Rolls-Royce History The Beginning

The Beginning

Rolls-Royce Limited was created over a famous lunch in May 1904. Henry Royce, a successful engineer, struck a deal with Charles Rolls, owner of one of the first car dealerships. The rest is history. The ensuing series of two, three, four and six cylinder cars broke the mould for engineering and craftsmanship. The Silver Ghost, launched in 1907, was a car of legendary smoothness that completed a 14,371 mile virtually non-stop run, creating 'the best car in the world' legend.

The Founders

Rolls-Royce History Charles Rolls

Charles Rolls

Charles Rolls studied mechanical engineering at Cambridge. The first undergraduate to own a car, he soon began racing. To fund his passion he set up a dealership, selling mostly foreign cars. His search for a supplier of reliable English cars led to his introduction to Henry Royce.

The first aviator to complete a double-crossing of the English Channel, he was killed in a crash at an air show in July 1910.

Rolls-Royce History Henry Royce

Sir Henry Royce

Known for his attention to detail and pursuit of perfection, Henry Royce registered his first patent (the bayonet lamp socket) in 1887. His company produced dynamos, electrical motors and cranes.

Dissatisfied with his Decauville, Royce decided to improve on it and turned his attention to building the best cars in the world. By 1903 he had designed and built his first engine. His first prototypes took to the road in 1904.

The Essence of Ghost

Inspired by the Ghost in the Photograph

Ghost's designers were inspired by this photograph of Don Carlos de Salamanca at the 1913 Spanish Grand Prix. His serene expression after winning the gruelling 190-mile race in his Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost suggested the simple and effortless driving experience they re-created for the 21st Century Ghost.

Rolls-Royce History Silver Ghost

Silver Ghost

Introduced in 1907, the 40/50 HP or Silver Ghost remained in production until 1925. Originally powered by a 7,036cc six-cylinder engine, this was increased to 7,428cc in 1909.

Best-known body styles included the Barker Tourer and the Barker enclosed cabriolet. First built in Royce's Cooke Street factory in Manchester, following its success the company moved to a custom-built factory in Nightingale Road, Derby.

  • 1920s

  • 1930s

  • 1940s

  • 1950s

  • 1960s

  • 1970s

  • 1980s

  • 1990s

  • The Present