You won’t find that in the factory brochure.
For many high-end luxury vehicles, the sky’s the limit when it comes to customization. Even so, it’s not uncommon for buyers to use a third-party shop to tailor a vehicle to their heart’s content. This Rolls-Royce Phantom was seized by Italian customs after it was revealed that some of the interior was upholstered with the leather of an endangered crocodile.
While this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen a Phantom outfitted with rare-earth materials, we’ve never seen anything quite like this. In stark contrast to this monstrosity, the use of Hermès leather and Hawaiian koa wood on the dashboard are both perfectly legal.
Gallery: Rolls-Royce Phantom Crocodile Leather
Rumor has it that the reupholstered Phantom was being imported into Italy from Russia. Gone undetected, it would have been on its way to an exotic car dealership in Rome to be resold. Unfortunately, it was deemed a bit too exotic and was confiscated by customs.
Obviously, the new interior was added by an aftermarket shop and wasn’t certified by Rolls-Royce in any capacity. Aside from the poor fit and finish, crocodile is listed as a protected species under the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Contrary to popular belief, goods can legally be manufactured from crocodile and alligator leather. Doing so requires a clearance certificate from CITES for the material to be used in the 160 countries under its jurisdiction – including Italy. While any action remains to be seen in court, the owner of the vehicle could face heavy fines and will likely have to remove the interior.
Information remains sparse, but we’d stick with the factory leather accoutrement available from Rolls-Royce. Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the croc-leather interior in the comments below.