Images surfaced online this week of Justin Bieber’s Rolls-Royce Wraith. Normally, I’d treat this news with the same indifference and borderline contempt reserved for the announcement of a new series of Love Island. But this is no ordinary Roller. Take a look at this…
Obviously, this thing ain’t just rolled off the production line at Crewe. It’s been professionally manhandled by the folks at West Coast Customs – yep, this is a Pimp My Ride Justin Bieber Special.
Hey, 2021: 2009 called, it wants its news story back.
I’ve spent the last few hours staring at this thing (well, maybe the last twenty minutes), and it’s pickling my brain deciding whether I love it or hate it.
On one hand, there’s a lot to dislike about this car. Taking a blow torch to a quarter-of-a-million-quid luxury barge in the middle of a global financial meltdown is a monumentally vulgar display of money-spunking.
And then there’s the way it looks; A Rolls-Royce Wraith isn’t exactly the prettiest of cars to begin with – it’s little more than a two-ton slab of brutalist self-importance. But this looks like it’s been vacuum packed in tin foil to keep the flies off.
On their Facebook page, West Coast Customs say the car was inspired by Rolls-Royce’s 2016 103EX Vision Next 100 design study: “Upon seeing the concept car we wondered why such an awe-inspiring car cannot exist today.”
To save you a Google, the 103EX looks like this.
Now that I can get on board with. As a vision of what your local oligarch might use to bulldoze over the decaying bones of civilization in 2035, it’s savagely beautiful. In comparison, our Justin’s version is a bit… well, bland. Like someone took the standard car and slapped a couple of baking trays over the wheels.
“After years of R&D”, the Facebook post continues, “we created our own version of the 103EX. A futuristic, awe-inspiring, daily drivable Rolls Royce unlike any other.”
So apparently this has been designed as a daily driver. Now, I don’t know what kind of kerbs they have in La-La Land or wherever it is that Justin Bieber lives, but we all know the pain of dinging an alloy after misjudging the width of a side road. Now imagine the turmoil of scraping your painstakingly hand-crafted aluminium skirts mounting the pavement outside Greggs. That’s gonna really sting.
But maybe I’m being a bit harsh. It’s hard to tell with my tongue embedded so far into my cheek.
Because this car is a cartoon, a Frankenstein’s monster designed as much for column inches as popping to the shops for a pint of milk and The Racing Post. And in that respect, it’s unquestionably a success. It’s everywhere.
So who are we to deny Bieber the opportunity to personalise his car, whatever it might be? If he lived on a council estate in South London, he’d be fixing improbable spoilers to a Citroen Saxo. As a gajillionaire pop star, he just happens to have access to a better playground of parts than eBay and a mate with a lock-up.
And isn’t this precisely the kind of behaviour we want from our pop stars in 2021? Their role is to entertain, to make us smile and lift our spirits in times of need. Being a plonker is practically in the job description.
There are, of course, obvious historical precedents: moneyed young upstarts have been desecrating their Rollers ever since John Lennon took a rattlecan to his Phantom V.
And let’s be honest, if Bieber rocked up to the school run in something that looked like it had just driven off the set of Blade Runner, it wouldn’t so much turn heads as break necks. In fact, you could park this thing anywhere, in any automotive company, no matter what persuasion of petrolhead, and it would draw a crowd twenty deep.
So am I any nearer deciding whether I love it or hate it?
Did it make me whisper a silent expletive when I saw it? Yes. Did I scrabble round the internet trying to find out more about it? Yes. Would I like to photograph it? You better believe it.
But does the sight of it make me go all wibbly like a Singer Porsche? Or pretty much anything that leaves Gas Monkey Garage? Nope.
So (and I’m gonna sound like a right old fart here), just like one of Bieber’s songs, it’s an expensively created collaboration, undoubtedly populist, but ultimately pretty forgettable and certainly not a patch on one of Lennon’s.
Update: Since I wrote this, West Coast Customs have posted a video giving a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the car. At the time of writing, it has 2.7 million views.
But it seems I’m not the only one that isn’t particularly enamoured by the looks of the car. YouTuber TheSketchMonkey posted this video, where he ‘fixes’ some of the car’s design issues.