Rolls-Royce wants to take bespoke to new heights—and it’s highlighting an aviation milestone to make it happen. To honour the 100th anniversary of the first non-stop transatlantic flight, the British automaker is rolling out a new Collection Car, the Wraith Eagle VIII.
But the company isn’t just a fan of aviation history—there’s a big reason why the carmaker is celebrating this particular feat. Indeed, Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown’s seminal June 1919 flight between St. John’s, Newfoundland and Clifden, Ireland changed the world—and it wouldn’t have happened without Rolls-Royce. That’s because Alcock and Brown’s modified Vickers Vimy bombers aircraft was powered by twin 20.3 litre, 350 bhp, Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines (in case you were wondering where the name comes from). In fact, while nearly every other instrument the pilots needed failed at some point, the engines worked perfectly throughout the flight, allowing the plane to reach speeds of 115 mph and complete the 1,880-mile journey in 16 hours.
Fast-forward to 2019, and the new Wraith Eagle VII’s nods to Alcock and Brown’s flight begin with its exterior. Its two-tone Gunmetal and Selbey Grey color scheme is separated by an almost imperceptible brass feature line inspired by the sextant the two men used to navigate the night skies during their flight. Meanwhile, its black grille vanes are a reference to the engine cowling on the aircraft.
But it’s inside the car where the Bespoke Collective at the House of Rolls-Royce appears to have really let loose. Once you open up the coupe’s suicide doors, there’s references to the historic flight everywhere you look. Cowhide leather abounds, while the doors and smoked eucalyptus wood dashboard—designed to recreate what Alcock and Brown saw when they looked out the cockpit—have their fair share of brass details, including speaker covers engraved with “1,880 miles”. There’s also a compass-inspired clock that looks just like the frozen one the two pilots had in their plane, only it works.
But the most jaw-dropping touch is the headliner, which features 1,183 starlight fibres depicting the celestial arrangement at the time of the flight. Along with hand-embroidered clouds, it shows the flight path and constellations stitched in brass thread and a red fibre optic light that indicates the exact moment the duo left the clouds to navigate by the stars.
Having put so much care and attention to detail in to the car, Rolls-Royce has also made sure that the luxe vehicle, which debuted at this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in May, is rare, too. According to the company, only 50 Wraith Eagle VIIIs will be produced for collectors at its headquarters in Goodwood, West Sussex. A price was not available as of press time. Check out more photos of the Wraith Eagle VIIIs below: