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Five most expensive Rolls-Royce cars in the world

Rolls-Royce's reputation for hand-crafted cars is one reason they command such high prices.

Close your eyes and think of an ‘expensive car’ and the chances are your mind will immediately picture a Rolls-Royce.

The British brand has been building cars since 1906 and has earned a reputation for making some of the most luxurious motor cars. Some of its most famous nameplates are the Silver Ghost, Phantom, Wraith and Silver Shadow.

Since 2003 Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (as opposed to Rolls-Royce Holdings which manufactures aircraft engines) has been a subsidiary of BMW, with the German brand taking control of the brand’s famous logo and the 'Spirit of Ecstasy' bonnet ornament.

Under BMW’s leadership Rolls-Royce has produced a line-up of luxurious limousines, coupes and, more recently, an SUV. The current range includes the Phantom, Ghost, Wraith, Dawn and Cullinan

The challenge to working out how much a new car from Rolls-Royce costs is that the company has an extensive range of customisation options through its ‘Bespoke’ department. 

Given most owners are successful in their chosen profession, typically there is some element of individualisation to each model.

What is the most expensive Rolls-Royce?

The Cullinan was introduced in 2018. The Cullinan was introduced in 2018.

While customisation - choosing specific paint colours, leather finishes and trim elements - is common for Rolls-Royce owners, some take it to a whole new level. 

Which is the case for the buyers of the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, a bespoke creation that revives the once-thriving coachbuilding industry which made the brand famous. 

It was unveiled in May 2021 and immediately stunned the world with its opulence and price.

Only three will be produced and while Rolls-Royce hasn’t officially listed a price, it’s believed it starts at US$28 million (that’s A$38.8m at today’s exchange rate). 

What is the average price of a Rolls-Royce?

The Ghost is the cheapest Rolls-Royce, starting at $628,000. The Ghost is the cheapest Rolls-Royce, starting at $628,000.

The current Rolls-Royce Australia price range can best be described as going from expensive to staggering. 

The most affordable Rolls-Royce available at the time of publication is the Ghost, which starts at $628,000, while the range tops out at $902,000 for the Phantom. 

And it’s worth remembering these are the standard list prices, so that’s before any personalisation or on-road costs.

Across the nine models currently available in Australia the average price works out at more than $729,000.

Why are Rolls-Royce so expensive?

Only 48 Aussies bought a Rolls-Royce in 2021. Only 48 Aussies bought a Rolls-Royce in 2021.

There are a number of factors to the cost of a Rolls-Royce. The most obvious is the craftsmanship and amount of hand-made components that are used to build the cars.

The knock on result is that the company only produces a limited amount of vehicles to keep supply low and demand high. Even as it enjoyed its most successful year in its history in 2021, it only sold 5586 cars around the world, with just 48 buyers in Australia.

Top five most expensive Rolls-Royce models

1. 2021 Rolls-Royce Boat Tail - US$28m

Rolls-Royce is reportedly building only three Boat Tails. Rolls-Royce is reportedly building only three Boat Tails.

What does $38.8m buy you when it comes to a car? Well, the Boat Tail is the product of Rolls-Royce’s revived Coachbuild department and was created specifically for a special customer.

The company is reportedly building just three examples of the car, which combines elements of its Dawn convertible with a vintage luxury yacht. It’s powered by a 6.7-litre twin-turbo V12 engine that makes 420kW.

But that’s just the technical details, the real appeal of the car is its design. The elongated tail houses two large openings which includes a luxurious picnic set-up. 

There’s an automatic parasol that folds out, a pair of custom-made leather stools from Italian furniture specialists Promemoria, and a champagne fridge that chills bubbles to exactly six-degrees.

The owners, a husband and wife, also receive a Bovet 1822 timepiece with a ‘his and her’ pair that was created in unison with the car itself.

Who owns a Boat Tail? Well, there’s no official confirmation but the rumour is its music industry power-couple, Jay-Z and Beyonce. 

This comes because the car is finished in a shade of blue (which could be a tribute to their daughter, Blue Ivy) and the fridge is designed to specifically fit Grandes Marques de Champagne; a company Jay-Z owns a 50 per cent stake in.

Whoever it is, they have one of the world’s most luxurious cars.

2. 2017 Rolls-Royce Sweptail - US$12.8m

The Sweptail is inspired by a luxury yacht. The Sweptail is inspired by a luxury yacht.

Before the Boat Tail arrived the benchmark for Rolls-Royce was the Sweptail, another Bespoke creation for a particularly wealthy customer.

This car is based on a 2013 Phantom Coupe and it took four years for the Rolls-Royce Coachbuild team to create and finish. It was unveiled in 2017 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, Italy.

