The Big Car Database

Rolls-royce

Rolls-Royce Limited is a British car-manufacturing and, later, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904.

In addition to the company's reputation for superior engineering quality which has led to its epithet as the "best car in the world", Rolls-Royce Limited was known for manufacturing the high-powered "R" engines responsible for land and air speed records as well as successful performances in automobile racing.

In 1971, Rolls-Royce was crippled by the costs of developing the advanced RB211 jet engine, resulting in the nationalisation of the company as Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited. In 1973, the car division was separated from the parent company as Rolls-Royce Motors. Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited continued as a nationalised company until it was privatised in 1987 as Rolls-Royce plc.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited engineers, manufactures and distributes luxury automobiles and automobile parts worldwide. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW established in 1998 after BMW was licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce PLC and acquired the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grill shape trademarks from Volkswagen AG. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited operates from purpose-built administrative and production facilities opened in 2003 across from the historic Goodwood Circuit in Goodwood, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom. Rolls-Royce Motors Cars Limited is the exclusive manufacturer of Rolls-Royce branded motor cars since 2003.

Although the Rolls-Royce brand has been in use since 1906, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG has no direct relationship to Rolls-Royce branded vehicles produced prior to 2003. The Bentley Motors Limited subsidiary of Volkswagen AG is the direct successor to Rolls-Royce Motors and various other predecessor entities that produced Rolls-Royce and Bentley branded cars between the foundation of each company and 2003, when the BMW-controlled entity started producing cars under the Rolls-Royce brand.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom four-door sedan was the first product offered for sale in 2003. Since then, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has expanded its product line up to include an extended wheelbase version of the Phantom sedan, a Phantom two-door coupé and Phantom convertible version and the less expensive Ghost four-door sedan and Wraith two-door coupé.

Type

Private
Industry
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution
Founded United Kingdom (March 1998)
Headquarters Goodwood, England,United Kingdom

Area served

Worldwide

Key people

  • Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO
  • Peter Schwarzenbauer, Chairman
Products
  • Phantom
  • Phantom Coupé
  • Ghost
  • Wraith
  • Dawn
Services Automobile customisation
Parent BMW
Website
Forums

History

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW in 1998 after BMW licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce PLC and acquired the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grill shape trademarks from Volkswagen AG. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited has been manufacturing Rolls-Royce branded cars since 2003.

Although the Rolls-Royce brand has been in use on vehicles since 1906, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG has no direct relationship to Rolls-Royce branded vehicles produced prior to 2003. The Bentley subsidiary of Volkswagen AG is the direct successor to Rolls-Royce Motors and the other various predecessor entities that produced Rolls-Royce and Bentley branded cars between the foundation of each company and 2003.

Current chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös joined the company in January 2010, with a pledge to regain the quality standards that made Rolls Royce famous in the 1980s. That year, the company's sales in China increased by 600%, meaning that it is now Rolls Royce's second largest market after the US.

Ownership and licensing of trademarks

In 1998, Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The most likely buyer was BMW, who already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce andBentley cars, but BMW's final offer of £340 million was beaten by Volkswagen's £430 million.

A stipulation in the ownership documents of Rolls-Royce dictated that Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine maker, would retain certain essential trademarks, including the Rolls-Royce name and logo if the automotive division was sold. Although Vickers plc sold the vehicle designs, nameplates, administrative headquarters, production facilities, Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grill shape trademarks to Volkswagen AG, Rolls-Royce plc chose to license the Rolls-Royce name and logo to BMW AG for £40 million, because Rolls-Royce plc had recently had joint business ventures with BMW.

BMW's contract to supply engines and components to Rolls-Royce Motors allowed BMW to cancel the contract with 12 months' notice. Volkswagen would be unable to re-engineer the Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles to use other engines within that time frame. With the Rolls-Royce brand identification marks split between the two companies and Volkswagen's engine supply in jeopardy, the two companies entered into negotiations.

Volkswagen agreed to sell BMW the Spirit of Ecstasy and grill shape trademarks and BMW agreed to continue supplying engines and components until 2003. Volkswagen continued to produce Rolls-Royce branded vehicles between 1998 and 2003, giving BMW time to build a new Rolls-Royce administrative headquarters and production facility on the Goodwood Estate near Chichester, West Sussex, and develop the Phantom, the first Rolls-Royce from the new company. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited became the exclusive manufacturer of Rolls-Royce branded cars in 2003. Rolls-Royce announced in September 2014 that a new technology and logistics centre will be built, due to open in 2016, 8 miles away from the main headquarters, in the seaside resort town of Bognor Regis.

