Thursday 29 February 2024, Goodwood, West Sussex

  • Rolls-Royce Motor Cars presents Arcadia, the third Coachbuild Droptail commission. 
  • Celebration of the form: uniquely pure reflection of Droptail’s principal design.
  • Commission named after Arcadia, a place known in Ancient Greek mythology as ‘Heaven on Earth’.
  • Coachbuilt masterpiece presented to commissioning client at private ceremony in Singapore.
  • Features most complex clock face in Rolls-Royce history. Assembly alone took five months.
  • Wood sections took 8,000 hours to create.
  • Droptail is the first roadster body style in Rolls-Royce’s modern history

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is delighted to present Rolls-Royce Arcadia Droptail, an exquisite coachbuilt expression of tranquillity. Arcadia Droptail is the epitome of quiet irreverence, celebrating purity of form and natural materials while serving as a bold statement of the client’s personal taste. Commissioned by an individual who possesses a distinct affinity for architecture and design, Arcadia Droptail is a testimony to the patron’s sensibilities and personal codes of luxury, defined by purity and subtle restraint, reflecting their firm belief in distilling complexity to reveal the inherent, fundamental essence.

This coachbuilt commission takes its name from the mythical realm of Arcadia, a place depicted in Ancient Greek mythology as ‘Heaven on Earth’ – a land renowned for its extraordinary natural beauty and perfect harmony. Like the haven that inspires its name, Arcadia Droptail was envisioned by the client as a serene space characterised by reduction, material depth and tactility that would serve as a refuge from the complexities of their business life.

In capturing the theme of tranquillity, Coachbuild designers embarked on an exploration of design, sculpture and architecture from the client’s favourite regions around the world. This included the precision and richness of modernist tropical sky gardens seen in Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam as well as British ‘Biomimetic’ architecture, where organic forms and material honesty are celebrated.

In addition to these references, the client was also inspired by the motor car itself and the purity of the Droptail design concept.


In order to fulfil the client’s ambition to honour Droptail’s form, Rolls-Royce Coachbuild designers developed a calm, natural duotone colourway for the motor car’s coachwork. The client’s aspiration was to define a timeless white, appearing as a solid colour at first glance, but creating a level of intrigue upon further study under natural light. To achieve this, the main body colour is a solid white infused with aluminium and glass particles. This not only creates an effervescent shimmer when the light strikes the coachwork but, upon close inspection, creates the illusion of unending depth in the paint. Rolls-Royce specialists developed a more faceted, striking metallic using larger sizing of aluminium particles.

In a key departure from the other three coachbuilt Droptails in this series, the carbon fibre used to construct the lower sections of Droptail is painted in the solid Bespoke silver colour rather than left fully or partially exposed, visually ‘lifting’ the motor car in profile to intensify its lithe, dynamic intent.

While Arcadia Droptail’s exterior palette is rich in subtle detail, its primary intention is to celebrate the form and proportions of the coachwork. The client was particularly compelled by Droptail’s clean, monolithic surfacing and bold use of negative sculpture – features that are amplified by the motor car’s muted paint colours, which reflect sunlight and cast dramatic shadows, highlighting Droptail’s many subtle design gestures.


As the exterior of Rolls-Royce Arcadia Droptail celebrates the motor car’s form, the interior is a deeply personal reflection of the client’s individual aesthetic, reflective of the style they have curated in their residences and business spaces around the world.

Wood development was central to Arcadia Droptail’s interior and the client’s focus, whose very specific expectations concentrated on the texture, grain, colour and richness of the material itself.

Santos Straight Grain was eventually selected as the most modern statement, based upon its rich texture and visual intrigue, which is derived from its unique, interlocking grain pattern.

Using this high-density hardwood on Droptail’s interior posed a significant challenge for the marque’s craftspeople. Santos Straight Grain has one of the finest grain types of all the wood species used within a Rolls-Royce – if not handled with the greatest care, it easily tears when machined and ‘checks’ (a crack that appears parallel to the grain) during the drying process. Despite the challenges of working with this delicate material, Santos Straight Grain is used throughout Droptail. To achieve a perfect composition over complex geometry, Rolls-Royce artisans used a total of 233 wood pieces throughout Arcadia Droptail, with 76 pieces applied to the rear deck alone.

Given that Arcadia Droptail will be used also in some tropical climates, specific attention was paid to developing a protection system and testing process for the exterior wood surfaces. Coatings used on superyachts were initially considered but rejected given that they require regular servicing and re-application. Instead, a Bespoke lacquer was developed that requires just one application for the lifetime of the motor car.

