4/5 features a glass roof, air intakes on the bonnet and sides, plus some 200 unique parts.
Porsche 911 Vision Safari
The new Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato wasn’t the first, low-slung supercar to be beefed up for scrambling in the dirt. The Cayenne wasn’t the first Porsche off-roader. The Porsche 911 already had form in the East African Safari Rally during the 1970s and proved seriously quick.
In 2012, Porsche designer, Michael Mauer, created a tribute vehicle based on the 991 model. With raised suspension and reinforced wheel housings, the Safari may have been a concept but it could have been the perfect car for beating British potholes. Remarkably, the Safari project only came to light in 2020, when displayed at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.
Aston Martin Victor
A hypercar called Victor? Aston Martin’s 2021 two-seat coupe is a 7.3-litre bruiser that’s more strong-arm Victor Mature than grumbling Victor Meldrew.
A £4 million product of Aston’s Q division, the one-off is based on a limited edition Vulcan but styled in the manner of a 1980s muscle car, complete with 836bhp at the back wheels and a manual gearbox. It is, without doubt, the purest manifestation of the brute in a suit, mainly thanks to a V12 engine that was reworked by Cosworth. No turbo, no four-wheel drive and absolutely no flappy paddles. Perfect.