The Evolution of the Rolls Royce Motorcar

……………..”Nil fato relinquemus”

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………………….The most iconic motorcar in history

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“Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble.”  ……..Charles Stewart Rolls

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No Rolls Royce motorcar springs forth from a blinding flash of inspiration. It is an evolution of technology. Each new creation augmented superlatives and their passion for innovation, engineering, and presence. Every era had a Rolls Royce right for its day. Dedication to quality & craftsmanship are impetus to the most iconic and unforgettable automobile in history. If properly maintained, a Rolls Royce will last a man’s lifetime. “The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten.”

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The company was founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce March 15, 1906 as a result of their partnership formed in 1904. The Corporate structure timeline is as follows: Rolls Royce Limited (1906 – 1973), Rolls Royce Motors (1973 – 2003, owned by Vickers 1980 – 1998), and Rolls Royce Motor Cars which is now a subsidiary of BMW (2003 – present). Rolls Royce maintained their benchmark of excellence throughout the changes in ownership, discreetly and without affecting production.

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The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was the preface to the company’s claim of making “the best car in the world.” The car was named Silver Ghost to emphasize its ghost-like quietness. It is considered the most valuable car in the world, its insured value in 2005 was placed at $35 million US dollars, and it has since appreciated to $57 million US dollars according to Wikipedia. The main purpose of the Silver Ghost was to introduce the new company and showcase the reliability and silence of the car.

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1925 Phantom I Windover
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1925-1929 Phantom I
 
From the Ghost….the Phantom I was introduced. It utilized the same frame as the Silver Ghost. The Phantoms shared duplicity; they were manufactured in Derby, UK and at a factory in the US in Springfield Massachusetts. The US factory built Phantoms from 1926 until 1931.
 
The differences being the UK version had the longer wheelbase and a four speed transmission, while the US version used a three speed. Only chassis and mechanical work was done by Rolls Royce. The bodies were custom crafted by Barker, Park Ward, Thrupp & Maberly, Mulliner, Henley, and Hooper. American versions could be purchased with standardized bodies. Brewster & Company which was a subsidiary of Rolls Royce, made them. The Phantoms were manufactured as: Series I (1925 – 1929). 
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1930 Phantom II Brewster
 
Series II (1929-1936) 
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 1930 Phantom II Cabriolet deVille  
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1936 Phantom III  (1936-1939)
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1936 Phantom III 
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1936 Phantom III
 
These were bespoke luxury automobiles; no two Rolls Royces will ever be alike. There was also, the Rolls Royce 20/25 made from 1929-1936 and was Rolls Royce’s “small car.” It was intended to be owner driven, however, many were chauffeur driven. It was powered by an in-line six-cylinder with a four speed gear box. The bodywork shown is by Park Ward. Thrupp & Maberly, Mulliner, and Hooper also fitted the hand crafted coachwork. Only 3,827 were produced. 
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1929-1936 Rolls Royce 20/25
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From the elegant Phantoms….emerged the Wraith (1938 – 1939) and the Silver Wraith (1946 – 1959).
 
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1938 Wraith 
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 1939 Wraith
 
The Wraith’s chassis were only made in 1939 limited to 492 units. Some Wraiths were finished in 1940 and others went into storage, then registered and sold during the war years. A few of them were actually bodied during this time period.
 
Sixteen pre-war chassis were bodied and delivered to the Government; the final Wraith was delivered in 1947. The Silver Wraith was the first post-war model produced at the Crewe facility. The Silver Wraith was the last Rolls Royce model to be delivered in chassis only form. Most of the bodies utilized for the Silver Wraith were configured as formal limousines. 
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 1954 Silver Wraith with James Young bodywork 
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1956 Silver Wraith 
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Continuing the Rolls Royce Dynasty, enter the Silver Dawn, which was the first Rolls Royce to be offered with a factory produced body & chassis. It was produced at the Crewe factory from 1949 – 1955. The Silver Dawn was introduced as an export only model, with left hand drive versions as column shift, and the right hand drive had the shifter mounted to the floor. Only 760 Silver Dawns were produced. This car could accelerate from 0-60 in 15.2 seconds and got 15.4 mpg!! Imagine a car of this magnitude almost as swift as a roadster. If you wanted your Silver Dawn bespoke, the body could be custom crafted by coach builders in the Rolls Royce tradition. 
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1950 Silver Dawn 
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1955  Silver Dawn 
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1955 Silver Dawn
 
The Rolls Royce Phantom IV was produced from 1950-1956 as the ultimate in luxury for the time. Its sculpted bodywork hinted at Rolls Royce models to come. 
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1950 Phantom IV 
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1950 Phantom IV 
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1953 Phantom IV Hooper Limousine 
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1956 Phantom IV
 
The Silver Dawn ushered in a sleeker more refined motorcar which instantly became a world-renowned icon…..the stately Silver Cloud. This was one of the most popular Rolls Royce models and remains a highly collectible automobile today. The Silver Cloud was produced from 1955 – 1965, and a total of 7,372 units were made. Power steering and air conditioning were popular options in 1956.
 
