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Rolls-Royce has just officially announced it is to make a new model, a new ‘open-top tourer’ and to celebrate we thought we’d take a look back over the past 100 years of Rolls-Royce and the achievements of this iconic company since its founding year in 1906.
Founded by Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, the company entitled Rolls-Royce Ltd began in 1906. The partnership began with a historic meeting at the Midland Hotel, Manchester whereby the engineering brilliance of Royce was first united with the equally brilliant business acumen and financial backing of Charles Rolls. Put simply, Royce would build the cars, and Rolls would sell them.
The Silver Ghost
Rolls-Royce Ltd’s first ever motor car to be produced was ‘The Silver Ghost’ (1906-1925) and it was this car that became largely responsible for the company’s early reputation. The Silver Ghost contained a 6-cylinder engine inside a silver-painted four passenger chassis, and as early as 1907 the company was collecting awards for outstanding engineering excellence and reliability – the car was driven 15,000 continuous miles with little wear.
During the War
Sadly, Rolls’ passion for cars ended abruptly in 1910 when his biplane (based on the Wright brothers’ flyer) crashed and killed him almost instantly. However, the Silver Ghost chassis, built in Derby, UK was toughened with armour and continued to be used as a combat car in Flanders, Africa, Egypt and with Laurence of Arabia in WW1. During WWII, the company built Rolls-Royce Merlin airplane engines in a facility in Crewe, U.K., rather than cars.
The Jazz age and beyond
After the war came the Jazz age when people had more money to spend on their motors. Silver Ghosts continued to be built in Springfield en mass from 1920-1924, and a smaller 20-hp “Baby Roller” was soon introduced. Big cars were still popular, though, with the Phantoms I, II, and II all appearing in the 1920s.
The Post-War Silver Wraith
After the war in Europe had ended, Rolls brought out the 1946 Silver Wraith with coachwork coming from famed designers such as Mulliner, Park Ward, and others. The 1950s saw the very long-wheelbase of the Phantom IV and the rounded shape of the Silver Cloud and the Silver Cloud II which housed the company’s very first V8 engine, with the updated Silver Cloud III appearing in the ’60s.
Rolls-Royce in the 80s and 90s
Rolls-Royce entered the 80s with the Silver Spirit and Silver Spur, both of which were massive hits with the rich and famous, and were squared-off, ultra-luxury cars built to attract attention from onlookers across the globe. In 1998, the all-new Silver Seraph was launched and producted for four years up until 2002. It replaced the Silver Spur and was powered by a 5.4L aluminium alloy BMW V12 engine with a 5-speed automatic transmission, making it the first 12 cylinder Rolls Royce since the 1939 Phantom III.
Rolls hits its Centenary year!
Rolls-Royce celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004, and the centenary of its most famous car, the Silver Ghost, in 2007. In 2003, the company produced an all-new Phantom, available as a sedan, coupe, or convertible. A limited-edition Phantom Silver was also issued in 2004 to mark the company’s uninterrupted 100-year run.
Rolls-Royce in 2014
Rolls-Royce has just announced its launch of a new convertible model set to go on sale in 2016. The company has not yet released any details or images of the new car, but the model is thought to be a convertible version of the Wraith coupé which means it will be powered by a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 capable of producing 623bhp and 590lb ft of torque. Rolls-Royce will likely start taking orders for the new car early in 2015, with prices in excess of £250,000.