Rolls-Royces are already among the most exclusive and expensive automobiles on the planet and have been ever since their inception over 100 years ago. But, for the company’s wealthiest and most influential clients, just buying a standard Rolls-Royce isn’t enough. No, they want something even more unique, and for the right price, Rolls are happy to give it to them. Often, clients like this will want one-offs, so that no one else in the world has the same car that they do.
Many of the rarest Rolls-Royces are indeed one-offs, but there are a number of ultra-limited run models that also rank among the rarest the company has produced. These include the personal transport for royalty, a British-Italian collaboration that struggled to sell, and a vintage motorcar from the earliest days of the brand. Let’s take a closer look at ten of the rarest Rolls-Royces to ever leave their world-famous production line.
When it comes to modern Rolls-Royces, it doesn’t get much rarer than the Sweptail. A coachbuilt one-off that was specifically designed to the wishes of its owner, the Sweptail became the most expensive new car in the world when it was unveiled.
It was reported at the time that the car cost around $12.8 million. Unlike many other owners of rare cars who buy them just to let them sit unused in a garage, the owner of this car has been spotted driving it around the UK and the south of France.
9 Phantom Hyperion by Pininfarina
Another coachbuilt one-off, the Phantom Hyperion by Pininfarina was originally built for Rolls-Royce collector Roland Hall, but he sold it after just one year for a reported $4 million. It then changed hands again an unknown number of times, then was listed for sale again in 2021.
Listed with an Emirati auto dealer, it came with an asking price of $3.22 million, but even at that lower asking price, Autoevolution reported that it sat in the showroom for months before being sold. Clearly, collectors just weren’t all that interested in buying someone else’s idea of a perfect Rolls.
8 10 HP
The first car to ever be produced under the partnership of Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, the 10 HP was produced between 1904 and 1906. Early versions came with a 10 horsepower engine as its name suggests, but later versions actually increased the output to 12 hp.
Only 16 units were originally made, and it’s thought that just four of those survive to the present day. One is owned by Bentley Motors, one by a British science museum, and the remaining two are assumed to be privately owned.
7 Silver Dawn Park Ward Drophead Coupe
Silver Dawns are already one of the rarer Rolls-Royce models out there, with just over 750 examples made. But, the Park Ward Drophead Coupe is one of the rarest of all, as only six examples were built at the requests of individual clients. The Silver Dawn was produced between 1949 and 1955, and it was during that time that Rolls-Royce decided to begin offering ready-made bodies for its cars.
Up until that point, the company had mainly built chassis which were then individually finished by coachbuilders. The Park Ward Drophead Coupe was one of the earliest examples of a car that was built entirely in-house by Rolls’ own coachbuilding division Park Ward.
6 Wraith by West Coast Customs
While coachbuilding is no longer the in-demand industry that it once was, there are still plenty of companies out there that will take a production luxury car and strip it back down, then reshape it to their client’s wishes. West Coast Customs is one of the most well-known, and in 2021 they unveiled a very futuristic-looking one-off.
It started life as a 2018 Wraith before being sent to West Coast Customs by its owner, pop singer, and notable custom car enthusiast Justin Bieber. Bieber has previously been responsible for some of the ugliest celebrity custom cars, but this one is actually pretty cool.
5 Phantom State Limousine
Being one of the most prestigious British car companies, it’s no surprise to find out that the Queen of the United Kingdom has owned a number of official Rolls-Royces over the years. She reportedly has three in her collection at the moment, alongside a selection of Bentleys and Land Rovers.
The car pictured here is one of her most famous, a 1953 Phantom IV State Landaulette that was kept by the family for over 40 years. It’s no longer in the Queen’s possession, as it was sold off at a Bonhams auction in 2018 to a private buyer.
4 Phantom “Blue Magpie”
The year 2016 was a very productive one for Rolls-Royce’s commissions department, with several one-offs being built for the company’s most loyal clients. Of those cars, one of the most visually distinctive is the Blue Magpie, which was built for a customer in Taiwan.
It’s named after a species of bird that’s only found in Taiwan, and the seat headrests are all embroidered with images of the bird. It’s finished with a distinctive light blue paint with a white interior and white accents around the car.
3 15 HP
Shortly after the introduction of the 10 HP, a second, even more exclusive Rolls-Royce model was unveiled in 1905. The 15 HP was bigger, more powerful, and more expensive than the initial car, and only 6 were ever produced.
Of those six, only one example survives today, the car that was originally the demonstrator example driven by Henry Royce. It eventually ended up in the hands of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club, which still owns it today. It’s occasionally displayed at museums around Scotland.
2 Phantom I Jonckheere Coupe
It might be in show-worthy condition today, but this one-off Phantom has had a rather rough life. It was originally sold as a 1928 car, then sometime in the ’30s, it was brought to Jonckheere, a Belgian coachbuilder who made their fortune designing buses.
The art deco styling is totally unique for a Rolls-Royce of its era, and it initially wowed the public and critics, winning concours prizes in the process. But, it eventually ended up in the US, where it was painted gold by a businessman and toured around malls as a money-making scheme. It then got sold to a Japanese collector who left it in disrepair before selling it to the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2001, who eventually restored it to its former glory.
1 Boat Tail
Unveiled in 2021, the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail made headlines as the most expensive new car in the world upon its debut. At an eye-watering $28 million, the car featured over 1,800 bespoke parts and looks very different from the Phantom on which it’s based.
Rolls-Royce will reportedly build just three examples of this car, with the example pictured being reportedly sold to rapper and businessman Jay-Z. The second Boat Tail is set to be unveiled at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in May 2022.