Rolls-Royce enjoys one of the world’s strongest reputations when it comes to the manufacturing and marketing of luxury cars. The British company has a long and distinguished history of assembling some of the finest, most elegant vehicles ever put onto the market. Today, even though the company has separated from former brand-mates Bentley and are now controlled by German automaker BMW, Rolls-Royce vehicles still display the same level of craftsmanship and innovation that have always been put into each vehicle.
The used Rolls-Royce lineup is currently filled by some of the most desirable cars on the market. The Phantom is a four-door masterpiece of sedan design, and the Coupé and the Drophead Coupé continued the avant-guard, battleship-like styling of the sedan into beautiful two-door and convertible forms.
In the late 1800’s, Frederick Henry Royce was the owner of a successful manufacturing company in England who had recently purchased his first automobile. As someone who had been interested in engineering his entire life, he was disappointed in what he perceived as the poor quality of the vehicle. In keeping with the can-do spirit that was so characteristic of that era of automobiles, he decided that he could create his own, vastly improved car. After distributing a few of these early prototypes to friends, he found himself in the enviable position of having an audience with Charles Rolls, a man with an interest in cars and the financial wherewithal to distribute and invest in Royce’s brand. The two entered into business together and Rolls-Royce was born.
In addition to Rolls-Royce engine production for aerospace and other military applications, automobile production continued to grow for the pair. The Silver Ghost, one of the most influential and legendary vehicles in early automotive history turned heads around the world with both its beauty and phenomenal reliability in 1906. Reliable automobiles were a rarity in the early days of motor vehicles, and Rolls-Royce would build on their reputation of quality, continuing on strong even after the death of Rolls in a tragic accident not long afterward the company’s initial achievements. The organization acquired fellow British carmakers Bentley to help cement their place at the top of the automotive heap in England in 1931.
Modern Day Rolls-Royce
While the company had enjoyed success with both cars and airplane engines for several decades after World War II, a crisis occurred in the early 70’s due to cost overruns in the jet engine program. The military side of Rolls-Royce was nationalized, spinning off the automobile production into a separate company and kicking off a new chapter in Rolls-Royce history. Interestingly, this independent company would itself be purchased by a different British aeronautical firm, Vickers, a mere 9 years later. After almost two decades of producing luxury automobiles that were initially well-received but lost some of their luster due to quality control issues and questions of engineering, Vickers eventually bowed out of the luxury car business. In a complicated maneuver, Rolls-Royce was sold to Volkswagen in 1998, who retained the rights to the Bentley line of cars, with BMW picking up the license to produce Rolls-Royce vehicles but not the definitive grille or Spirit of Ecstasy hood emblem. They were forced to purchase these from VW in a separate deal. In 2002, BMW took full possession of the Rolls-Royce brand and legacy.