The Wraith Eagle VIII is this week’s special Rolls-Royce

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Limited-run Wraith celebrates 100th birthday of the first non-stop transatlantic flight

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Welcome to the latest limited edition Rolls-Royce – a Wraith kitted-out to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first non-stop transatlantic flight. Why does Rolls care? Because the aircraft that completed said flight in June of 1919 – a modified Vickers Vimy bomber left over from World War One – used twin 20.3-litre, 350 bhp, Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines.

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Said engines were the “only components that proved indestructible” says Rolls. Pilots Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown suffered the failure of all their navigational equipment, for one, so they had to plot a course using only the stars. Not ideal at the best of times, and especially tricky when you have lots of thick cloud and freezing fog to deal with.

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Rolls says the Wraith’s exterior is “evocative” of the pair’s “compelling night time adventure”, with its two-tone grey paintwork, and dark-finish wheels and grille.

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Inside things are much bolder – grey and black leather, plus loads of brass as a kind of homage to the sextant that helped the duo find their way.

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For the dashboard, Rolls took smoked eucalyptus wood and “vacuum metalized” it in gold and inlaid it with silver and copper. The effect is supposed to be “a modern-day abstract interpretation of the view the pair would have enjoyed as finally, their craft cleared the thick fog and cloud”.

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Meanwhile Rolls’ familiar starlight headliner reflects the sky as it appeared on the night of the flight. The flight path and constellations are embroidered in brass thread, there are embroidered clouds plus a single red light that shows the exact moment the pair started navigating by the stars.

Just 50 will be built. Is your name on the list?

STORY Tom Harrison

Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.