Henry Royce had developed a successful electrical and machine business by the late 1800s when he connected with Charles Rolls after deciding to produce a motor car. Rolls was the owner of one of the first UK motor car dealerships, and agreed to sell Royce’s automobiles under the name Rolls-Royce. The Rolls-Royce Motor Company was born, and the first car was the six-cylinder Silver Ghost in 1904.
By 1907 the Silver Ghost was declared “The Best Car in the World” after its record-breaking trip from London to Glasgow Scotland 27 times covering a total 14,371 miles, resulting in a world record for a non-stop run and proving its comfort and reliability. The Silver Ghost was phased out by 1925 and replaced by the New Phantom with production both in the UK and USA. Also in the 1920s Rolls-Royce began its long history of supplying aircraft engines, a business which continues to this day.
By the 1930s Rolls-Royce was setting records on land and sea. The Phantom III arrived with its V-12 engine. The Phantom II went through improvements to make it more comfortable to the middle class increasingly wanting to travel by automobile to the south of France for holiday. In the 1940s each Silver Wraith was built individually as a coach-built body. A 4.9 liter engine was developed to handle the heavy body weight of the Silver Wraith. The first Rolls-Royce sold with a lighter steel-bodied design was the Silver Dawn.
The 1950s brought the beginning of a long relationship between the Royal Family of England and Rolls-Royce. The Rolls-Royce replaced Daimler as the preferred supplier to the Crown, with Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth taking the first delivery of a Phantom IV in 1950. Designed for use by royalty and heads of state, only 18 were built and it remains one of the rarest motorcars in the world. The Silver Cloud arrived in 1955 with its totally new steel body design and the 4.9 liter engine. Phantom V arrived by the end of the decade with a V-8 engine and coach-built body.
Beginning in the 1960s, Rolls-Royce became a popular choice for entertainers and celebrities, and appeared in movies including its very own “The Yellow Rolls-Royce” in 1965. John Lennon bought a Phantom V in 1965 and eventually adorned it with a colorful abstract design. Rolls-Royce was relaunched as two companies in the 1970s. The two-door Corniche was developed under Rolls-Royce Motors Limited. It was hand-built by Mulliner Park Ward with a production of only 1,306 units in hardtop and convertible options. The Camargue was also built on a Silver Shadow platform with styling by the Italian Pininfarina. The Camargue was the first Rolls-Royce built to metric standards and included a number of innovations including split-level air conditioning.
In the 1980s Vickers bought the Rolls-Royce Motors Limited and produced Rolls-Royce vehicles alongside Bentleys. This new Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited entered the London Stock Exchange in 1985. Engineering improvements continued with a four-inch extension in the wheelbase of the Silver Spirit – Silver Spur and a 42-inch increase in length of the limousine version. The Thrust 2 with a jet engine set a land speed record in 1983 of 633.468 mph.
BMW bought the rights to produce Rolls-Royce motorcars in the 1990s. A new manufacturing facility was built in the UK. This started an exciting new chapter in the history of Rolls-Royce with each vehicle meticulously built by hand at Goodwood in the West Sussex countryside. There is a strong historic connection to the history of Rolls-Royce here, as Sir Henry Royce lived less than 10 miles from here from 1917 until his death in 1933. The facility opened in 2003 and includes such innovations as green coverage to improve the building insulation and reduce rain runoff. A further expansion of the Assembly Hall was completed in 2012 to add space to the Surface Finishing Center and Bespoke service areas which have both more than doubled since the original factory was built.
Manhattan Motorcars Chelsea is proud to offer the luxury, performance, and comfort of Rolls-Royce motorcars. Please stop by or contact us when you wish to join the long history of satisfied Rolls-Royce owners. We look forward to seeing you at Manhattan Motorcars Chelsea.