Rolls-Royce is a name associated with opulence and elegance and is arguably one of the most prestigious luxury brands in the world. The name was first used in 1904, following the meeting of two men, Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce. Rolls operated an electrical and mechanical business. Royce manufactured a two-cylinder automobile, the Royce 10.
The two men forged a partnership, whereby Rolls would sell Royce’s vehicles under the Rolls-Royce name. In 1906, Rolls-Royce was officially launched and a factory established in Derby, U.K., to produce a line of two-, three- and four-cylinder cars. The first of the new models arrived in 1908.
Soon after, Rolls-Royce began working on a six-cylinder engine to power its all-new 40/50 model, which was later called the Silver Ghost. Further, the company then came out with a second and smaller model, which it called the Twenty.
Starting in 1914, Rolls-Royce expanded its business to build airplane engines. During World War I, about half of all planes had Rolls-Royce engines. Production continued throughout World War II as well. Decades later Rolls-Royce separated into aerospace and automobile companies.
Customer demand for Rolls-Royce was so strong that the automaker opened a second factory in 1921. Yet, that Massachusetts factory shut down 10 years later due to the Great Depression.
In 1925, the Phantom replaced the Silver Ghost with a larger inline-six engine paired with a manual transmission.
In 1931, Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley and consolidated production to its Derby facility. Rolls-Royce and Bentley models were nearly the same, although the latter’s styling was usually sporty.
Following the war, Rolls-Royce produced the Silver Wraith. This full-size model came with an inline-six cylinder engine, which was enlarged in 1951 and again in 1955.
In 1955, Rolls-Royce introduced the Silver Cloud, which was a four-door sedan. Working with coachbuilders, two-door coupe and convertible models were also produced. Initially, the Silver Wraith’s engine was used, then replaced by a 6.2-liter V8 from 1959 to the end of this model’s run in 1966.
From 1965 to 1980, Rolls-Royce produced the Silver Shadow line. This model came in two-door coupe, convertible and four-door sedan body styles. The Silver Shadow was succeeded by the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, which had a 20-year model run ending in 1999.
Beginning in 1971, Rolls-Royce and Bentley went through a succession of owners. The British government nationalized the bankrupt company, then sold it to Vickers in 1980. In 1998, Volkswagen acquired both brands but relinquished Rolls-Royce to BMW in 2003. Bentley stayed with Volkswagen. Thus, more recent models from the two brands are no longer alike.
Rolls-Royce has also built several limited-production models. The two-door Camargue, designed by Pininfarina, was built from 1975-1986. The Corniche, a two-door coupe and convertible based on the Silver Shadow, was built for 25 years beginning in 1971.
More recent models included the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, a four-door sedan powered by a V12 engine and built from 1998 to 2002. The Rolls-Royce Corniche was a four-seat convertible built from 2000 to 2002.
Current models include the Rolls-Royce Ghost, a four-door sedan and the two-door Wraith. There is also the Phantom line, which is composed of coupe, convertible and sedan models. In 2018, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan made its debut, which is the first SUV from this British marque.
Rolls-Royce Body Styles For Sale
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