Roles Royce releases new model for centenary celebrations
May 12, 2003
LONDON — One hundred years ago Tuesday in a hotel in northwest England,
Charles Rolls and Henry Royce shook hands on an agreement to
manufacture motor cars, launchng a partnership that would
immortalise their two names, now a synonym for luxury and class.
A couple rides in an antique Rolls Royce during celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the company, in Manchester, England, 04 May, 2004. |
The new, ultra-exclusive Rolls Royce Centenary Phantom, made for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the company - with a limited run of only 35
Photo: AFP/Steve Parkin
A few months after that meeting at the Midland Hotel in
Manchester, the first of the 90,000 Rolls-Royces to be built over
the next century emerged from their workshop, making their public
debut at the Paris motor show in December 1904.
Charles Stewart Rolls was the well-born son of a wealthy British
peer, with a Cambridge University degree in engineering and a
passion for cars and flying. He became Britain's first aircraft
fatality in 1910 when his biplane broke up and crashed.
Frederick Henry Royce was of humbler birth, the son of a miller,
a onetime railways apprentice who had built up his own business as
a manufacturer of cranes and dynamos.
The car business ceased to be British in July 1998 when it was
bought by the German manufacturer BMW, but the aircraft engine
division, into which Royce diversified in World War I, remains
British and employs some 35,000 people, 60 percent of them in
Royce had a simple ambition: "to turn out the best car in the
world, regardless of cost, and to sell it to those people who could
appreciate a good article and were able and willing to pay for it."
There has never been a shortage of people ready to take out
their chequebooks to buy a Rolls, even exotic models such as the
Silver Seraph manufactured from 1998 to 2001, the only model not to
be powered by an RR engine but by a BMW V12, or the
Italian-designed two-door Camargue.
Owners have included show business or sporting stars, among them
boxing icon Muhammad Ali, Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney,
singer Frank Sinatra, writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard
Kipling, actors including Richard Burton, Cary Grant and Brigitte
Bardot, and even politicians as unlikely as Russia's Leonid
Brezhnev and Lenin.
But the core market for the cars has always been among the
planet's ruling families, from the British royal family to Princess
Grace of Monaco, from the Shah of Iran to the Sultan of Brunei. The
Phantom IV, of which only 18 models were produced, was sold
exclusively to a select clientele.
Rolls Royce engines powered the fighter aircraft -- Spitfires
and Hurricanes -- which won the Battle of Britain in 1940, and
World War II bombers such as the Lancaster.
After merging in 1966 with Bristol Siddeley, the firm produced
the Olympus, which powered the supersonic Concorde and the Pegasus
for the vertical take off and landing Harrier military aircraft.
Rolls Royce engines equip many Airbus and Boeing planes, and its
Trent motors will be used on the super-jumbo Airbus A380 jet and
Boeing's planned 7E7 Dreamliner.
And it is engines bearing the famous RR logo that power the
world's costliest, largest and heaviest cruise liner, the
French-built Queen Mary 2. –Sapa-AFP
Forget sexy: the car of the future is all about safety