The Silver Cloud was manufactured as three series: Silver Cloud I (1955 – 1958) 
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1955 Silver Cloud I 
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1955 Silver Cloud I 
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1955 Silver Cloud I 
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1955 Silver Cloud I
 
Silver Cloud II (1959 – 1962 which now came equipped with a 6.2 litre V8 engine) 
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1961 Silver Cloud II 
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1962 Silver Cloud II 
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 1962 Silver Cloud II 
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 1962 Silver Cloud II 
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 1962 Silver Cloud II 
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1962 Silver Cloud II 
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 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II 
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 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II 
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 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II 
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 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II 
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 Silver Cloud II James Young Flying Spur 
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Silver Cloud II James Young Flying Spur

Silver Cloud III (1963 – 1966)Image

Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III 
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Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III 
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Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III 
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Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III 
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Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III 
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Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III 
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Subtle changes were made to the Series III that included quad headlamps, a slightly lower radiator grille that flowed smoothly into a slightly sloping bonnet, a redesigned interior with wider front seats, and a nitride hardened crankshaft for added strength to deal more effectively with  the extra power of the V8 engine. Rolls Royce also trimmed off a few pounds. The more powerful V8 and reduction in weight boosted speed producing more spirited performance in the Series III. The luxurious Silver Clouds are like a fine Chateau Lafite Rothschild: both rich-n-rare mellowing with age. 
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 The Phantom V series was produced in limousine configuration from 1959-1967 
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  This example has bodywork by James Young. 
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The Phantom VI series was produced from 1968-1992 as an ultra luxurious limousine. James young, H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward, and Hoopers did the bodywork. No Phantom ever had “out of the box” styling. These were the absolute epitome of luxury, comfort, and presence. 
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 Phantom VI 
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This example has bodywork by Mulliner Park Ward
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Phantom VI Landaulet 
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1967 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow 
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The Clouds created Shadows……Silver Shadows. Begin with unitary construction, which is a monocoque design……where the body and chassis are made as a single entity creating a stronger network utilizing light weight aluminium for bonnets, boots, and doors. Combine the charisma of having the largest production volume of any Rolls Royce…..and you get the magnificent Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. It sported the sleekest silhouette of any Rolls Royce and was the first completely new design in decades. It became an immediate success as a standard four door saloon. 
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Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward Fixed head coupe 
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The Thomas Crown Affair used the Silver Shadow MPW  coupe
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1973 Rolls Royce Corniche
 
A two door fixed head coupe was introduced in 1966 crafted by Mulliner Park Ward. An extended wheelbase saloon was released in 1969. In 1971 the Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward became the formidable Corniche series available as a fixed head coupe and a luxury convertible. 
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1972 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Long Wheelbase saloon 
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The Silver Shadow was refreshed in 1977 as the Silver Shadow II standard wheelbase saloon, and the Silver Wraith II as the extended wheelbase version. The Silver Shadow series was manufactured from 1965 – 1980.  
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Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II 
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1980 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith II 
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The Rolls Royce Camargue was introduced in March 1975. It was a joint venture between Rolls Royce and Pininfarina of Italy. When it was launched, it became the flagship of Rolls Royce. It was the most expensive car in the world at the time for $147,000. The production ran from 1975-1986. It is also the rarest of all Rolls Royces as only 531 Camargues were built. Some of the Camargue coupes were customized into convertibles. 
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The Corniche series was so popular that it out lived the Shadow until 1982 for the coupe and 1996 for the convertible, and holds the position of having one of the longest production runs of any Rolls Royce Motorcar to date. 
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The Corniche V was the last in the series to be produced. It was built from 2000-2002. This is the first and only Rolls Royce to be built on a Bentley platform. It used the Bentley Azure floor pan. Only 374 were made. 
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 1981 Rolls Royce Silver Spirit
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Out of the Shadows…….commenced a Spirit. The Silver Spirit at the time was considered “The next generation of The Spirit of Ecstasy.” It was manufactured as Series I (1980 – 1989) and shared an extended wheelbase stable mate named Silver Spur. 
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 1987 Rolls Royce Silver Spur
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The Spirit/Spur shared the same floor pan and 6.75 litre V8 engine as The Silver Shadow. This new generation Rolls Royce was configured as The Flying Spur, Silver Dawn, Park Ward, and as a Touring Limousine during its total production run. The Series II Spirit/Spur (1989 – 1993) was unveiled at The Frankfurt Motor Show. 
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These saloons had major updates that include a “thinking suspension” that was a fully automatic ride control network with self-adjusting dampers at all four wheels. Anti-lock brakes and fuel injection were now standard on all models. The Series III Spirit/Spur made improvements to the 6.75 litre power plant by modifying intake manifolds and cylinder heads which increased its power. The suspension got updates which improved reliability and made it easier to maintain.
 
