The opulence of ultimate luxury — the upper echelons of craftsmanship, whether it be in architecture, timepieces, or yachts — seems to resonate with discerning individuals the world over. To capture its essence in the automotive landscape, we looked at some of the most luxurious interpretations of current car models that include accessories that run to hundreds of thousands of rands, and, in some rare instances, even match or exceed the actual price of the vehicle itself.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom is the ultimate symbol of luxury motoring: the pinnacle of four-wheel motion. Even so, for some people it is still not sufficient: cue the one-off Rolls-Royce Sweptail that was unveiled at the 2017 Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza in Italy. Harking back to the “sweptail” of the 1920s and ’30s, the model’s construction began in 2013, and, while every Rolls is bespoke, the Sweptail has been handcrafted with truly unique finishes.
For instance, the grille has been milled from a single aluminium piece, and hand-polished to a mirror-like high sheen. Most of the body panels are custom-designed, and the elongated, swept rear is what gives the car its name. The model, which was commissioned by one of the company’s most valuable customers, is the only one of its kind. Yes, I know you are wondering just how much all this costs the owner, but pricing is not a word in the Rolls-Royce lexicon. However, considering how much a Phantom would set you back, it is safe to say that the price of the Sweptail is well into the double-digit millions — not in rands, but dollars.
Then there is Mercedes and its luxury Maybach brand, which is based on current Mercedes-Benz models, but with higher and more customised levels of luxury than the originals. The range currently comprises the Mercedes-Maybach S600, S560 4Matic, G650 Landaulet, S650 cabriolet, S600 Guard, and the S600 Pullman Guard, some of which are available in South Africa for those buyers who find the already well-appointed Mercedes-Benz models wanting.
Beyond the Maybach derivatives of existing models, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach cabriolet concept — shown at Pebble Beach in California in 2017 — is the marque’s interpretation of the future of the Maybach brand, as well as the ultimate symbol of an open-top luxury car. Interestingly, this model — and the Rolls-Royce Sweptail — have strong design cues lifted from luxury yachts.
Jaguar Land Rover, meanwhile, has its special vehicle operations division, which offers bespoke versions of its current models. These include the Range Rover SVAutobiography, which is essentially a more bespoke variation of the already luxurious model. There is also the Range Rover Sport SVR and the Jaguar F-Type SVR, which offer better performance and a greater variety of unique finishes. Most recently, at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, Land Rover unveiled its Discovery SVX, a model that is billed to be the most off-road-capable Land Rover ever.
As the number of wealthy individuals increases around the globe, we can expect an increase in the availability of upper-luxury, customised models. It is a lucrative market for premium and luxury carmakers, as well-heeled individuals continue to demand more exclusive cars, tailored to their personalities; cars that outshine even the premium products already available. I guess that old adage of “more is more” continues to ring true in the world of premium vehicles: there is simply no substitute for the ultimate luxury.