A Brief History of the Rolls Royce

For many, there is no better feeling than stepping into the interior of a Rolls Royce. It’s a feeling of royalty, of knowing you’re in one of the finest and most luxurious machines in history.

The luxury cars haven’t dropped in popularity in the slightest, with the company continually breaking personal sales records each year for the past five years.
Born out of a partnership in the early 20th Century, the Rolls Royce has a long and storied history as opulent and interesting as the vehicle itself. If you’re a fan of the sophisticated and sleek automobiles, read on. We’ll cover the history of the Rolls Royce from the very beginning up to the present day.
Back When It All Started
The Rolls Royce history starts, as we mentioned, with a fateful and prosperous partnership in the year 1906, in Britain. Charles Stewart Rolls and Fredrick Henry Royce set out to build the best car in the world. Together, they created the original Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.
The Silver Ghost enjoyed immediate success following its launch in 1906 and received praise for its remarkable performance and fine attention to detail.
At the turn of World War I, Rolls Royce began to contribute to war production as most auto manufacturers did. Instead of producing cars though, they used the engine of the Silver Ghost as a template to create engines for airplanes. These airplanes were then used by over half of the Allied fighters.
New Developments & Rapid Expansion
Following the war, Rolls Royce returned to its mission of building the best cars the world had to offer. The company continued to research engines, and invented the “R” engine after some time. Planes and cars used the R engine to set new records for speedy travel.
The company introduced the Phantom I and II in the years following the war, which were instant smash hits. Demand for Rolls Royce vehicles increased so much during this period that the company needed to open a second plant in America, settling in Massachusetts.
The company also acquired Bentley in 1931, a merger that would prove to be highly beneficial for both brands. For a long period of time through the middle of the twentieth century, both Bentleys and Rolls Royce automobiles would have mechanically identical interiors.
The previously mentioned R engine upgraded to the Merlin engine just prior to World War II. It found, as the Silver Ghost engine did, huge success during the war. It powered planes of all sorts during many stages of air warfare.
Frederick Henry Royce would not live to see the great success of this engine, however, as he fell ill and passed in 1933 at the age of seventy.
Car production increased steadily following the war, and the company continued to open new plants across Britain: Crewe, Chesire, and Derby, with Crewe becoming official home to the brand in 1946.
The Silver Wraith, a favorite Rolls Royce vehicle, released to popular acclaim during this time. It would prove to be the last Rolls Royce vehicle to be partially made by an independent coachbuilder. From this period going forward, all Rolls Royce vehicles were made completely in-house.
Changing Times For Rolls Royce & The World
Following a long prosperous stretch, Rolls Royce continued to expand its influence by buying out another popular European auto manufacturer, Bristol Siddeley. A number of rare and highly exclusive vehicles released in this era. These included the Phantom IV, of which only eighteen were ever made. These eighteen vehicles were presented as gifts to various royalty and heads of state.
After years of steady growth, however, Rolls Royce eventually was due for a fall. The company fell into a period of financial decline through the 1970s, owed in part to their failure to complete a contracted new jet engine. The government stepped in and nationalized the company in 1971, but that proved to be no help in turning the company’s fortunes around.
Vickers PLC purchased Rolls Royce Motors in 1980. Following this acquisition, they released the Silver Spirit Rolls Royce. This car lead a brand new line of automobiles geared towards younger consumers and featuring safer and more environmentally friendly features.
Vickers would have the company put up for sale again by the end of the decade. In a last-minute bid, Volkswagen grabbed the company from BMW and created something of an awkward situation.
Volkswagen and BMW would end up owning different parts of the Rolls Royce brand. Volkswagen the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot and grill shape; BMW the double R logo and name of the brand.
Volkswagen eventually sold the mascot to BMW at a price tag of forty million pounds, and Bentley and Rolls Royce separated again after years together in early 2003.
Rolls Royce launched the new Phantom in the same year, marking a new beginning for the company in the twenty-first century and creating direction for the years to come.
Rolls Royce In The Modern Era
This year, Rolls Royce announced the newest vehicle in its venerable lineup: the Cullinan, the first ever Rolls Royce SUV. Named after the largest diamond found to date, the addition is a surprising move for Rolls Royce. They refer to it not as an SUV but as a “high-bodied vehicle.”
Standing six feet off the ground and weighing 500 pounds, the Cullinan is a formidable off-roading vehicle. All the elegant touches of the Rolls Royce brand are still present. The vehicle features suicide doors, spacious seating, and detailed interiors.
It’s an exciting new direction for the company that proves they’re still here to innovate, surprise, and delight.
The Rich History of The Rolls Royce
The Rolls Royce has been around for over a century and the stories behind the brand are rich and fascinating. Even today, there’s no better name in cars than Rolls Royce.
If reading the history of the Rolls Royce made you itch to get behind the wheel of one, why not try renting one for a day? We have a wide variety of luxury cars ready to rent for your next adventure.