History of the company

In 1884 Henry Royce started an electrical and mechanical business. He made his first car, a two-cylinder Royce 10, in his Manchester factory in 1904, and was introduced to Charles Rolls at the Midland Hotel, Manchester on 4 May of that year. Rolls was proprietor of an early motor car dealership, C.S.Rolls & Co. in Fulham.

In spite of his preference for three or four cylinder cars, Rolls was impressed with the Royce 10, and in a subsequent agreement on 23 December 1904 agreed to take all the cars Royce could make. There would be four models:

  • a 10 hp (7.5 kW), two-cylinder model selling at £395 (£40,000 in 2014),
  • a 15 hp (11 kW) three-cylinder at £500 (£50,000 in 2014),
  • a 20 hp (15 kW) four-cylinder at £650 (£60,000 in 2014),
  • a 30 hp (22 kW) six-cylinder model priced at £890 (£90,000 in 2014),

All would be badged as Rolls-Royces, and be sold exclusively by Rolls. The first Rolls-Royce car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904.

Rolls-Royce Limited was formed on 15 March 1906, by which time it was apparent that new premises were required for production of cars. After considering sites in Manchester, Coventry, Bradford and Leicester, it was an offer from Derby's council of cheap electricity that resulted in the decision to acquire a 12.7 acres (51,000 m2) site on the southern edge of that city. The new factory was largely designed by Royce, and production began in early 1908, with a formal opening on 9 July 1908 by Sir John Montagu. The investment in the new company required further capital to be raised, and on 6 December 1906 £100,000 of new shares were offered to the public. In 1907, Rolls-Royce bought out C.S. Rolls & Co. (The non-motor car interests of Royce Ltd. continued to operate separately.)

After the First World War, Rolls-Royce successfully avoided attempts to encourage the British car manufacturers to merge. Faced with falling sales of the 40/50 (later known as Silver Ghost) the company introduced the smaller, cheaper Twenty in 1922, effectively ending the one-model policy followed since 1908.During 1906 Royce had been developing an improved six-cylinder model with more power than the Rolls-Royce 30 hp. Initially designated the 40/50 hp, this was the company's first all-new model. In March 1908 Claude Johnson, Commercial Managing Director and sometimes described as the hyphen in Rolls-Royce, succeeded in persuading Royce and the other directors that Rolls-Royce should concentrate exclusively on the new model, and all the earlier models were duly discontinued. After the introduction of the Phantom model in 1925 this 40/50 model was referred to as the Silver Ghost. The new 40/50 was responsible for the company's early reputation with over 6,000 built. Its chassis was used as a basis for thefirst British armoured car used in both world wars. In 1921, the company opened a second factory in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States (to help meet demand), where a further 1,701 "Springfield Ghosts" were built. This factory operated for 10 years, closing in 1931. It was located at the former American Wire Wheel factory on Hendee Street, with the administration offices at 54 Waltham Ave. Springfield was the earlier location for the Duryea Motor Wagon Company, the location where the first American gasoline-powered vehicle was built.

In 1931 Rolls-Royce acquired the much smaller rival car maker Bentley after the latter's finances failed to weather the onset of the Great Depression. From soon after World War II until 2002 standard Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars were often identical apart from the radiator grille and minor details.

In 1933, the colour of the Rolls-Royce radiator monogram was changed from red to black because the red sometimes clashed with the coachwork colour selected by clients, and not as a mark of respect for the passing of Royce as is commonly stated.

During the Second World War the British government asked Rolls-Royce to open a "shadow factory" in Crewe to manufacture aircraft parts. After the war, in 1946, Rolls-Royce and Bentley car production moved to Crewe where they began to assemble complete cars with bodies from the Pressed Steel Company (the new standard steel models) for the first time. Previously they had built only the chassis, leaving the bodies to specialist coach-builders.

Products

Phantom

  • From 2003 – Phantom 4-door sedan. Launched in January 2003 at Detroit's North American International Auto Show, this is the first model from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited. The car has a 6.75 L V12 engine sourced from BMW, but most components are unique to the car. Parts are sourced from Continental Europe and the UK. Assembly, leather work, wood work, and finishing are carried out in a new factory in Goodwood near Chichester, Sussex.
  • From 2005 – Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase. This car's wheelbase is 250mm longer than that of the standard Phantom sedan.
  • From 2007 – Phantom Drophead Coupé (convertible)
  • From 2008 – Phantom Coupé

Ghost

  • From 2010 – Ghost 4-door sedan. Rolls Royce announced in September 2006 that it would develop a new four-door model named Ghost. The Ghost will be smaller than the previous Rolls Royce automobile launched, the Phantom. Only 20% of the components would be sourced from BMW F01 7 Series, and it will be positioned below the Phantom.
  • On 4 March 2014, the new Ghost Series II was revealed to the public at the Geneva Motor Show. It has a facelift front with new LED headlights. The interior has had an update as well.

