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Rolls Royce Company History

Published: 24th Mar 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce Archive

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What was to become regarded as the “Best Car in the World” resulted from a meeting in May 1904, and the subsequent link-up, between the Hon. C.S. Rolls, who sold Panhards, and Henry Royce, who made electric cranes. A number of early models were built, but it was the 40/50hp, seven-litre, six cylinder ‘Silver Ghost’ of 1906 which really brought the Rolls-Royce concern to the fore, due to the car’s excellent reputation for ruggedness and reliability. Among the model’s exploits was a trip undertaken between London and Edinburgh and back, using just top gear. The Ghost also saw service during the Great War, in armoured form. In addition to cars, the firm also became famous for its aero engines (from 1914). During the 1920s, Ghosts gave way to Phantoms, and in 1931 the Rolls-Royce company took over the ailing firm of Bentley. The 1930s saw the building of the cultured Phantoms and the then new Wraith.

During the Second World War the company made massive contributions to the allied effort – notably in producing Merlin aeroplane engines which powered Spitfires, Hurricanes and American Mustangs, as well as military vehicles. After the hostilities had ceased, Rolls-Royce production was moved to Crewe from Derby, and the new Silver Wraith took the limelight. The Silver Dawn was introduced in 1949, then came the famous Silver Cloud (with V8 power from 1960) and Phantom V. Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars were increasingly based on the same base vehicle, essentially differing only in grille, badging and trim details yet they always appealed to different buyers. The unitary construction Silver Shadow was a thoroughly modern Rolls when introduced in 1965.Sadly, following a debacle involving an unprofitable contract with the US Lockheed Corporation, the famous firm went bankrupt, but from the ashes arose Rolls-Royce (1971) Ltd, and a new car-producing firm, Rolls Royce Motors Ltd.

Top models of the recession-blighted ‘70s included the two-door Corniche range, and to a lesser extent the Pininfarina-styled Carmargue – in addition to the Silver Shadow and ShadowII. In 1980 Rolls-Royce Motors came under the wing of Vickers Ltd., and formidable models of the new decade included the Silver Spirit and the longer wheelbase Silver Spur. During the 1990s, new cars included the Flying Spur (1994), Park Ward saloon (1997), and 5.4-litre V12 cylinder Silver Seraph (1998). In recent times cars bearing the Rolls-Royce name have been produced under BMW control as the iconic German company took over the British concern in the summer of 1998 with Bentley going to the VAG group. The first car to be produced at the new Rolls- Royce plant, based at the glorious Goodwood in Sussex (from 2003), was the new Phantom and whatever your views are of foreign ownership of this great British brand, Rolls-Royce is alive and well….

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