A chronicle of people, places, happenings, and creations we admire.

Rolls Royce "Sweptail" : A One-Off Masterpiece That Cost £10M To Build

This spectacular example of contemporary coach building by automotive house Rolls-Royce harkens back to to glory years of the early 20th century where the likes of Nutting & Co., Figoni & Falaschi, Gangloff and Hooper ruled the roads of the well heeled driver that came with a chassis, an idea, and a large sum of money.  This one-off creation based on the EX103 evolved over a collaborative period of 4 years between the factory at Goodwood and a clearly dedicated customer.  The 'Sweptail' (as it's named) made its debut at the Concorso D'Eleganza at Villa d'Este on Lake Como.

Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of Haute Couture,” comments Giles Taylor, Director of Design at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “It is a Rolls-Royce designed and hand-tailored to fit a specific customer. This customer came to the House of Rolls-Royce with an idea, shared in the creative process where we advised him on his cloth, and then we tailored that cloth to him. You might say we cut the cloth for the suit of clothes that he will be judged by.”
Inspired by the beautiful coachbuilt Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 1930s, the customer’s desire was for a coachbuilt two seater coupé featuring a large panoramic glass roof. As a connoisseur of Rolls-Royces, he was inspired by many of his favourite cars from the early 20th Century, as well as many classic and modern yachts.
Over the course of a number of years, Taylor and his team of designers engaged with the client in a wonderfully intellectual journey as they worked together to realise the customer’s distinct vision and bring it to life. The result of this one-off coachbuild project is the completely unique Rolls-Royce ‘Sweptail’.-- Rolls Royce Public Relations

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Restored: Elvis' BMW 507

A fabled BMW 507 once owned by Elvis Presley, has been found and restored to Concours condition by BMW Group Classic.  Driven during his military service in Germany in the 1950s, the legend of Elvis and his cars had begun.  The car was discovered after it was feared to have vanished forever for a period of over 50 years.  The original white paint job was resprayed in lipstick red to solve the issue of female fans scribbling notes in lipstick on it.

Elvis replaced the car with a Chrysler in New York after his service in Germany, the car was sold for the ridiculous price of $4500 dollars to radio moderator Tommy Charles, who went on to race the 507 successfully in numerous races including Daytona, which by then had been swapped for a Chevrolet engine and gearbox.

Space engineer Jack Castor had taken ownership sometime later, using the car as a daily driver then into storage with the intent of restoring it.  Castor had put together a thorough record of the car, it's history, repairs, and photos; a full dossier.  It was only after a meeting and visit by a writer working with Bimmer magazine when the possibility of this being the fabled 'Elvis 507' was discussed.  After some forensics and research, Chassis No.70079 was indeed found to be the genuine article.  BMW Group Classic had heard of this unbelievable find and set to work.

The car was sent to Munich, carefully disassembled, stripped down to the bare metal; structural reinforcements were made to restore rigidity and overall integrity.  The original 3.2 litre V8 was refurbished to new conditioned and reunited with the car after 50 years.  It was reconditioned to exact manufacturer specifications right down to the original paint color of Feather White.

The BMW 'Elvis 507' will be on view at Pebble Beach Concours this month on August 21st.

Red Bull Racing x Aston Martin: AM-RB 001

Formula 1 team Red Bull Racing have teamed with Aston Martin to create what is described as a "magical tipping point" in automotive design. The otherwise "brand collaboration" between RedBull and Aston go much deeper than nameplates; this special project to produce a truly extraordinary "hypercar" using the technical and design knowledge of both houses was paramount.

That Newey "Magic"

Adrian Newey, arguably the greatest F1 aerodynamicist in history, won an unprecedented 10 Formula One Constructors' Championships with Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Jacque Villeneuve and most recently, Sebastian Vettel.  His genius in creating his designs, (initially by hand) is a rare gift in a business where Terabytes and CAD programs dominate the creative process.  His focus is primarily on "packaging, efficiency and performance (what else would it be...?)

This was a long-desired opportunity to create a road-legal hypercar presumably now to challenge Ferrari's La Ferrari, the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918.  This design actually looks to shatter the previously recorded capabilities of the three mentioned as well as other examples built by Bugatti, Koenigsegg and Pagani.

The Fastest Road Car.  Ever.

