How Rolls Met Royce

With a shared ambition to make the future of motoring extraordinary, the Honourable Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce joined forces in 1904. Despite being from very different backgrounds, the founders of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars formed an unlikely partnership – one forged from a shared passion for engineering and a desire to create the Best Car in the World.


Born in 1877 in London’s affluent Berkeley Square, Charles Stewart Rolls was the third son of Lord and Lady Llangattock. After school at Eton, Rolls studied mechanical engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was the first undergraduate to own a motor car. Having gained a reputation for tinkering with engines, Rolls earned himself the nicknames ‘Dirty Rolls’ and ‘Petrolls’.

By the time he left university, Rolls was already an accomplished motorist. In 1903, he broke the world land speed record in Dublin driving a 30hp Mors at nearly 83mph. But because the timing equipment was not approved, the governing body refused to acknowledge his accomplishment.
Traditional, illustrated portrait image of Charles Rolls.

To fund his sporting activities, Rolls set up one of the first car dealerships in Britain with his friend Claude Johnson: CS Rolls & Co. Together they imported and sold Peugeot motor cars from France and Minerva motor cars from Belgium.

An instinctive desire for perfection

In contrast to Rolls, who had had a privileged upbringing, Henry Royce was working by the age of nine. Born in 1863 in Peterborough, England, Royce sold newspapers and worked as a telegram boy before his fortunes changed.

At 14 years old, one of Royce’s aunts paid for him to begin an apprenticeship with Great Northern Railway Works. Working under one of the outstanding engineers of the day, Royce took every opportunity to educate himself, spending his evenings studying algebra, French and electrical engineering. With a natural talent for engineering, Royce landed a job with the Electric Light and Power Company.

Royce’s true ambition was to make engineering his full-time job. He started a business with his fellow engineer friend, Ernest Claremont – working around the clock to make electrical components such as doorbells and dynamos. It was during this time that Royce patented improvements to the bayonet light bulb that are still in use today.

It wasn’t until he bought a second-hand two-cylinder French Decauville that Royce became interested in building motor cars. He had an instinctive desire for perfection and an innate work ethic that later became a pillar of Rolls-Royce philosophy: “Take the best that exists and make it better.”

Having found construction faults in the French Decauville, Royce vowed to do better. By the end of 1903, he had designed and built his first petrol engine – and in April 1904, he drove his first Royce 10hp motor car into town.

Side profile exterior of an traditional, original Rolls-Royce motor car.

The 'hyphen' in Rolls-Royce

Henry Edmunds, a shareholder in Royce’s company and a friend of Rolls, was boasting to him about his new 10hp Royce motor car. At the time, Rolls was frustrated at only being able to sell foreign imports, so Edmunds arranged a meeting with the man behind the 10hp.

Little did Edmunds know that the meeting he organised would change the future of motoring forever.

Rolls and Royce first met on 4 May 1904 in Manchester. Within minutes of seeing Royce’s twin-cylinder 10hp, Rolls knew he had found what he was looking for. After taking the motor car for a drive, Rolls agreed on the spot to sell as many motor cars as Royce could build, under the name Rolls-Royce.

Creating a brand requires vision. So while Rolls and Royce were busy building and selling motor cars, it was Rolls’ partner, Claude Johnson, who stepped into the role of Managing Director and expanded the fledgling company’s reputation. A genius at publicity, Claude Johnson was so integral to the success of the company that he became known as ‘the hyphen in Rolls-Royce’.

One of Johnson’s early adverts for the 40/50hp motor car promoted it as: ‘The six-cylinder Rolls-Royce – not one of the best, but the Best Car in the World.’ In that moment, he had introduced the phrase that would forever be associated with Rolls-Royce.

Johnson’s decision to orchestrate a series of publicity stunts to promote the quietness and reliability of Rolls-Royce motor cars was incredibly effective. It demonstrated their superior performance and created global exposure for their world-class engineering. The rest is history.


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Goodwood Factory Tours

Do you offer factory tours of Goodwood?

Unfortunately, we no longer offer a public tour programme. Should this change in the future, we will update our website. 

Brochure Requests

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All brochures can be viewed and downloaded within the model pages online or within enquiries. We no longer produce printed brochures.

