YOUR CULTURE HUB!

“The visible effect made on a surface by pressure”

ROLLS-ROYCE REFLECTS ON ITS PINNACLE PRODUCT TO MARK 118TH ANNIVERSARY

IMPRINTent, IMPRINT Entertainment, YOUR CULTURE HUB, Rolls Royce, Luxury Cars, Cars, Rolls-Royce Motor Car, Henry Royce

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars marks the 118th anniversary of the first meeting between its founders, Henry Royce and The Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, England in 1904. As part of its annual reflections on its origins and unique heritage, Rolls-Royce looks back through Phantom’s lineage, exploring how its namesakes evolved over the years to remain consistently at the apex of the Rolls-Royce offering.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars marks the 118th anniversary of the first meeting between its founders, Henry Royce and The Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, England in 1904.

Through the combination of Royce’s engineering genius and Rolls’ talent for promotion, their company soon became recognised as the maker of ‘the best car in the world’ – a title that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars proudly retains more than a century later.

Today, the marque’s pinnacle product – Phantom – is the ultimate expression of Bespoke luxury designed and handmade at the Home of Rolls-Royce, Goodwood. As part of its annual reflections on its origins and unique heritage, Rolls-Royce looks back through Phantom’s lineage, exploring how its namesakes evolved over the years to remain consistently at the apex of the Rolls-Royce offering.

THE ORIGINS OF EXCELLENCE

In the automotive industry’s earliest days, luxury car makers produced only the mechanical components (engine, transmission, chassis and so on) known as a rolling chassis, which underpinned the car. The bodies were designed and constructed by independent coachbuilders to the customer’s specification.

For manufacturers, including Rolls-Royce, improvements in design and engineering were directed almost entirely towards technical aspects of the car’s performance. These included reliability, hill-climbing capability, ease of control and a set of ride quality attributes still known collectively as noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

From the outset, Phantom earned the title ‘the best car in the world’ through the superior quality and designs of the rolling chassis – the finest platform on which coachbuilders could reach the very apex of their craft.

REDRAWING TECHNICAL BOUNDARIES

The Phantom family was born in 1925 when Rolls-Royce launched Phantom I. With its massive low-range torque, cutting-edge technology and ‘Magic Carpet Ride’, the new model immediately established the fundamental traits that would define the family for the next 100 years. Then, as now, Rolls-Royce declined to rest on its laurels, and by 1929, its successor was ready for the market.

Phantom II represented another step-change in engineering and technology. In 1930, the company unveiled the Phantom II Continental, which gave customers a choice of a more performance-orientated model for those who preferred to drive themselves. The ‘standard’ longer-wheelbase car was retained for chauffeur-driven use. This practice set the precedent for today’s Phantom and Phantom Extended.

IMPRINTent, IMPRINT Entertainment, YOUR CULTURE HUB, Rolls Royce, Luxury Cars, Cars, Rolls-Royce Motor Car, Henry Royce

THE NEED FOR SPEED

While the new Continental could attain speeds up to 95mph, it was still not as fast as some of its rivals. The company decided to resolve the matter once and for all. In 1934, applying its proven experience with aero engines, it developed a new 7.3-litre V12 engine, mounted on a new chassis. The resulting Phantom III, when fitted with lightweight coachwork, was capable of exceeding 100mph.

In 1939, Rolls-Royce produced an experimental car, nicknamed ‘The Scalded Cat’. In later years, this car was often loaned to influential individuals, including HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke was so impressed that he persuaded Rolls-Royce to build him a more formal version; the marque obliged with the first Phantom IV, delivered in July 1950. The car remains on front-line (albeit reduced) duty at The Royal Mews, under its pre-delivery codename, Maharajah. Though originally intended as a one-off, 18 Phantom IV cars were completed: 17 were sumptuously appointed commissions for other royalty and heads of state; the other, somewhat bizarrely, was built as a pick-up truck for use by Rolls-Royce as transport and on-the-road component testing.

A FINAL FLOURISH

In 1959, the marque launched Phantom V, equipped with its most up-to-date V8 engine. In 1967, the car underwent subtle technical changes that were deemed, at the very last minute, sufficient to justify its redesignation as Phantom VI.

By 1968 the only true coachbuilder left in Britain was Rolls-Royce’s own in-house company, Mulliner Park Ward. These magnificent cars soldiered on through the mid-1980s, until production dwindled to a mere two or three cars a year, and finally ceased altogether in 1992.

BRINGING VISIONS TO LIFE

Every generation up to Phantom VI was essentially a rolling chassis. The bodies were built to the owner’s individual requirements by some of the most famous and prestigious names in British and European coachbuilding.

While this was normal practice in the luxury automotive world, Phantom stood apart through its ability – thanks to Royce’s engineering genius and the excellence of the chassis’ components and construction – to carry coachwork of the very finest quality, weight and complexity.

At every stage in Phantom’s development, owners exploited its potential to the full, creating some of the most magnificent, eye-catching and radical motor cars ever to grace the road. And since the chassis and body were separate, it was possible for a subsequent owner to change the car’s appearance to suit their own taste and requirements.

Many Phantoms took on more than one guise over their long, often globe-trotting lives: in some cases, they were merely repainted; in others, the whole car was rebuilt from the chassis upwards, taking on an entirely new form and character. And for all their extraordinary diversity, every one of the examples shown below is a true Rolls-Royce in terms of its underlying engineering, materials and construction, performance, ride quality and comfort – and, above all, in being exactly as the owner wanted it.