When Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown flew into uncharted skies in June 1919, they were set to make a historic feat: embarking on the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight. Taking off from Newfoundland and landing in Ireland, they were borne by a modified Vickers Vimy bomber from World War I. And on that biplane were twin Rolls-Royce Eagle VIIIs: 20.3-litre, 350 bhp engines that made the long-haul flight possible. The Eagle series was the first plane engine to be designed by Rolls-Royce, a product of wartime necessity.
Now, 100 years later, Rolls-Royce is commemorating the historic feat with a new line of cars to mark the occasion: the Wraith Eagle VIII. Rolls-Royce recently unveiled the new “Collection Car” on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como, and it certainly has an other-timely feel to it.
The handbuilt Wraith Eagle VIII draws its inspiration from the first trans-Atlantic flight, designed with gunmetal and a Selby Grey upper two-tone, with the colors separated by a brass feature line. The wheels are partly polished with a translucent shadow finish, and the black grille vanes are reminiscent of the Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine cowling on the Vickers Vimy biplane that Alcock and Brown used for their historic journey,
Inside, the Wraith Eagle VIII is decked in Selby Grey and black leather, accented by brass—a callback to the brass sextant that the two pioneers used to navigate the skies. The dashboard is inspired by the nighttime view from the aircraft, and the headliner has 1,183 starlight fibers that recreate the evening sky during the journey in 1919. The clock on the dash, meanwhile, has an iced background effect, an homage to the fact that the instrumentation panel on the Vickers Vimy bomber had frozen in flight due to the high altitude.
Only 50 of the Wraith Eagle VIII cars will be made, and that’s going to make them highly collectible. And if you’re curious to see what a plane-inspired luxury car would look like, check out the video below: