Rolls-Royce Sweptail: what it's like to drive a bespoke one-off at Goodwood
Jack Goff was tasked with driving Sweptail up the Goodwood hill
Jack Goff, best known for racing bumper-to-bumper in the BTCC, was handed the keys to the coachbuilt creation. We asked him what Sweptail is like to drive
That’s not a surprise: Sweptail is a bespoke ‘coachbuild’, developed by the British firm over four years to a customer’s exacting requirements – and which Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller Otvös says is “probably the most expensive new car ever.”
Sweptail took regular trips up the hill over the Festival of Speed weekend. And who was trusted with driving a car that touches on ‘priceless’? That would be Jack Goff, best known as a rising star racing a Team Eurotech Honda Civic in the bumper-bashing MSA British Touring Car Championship.
It might seem a strange choice, but when he isn’t going door handle-to-door handle on Britain’s racing circuits, the 26-year-old works as a driver for Rolls-Royce, driving the firm’s cars at events all over the world.
But even in the rarified air of Rolls-Royce machines, Sweptail stands out. So how do you drive someone else’s virtually priceless creation up the Goodwood Hill?
“First things first, don’t scratch it,” says Goff. “This car is not about breaking the outright record up the hill; it’s about travelling in elegance, style and comfort. That’s very much the Rolls-Royce philosophy.
“Rolls-Royce can have fast cars, but they’ve got to do it elegantly, and Sweptail ticks all those boxes.”
Goff received some ‘helpful’ advice from his BTCC team ahaead of Goodwood: “I was at Eurotech last week, and they showed me all my damaged front bumpers from this season, and told me not to do that driving Sweptail. I am far more aware of not scratching this car.”
Goff admits he’s lucky to be trusted with driving Sweptail: “It’s a massive privilege. I’ve driven some lovely cars over the last five or six years working for Rolls-Royce, but to be able to say you’re driving a one-off, bespoke coachbuild is fantastic.
“This car is the result of four years work between the customer and the Rolls-Royce design team – and they’ve trusted me to drive it at the home of Rolls-Royce.”
While the short Goodwood hillclimb, complete with unforgiving run-off in places, meant that Goff only had limited mileage in the car, he says it handles impressively.
“It feels very much like a Rolls-Royce,” he says. “It’s a big car – a big car – but when you’re behind the wheel it actually feels lightweight and nimble.
“Some parts of the hillclimb are quite tight and twisty, but it handles them with ease, which is a testament to the engineers at Rolls-Royce.”
Even when parked in Goodwood’s ‘first look’ paddock, there was a crowd gathered around Sweptail for much of the weekend. That attention remained even when Goff was driving Sweptail from the paddock to the start of the hillclimb – he had six minders to help him work the big machine through the crowds. Goff says he can understand the reaction.
“The car’s had a lot of press, and it’s a stunning car, an absolute masterpiece,” he says. “It’s a piece of art. Everyone’s reaction is ‘wow’ – you can’t see a fully coachbuilt car like this anywhere else.”
Once Goodwood is over, it’s back to the day job for Goff: trying to win the BTCC’s Independents’ Championship. Goff was involved in a huge qualifying accident in the last event at Croft, in which several drivers were injured. While Goff escaped unhurt and was able to race, the qualifying issues wrecked his race, leaving him 18 points behind Tom Ingram in the Independents’ title race.
“With how close the BTCC is, it’s hard to make up ground when you have issues in qualifying,” he says. “Thankfully we didn’t lose too much ground in the title race.”
Goff couldn’t entirely escape his BTCC rivals at Goodwood though. “I had [triple BTCC champion] Matt Neal running behind me in a Honda Civic Type-R on one run this weekend,” says Goff, “so I had to keep an eye on my mirrors…”.
Source: Autocar Online