To validate this coating, Rolls-Royce specialists conceived a unique testing protocol wherein veneer pieces were subject to a punishing cycle inside a specialist machine simulating global weather extremes, this was repeated for 1,000 hours on 18 different samples before the marque’s specialists were satisfied with the endurance of the pieces. In total, the wood pieces and protective coating required more than 8,000 hours of development.


The leather interior is finished in two entirely Bespoke hues, named after the client and reserved exclusively for their use. The main leather colour is a Bespoke White hue, continuing the exterior paint theme, while the contrast leather is a Bespoke tan colour, developed to perfectly complement the selected wood.

The interior also includes the exquisite shawl panel that unites all four Droptail motor cars and is the largest continuous wood section ever seen on a Rolls-Royce motor car. In Arcadia Droptail, it is made in the same Santos Straight Grain open pore veneer as the rear deck, book-matched at the same 55° angle, with individually shaped leave stripes running seamlessly into the door linings. CAD tools were used to map the placement of each wood piece, and although it appears to be constructed from just two mirrored sections of veneer, this panel alone is made up of 40 sections, each digitally mapped before being fixed to the motor car.

Applying wood to the complex curvatures of Droptail’s interior required Rolls-Royce engineers to develop an entirely new substructure for several components. The dramatic geometry of the dashboard, door linings and central cantilevered ‘plinth’ armrest had to be incredibly rigid to ensure the stability of the wood pieces once they were laid in place. Engineers called on carbon fibre layering techniques used in Formula 1 motor racing to develop an incredibly stiff base onto which the wood could be applied, ensuring that it remained secure regardless of the dynamic extremes the motor car experienced


The Santos Straight Grain veneer fascia incorporates a clock conceived and developed by Rolls-Royce Coachbuild designers and craftspeople. This expression of haute horlogerie is the most complex Rolls-Royce clock face ever created: the assembly alone was a five-month process, which was preceded by more than two years of development.

The clock incorporates an exquisite geometric guilloché pattern in raw metal with 119 facets. This is a symbolic nod to the marque’s heritage; as the client first saw a preview of the motor car in late 2023 – the year when Rolls-Royce celebrated its 119-year anniversary. The specially designed clock face also includes partly polished, partly brushed hands and 12 ‘chaplets’ – or hour markers – each just 0.1mm thick. To ensure the readability of the timepiece, specialists gave each chaplet an infill bridge and painted them by hand using a camera capable of magnifying an image by up to 100x.

The testing and validation standards at Rolls-Royce required the marque’s specialists to draw on an expansive palette of materials. For example, instead of anodizing the timepiece’s minute marker, which is common practice in watch manufacturing, it is finished in a ceramic coating chosen because of its stability over time as well as its aesthetic merits. Small areas of the coating were laser-etched away to reveal the mirror finish of the aluminium material beneath it. Like every piece within the timepiece, including the Bespoke ‘double R’ monogram, they were individually machined from solid stainless-steel billet and polished by hand prior to assembly.

Themes from the clock are paired with the instrument dials, sharing materials, techniques and execution. They feature the same repeated guilloché pattern, as well as brushed and polished brightwork and frosted white inserts, recalling the colourway of the motor car.


While every Rolls-Royce client is different, they each share a powerful strength of conviction, and this individual’s requirements were clearly stated from the outset. However, translating these complex, highly personal sensibilities into a coherent, workable design was the product of a significant body of work. It was here that the Coachbuild process, with its unprecedented investment of time – over four years in total – and uniquely close relationship between the client and the marque, paid incalculable dividends.

This unique expression of Rolls-Royce Droptail reflects this remarkable client’s confidence, clarity of vision and long-term relationship with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Its significance lies both in its exquisitely minimal execution and the unique skill of Rolls-Royce Coachbuild designers in capturing the sensibilities and soul of an individual.

“Rolls-Royce Coachbuild is the pinnacle expression of this incredible brand, and an unmatched concept in the luxury sector. In this department, the world’s most influential individuals collaborate with our designers, engineers and craftspeople to bring completely new ideas to life. Together, they create exquisite motor cars that not only become a cherished part of the commissioning client’s personal story but also add to the proud history of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Clients curate every facet of these masterpieces, which are brought into being by what I believe is the most talented team of experts in the luxury industry. Arcadia Droptail exemplifies this approach. This motor car is deeply connected to the client’s personality and preferences, and in capturing their character we have been empowered to make inspiring design, craft and engineering statements that show the world our ambition, and our unparalleled abilities.”
Chris Brownridge, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars