Did you know that the Rolls -Royce automobile company is a combination of both of the founders' last names? It's true; Frederick Royce, a manufacturer of electric equipment based in the UK built the first Royce car in 1904. This vehicle (or technically 3 vehicle prototypes), which held ten horsepower and a two-cylinder grabbed the attention of Charles Rolls, a baron's son and a life-long automobile enthusiast. In short, Rolls had the money and Royce had the cars, and the two joined together to build what we now know as the Rolls-Royce empire. Rolls sold the Royce cars at his dealership in London and was so impressed by them that he decided to sell the brand exclusively. Today, Rolls-Royce is under the watch of a BMW subsidiary
Like many other auto manufacturers at the time, Rolls entered some of the new vehicles in races across Europe. With "The Silver Ghost" four-passenger car, which contained a 6-cylinder engine, the company found great success and established the brand's current reputation for reliability. Sadly, in 1919 Rolls died in a plane crash, stunting the company's growth for a short while. However, The Silver Ghost attracted enough attention to be strengthened and converted into a combat vehicle during WWI. After the war, wealthy Jazz Age patrons from across the globe lined up to buy the luxurious cars. Some Silver Ghosts were built in Massachusetts, America.
From the years 1920-1924 a "Baby Roller," which was smaller in size and horsepower was introduced, but big cars were still the "big thing" and Rolls-Royce Phantom models I, II, and III continued to be popular during the 1920s. During the second War, Rolls-Royce Merlin airplane engine were constructed in the UK, and vehicle production was put on hold. After WWII, the Silver Wraith appeared in 1946. The 50s brought the very long Phantom IV and the round Silver Cloud. The first V8 engine was available in the Silver Cloud II in the 1960s. The Phantom V and Phantom VI were also on sale at this time. The popular V8 Silver Shadow appeared shortly afterward, in 1965.
Rolls-Royce wasn't alone in its financial struggles during the 1970s; many European automakers felt the same burden. The British government was called in to head the company's airplane division, and Rolls-Royce Motors split from its racing company partner. Rolls-Royce managed to get an edge on competitors like Aston Martin and BMW with models such as the Silver Shadow II, the Camargue, the Silver Wraith II and the Cornice, all of which appeared by 1979. In the 80s and 90s, popular models included the Silver Spirit and the Silver Spur, huge cars with a ton of luxury features. A V12-engined Silver Seraph was introduced in 1998. Recently, Rolls-Royce ended a partnership with Bentley (in 2003. Rolls-Royce had owned the company since 1931) and released a new Phantom (in coupe, sedan, and convertible models), as well as a new Ghost, which are constructed at the historic Goodwood estate in West Sussex, England.