Rolls-Royce has just revealed its latest Collection Car. It’s a special Wraith that’s a tribute to the first non-stop transatlantic flight, which, of course, used a plane powered by Rolls-Royce engines.
Rolls tells the story of that first flight. With Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown taking off from St. John’s, NL, and making the 1,880-mile flight to Clifden, Ireland, in June of 1919. Flying a modified Vickers Vimy bomber from WWI. The bi-plane was powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines. Massive 20.3L V12 engines that made 350 hp each.
With failed radios and navigation devices, Rolls pointed out that the engines were the reliable components that were most essential to the successful journey.
This Wraith Eagle VIII, named for the engines in that plane and created by “the Bespoke Collective at the House of Rolls-Royce,” is filled with details that pay tribute to that journey.
The exterior is gunmetal with a Selby grey upper two-tone. Meant to be evocative of the nighttime flight. The colours are separated with a brass feature line, which Rolls-Royce calls a hint as to the details inside the car. The grille is finished in black, meant to reference the cowling of the Eagle VIII engines.
Inside, the leather interior is also finished in Selby grey and black. There are brass accents throughout the interior, including contrast stitching on the seats and dashboard, but also brass-coloured inlays in the centre console. The speaker grilles are also finished in brass. And since this is a Rolls, yes, it’s actually brass. The speaker grilles show the estimated 1,880-mile flight distance and directly below that on the driver’s door is a brass plaque with Sir Winston Churchill’s quote about the event.
“I do not know what we should most admire – their audacity, determination, skill, science, their aeroplane, their Rolls-Royce engines – or their good fortune,” Churchill said.
The most impressive bits, though, are the dashboard fascia and the headliner. The dash is a modern and abstract view of what the pair would have seen as their aircraft cleared the thick fog and cloud before landing in Ireland. It uses smoked eucalyptus and gold, inlaid with silver and copper, to look like the earth at night. With a clock sporting an iced-over appearance for the background that glows in the dark. Like the flyers would have seen.
1,183 fibres of starlight headliner show the sky at the time of the flight. With the flight path and constellations embroidered in brass and the moment they left the cloud cover to navigate by the stars marked with a red light. A plaque shows the halfway distance.
The Wraith Eagle VIII will be revealed at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy, this weekend. Just 50 of the Eagle VIIIs will be built.