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Rolls-Royce

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Rolls-Royce is a British car and aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Henry Royce and C.S. Rolls on 15 March 1906 and was the result of a partnership formed in 1904. In 1971, Rolls-Royce was crippled by the development of the advanced RB211 jet engine, resulting in the nationalisation of the company. In 1973, the car division was separated from Rolls-Royce Limited as Rolls-Royce Motors. It is now a BMW subsidiary and rebranded under the name Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

History

Rolls-Royce Limited

In 1884, Frederick Henry Royce started an electrical and mechanical business. He made his first car, a "Royce", in his Manchester factory in 1904. He was introduced to Charles Stewart Rolls at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on May 4 of that year, and the pair agreed to a deal where Royce would manufacture cars, to be sold exclusively by Rolls. A clause was added to the contract stipulating the cars would be called "Rolls-Royce". The company was formed on March 15, 1906, and moved to Derby in 1908.

The Silver Ghost (1906-1925) was responsible for the company's early reputation. It had a 6-cylinder engine; 6173 cars were built. In 1921, the company opened a second factory in Springfield, Massachusetts (in the United States to help meet demand), where a further 1701 "Springfield Ghosts" were built. This factory operated for 10 years, closing in 1931. Its chassis was used as a basis for the first British armoured car used in both world wars.

In 1931, the company acquired rival car maker Bentley, whose finances were unable to weather the Great Depression. From then until 2002, Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars were often identical apart from the radiator grille and minor details.

Rolls-Royce and Bentley car production moved to Crewe in 1946, and also to Mulliner Park Ward, London, in 1959, as the company started to build bodies for its cars for the first time: previously it had built only the chassis, leaving the bodies to specialist coachbuilders.

Rolls-Royce Motors

Rolls-Royce Motors was created from the demerger of the Rolls-Royce car business from Rolls-Royce Limited in 1973. Rolls-Royce Limited had been nationalised in 1971 due to the financial collapse of the company caused in part by the development of the RB211 jet engine. In 1973 the British government sold the Rolls-Royce car business to allow Rolls-Royce Limited to concentrate on jet engine manufacture.

In 1980 Rolls-Royce Motors was acquired by Vickers. In 1998 Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The leading contender seemed to be BMW, who already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. However their final offer of £340m was outbid by Volkswagen, who offered £430m.

However Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine maker, decided it would license certain essential trademarks (the Rolls-Royce name and logo) not to VW, but to BMW, with whom it had recently had joint business ventures. VW had bought rights to the "Spirit of Ecstasy" mascot and the shape of the radiator grille, but it lacked rights to the Rolls-Royce name in order to build the cars. Likewise, BMW lacked rights to the grille and mascot. BMW bought an option on the trademarks, licensing the name and "RR" logo for £40m, a deal that many commentators thought was a bargain for possibly the most valuable property in the deal. VW claimed that it had only really wanted Bentley anyway, and in sales terms this was the stronger brand, with Bentley models out-selling the equivalent Rolls Royce by around two to one.

BMW and VW arrived at a solution. From 1998 to 2002 BMW would continue to supply engines for the cars and would allow use of the names, but this would cease on January 1, 2003. On that date, only BMW would be able to name cars "Rolls-Royce", and VW's former Rolls-Royce/Bentley division would build only cars called "Bentley". Rolls Royce's convertible, the Corniche, ceased production in 2002.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

In 1998 Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The leading contender seemed to be BMW, who already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. However their final offer of £340m was outbid by Volkswagen (VW), who offered £430m.

However Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine maker, decided it would license certain essential trademarks (the Rolls-Royce name and logo) not to VW, but to BMW, with whom it had recently had joint business ventures. VW had bought rights to the "Spirit of Ecstasy" mascot and the shape of the radiator grille, but it lacked rights to the Rolls-Royce name in order to build the cars. Likewise, BMW lacked rights to the grille and mascot. BMW bought an option on the trademarks, licensing the name and "RR" logo for £40m, a deal that many commentators thought was a bargain for possibly the most valuable property in the deal. VW claimed that it had only really wanted Bentley anyway.

BMW and VW arrived at a solution. From 1998 to 2002 BMW would continue to supply engines for the cars and would allow use of the names, but this would cease on January 1, 2003. On that date, only BMW would be able to name cars "Rolls-Royce", and VW's former Rolls-Royce/Bentley division would build only cars called "Bentley". Rolls Royce's convertible, the Corniche, ceased production in 2002.

Cars

Rolls-Royce Limited vehicles

Rolls-Royce Motors vehicles

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars vehicles

  • 2003 Phantom — Launched in January 2003 at Detroit's North American International Auto Show, this is the first model of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, a BMW subsidiary having no technical or corporate connection with the original Rolls-Royce company, apart from the trademarks mentioned above. The car has a 6.75 L V12 engine from BMW, but most other components are unique to the car. Most parts are made in Germany, but the assembly and finishing is in a new factory in Goodwood, Sussex. The price starts at around £250,000. It is available in normal and extended wheelbase.

Prototypes

Other

See also


ROLLS-ROYCE

The BMW Group


BMW | Rolls-Royce | Mini


Current Models: Phantom (VII) · Drophead · Phantom Coupe · Ghost

Historic Models: Silver Seraph · Silver Spur / Flying Spur · Silver Spirit · Silver Shadow · Silver Cloud · Silver Wraith · Silver Dawn · Silver Ghost · 10 HP · 15 HP · 20 HP · 20/25 · 30 HP · 25/30 Wraith · Camargue · Corniche · Phantom I · Phantom II · Phantom III · Phantom IV · Phantom V · Phantom VI · Armoured Car · Legalimit

Concept Cars: 1EX · 100EX · 101EX · 200EX Concept

Specials: FAB 1 · Cloudesque · Silver Ghost Boat Tail Speedster · Silver Spur Hooper Landaulette · Phantom II Star of India


Spirit of Ecstasy


Sir Henry Royce and Charles Rolls Corporate website A brand of BMW AG




Further reading

  • Richard Feast, Kidnap of the Flying Lady: How Germany Captured Both Rolls Royce and Bentley, Motorbooks, ISBN-7603-1686-4

External links

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