The joint project with Aston Martin's design director Marek Reichman and Adrian Newey (from RedBull Racing) will produce a vehicle with the fabled "1:1" power/weight ratio (one bhp per one kg)  Word has it the AM-RB 001 will be 100% composite in construction.  Between 99-150 examples will be built, (assume they're all pre-sold) with an additional 25 special 'extreme' versions bowing after.  We're not sure if the Nurburgring would be the benchmark for top speed, perhaps Circuit Paul Ricard or VW's clandestine Ehra Lessein track in Germany (surely that's likely.)

Stay Tuned.



OMA's Fondaco dei Tedeschi Opens in Venice


Dutch architecture firm OMA have recently completed the renovation of the ancient and iconic Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which sits at the foot of the solid stone Ponte di Rialto in the heart of Venice.  A truly beautiful and evocative collision of architecture preserved in situ and slick, refined opportunities, piercing elements and opulent yet contemporary materials create a healthy amount of tension between old and new.  

This unique series of interventions in the form of circulation, place-making and enclosure may prove controversial to purists who feel that the nearly 820 year-old structure should have been rehabilitated without such audacious elements disturbing the scheme.  It is presumably the opinion Koolhaas and Co., that such a significant structure should emerge more than a museum or relic, but a modern machine of multi-purpose spaces, retail and culture which (one could give a nod to sustainability) and a new relevance in the modern world which it resides.

Wood Turned Bamboo Death Star

The incredible work of Frank Howarth continues with this out of this world hand-turned bamboo model of the Death Star, the eternally destroyed and rebuilt HQ of the Galactic Empire.  The  nine (9) layered rings, each constructed of a series of (13) segments of bamboo cutouts lays the foundation for what is a staggering example of woodworking skill.

Watch this fascinating video on his process, inimitable skill and what has to qualify him as one of the all-time Star Wars superfans around.  We want one, we want one badly.  Let us echo Frank's greeting by saying "May the Fourth Be With You".

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DONDOLO by Enrico Marone Cinzano

As he continues on his passionate mission of sustainability through art and design, designer Enrico Marone-Cinzano has created a clever "complication" in the form of "Dondolo" (Italian for rocking chair).  This piece, composed of car parts and various mechanisms that translate into comfort, place, and innovation has an immediate and powerful visual impact.  

The Designer's Description:

Considering I come from Torino, the car manufacturing capital, it only made sense that at some point I would extend my work to the automobile industry. I went scavenging through car junk yards and found that the aftermath of that industry produced a wealth of beautiful and extremely well made products which could be re-utilized into making furniture, hence the birth of 'Dondolo'. It's a rocking chair with a foot in the past and one in the future. Still benefitting from the factory-issue moving parts, the original leather Alfa Romeo 166 seat reclines and heats at will, powered by an eco-friendly gel based battery which can be charged with any power outlet. By means of two periscopic arms, it has the added comfort of providing a swinging, retractable work table to rest your laptop, and an efficient dimmable warm-toned LED light, housed in what was a beautiful metal FIAT 500 vintage headlight. I am adding an extra layer to the proverbial cake, by lining the bottom of the retractable table with a EMF and radiation protective fabric, which will mitigate the damage one incurs from using a computer at such proximity to the body. Lastly, for some finishing touches and to replace the molded plastic parts, I used hand embossed recovered leather from the furniture industry, replicating the pattern of car tyre marks, which look almost like natural crocodile patterns. Everything was sourced and made in Turin itself. A complex project but one that made alot of sense: back to my roots. 

To find out more about this amazing piece, head over to

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Northampton Sneaker Co.

"If sneakers were cars, ours would be an Aston Martin...Handcrafted over weeks, rather than mass manufactured."

Northampton Sneaker Co. create extreme-luxury handcrafted footwear entirely in the UK using traditional techniques and the finest materials.  They combine the modern street-style and comfort of athletic footwear with the incredible quality of traditional English shoe making.  Unadorned by stripes, lightning bolts or machine guns, the Northampton Sneaker has a discretely embossed tongue with evidence of any remaining labels or branding hidden inside the shoe itself.

Using the innovative and legendary Goodyear Welt, a process that involves stitching the sole and upper together rather than glueing, the Northampton Sneaker has a feel of sturdiness, permanence and craftsmanship turned up to "11". This traditional manufacturing technique combined with lightweight, cushioned soles brings a shoe of this design and visual impact up to the minute in terms of comfort, durability and most importantly, wearability.  These shoes require no break-in and can also be resoled, bringing a truly bespoke relationship to the wearer.