When a regular supercar is just too ordinary, with one on every second corner in Monaco, it’s time to commission a bespoke car. The ultimate motorised status symbol is a one-off — a unicorn that only a handful of the most well-heeled people will ever experience. All premium automakers offer a choice of personalisation options, so your Ferrari or Rolls-Royce doesn’t look exactly like the one next door, but nothing says “I’ve arrived” quite like a unique car that was personally built for you in collaboration with the brand’s design team. Here’s a look at some one-off specials built for billionaire moguls in recent years.
The latest addition to the Prancing Horse’s one-off series, the Ferrari SP51 is a special commission for a Taiwanbased client who is one of the brand’s leading collectors. The front-engined V12 spider is based on the seriesproduction Ferrari 812 GTS, from which it inherits its layout, chassis, and 588kW 6.5l engine, but it has a bespoke body that features extensive use of bare carbon fibre, including the wing profiles on the wheel spokes. Notably, it has no roof, so the owner — and that beautiful cabin — is at the mercy of the weather gods.
The blue-and-white GT stripes running the length of the body and through the interior are inspired by the 1955 Ferrari 410 S, and the rear flying buttresses are a nod to the 599 GTB. Inside, the Alcantara seats match the Rosso Passionale exterior colour, with the bright-red cabin offset by blue-and-white Kvadrat inserts and glossy carbon fibre. Ferrari quotes no price or performance figures for the SP51, but the top speed should be similar to the 322km/h of the 812 GTS. The process of creating a one-off Ferrari takes about two years, during which time the client is closely involved in assessing the design and verification phases to achieve an exclusive car engineered to the same levels as other Ferraris.
One of the most controversial examples of giving wealthy customers free design rein, the X-1 was an extravagant oddity, to say the least. Thrilling and offending in equal measure, in 2012 it was the first bespoke car from McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the division that creates limited-edition and one-off specials for the British supercar brand.
This retro-futuristic styling mishmash was inspired by cars as diverse as a Facel Vega, the Chrysler D’Elegance Ghia, and a 1971 Citroën SM. Other design influences included a grand piano, a black-and-white photo of Audrey Hepburn, and an eggplant (yes, really). MSO’s special creations typically take around 18 months to two years to become a production reality.
Apparently, the owner told Lamborghini “Just make it look cool,” and the one-of-a-kind SC20 was the result in 2020. The Italian carmaker describes it as the most extreme version of a road-legal supercar, and it followed the SC18 as only the second road car produced by Lamborghini’s Squadra Corse racing division. Based on the series-produced Aventador SVJ, the SC20 uses the same naturally aspirated 574kW, 6.5l V12 engine, but the body draws inspiration from the brand’s experience in GT racing.
The car is made entirely of lightweight carbon fibre and has aerodynamic features for minimised drag and optimised downforce in order to bring down those lap times. This includes a large carbon-fibre rear wing that can be set in three positions: low, medium, and high load. The open two-seater has no windscreen, for the ultimate wind-in-the-face experience.
Hand-built over four years, this one-off Rolls-Royce was inspired by the coachbuilding of the 1920s and 1930s and commissioned in 2013 by a super-yacht and aircraft specialist. The first coach-built Rolls-Royce of the modern era, the Sweptail drew inspiration from the customer’s admiration of his favourite cars of the early 20th century, as well as many classic and modern yachts. When it made its debut at the 2017 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy, it was the world’s most expensive new car at around £10-million (R205- million). In 2021, Rolls-Royce followed up with the nautical-themed Boat Tail, rumoured to cost around £20-million (R408-million), though it was built in a notquite-as-exclusive run of three units.
Bugatti La Voiture Noire
Even in the hyper-exclusive world of French luxury brand Bugatti, some cars are more equal than others. Exhibit “A” is the La Voiture Noire, created as a one-of-a-kind motoring treasure for an unnamed enthusiast, inspired by the iconic Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic of the late 1930s. The La Voiture Noire inherits its 16-cylinder 8l quad-turbo engine from the Bugatti Chiron and its outputs of 1 103kW and 1 600Nm are good for a 0-100km/h blast in under three seconds and a 420km/h top speed. At €11-million (R195-million), the La Voiture Noire is one of the world’s most expensive new cars.