Luxury car producer Rolls-Royce is equipping some of its vehicles with hidden cipher messages. Two Germans play a major role in this marketing stunt.
In the seven years I have been writing this blog, I covered encrypted letters, postcards, books, diaries, newspaper ads, grave inscriptions, sculptures, geocaching hints, recipes, and graffiti, as well as crypto-related commercial spots, computer games, and movies. But I had never heard of a car producer hiding encrypted messages in one of their vehicle models.
An exclusive crypto-related Christmas present
As it seems, I can now finally close this gap thanks to a new Roll Royce special edition named Kryptos (thanks to blog readers Bill Briere and Eberhard Bauer for making me aware of this story). The Kryptos is produced in a limited series of 50 cars, sold at a price that is expected to be around 300,000 Euros. If you’re already looking for a crypto-related Christmas present and you think that my next book Codebreaking: A Practical Guide is not exclusive enough, here you go.
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“A compendium of historical cryptography. Approachable, accessible, this book brings back the joy I felt when I first read about these things as a kid.”
Sir Dermot Turing, author of “Prof”, the biography of his uncle, Alan Turing
Each Rolls-Royce Kryptos contains a series of hidden cryptograms. The game begins with some Morse code on the car’s Spirit of Ecstasy badge at the front. More messages become evident throughout various places in the vehicle. The solutions of these cipher messages are only known to the German CEO of Rolls-Royce, Torsten Müller-Ötvös. There doesn’t seem to be a formal reward for solving them.
The Car and Driver web portal writes about the Rolls-Royce Kryptos: “There are few truly novel ideas when it comes to car marketing, but this does seem to be one. We’ve seen hidden Easter-egg details in cars before now, but with the Wraith Kryptos Rolls-Royce seems to be attempting something closer to a Dan Brown novel. […] [A car] that could appeal strongly to those who have made their cash in the technology sector, or even more obviously through cryptocurrencies.”
Rolls-Royce writes on their website: “Designed as an homage to the clandestine world of cryptology, this bespoke collection of 50 motor cars beckons to those with an inquiring mind.”
Not much is known
To my regret, not much seems to be publicly known about the cryptograms Rolls-Royce hid in the Kryptos. All I have found so far are two pictures in the press kit that contain hints to ciphers.
However, neither of the two images provides any cryptograms.
On the Rolls-Royce website, it says: “In the coming days, a cryptographic challenge will appear here.” So, I hope that the non-Rolls-Royce-customers among us will have the chance to join the mystery hunt soon.
An idea from Germany
The idea for the crypto puzzle came from Rolls-Royce designer Katrin Lehmann, also a German, who has turned a personal interest in hidden messages into the idea of an encrypted car. In spite of the car’s name, there is no relationship to the famous Kryptos sculpture located at CIA headquarters in the USA.
If you happen to be one of the 50 customers who are going to purchase a Rolls-Royce Kryptos or if you know more about these cryptograms from another source, please let me know. I’m sure many of my readers will be able to help breaking the ciphers.
Further reading: Can you decipher this advertisement poster?