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Rolls-Royce is a British manufacturer of luxurious autos as well as automobile and aircraft parts. It’s headquartered in Goodwood, England. The company makes cars for the Queen Elizabeth II and many ruling families and high officials all over the world.
Rolls-Royce is a truly legendary brand. It doesn’t care that just about 20 models were produced over its longstanding history, which is a rather small number if compared with other automakers, – the company has never prioritized a quantity over quality. Rolls-Royce is prestige in the first place. That’s why it brings each model to perfection.
Sir Henry Royce
Before Royce met Charles Rolls, he had already established own enterprise, F. H. Royce & Co., which produced cranes, dynamos, and electrical motors. What made him re-qualify the company was a French auto Decauville. It was of such low quality that Royce refused to drive it. Instead, he decided to construct his own car. His creation was much better than not only the Decauville but most autos of that time. Its driving performance was first-class as well as reliability.
Charles Rolls was an enthusiastic automobilist. He was fond of engineering and was a well-known racing driver. In 1902, he set up C. S. Rolls & Co., an automobile dealership. Due to his entrepreneurial vein, his company became one of the largest auto distributors in Britain pretty soon. Although the business was doing well, Rolls strived to establish a car-making company. To make this happen, he must have found a small but talented firm that would have become his partner.
Rolls-Royce Motor Holding
A business meeting in the Midland restaurant (Manchester) in May 1904 marked setting up an all-new company that would turn the course of the automobile history. One partner – Royce – craved to make the best car in the world while another – Rolls – dreamed of selling the best cars in the world. As a result, Rolls gained an exclusive right to sell the cars manufactured by Royce.
The Silver Ghost
In 1907, Rolls-Royce unveiled the legendary Silver Ghost. Such a beautiful name comes from its silver exterior and silvered details and unusually quiet 6-cylinder 7-litre engine (its crankshaft was well balanced). An innovative force-feed lubrication system was also applied in the car. The Silver Ghost’s frame was made of high-quality steel. The axles hung on long half-elliptic springs that ensured smooth running. The auto could speed up to 150 km/h – a fantastic rate even for sports cars of the time. By the way, the first American to buy the Ghost was Nelson Rockefeller.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom I continued a range of prestigious autos in 1925 along with the Phantom II, launched in 1929. The latter was equipped with 20% more powerful engine than the precursor.
At the same time, Rolls-Royce began to manufacture airplanes. It was a great tragedy for the company when in 1910, one of these planes crashed with 33-year-old Charles Rolls on board. He was the first Englishman to fly over the English Channel as well as the first one to be killed during the show.
After the death of Royce’s friend and partner, he set up production of aircraft engines of top-class quality and reliability. During the war, the production was significantly increased and the company established own airline company.
Since 1938, luxurious Rolls-Royce cars were given “silver” names: the Silver Wraith (1938-1939), the Silver Dawn (1949-1955), the Silver Cloud (1955-1966), the Silver Shadow (1965-1980), the Silver Spirit (1980-1999), the Silver Seraph (1998-2002).
The current line-up includes the Phantom (since 2003), the Phantom Drophead Coupé (since 2007), the Phantom Coupé (since 2008), the Ghost (since 2010), and the Wraith Coupé (since 2013).
Financial Difficulties and Restructuring
In the 60s, Rolls-Royce slid to economic recession and eventually in 1971 declared bankrupt. As long as the brand was the national pride, the British government saved it, investing about $250 million, under the condition that it would be divided into Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. (produced cars, automobile and aircraft components, diesel engines, locomotives, and airplanes) and Rolls-Royce Ltd. (manufactured jet engines).
When Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. was on the verge of bankruptcy again, Vickers, a British engineering conglomerate, purchased it for £38 million in 1980.
Before the brand was acquired by BMW in 1998, the largest automotive and financial industrial groups in the world fought for it: Volkswagen (it bought Rolls-Royce and Bentley plants), Daimler-Benz, RRAG, and BMW.
The Spirit of Ecstasy
An integral part of Rolls-Royce cars, the company’s permanent symbol since the 1900s is Flying Lady (also known as Emily and Silver Lady), the bonnet ornament.
The thing is that John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, wanted his Rolls-Royce to have some feature that would distinguish it in the stream of cars. With this in mind, he asked an English sculpture Charles Sykes to design a mascot.
He designed a woman in a fluttering dress, bent a bit forward with her arms thrown back. However, it wasn’t a random woman. The model for the mascot is actually Eleanor Thornton, John’s secretary, who he was deeply in love with. But their feelings should have been kept in a secret because Eleanor’s social status didn’t correspond with John’s. Moreover, John was married.
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