Rolls-Royce


The History of Rolls-Royce

   

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is a British manufacturer of luxury cars based in Goodwood, England. It is the current producer of Rolls-Royce branded cars, whose historical production dates back to 1904. The factory is located across from the historic Goodwood Circuit in Goodwood, West Sussex, England. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the BMW Group.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd began manufacturing cars in 1903. The factory at Goodwood is the fifth Rolls-Royce UK based car production facilty since the company was founded in 1904. The previous four were located in Manchester, London, Derby, and Crewe.
Previous iterations of the company include Rolls-Royce Limited and Rolls-Royce Motors.
Rolls-Royce Limited was a British car and aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as 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 as Rolls-Royce (1972) Limited. In 1973, the car division was separated from the parent company as Rolls-Royce Motors. Rolls-Royce (1972) Limited continued as a nationalised company until it was privatised in 1987 as Rolls-Royce plc.
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 in 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 of 23 December 1904 agreed to take all the cars Royce could make. 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.  A new factory in Derby was largely designed by Royce, and production began in early 1908. On 6 December 1906 GBP 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.)
During 1906 Royce had been developing an improved six cylinder model with more power than the 30hp. Initially designated the 40/50hp, 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. Later renamed the Silver Ghost, the new car was responsible for the company's early reputation with over 6,000 built. 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. Its chassis was used as a basis for the first British armoured car used in both world wars.
After the First World War, Rolls-Royce successfully avoided attempts to encourage the British car manufacturers to merge. Faced with falling sales of the Silver Ghost caused by the deteriorating economic situation, the company introduced the smaller, cheaper Twenty in 1922, effectively ending the one-model policy followed since 1908.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 1998, owners Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The most likely buyer was BMW, who already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, but BMW's final offer of £340m was beaten by Volkswagen's £430m.
A stipulation in the ownership documents of Rolls-Royce dictated that Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine maker would retain certain essential trademarks (the Rolls-Royce name and logo) if the automotive division was sold. Rolls-Royce plc chose to license not to VW but to BMW, with whom it had recently had joint business ventures. VW had bought rights to the "Spirit of Ecstasy" bonnet ornament and the shape of the radiator grille, but it lacked rights to the Rolls-Royce name necessary 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 1 January 2003. From 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". The Rolls-Royce's Corniche ceased production in 2002.

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