The interior received dual air bags and individually adjustable rear seats. The Flying Spur (1994 – 1995) made its grand entrance built at a restricted pace of 134 units which makes it a highly collectible Rolls Royce. The finale for the Spirit/Spur IV saloons was dubbed “The Final Series” (1994 – 1998) which was designed in 1992 and released in 1995. 
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Rolls Royce Silver Dawn 
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 1996 and 1997 Rolls Royce Silver Dawn 
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The Silver Dawn was made for the US market with production limited to a run of 237 units. It was built on the extended wheelbase floor pan. 
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The Park Ward Limousine (1995 – 1999), became another model built at an extremely limited production run of only 70 units and was the absolute epitome of luxury in the Rolls Royce tradition. By 1997, the extended wheelbase became standard on all models along with a Garrett turbocharger. The Final Series may be identified by their integrated front and rear bumpers and 16 inch wheels. The Spirit/Spur series ran successfully from 1980 through 1999. 
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1999 Rolls Royce Silver Seraph 
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The Spirit of Divinity creates a Seraph…….the dictionary defines Seraph as “A Celestial Being… a member of the highest order of Angels”…..how appropriate for the end of an illustrious era in Rolls Royce history. The Silver Seraph (1998 – 2002) an all new design from the ground up was the final model for “Rolls Royce Motors.”  This is the last Rolls Royce to be built at the Crewe facility. It was also the last Rolls Royce to share a body shell with Bentley as the two models became fierce competitors as two distinctly different Brands.
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Volkswagen & BMW battled viciously, each had rights to certain components but lacked the rights necessary to build the cars, for instance, that 5.4L aluminium alloy 12 cylinder BMW engine for example……..BMW supplied VW with power plants to move the Bentley Brand; however, they could withdraw their agreement with just 12 months notice. It is kind of hilarious in a way. We are talking about bespoke vehicles that are punching it out seriously!
 
VW bought rights to “The Spirit of Ecstasy”, bonnet and grille but lacked the Rolls Royce name to actually build the car! Same situation with BMW, they had rights to the bonnet, & grille of the Bentley brand but lacked the Bentley name to build it. They resolved the issue with the purchase of Bentley by Volkswagen and the same with BMW and Rolls Royce. Some argue that VW got the better deal because Bentley sold twice as many cars.
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 Rolls Royce plc, which is the aero-space division, retained rights to the exclusive trade mark of both RR logo and name. Only 1,570 Silver Seraphs were made when production ceased while its sister, the Bentley Arnage lived on until 2009. 
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As the final chapter in Rolls Royce Motors ends…..the new venture began. As the Seraph faded into history…BMW introduced the incomparable Rolls Royce Phantom available as the standard saloon or an extended wheel base version. For 2003, this was a completely new Rolls Royce with a new parent company as well. 
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The Phantom sports BMW’s 5.4 liter V12 with a look and appeal shared with no other Rolls Royce. It is ultra luxurious with sumptuous conveniences for the pampered owner such as self-closing rear doors with umbrellas stored in each.
The Phantom’s behemoth appearance makes it unmistakably Rolls Royce; the V12 power plant moves this flagship with complete and confident composure, with that poised Rolls Royce dignity. This is luxury on the grand Rolls Royce scale in the gracious Rolls Royce manner. As with any bespoke vehicle, no two Rolls Royce Motor cars will ever be alike. 
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 2014 Rolls Royce Phantom 
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Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead 
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 Rolls Royce Phantom Fixedhead coupe
 
The Phantom family of fine cars includes the iconic Phantom available in either standard or extended wheelbase, the ultra-luxurious Phantom Drophead coupe which is one of the world’s most elegant cabriolets, and the Phantom Fixedhead coupe the decadently luxurious Hyper Coupe. The Rolls Royce Ghost was introduced in 2010, smaller, taught, and better suited for today’s driving. The Rolls Royce Ghost offers the same elegance and luxury as all Rolls Royces. 
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Rolls Royce Ghost 
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2014 Rolls Royce Wraith
 
And celebrating the hyper-luxury class was the introduction of the Rolls Royce Wraith. This is a gentlemen’s Gran Turismo coupe. The exclusive fastback silhouette and totally understated elegance makes the Wraith a contemporary classic. It was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013. The Wraith is a four seat coupe design based on the Rolls Royce Ghost platform. 
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It is designed to be the fastest and most luxurious Rolls Royce. The Wraith has performance as impressive as its contemporary architecture…….and as unique as its character. 624 bhp is generated from an alloy 6.7 litre twin turbocharged V12 engine. (You go BMW!) The excellent power-to-weight ratio makes this gazelle spring from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds….now remember we’re talking about a 5,203 pound vehicle.
 
Safety, Speed, and reliability, and that poised dignity which is the hallmark of every Rolls Royce is evident in this twenty-first century creation fusing art with technology for a rare motoring experience. The new Rolls Royce Wraith has to be seen to be believed, and driven to experience the spirited performance and owned for complete satisfaction. A Rolls Royce precludes the restless quest for something better to replace it with……. 
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 “A thing of beauty……..is a joy forever.”
1967 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
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Rolls Royce is NotoriousLuxury 
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 Celestial Phantom  
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One Response to “The Evolution of the Rolls Royce Motorcar”

  1. Highly descriptive blog, I enjyed thwt bit. Willl there be a part 2?

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