Like the Boat Tail, the Sweptail is inspired by a luxury yacht with the design incorporating wood and leather panelling. 

At the front it has the brand’s trademark square grille but at the rear it features a tapered rear window that flows from the glass roof. 

The company says the rear windscreen is the most complicated piece of glass it has ever worked with.

3. 1904 Rolls-Royce 10hp - US$7.2m

There's only a few 10hp examples left in the world. There's only a few 10hp examples left in the world.

Rarity and exclusivity are two of the key drivers for a car’s value, which is why this particular car set a record price when it was sold at auction in 2010. 

That’s because it’s believed to be one of the few remaining examples of the first model the company ever built.

While it may not look much like a modern Phantom or Ghost, the 10hp has many of the features that became a hallmark of Rolls-Royce. 

This includes a powerful engine (at least for the time), a 1.8-litre and later 2.0-litre two-cylinder unit that made 12hp (9.0kW).

It also came without bodywork, instead Rolls-Royce recommended a coachbuilder, Barker, to supply the body which resulted in small differences between each model; and inspired modern models like the Boat Tail and Sweptail.

Another trademark element is the triangular topped radiator, which is part of the brand’s styling to this day.

4. 1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Double Pullman Limousine - US$6.4m

The 40hp/50hp is nicknamed "The Corgi". (image credit: Bonhams) The 40hp/50hp is nicknamed "The Corgi". (image credit: Bonhams)

The 40/50hp model was introduced not long after the 10hp, arriving in 1906 and helped establish it as a true luxury brand. 

What makes this particular 1912 model so special is that it was designed with the driver in mind.

Most luxury cars of this era were designed for the owners to be chauffeured, but this Rolls had a front seat as comfortable as those in the back. This meant the owner could choose to either be driven or drive themselves.

That’s why it sold for US$6.4m at a Bonhams auction at Goodwood in 2012, not far from where the brand now calls home.

This car also earned a special nickname, ‘The Corgi’, because it was used as the template for the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost toy car sold under the Corgi brand name.

5. 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Special Town Car by Brewster - US$1.7m

Coachbuilding company Brewster & Co, took a Phantom II and transformed it into a limousine. (image credit: RM Sotheby) Coachbuilding company Brewster & Co, took a Phantom II and transformed it into a limousine. (image credit: RM Sotheby)

This is yet another one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce, this was commissioned by C. Mathews Dick, an American architect, and crafted by the coachbuilding firm, Brewster.

What began life as a Phantom II chassis was rebodied by Brewster to create a truly beautiful limousine for Mr Dick and his wife.

As the RM Sotheby’s listing for the car explained, the design was shaped by the specific demands of the original owners: “Within the 'caned' doors was an exceptionally comfortable rear compartment, with the seat upholstered in button-tufted wool cloth, personally selected by the Dicks; a pair of drop seats were provided, one with back and one without, on a sunken floor specified by Mrs. Dick.

"Surroundings of handsome inlaid woodwork, gold-plated hardware (extending even to the Brewster sill badges), and pleated door caps accentuated the luxury. 

"The Dicks chose the wood trim from samples and hand-selected the vanity fittings. Even the heater itself was of special design, warming the Dicks’ feet on winter evenings through Art Deco floor vents.”

Little wonder someone was willing to pay the equivalent of $2.37m for the car at auction in June 2021.

Honourable mention

The 13 Hotel has 30 custom-made Phantoms, two of which are Gold, while the rest are red. (image credit: The 13 Hotel) The 13 Hotel has 30 custom-made Phantoms, two of which are Gold, while the rest are red. (image credit: The 13 Hotel)

We can’t write a list of the most expensive Rolls-Royce and not discuss the famous deal with the Louis XIII Hotel and Casino in Macau.

Owner Stephen Hung placed the largest order in the history of the company, spending US$20m for 30 custom-made Extended Wheelbase Phantoms. 

Two of the cars were painted gold and reserved for only the most special of guests, while the other 28 were finished in a unique shade of red. 

Each came with specially-designed 21-inch alloy wheels with customised seat trim promoting the hotel and additions like champagne flutes to keep the hotel’s wealthy guests feeling pampered to and from their stay.

The order meant each car cost an average of US$666,666, but it proved one of many extravagances the hotel couldn't afford. 

The cars were delivered to Macau in September 2016, but with the development unable to secure a casino licence it has struggled financially.

The majority of the Rolls fleet were sold in June 2019, but only brought US$3.1m. That works out to US$129,166 per car - a relative bargain for a Rolls-Royce.