By Rod Ward
This is the story of a great British car marque and aero engine manufacturer. It is also the story of how a dedicated engineer called Henry Royce met an aristocratic car dealer called Charlie Rolls. There are other important characters in the tale, including promotional genius Claude Johnson and engineer Ernest Hives, without whom the firm could not have succeeded, or lasted as long as it did. From 1912 Rolls-Royce pursued a one-model policy; all Rolls-Royces made from 1912 to 1925 were 40/50hp ‘Silver Ghosts’. In 1922 Rolls-Royce added the smaller Twenty, making a two-model range, and in 1925 the 40/50hp New Phantom replaced the Ghost. In 1929 the Twenty was uprated to become the 20/25, at the same time as the launch of the Phantom II. In 1935 the Phantom III replaced the Phantom II, and in 1936 the 25/30 replaced the 20/25, but it only lasted until 1938. In 1938 the 25/30 Wraith was launched. After the war the Silver Wraith was the new Rolls-Royce model. The first postwar ‘standard steel’ bodied Bentley was the Mk IV, of which the Rolls-Royce equivalent was the Silver Dawn. The standard Rolls-Royce of the 1950s and 1960s was the Silver Cloud (Mark I, 1955-59, Mark II 1959-62 and Mark III 1962-66). Big limousines were the highly-exclusive Phantom IV (1950-56), Phantom V (1959-62) and Phantom VI (1968-91). The first integral-bodied Rolls-Royce was the Silver Shadow I (1965-77), followed by the Corniche Marks I to V from 1971 to 1996, the Camargue (1975-86) and the Shadow II (1977-80). The long wheelbase version of the Shadow family for limousine use was the Silver Wraith II. Difficulties in the Rolls-Royce aero engine business led to the company being nationalised in 1971, and the car business was privatised two years later as Rolls-Royce Motors. The Silver Spirit replaced the Shadow and ran from 1980 to 1998, along with the Silver Spur. The Silver Seraph was made from 1998 to 2002, and the Corniche V followed in 2000, made until 2002. In 1998 Vickers sold the Rolls-Royce and Bentley marques in a tangled arrangement which ended up with the Rolls-Royce marque in BMW ownership. New Rolls-Royce cars made by BMW included the Phantom (2003), Phantom drophead coupe (2007), Phantom Coupe (2008) and Ghost (2010).