Limited editions aren’t very limited. LEs are a dime a dozen these days, but not many come with a nice backstory. Here’s one with a compelling tale behind its creation – the Rolls-Royce Wraith Eagle VIII was created by Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke Collective to tell the rather epic tale of one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century. Make yourself a drink, sit back and enjoy the story.

Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown braved uncharted skies to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919. Contemporaries of Sir Henry Royce, founder of Rolls-Royce, Alcock and Brown flew direct from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland in a modified WW1 Vickers Vimy bomber aircraft.

The bi-plane was powered by twin 20.3-litre, 350 bhp, Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines. It is from this engine that the Wraith Eagle VIII takes its name. Rolls-Royce marked the 100 year anniversary of this feat last year with a contemporary collection that “speaks to today’s adventurers, whilst honouring those who changed the course of history”.

“I do not know what we should most admire – their audacity, determination, skill, science, their aeroplane, their Rolls-Royce engines – or their good fortune,” commented none other than Sir Winston Churchill, following the perilous journey that brought advancement to 20th century society. This was way back in 1919, mind you.

Alcock and Brown suffered every conceivable challenge an aviator could face. Their radio and navigation instruments failed almost immediately, leaving the men flying unaided at night through dense cloud and freezing fog for many hours, sometimes upside down. Eventually they emerged from the cloud and using Brown’s extraordinary skill as a navigator, flew by the stars to the coast of Ireland. Yup, by the stars.

The Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines were the only components that proved indestructible. The engines propelled the aerial voyage at previously unimagined speeds, averaging 185 km/h. Once again, this was in 1919.

So, that’s the story of John Alcock and Arthur Brown, and this is the special car that is carrying the story. The exterior of the Wraith Eagle VIII Collection Car is evocative of the duo’s 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 reference to the Eagle VIII engine cowling on the Vickers Vimy aircraft, and the wheels are part polished with a translucent shadow finish. Unlike many of today’s LEs, this is a classy-looking one.

Inside is where it’s truly special. Selby Grey and black leather are accented by brass, redolent of the brass sextant integral to the success of the transatlantic journey. Executed in contemporary fashion, the material populates key areas throughout the coupe’s cockpit.

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 flight of the above-mentioned aviators, the fascia represents a modern-day abstract interpretation of the view the pair would have enjoyed as finally, their plane cleared the thick fog and cloud. In a fusion of contemporary and traditional practises, Smoked Eucalyptus wood is vacuum metalised in gold before being inlaid with silver and copper, to depict the rich detail seen in night images of the earth from above.

The scene extends to the centre console. Below, the brass-stitched quilted sides of the centre tunnel provide a direct nod to the V12 engined Vickers Vimy. The dashboard-centre console motif is sure to be a conversation piece.

The clock of a Rolls-Royce is frequently viewed as jewellery, with many customers choosing this item to tell a story. In a car full of story, the clock plays its part here.

Alcock and Brown recounted that their instrument panel was frozen from the high altitude and 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, Rolls-Royce fabricated a clock with an iced background effect which glows a faint green in the night. The red hour hand sits atop compass inspired lines on the clock’s fascia, whilst the landing location coordinates are engraved below.

We’re not even done yet, and the best is saved for last. Perhaps the most alluring feature of this LE is the unique starlight headliner. 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.

The 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. What an awesome interior.

Just 50 of these highly collectable cars have been created at Goodwood. One of the 50 was brought in Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Kuala Lumpur, and according to executive director Anas Zawawi Khalid, it has been spoken for. This very discerning (and of course wealthy) individual paid RM3.3 million including duties for the Wraith Eagle VIII you see here, which is around RM300k pricier than the regular 632 PS/840 Nm V12-powered Wraith, if there’s such a thing.

So, this piece isn’t to sell the car – because you can’t buy it – but for us to gawk at the level of bespoke Rolls-Royce is capable of. Anything can be done, at a price. Apparently, Malaysia is a Rolls-Royce market that’s known to be big on customisation – the rich know exactly what they want.

GALLERY: The Rolls-Royce Wraith Eagle VIII in Malaysia


GALLERY: The Wraith Eagle VIII at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars KL