For over a century, Rolls-Royce has a reputation in building high-quality, luxury cars that has elite and iconic status. In fact, even old Rolls-Royce models are still highly sought after and recognizable because of its Rolls-Royce emblem alone. But how did this car manufacturing company reached the status they have today? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this article.
History of Rolls Royce
Rolls-Royce started as an electrical and mechanical business that was founded by Henry Royce in 1884. Henry Royce built his first motor car in 1904, and later that year, he met Charles Rolls, who has owns a company that sold quality cars in London. Both of them decided that they should merge and develop their own car brand, and they reached an agreement that Royce Limited would produce a range of cars that will be exclusively sold by CS Rolls & Co. The cars would bear the name Rolls-Royce.
In 1906, their success in manufacturing quality cars led to the foundation of the Rolls-Royce company in 1906. This was also the year when they launched the six-cylinder Silver Ghost, which has been hailed as the best car in the world after a year it was released.
At the start of World War I, Rolls-Royce began manufacturing aero engines that provide half of the total horsepower that is used in the air by the allies. Since then, the company also started manufacturing airplanes and seaplanes, where they established new world records on both land and water vehicles.
In 1931, Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley, which is back then a small sports and racing car manufacturer and their potential rival. However, after Rolls-Royce’s finances failed because of the Great Depression, they stopped the production of the Bentley 8 Litre.
During World War II, Rolls-Royce was once again hired to produce Merlin aero engines that will be used by the USA for World War II. That’s why during this time, they focused on making aero engines and developing other variants such as the Meteor.
In 1973, Rolls-Royce Motor was created when the de-merger of the Rolls-Royce automotive business from Rolls-Royce Limited company. In short, the original Rolls-Royce Limited was nationalized in 1971 because of the financial issues that surrounded the company. And the British government sold the Rolls-Royce car business to allow nationalized parent Rolls-Royce Limited to continue on making jet engines. But in 1980, Rolls-Royce Motors was acquired by Vickers, and in 1998, the latter sold Rolls-Royce Motors to Volkswagen Group for £430 million.
After eighteen years, Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors to BMW. The latter was the most likely buyer because they already supplied engines and other parts for Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars. However, BMW only bought Rolls-Royce for just £340 million.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars were created, and it was a wholly-owned subsidiary of BMW in 1998. BMW earned the rights to the Rolls-Rolls brand name and logo of the Rolls-Royce PLC. Even if the Rolls-Royce brand has been used on vehicles since 1906, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG is in no way related to Rolls-Royce branded vehicles that were produced before 2003.
The Bentley subsidiary of Volkswagen AG is the one who has the rights to Rolls-Royce Motors, and all of its other predecessor entities that were produced by Bentley and Rolls-Royce branded cars between the company’s foundation and 2003.
Interesting Facts About Rolls-Royce
- Their iconic logo, The Spirit of Ecstasy, was inspired by an illicit affair – The emblem was modeled after a woman named Eleanor Thornton, who had a decade long open secret affair with a man who is respected in the early car culture. He wanted a nice hood ornament; that’s why he hired a sculptor to put Eleanor on the front of the car. This is why, in some models, the emblem has her finger to her lips as a symbol of their secret love.
- The Spirit of Ecstasy is worth a whopping $40 million – When BMW acquired Rolls-Royce in 2002, they paid a whopping $40 million so that they could make Rolls-Royce cars with the winged lady on the front.
- Charles Stewart Rolls was the first man that was able to fly across the English Channel and back – Reports said that he flew his Wright Flyer over the English Channel and back in just 95 minutes.
- Rolls-Royce was the original rally cars – in 1913, the Rolls-Royce Alpenfhart was a contest that covered about 19 different Alpine passes, which most were dirt.