Wraith

  • From 2013 – Rolls-Royce Wraith coupé. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars launched a new car at the Geneva Motor Show on 5 March 2013. The new car, named the Rolls-Royce Wraith (in honour of the original Wraith built by the original Rolls-Royce Limited from 1938-1939) was a luxury coupe, with a long bonnet and a sleek roof line, and was a coupe version of the Ghost. It was powered by a 623 bhp, twin-turbocharged V12 engine connected to an 8-speed gearbox.Deliveries were expected to begin by the end of 2013. Rolls-Royce had stated that the Wraith would be the most powerful Rolls-Royce motor car to that date.

Dawn

  • From 2015 – Rolls-Royce Dawn

SUV

  • 2015 Rolls-Royce announced the production of SUV for the very first time in the company history. According to Rolls Royce, "the new SUV will set new luxury standards among cars of this segment". It is likely to be rolled out in 2017 as a 2018 model.

Cars

chassis-only, no R-R built body until Silver Dawn

  • 1904–06 10 hp
  • 1905–05 15 hp
  • 1905–08 20 hp
  • 1905–06 30 hp
  • 1905–06 V-8
  • 1906–25 40/50 Silver Ghost
  • 1922–29 Twenty
  • 1925–29 40/50 Phantom
  • 1929–36 20/25
  • 1929–35 Phantom II
  • 1936–38 25/30
  • 1936–39 Phantom III
  • 1938–39 Wraith
  • 1946–59 Silver Wraith
  • 1949–55 Silver Dawn with bodies by Pressed Steel Company, Cowley
  • 1950–56 Phantom IV
  • 1955–65 Silver Cloud standard saloon with bodies by Pressed Steel Co.
  • 1959–68 Phantom V
  • 1965–80 Silver Shadow standard saloon, totally R-R built car, built by Rolls-Royce Motors after 1973
  • 1968–92 Phantom VI, chassis by Rolls-Royce Motors after 1973

Bentley Models (from 1933) - chassis only

  • 1933–37 Bentley 3½ L
  • 1936–39 Bentley 4¼ L
  • 1939–41 Bentley Mark V

Concept Vehicles

  • Rolls-Royce 100EX (2006)
  • Rolls-Royce 101EX (2006)
  • Rolls-Royce Hyperion (2008)
  • Rolls-Royce Mini (June 2009)
  • Rolls-Royce 200EX (2009; known as ″RR04″ also)
  • Rolls-Royce 102EX (2010)
  • Roll-Royce 103EX (2016)

Aircraft

  • Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig
  • Rolls-Royce Mustang Mk.X

Aero engines

In 1907 Charles Rolls, whose interests had turned increasingly to flying, tried unsuccessfully to persuade Royce and the other directors to design an aero engine. When World War I broke out in August 1914 Rolls-Royce (and many others) were taken by surprise. As a manufacturer of luxury cars, the company was immediately vulnerable, and Claude Johnson thought the bank would withdraw its overdraft facility on which Rolls-Royce depended at that time. Nevertheless, believing that war was likely to be short-lived the directors initially decided not to seek government work making aero engines. However, this position was quickly reversed and the company was persuaded by the War Office to manufacture fifty air-cooled V8 enginesunder licence from Renault. Meanwhile, the Royal Aircraft Factory asked Rolls-Royce to design a new 200 hp (150 kW) engine. Despite initial reluctance they agreed, and during 1915 developed the company's first aero engine, the twelve-cylinder Eagle. This was quickly followed by the smaller six-cylinder Hawk, the 190 hp (140 kW) Falcon and, just before the end of the war, the larger 675 hp (503 kW) Condor.

Throughout World War I, Rolls-Royce struggled to build aero engines in the quantities required by the War Office. However, with the exception of Brazil Straker in Bristol the company resisted pressure to license production to other manufacturers, fearing that the engines' much admired quality and reliability would risk being compromised. Instead the Derby factory was extended to enable Rolls-Royce to increase its own production rates.

Around half the aircraft engines used by the Allies in World War I were made by Rolls-Royce. By the late 1920s, aero engines made up most of Rolls-Royce's business.

