The quintessential status symbol…
Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce began with discipline and focus. Their impetus was precision and first-class quality. There is no room for compromise…everything should be done one task at a time one vehicle at a time, and expedited in a manner that would yield superlatives. This is how Rolls-Royce makes the best car in the world even better.
Evolution has proven, today’s edition is a collage of refinement. Legendary fit and finish with the focus on engineering and contemporary technology, proves striving for perfection is an endless requisite. From the partnership formed in 1904 and the founding of the brand in 1906, comes today’s manifestation of “The best car in the world.” Rolls-Royce is one class act…
The Rolls-Royce dynamo (tank) never wore out because it was painstakingly and expensively assembled by hand. Rolls-Royce is all about quality. To coin a phrase…you get what you pay for. This is why, if properly maintained a Rolls-Royce will last its owner’s lifetime. I didn’t say this will be cheap…but the die-hard grand tourer is timeless when it comes to longevity. One must not take the marque to K-Mart expecting world-class service as well…
The first automobile to bear the name Rolls-Royce was the Silver Ghost built in 1904. The “Silent Motorcar” established a new benchmark in the auto industry world-wide. Claude Johnson, one of the original visionaries at Rolls-Royce, became the general managing director of the brand catapulting its reputation for engineering excellence to a level that few other auto makers could attain…and virtually remains the same in today’s world…”to thine own self be true.”
The Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was the silent motorcar
It all began as a passion for perfecting machines. Sir Henry worked night and day perfecting his machine. His view was: “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it. Accept nothing nearly right or good enough…”
The Rolls-Royce marque represents a rare investment in superb quality, the finest materials, and legendary craftsmanship. It makes an unarguable statement of personal achievement about its owner. From the hand-sculpted radiator grille to the matched wood veneers, today’s Rolls-Royce is built according to principles set down more than a century ago by Sir Henry.
A Rolls-Royce is a strikingly individual motorcar. It rejects the fleeting fashionable status-quo and garish colors to create a style…a Rolls-Royce style. Those elegant curves in the architecture of today’s Phantom reflect a long history. The graceful curves are derived from the time when coachbuilders began to make integral side panels instead of separate front and rear wings. In doing so, Rolls-Royce incorporates gently curved outlines of the original wings.
More than half of all Rolls-Royce motorcars built are still giving service to their owners, and if properly maintained will more than likely see their way into the next century as a museum piece. A Rolls-Royce never becomes a used car…it becomes a classic as witnessed by the Silver Cloud.
It was built from 1955 through 1966 in three series. This impressive model became an iconic cult with collectors and enthusiasts world-wide. It is probably the most instantly recognizable model from the brand. The Series I was powered by a 6-cylinder engine while Series II & III were V8 powered. They were available with extended wheelbases as bespoke models from eminent coachbuilders such as James Young, HJ Mulliner, Park Ward, and Hoopers.
This was Fred Astaire’s 1955 Silver Cloud I
1960 Silver Cloud II
1965 Silver Cloud III
1966 Silver Cloud III
1967 Silver Shadow long wheelbase saloon
From the ‘Clouds’ emerged the ‘Shadows’ in the continuing evolution. The Silver Shadow was the totally democratized Rolls-Royce that attracted a wider clientele much younger. Gone were the snobbish airs of aristocracy and the need for a chauffeur…the owner preferred to drive…why waste the exhilarating performance on a chauffeur with this elegant machine? It was refined and understated yet unmistakably Rolls-Royce.
A long wheelbase variant was available in 1969 and renamed Silver Wraith II in 1977. The Silver Shadow began as Series II beginning the 1977 model year as well. There are 10 Silver Shadow long wheelbase versions that were built as early as 1967 one of them sold to Princess Margaret. A two-door saloon was introduced by Mulliner Park Ward available as a Fixedhead coupe in early 1966 and Drophead convertible coupe in 1967. The two-door models were renamed Corniche in 1971 and built until 1995.
This rare 1967 long wheelbase saloon added room to the rear passenger compartment. Rolls-Royce always included a long wheelbase saloon to compliment the standard model for exclusivity. These elegant saloons were often chauffeur-driven for special occasions.
1967 Silver Shadow standard saloon
1969 Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward drophead coupé
1976 Silver Shadow long wheelbase saloon
1977 Silver Wraith II
1974 Corniche fixedhead coupé
1986 Corniche II drophead coupé
Out of the ‘Shadows’ evolved the ‘Spirit’ and an entirely new Spirit of Ecstasy…the Silver Spirit was a complete departure from the past looking clearly into the future. Rolls-Royce has never introduced changes just for their own sake. They chose instead to refine constantly.
Each development is analyzed carefully to ensure that it meets the company’s relentless pursuit of excellence and the owner’s driving pleasure. The Silver Spirit was all this and more. Its timeless style and elegance looks as fresh today as it did when it was first introduced. A long wheelbase variant called Silver Spur was also available for the client demanding a more formal saloon.
