Interview: The unique life of a car design coachbuilder

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After an unusual route into car design, Niels van Roij ploughed his own furrow to become a prominent figure in the renaissance of exclusive coachbuilding.

Niels van Roij is unusual in the car design world in that he has never worked in the studio of an established car manufacturer, serving his time at the drawing board and sketching relentlessly for years. Taking an unconventional route from the Royal College of Art (RCA), he has found himself in an almost unique position.

Aged 36, the Netherlands native now has a thriving business based in Greenwich, London, creating one-off coachbuilt cars for the kind of affluent collector who prizes exclusivity or wants to take the traditional ‘customisation’ offered by super-premium makers further. Indeed, Rolls-Royce is now following the trail blazed by van Roij, with its new ‘whole car’ custom-build programme.

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