Rolls-Royce is truly a motoring icon synonymous with some of the most evocative cars created in history. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BMW group, manufactures its ultra-premium luxury cars from its Goodwood plant in West Sussex.
Even after a century of its existence, this motoring icon evokes the same awe as it did with its first cars. Heads still turn when this beauty with brains takes on the roads.
Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce were introduced over a grand lunch by Henry Edmunds on May 4, 1904 and they entered into a partnership.
Henry Royce was a successful engineer and a true perfectionist who created electrical motors and cranes. Rolls, a mechanical engineer, was into racing and airplanes. He had set up a car dealership and dealt mostly in selling French cars. Charles Rolls was so fascinated by the cars created by Royce that he agreed to sell them exclusively as Rolls-Royce.
The first four cars to be sold under this brand name were the 10 hp, 15 hp, 20 hp and 30 hp models. With time, Rolls-Royce became synonymous with excellence and luxury with Silver Ghost, Silver Shadow, Phantom.
A quick look at some of the landmark events in the history of Rolls-Royce:
- 1973: The de-merger of the Rolls-Royce car business from Rolls-Royce Limited led to the creation of Rolls-Royce Motors.
- 1980: Rolls-Royce Motors was acquired by Vickers.
- 1998: Rolls-Royce Motors was sold to Volkswagen Group that got the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot as well as the shape of the radiator grille. However, Rolls-Royce name and logo was licensed to BMW. It was decided that until 2002, BMW would let Volkswagen use the Rolls-Royce name and logo. After that, Volkswagen Group's Rolls-Royce/Bentley division would build cars by the name Bentley and not Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce mascot - The Spirit of Ecstasy
The exquisite Silver Lady that enhances the Rolls-Royce was created by Charles Robinson Sykes.
Celebrities and customizations - As you like it!
The royal owners of Rolls-Royce cars include Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Margaret, among others.
Most of the esteemed owners of the cars preferred customisations to suit their stature. What makes Rolls-Royce all the more special is that the company is ever-ready to modify the cars, of course at a cost that only the wealthy few can afford. Some of the most famous modifications include:
- Mascot of St George slaying the dragon when Queen Elizabeth II is in the car, the Spirit of Ecstasy otherwise.
- Solid silver body, old-gold silk brocade upholstery, collapsible seats and armrests. Owner- India's Seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan of Hyderabad.
- Bar with table, and desk. Owner - William Randolph Hearst
- A small stool meant for someone to sit and massage the legs of the queen. Owner- Maharani Sethu Parvati Bai of Travancore
- A Sterno radio telephone with the number WEYBRIDGE 46676. Owner – John Lennon.
- Bulletproof exteriors
- Bathtubs and commodes
The Rolls-Royce Motor Cars School of Instruction
Such is the perfection of Rolls-Royce manufacturers that they offer a chauffeur’s training course at their School of Instruction in Crewe, Cheshire. The school was started to provide world-class service to the car’s elite owners across the world. The chauffeurs are trained on everything from car maintenance, etiquette and formal driving.
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