On 4 May 1904
, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce met for the first time at The Midland Hotel, Manchester; an encounter that would change the course of automotive history.
And 115 years later, the marque they agreed to form that day continues to set global standards for innovation and excellence, and uphold their legacy as the originators of ‘the best car in the world’.
Rolls and Royce would doubtless be astonished at the cars produced under their names in 2019.
The century (and more) that has elapsed since their first 10 hp machine made its debut at the Paris Salon has seen materials, technology and manufacturing methods utterly transformed.
Yet in several key areas, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars retains unbroken links to those pioneering days; and in its approach, instincts and values, it would be immediately – and pleasingly – recognizable to its founding fathers.
The lines and styling of the first Rolls-Royce cars are clearly influenced by the horse-drawn carriages they replaced.
This is no coincidence, since they were handcrafted by the same master coachbuilders, who effortlessly transferred their skills and artistry from the outgoing tradition to the new technology.
Coachbuilding at Rolls-Royce ended in the 1960s, but in 2017, the craft made a triumphant return in the form of ‘Sweptail
’ – a fully bespoke, coachbuilt commission for a customer seeking ‘the ultimate grand tourer’.
‘Sweptail’ is a truly unique creation, with a never-to-be-repeated silhouette and individual interior touches, including a champagne cooler specifically proportioned to hold only a bottle of Dom Perignon ’73.
Nevertheless, with its Pantheon grille and rear overhang, it remains absolutely true to the Rolls-Royce brand and design language.
Henry Royce began his automotive career by building an improved version of the 10 hp two-cylinder French Decauville – the first car he bought when his eponymous electrical company became successful.
When Rolls saw and drove Royce’s machine, he knew he had found a British car that could outshine the continental competition and 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 – the highest annual total in its history – to customers in over 50 countries.
a dark and restless spirit, have been drawn to Rolls-Royce’s unique allure. Luminaries including Sir Malcolm Campbell, Howard Hughes and Muhammad Ali have all shared the marque’s founding philosophy; an uncompromising refusal to accept the status quo and a constant yearn to innovate, create and advance.
Their restless spirit was also shared by the marque’s co-founder; himself one of the great disrupters of his day.
It is this indomitable spirit that, since the launch of Black Badge, has captivated so many of today’s young owners, who are drawn to Rolls-Royce in the knowledge that no other luxury house is possessed of the vision and flexibility to meet their demands both in design and engineering terms.
Indeed, Black Badge serves to amplify the inherent characteristics that have driven so many new, younger patrons of luxury to the marque.
Black Badge models are the ‘alter egos’ of the standard models: darker, edgier, with more power and torque and enhanced driving dynamics to open up the Rolls-Royce brand to new audiences.
Styling details include a dark-chrome Spirit of Ecstasy, wheels and carbon-fibre interior components, plus the ‘inverted’ black-on-silver ‘RR’ logo: as with every other Rolls-Royce, however, customers can add whatever Bespoke elements they wish, so even a Black Badge car can be any colour desired.