There were no factory Spirit/Spur two-door saloons, however, there are coachbuilt editions in existence. The Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit and Silver Spur were built from 1981 until 1997 in three distinctive series including the Silver Dawn which was exclusively built for the US markets, and the turbocharged version of the Silver Spur III designated the Mulliner Flying Spur.
1987 Silver Spur II
1996 Silver Dawn for US markets
1997 Park Ward Limousine
…And the finale, 1998 introduced the Silver Seraph which was the last under Rolls-Royce Motors. This was the last time Rolls-Royce and Bentley would share a bodyshell and the last time a car would be built under the Rolls-Royce Motors name. It was also marketed as the Bentley Arnage Series.
The Silver Seraph was powered by an engine made by the company that would eventually purchase Rolls-Royce, the BMW Group. The aluminium alloy 5.4 litre V12 powered this luxury saloon as never before. This was the first twelve cylinder Rolls-Royce since the 1939 Phantom. The legendary 6.75 / 6.8 litre V8 were retired to make way for new technology. The Silver Seraph was the last Rolls-Royce to roll off the Crewe assembly line in 2002.
1998 Silver Seraph
BMW 5.4 litre 24-valve V12
For the 2001 model year an extended wheelbase variant of the Silver Seraph called The Park Ward was introduced which stretched the standard saloon by 10”. Both front and rear doors were increased in size to anonymously incorporate the extra length. It was introduced at the 2000 Geneva Auto Show. Only 127 Park Ward models were built when production ended in 2002.
This will eventually be one of the rarest Rolls-Royce models with history attached, they will get to a point where there will be rapid acceleration in appreciation value. Park Ward also made a few stretch limousines. Whatever configuration one chooses with this genre Rolls-Royce will be a wise investment…especially the Bentley Arnage!
The last Corniche was built on August 30 2002…
“The quality will remain long after the price has been forgotten…” Sir Frederick Henry Royce strived for perfection. He would be proud to see Rolls Royce in its contemporary form today. The new Rolls-Royce Motor Cars under the direction of BMW began production of the Phantom Series I in 2003.
A Rolls-Royce is…to put it quite simply, the best there is. Today’s elegant Phantom saloon is available in two wheelbases. The clean contemporary design is augmented by its elegant rear coach doors. A Phantom two-door Fixedhead hardtop coupé and a Drophead convertible coupé are available for those who prefer the intimacy of a personal luxury car.
Phantom Drophead coupé
Phantom Fixedhead coupé
For the ultra-luxury car buyer that seeks a trim precision-size saloon, there is the Ghost. It is available in two wheelbases. Elegant forward-opening rear doors allow easy entry for rear seat passengers. Any configuration of the Rolls-Royce is the epitome of luxury.
The all-new Rolls-Royce Wraith is the latest manifestation of Rolls-Royce eloquence to grace the roadways of the world. It is a Rolls-Royce like no other. Its avant-garde styling takes one by surprise. From the Spirit of Ecstasy atop the contemporary radiator grille, through the elegant rake of its fastback of its architecture, to the elegant rear diffuser, this is the next generation of the ultra-luxury segment.
Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and Silver Shadow were the pioneer luxury saloons that made way for today’s Phantom. The elegant Sliver Cloud had a production run in three series from 1955 until 1966. The luxurious Silver Shadow was the democratized Rolls-Royce, the snobbish airs of aristocracy were gone. It was completely new but unmistakably Rolls-Royce. The fabulous coachbuilt coupés by Mulliner Park Ward such as the Corniche were the epitome of luxury. The Silver Shadow was produced in two series from 1965 until 1980.
The Silver Spirit and Silver Spur were a dramatic departure from the past. Their stunning architecture spawn the next generation of the Rolls-Royce motorcars. With Park Ward coachcraft the Silver Spur was taken to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy. With the formidable Mulliner Flying Spur and Silver Dawn, adventures in exclusivity continued with these limited market specific Rolls-Royce masterpieces.
The Silver Seraph was the ending of an illustrious era for the marque, it was the last Rolls Royce built at the Crewe facility. It was also the last Rolls-Royce to share a bodyshell with Bentley. Rolls-Royce Motors became the new Rolls-Royce Motor Cars under the BMW Group leadership. It was also the last Rolls-Royce to be designed in the 20th century.
Rolls-Royce Phantom V formal limousine
Silver Cloud III Mulliner Park Ward drophead coupé
From the iconic radiator grille adorned with the Spirit of Ecstasy to the rake of the wide “C” pillars and distinctive rear boot lid styling…the Phantom four-door saloons are the quintessential Flagships. The precision-size luxury of the Ghost saloons, and the personal luxury of Phantom Fixedhead and Drophead coupés bring the luxury of choice.
The all-new Wraith hyper-luxury coupé is the latest Rolls-Royce work of art. Its design DNA is clearly Rolls-Royce. The Wraith combines yesterday, today, and gives a glimpse of tomorrow with its 21st century architecture in a manner in which only Rolls-Royce could discharge. Whatever one desires in an ultra-luxury automobile, the brand can offer. Rolls-Royce is one class act…and indeed, a very tough act to follow-
Photos courtesy Rolls-Royce Media Club