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I am interested in pursuing a career within Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, how can I apply?

All current opportunities are advertised on the careers page. Should you wish to register your interest or submit an application, please visit the careers page and follow the instructions. Vacancies for Apprenticeships and Internships are also advertised here. 


Do you offer work experience placements?

Regrettably, due to the volume of requests we receive for work experience placements from the children of our employees, we are unable to offer a placement at this time.

Looking further to the future, we offer a range of Apprenticeships and a Graduate Scheme, details of which can be found on the careers page on our website.


I would like to collaborate with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Unfortunately, due the volume of request we receive of this nature we cannot accept collaboration requests. 


I have some designs or ideas that I would like to show Rolls-Royce, who can I speak to?

We receive many requests for submission of design ideas and we are not permitted to accept ideas from any persons outside of the business. 

Classic Motor Cars

I need information about my classic Rolls-Royce (built prior to 2003)

All motorcars built before 2003 (both Rolls-Royce and Bentley) and their related history are dealt with by the Bentley organisation. The Bentley Heritage website could be a useful source of information for you.

If you have any questions about Rolls-Royce motor cars built after 2003 please get in touch with us on the details below and one of our client specialists will be happy to assist you.

Telephone: 01243 525700                              


How can I request sponsorship from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars?

We receive many requests for sponsorship, funding and donations, and whilst we are a keen supporter of local charities sadly we cannot support every worthy cause which is brought to our attention. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars selects a house charity each year to be our primary charitable focus, for 2019 the charity we have chosen is Home-Start Arun.

Home-Start Arun promotes the welfare of families in the Arun, Worthing and Adur District Council areas, to alleviate stress and conflict at home and prevent family crisis and breakdown. 


Can you give me the prices of your models?

The prices of our model range would depend on the specification. For further information please contact your nearest Rolls-Royce dealership who will be delighted to assist you further.

Please follow the link to locate your nearest Rolls-Royce Motor Cars authorized dealership by selecting 'Enquiry' then 'Find a Dealer' from the top right hand side.


Locate a Rolls-Royce Dealership

Where is my nearest authorised Rolls-Royce Motor Cars dealership?

Please follow the link to locate your nearest Rolls-Royce Motor Cars authorized dealership by selecting 'Enquiry' then 'Find a Dealer' from the top right hand side.

Rolls-Royce Images

I would like to download some Rolls-Royce pictures and videos.

We recommend you visit our social media pages where you will find official Rolls-Royce photos and videos of all of our models. You can also visit our press page for recent news and updates. Don’t forget to like and share!

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Rolls-Royce Merchandise

Where can I purchase Rolls-Royce Motor Cars merchandise?

Our merchandise may only be purchased through an authorised Rolls-Royce Motor Cars dealership —  however — you may begin the process online. Using our online Boutique, simply add your desired items to your shopping basket. Once you have created your “List”, select the “Submit to a Dealer” button. A dealer will then be in touch to confirm your order.


Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, The Drive, Westhampnett, Chichester, PO18 0SH.
Telephone: 01243 525700
Opening times Monday-Friday 09.00-17.00

If you are based in North America, please email


Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and Rolls-Royce PLC

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. is a separate legal entity from Rolls-Royce PLC and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BMW Group. Based at Goodwood near Chichester in West Sussex, it commenced business on 1st January 2003 as its new global production facility. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars manufactures and sells the worlds pinnacle super-luxury automobiles, including the Phantom, Ghost, Wraith, Dawn and Cullinan models. 

My Rolls-Royce

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Access to the 'My Rolls-Royce' portal is exclusively for existing clients of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. If you apply and we are unable to match your details we will decline your request. If you feel we have made a mistake on the decision please email

Certificate of Conformity (COC)

How do I request a Certificate of Conformity?

A certificate of conformity is no longer available directly from our head office. Requests are now dealt with by any authorised Rolls-Royce Motor Cars dealerships.

To find a full list of current dealerships and the one most convenient to you please use the dealership locating section on our website.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars client complaints procedure

How can I register a complaint about my Rolls-Royce vehicle / the service provided to me?

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is committed to producing and delivering products and services of the highest standard, but we do understand that sometimes things can go wrong. If you have a concern or are dissatisfied in any way, please visit this page for more details.

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