Henry Royce's last design was the Merlin aero engine, which was first flown in prototype form in 1935, although he had died in 1933. This was developed from the R engine, which had powered a record-breaking Supermarine S.6B seaplane to almost 400 mph (640 km/h) in the 1931 Schneider Trophy. The Merlin was a powerful supercharged V12 engine and was fitted into many World War II aircraft: the British Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, de Havilland Mosquito (twin-engine), Avro Lancaster (four-engine) (a development of the Avro Manchester with its unreliable Rolls-Royce Vultureengines), Vickers Wellington (twin-engine); it also transformed the American North American P-51 Mustang into a competitor for the best fighter of its time, its engine a Merlin engine built by Packard under licence. Over 160,000 Merlin engines were produced, including over 30,000 by the Ford Motor Company at Trafford Park, Manchester. During the war most Rolls-Royce flight testing of engines was carried out from Hucknall Aerodrome. The Merlin crossed over into military land-vehicle use as the Meteor powering the Centurion tank among others. Many Meteor engines used engine blocks and parts that failed requirements for high performance engines, but were suitable for use in the derated 480 kW (640 hp) Meteor.

Rolls-Royce came into jet turbines through an exchange of assets with Rover and in the post-World War II period Rolls-Royce made significant advances in gas turbine engine design and manufacture. The Dart and Tyne turboprop engines were particularly important, enabling airlines to cut times for shorter journeys whilst jet airliners were introduced on longer services. The Dart engine was used in Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosy, Avro 748, Fokker F27 Friendship, Handley Page Herald and Vickers Viscount aircraft, whilst the more powerful Tyne powered the Breguet Atlantique, Transall C-160and Vickers Vanguard, and the SR.N4 hovercraft. Many of these turboprops are still in service.

Amongst the jet engines of this period was the RB163 Spey, which powers the Hawker Siddeley Trident, BAC One-Eleven,Grumman Gulfstream II and Fokker F28.

During the late 1950s and 1960s there was a significant rationalisation of all aspects of British aerospace and this included aero-engine manufacturers. In 1966 Rolls-Royce acquired Bristol Siddeley (which had resulted from the merger of Armstrong Siddeley and Bristol Aero Engines in 1959) and incorporated it as the Bristol Siddeley division. Bristol Siddeley, with its principal factory at Filton, near Bristol, had a strong base in military engines, including the Olympus, Viper, Pegasus(vectored thrust) and Orpheus. They were also manufacturing the Olympus 593 Mk610 to be used in Concorde in collaboration with SNECMA. They also had a turbofan project with SNECMA.

Leavesden Aerodrome, Watford was originally owned by the Ministry of Defence and used during World War II for the manufacture of Mosquito and Halifax aircraft. For a number of years, Rolls-Royce used the site for the manufacture of helicopter engines until the site closed in June 1993. The former Rolls-Royce factory at Watford is now known as theLeavesden Film Studios and has produced world-famous films such as James Bond, Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Military vehicles

See also: Rolls-Royce Armoured Car, Ferret armoured car, Humber Hornet, and Humber Pig

Diesel engines

Rolls-Royce started to produce diesel engines in 1951. Initially, these were intended for heavy tractors and earth-movers but, later, they were installed in lorries (e.g. Scammell), railcars, diesel multiple units and Sentinel shunting locomotives. Rolls-Royce took over Sentinel's Shrewsburyfactory for diesel engine production in 1956. The Rolls-Royce diesel business was acquired by Perkins in the 1980s.

Torque converters

The railcar engines were often used with Twin Disc torque converters which were built by Rolls-Royce under licence from Twin Disc of the United States. "Twin Disc" is the name of the company (which originally manufactured friction clutches) and does not describe the construction of the torque converter.

Nationalisation

Financial problems caused largely by development of the new RB211 turbofan engine led, after several cash subsidies, to the company being nationalised by theHeath government in 1971. The new company had among its board members Lord Cole (a former chairman of Unilever), Sir Arnold Weinstock (managing director of GEC), Hugh Conway (managing director RR Gas Turbines), Dr Stanley Hooker (RR Bristol), Sir William Cook (an adviser to the Minister of Defence), Sir St. John Elstub (managing director of Imperial Metal Industries), and Sir Charles Elworthy (former Chief of Defence Staff).

Delay in production of the RB211 engine has been blamed for the failure of the technically advanced Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, which was beaten to launch by its chief competitor, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

In 1973 the motor car business was spun off as a separate entity, Rolls-Royce Motors. The main business of aircraft and marine engines remained in public ownership until 1987, when it was privatised as Rolls-Royce plc, one of many privatisations of the Thatcher government.

Rolls-Royce of America

Rolls-Royce of America Inc. was formed by Rolls-Royce to meet the massive and growing US car market by building a plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. Their first chassis was completed in 1921. Coachbuilding was provided by Rolls-Royce Custom Coachwork, and later by Brewster & Co. at the Brewster Building in Long Island City, New York.

 

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