Luxury Cars: In regard to the formation of the world's first true luxury automaker, Rolls-Royce, who received top billing, the businessman or the designer? Businessman Charles Rolls came first with second billing going to engineer Henry Royce. Charles and Henry agreed that Rolls' company would exclusively sell all vehicles made by Royce. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars made its official debut in 1904 at the Paris Salon. Perhaps "Royce-Rolls" sounded too much like a pun or a criticism than an appropriate nomenclature for a fledgling car manufacturer. Shortly thereafter Royce-designed vehicles were ruling the roadways.
The first Rolls-Royce made was a 10-horsepower, two-cylinder vehicle with a top speed of 39 mph. By 1906 the automaker had a vehicle with three chassis styles and six-cylinder inline engines capable of exceeding 50 mph. The first R-R with an enclosed backseat, the Pullman by Barker, also was introduced at that time. Rolls-Royce elevated its status to a producer of elite vehicles with the Silver Ghost in 1907. It was the first reliable and smooth riding manufactured. It set a world record for a non-stop motor run, traveling an astonishing 14,371 miles.
The most popular body types of the most elite car of the era were the enclosed Barker cabriolet, the Barker Tourer, the Hooper-Landaulet, and the London-Edinburg. The fabled vehicle first gained notoriety when it was entered into the 1907 Scottish Reliability Run, winning the gold medal in its class for hill climbing and reliability. Silver Ghosts were manufactured from 1907 to 1925. It is astonishing that the majority of the 6,000 Silver Ghosts built still run well today. Aside from Rolls Royce, how many automakers today would dare say their cars could be driven 100 years from now?
Rolls-Royce has produced 25 Phantom Silvers to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Silver Ghost. The Phantom Silver's bespoke paint color is Metallic Ghost Silver. The interior of the limited edition comes in rose leaf or crŤme light leather. The "RR" logo is embroidered into both the piping and the headrests. Eco-friendly Santos Palisander rosewood is used throughout the cabin. The varied-grain rosewood also is used for a presentation box that holds the key, two solid silver key fobs and a specially commissioned Conway Stewart fountain pen. The LCD screen for the navigational system is strategically concealed behind the clock in the dashboard to preserve the car's classic decorum.
Beneath the hood of this refined vehicle is a fuel-injected V-12 engine with 48 valves that accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Its top speed is 149 mph. The sedan has a maintenance-free six-speed transmission and speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering. The Phantom Silver sets on 21-inch alloy wheels with chrome centers. The Spirit of Ecstasy, which has been the automakers traditional grille ornament since 1911, is solid silver. It is retractable for security purposes.
Rolls-Royce produced automobiles and aero engines until 1971. Bleak financial circumstances forced the firm into receivership and the divisions became separate companies. The BMW Group has been the owner of the Rolls-Royce line since 1998. While many other brands have strived and risen to attain recognition, Rolls-Royce Motor Company possessed such panache from its inception.
Check out the JustLuxe Events Calendar for details on the 2007 Annual Meet of Rolls-Royce and Bentley Enthusiasts takes place in Stevenson, Wash. The Rolls Royce Owners Club sponsors the event.
For LxM James Rothaar
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