On 4 May 1904, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce met for the first time at the Midland Hotel in Manchester; 115 years later, the marque they agreed to form that day continues to set global standards for innovation and excellence.
Rolls-Royce says the two pioneers would doubtless be astonished at the cars produced under their names in 2019 — materials, technology and manufacturing methods have been utterly transformed in the more than a century since their first 10hp machine made its debut at the Paris Salon.
The company says the lines and styling of the first Rolls-Royce cars were clearly influenced by the horse-drawn carriages they replaced, which is no surprise, since they were handcrafted by the same master coachbuilders, who transferred their skills and artistry from the outgoing tradition to the new technology.
Mr Royce began his automotive career by building an improved version of the 10hp two-cylinder French Decauville — the first car he bought when his electrical company became successful.
When Mr Rolls saw (and drove) Royce’s machine, he knew he had found a British car that could outshine the continental competition, and he agreed to sell all the cars Royce could build.
In its first two years, Rolls-Royce produced a mere 10 cars; in 2018, it delivered 4,107 cars to customers in over 50 countries.
To satisfy global demand for its products, the company has developed a common platform that underpins all new models. This comprises an aluminium space-frame that can be scaled to fit different applications by using different-size floor pans and cross-members.
Most recently, Rolls-Royce has transferred its reputation for luxury to off-road motoring, with the introduction of its Cullinan SUV in 2018.
This was engineered from scratch; and to prove its all-terrain credentials, the car — in partnership with National Geographic — completed a 12,000-mile journey through some of the world’s most challenging terrain.
As well as the Scottish Highlands, the Austrian Alps and the American West, the itinerary included the arid wastes of
the Middle East.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the BMW Group and is a completely separate company from Rolls-Royce plc, which manufactures aircraft engines and propulsion systems.
Over 2,000 skilled men and women are employed at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ head office and manufacturing plant at Goodwood, West Sussex.