Rolls-Royce introduced the Wraith Eagle VIII last month, and now the company has released new details about how they created the limited edition model which pays tribute to the first non-stop transatlantic flight.
As with most limited edition models, the car started out as a series of sketches commissioned by Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke Collective. Since the company wanted to highlight the historic flight, which took place 100 years ago this month, designers came up with the idea of incorporating clouds into the car’s starlight headliner.
Another sketch shows how the team envisioned providing a so-called “night-time view from above” and projecting that onto the Wraith’s dashboard using silver, gold and copper inlays. This effectively recreates what Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown would have seen during their nighttime journey.
Designers also wanted to highlight the perils of trip, so they created a clock with an ‘iced’ background that alludes to the fact that the instruments in the aircraft had a tendency to freeze over. That isn’t the only special touch as the clock also features green illumination which is a “direct reference” to only light that Alcock and Brown saw during their journey.
Capturing the spirit of the flight was important to Rolls-Royce as Alcock and Brown flew non-stop from Newfoundland to Ireland in a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber that was powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines. Boasting a displacement of 20.3-liters, the engines each produced 350 hp (261 kW / 355 PS). They enabled the plane to travel at an average speed of 115 mph (185 km/h), which helped to make the miserable journey as short as possible.
Speaking of the latter, Rolls-Royce says their radio and navigation instruments failed almost immediately after takeoff. Instead of turning around, the duo pressed on and flew through dense clouds and freezing fog – sometimes upside down. After “many hours,” the skies cleared and Brown was able to use the stars to navigate to the coast of Ireland.
In a statement, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said “The unique skill of our Bespoke Design Collective sees the story of one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century, the first non-stop transatlantic flight, told using Wraith, a motor car which speaks of power, drama and adventure. Wraith Eagle VIII is a modern masterpiece – these sketches offer an extraordinary insight into its creation.”