1. The very first Rolls Royce
Charles Rolls and Henry Royce founded Royce Rolls-Royce Limited. The duo began building cars of the highest quality. Rolls decided to sell and market the vehicles under the name 'Rolls-Royce'. The Rolls-Royce 10 HP was the first car launched by the newly formed company. Rolls-Royce also built jet engines in addition to cars. The Rolls-Royce Eagle made in 1915 was their first example. It was the first engine in history to make a non-stop trans-Atlantic crossing. These models were eventually superseded by jet engines developed soon after WWII.
2. The result of an illicit affai the iconic hood ornament the 'Spirit of Ecstasy' is worth $40 million
Spirit of Ecstasy is modeled after a woman called Eleanor Velasco Thornton who had an open-secret affair for many years with a gentleman at the very forefront of early car culture, John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, the second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu.
In the early 1900s, the Baron commissioned a hood ornament for his newly acquired Rolls-Royce from an English sculptor named Charles Robinson Sykes. Sykes modeled the ornament based on Thornton, an actress.
The first mascot to be commissioned by Sykes had a finger to her lips because of the secret relationship and was named 'The Whisperer'.
The Whisperer” was later remodelled as the famous Spirit of Ecstasy we know today. Sykes called it, "a graceful little goddess, the Spirit of Ecstasy, who has selected road-travel as her supreme delight and delighted on the prow of a Rolls-Royce motorcar, to revel in the freshness of the air and the musical sound of her fluttering draperies.”
3. Charles Stewart Rolls, one half of the eponymous carmaker, was the first man to fly across the English Channel ... and back.
Charles Stewart Rolls was an avid aviator, he flew his Wright Flyer over the Channel and back in 95 minutes.
He then won the world’s most famous motorcycle race using a car in 1906.
These days, the Isle of Man TT is at the top of any bucket list for motorcycle enthusiast, but in 1906, there was a category for cars. Rolls entered two cars, and won. Charles also hold the most unenviable of records. on July 12th, 1910 the tail of his Wright Flyer fell off and he plummeted to his death. Charles was the first Britain to die in a plane crash
4. The first Rolls-Royce model ran a ridiculous 14,371 miles almost non-stop, back in 1907.
In 1907 a Rolls Royce was driven back and forth between Glasgow and London 27 times, This incredible feat of reliability and endurance established the brand as a major player in the motoring world.
5. They didn’t build their own bodies until after WWII.
Like many early manufacturers, Rolls Royce were essentially running chassis builders. They would manufacture the very best chassis' and marry the best engines letting specialized coach builders handle the body. This led to some strange and interesting designs, like the famous one made for an Indian Maharaja.
6. The “R” airplane engine was the fastest thing on earth.
Back in 1931 the “R” airplane engine powered a Supermarine S6B to over 400 mph, winning the ultra competitive Schneider Trophy air race.
Not only that, it also powered the fastest boat too. The water speed record set by Sir Henry Segrave ended in disaster as his boat hit a log. He died shortly after they told him he'd
This legendary engine also powered the fastest thing on land. A supercharged R was shoe-horned into Blue Bird in the early 1930 and the car exceeded 300mph.
It is said that Sir Henry Royce made the initial engineering sketches of the “R” whilst walking with his top engineers on a beach.
Once they had figured out how to make it more reliable it is credited with helping to beat the Nazis. The Merlin engine that superseded it was designed to give the same performance, but last longer. It succeeded, and went on to become the beating heart of the legendary Spitfire.
7. Rolls-Royce were modifying Mustangs decades before the Americans.
On little more than a hunch, Rolls-Royce dropped the Merlin engine into a P-51 Mustang to see what would happen. The marriage transformed it from a 'better than average', low-altitude fighter to one of the best warplanes ever built.
8. Rolls-Royce makes nuclear reactors. Wonder if they come with a champagne chest too.
Rolls-Royce makes its own nuclear reactors for British submarines under an agreement dating back to the 1950s. They're built with some U.S. tech help, in exchange for Rolls-Royce helping the U.S. make their sub marines a little quieter.
9. They still make some of the world’s best jet engines.
Rolls-Royce jet engines power everything from Gulfstreams and 777s to British Harriers They famously powered the iconic Concorde past Mach 1. What else would power the best passenger jet of all time other than a Rolls-Royce engine?
10. Henry Royce invented the adjustable shock absorber while on his deathbed.
Henry Royce felt the first Rolls-Royce-produced Bentley was too fast, and wanted a better way to control the suspension. Henry drew up some sketches, handed them to his nurse, and died the next day. These days, adjustable shocks are on every serious race car, and many performance street cars.