The Eagle Has Landed

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The latest limited-edition release from Rolls-Royce tells the epic take of one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century.

 

If you’re in the market for a new Roller, you could be forgiven for wanting yours to stand out in the right circles. The newest limited-edition model to emerge from the hallowed halls of the marque’s Bespoke Collection, the Wraith Eagle VII is limited to just 50 cars and is a homage to the first transatlantic flight. 

 
 
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Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown braved uncharted skies to make that first non-stop transatlantic flight, back in June, 1919. Contemporaries of Sir Henry Royce, Alcock and Brown flew non-stop from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland in a modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber aircraft, a bi-plane powered by, you guessed it, twin 20.3 litre, 350 bhp, Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines. Rolls-Royce marks the 100 year anniversary of this feat with a highly contemporary collection that speaks to today’s adventurers, whilst honouring those who changed the course of history.

The exterior of the Wraith Eagle VIII Collection Car is evocative of Alcock and Brown’s compelling night time adventure. Swathed in Gunmetal with a Selby Grey upper two-tone, the colours are separated by a brass feature line, a hint at the detailing that lies within. The black grille vanes draw immediate reference to the Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine cowling on the Vickers Vimy aircraft, the wheels are part polished with a translucent shadow finish.

 
 
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Within, the finely executed interior mirrors the exterior hue. Selby Grey and black leather are accented by brass, redolent of the brass sextant so integral to the success of the transatlantic journey. Executed in a contemporary fashion, the material populates key areas throughout the cockpit of the Collection. Brass speaker covers depict the estimated flight distance of 1,880 miles and ‘RR’ monograms are embroidered in brass coloured thread onto headrests. A flash of brass complements the navigator door paniers, whilst the door of the driver includes a brass plaque with Churchill’s quote commending the duo’s remarkable achievements.

Inspired by the night time flight of our intrepid heroes, the fascia represents a modern-day abstract interpretation of the view the pair would have enjoyed as finally, their craft cleared the thick fog and cloud. In a fusion of contemporary and traditional practises, Smoked Eucalyptus wood is vacuum metalized in gold before being inlaid with silver and copper, to depict the rich detail seen in night time images of the Earth from above. The scene extends to the centre console providing both an emotive and immersive experience for today’s occupants – the cockpit is in perspective with the headliner. Below, the brass-stitched quilted sides of the centre tunnel provide a direct nod to the V12 engined Vickers Vimy.

 
 
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The clock of a Rolls-Royce is frequently viewed as jewellery, with many patrons choosing this canvas to tell the story of their motor car in miniature. Wraith Eagle VIII is no exception. The pilots later recounted that their instrument panel was frozen from the high altitude and the poor conditions, referring to the only illumination coming from the green glow of the control panel lighting and the burst of flame from the starboard engine. In homage to this, the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective has masterfully fabricated a clock with an iced background effect which glows a faint green in night time driving conditions. The red hour hand sits atop compass inspired lines on the clock’s fascia, whilst the landing location coordinates are engraved below.


Perhaps the most alluring feature of the collection is the extraordinary unique starlight headliner. A total of 1,183 starlight fibres show the celestial arrangement at the time of the flight in 1919, the flight path and constellations are embroidered in brass thread, whilst the exact moment the pair left the cloud to navigate by the stars is indicated by a red fibre optic light. Clouds are embroidered and a plaque reading, “The celestial arrangement at the halfway point 00:17am June 15th 1919, 50” 07’ Latitude North – 31” Longitude West” shows the half-way point of the momentous journey.

 
 
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AutoFred Kirby