|This article may require copy-editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone or spelling. You can assist by editing it now. A how-to guide is available. (February 2009)|
Rolls-Royce Motors was created from the demerger of the Rolls-Royce car business from Rolls-Royce Limited in 1973. Rolls-Royce Limited had been nationalised in 1971 due to the financial collapse of the company caused in part by the development of the RB211 jet engine. In 1973 the British government sold the Rolls-Royce car business to allow Rolls-Royce Limited to concentrate on jet engine manufacture.
In 1980 Rolls-Royce Motors was acquired by Vickers. In 1998 Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The leading contender seemed to be BMW, who already supplied engines and other components for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. Their final offer of £340m was outbid by Volkswagen, who offered £430m.
However Rolls-Royce plc, the aero-engine maker, decided it would license certain essential trademarks (the Rolls-Royce name and logo) not to VW, but instead to BMW, with whom it had recently shared joint business ventures. VW had bought rights to the "Spirit of Ecstasy" mascot and the shape of the radiator grille, but it lacked rights to the Rolls-Royce name in order to build the cars. Likewise, BMW lacked rights to the grille and mascot. BMW bought an option on the trademarks, licensing the name and "RR" logo for £40m, a deal that many commentators thought was a bargain for possibly the most valuable property in the deal. VW claimed that it had only really wanted Bentley anyway. Bentley was the higher volume brand, with Bentley models out-selling the equivalent Rolls Royce by around two to one.
BMW and VW arrived at a solution. From 1998 to 2002 BMW would continue to supply engines for the cars and would allow use of the names, but this would cease on January 1, 2003. On that date, only BMW would be able to name cars "Rolls-Royce", and VW's former Rolls-Royce/Bentley division would build only cars called "Bentley". The last Rolls Royce from the Crewe factory, the Corniche, ceased production in 2002.
- 1965–80 Silver Shadow — the first Rolls-Royce with a monocoque chassis; started with a 6.23 L V8 engine, later expanded to 6.75 L; shared its design with the Bentley T-series
- 1968–91 Phantom VI
- 1971–96 Corniche I-IV
- 1975–86 Camargue styled by Paolo Martin with a Pininfarina body
- 1980–98 Silver Spirit/Silver Spur — design shared with the Bentley Mulsanne
Bentley models were produced mostly in parallel with the above cars. The Bentley Continental coupés (produced in various forms from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s) did not have Rolls-Royce equivalents. Very expensive Rolls-Royce Phantom limousines were also produced.
- 1998–2002 Silver Seraph — This shared its design with the Bentley Arnage, which sold in much greater numbers.
- 2000–02 Corniche V — This two-door convertible shared its design with the Bentley Azure and was the most expensive Rolls-Royce until the introduction of the 2003 Phantom.
Rolls-Royce cars timeline
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars road car timeline
|Independent||Vickers plc||VW Group||BMW|
|WWII||Silver Dawn||Silver Cloud||Silver Shadow/Silver Wraith II||Silver Spirit/Spur/Dawn|
|Premium||30 hp||40/50 hp (Silver Ghost)||Phantom I/II/III||Silver Wraith||Camargue||Silver Seraph||Phantom|
|Convertible||Corniche/II/III/IV||Corniche V||Phantom Drophead|
- Richard Feast, Kidnap of the Flying Lady: How Germany Captured Both Rolls Royce and Bentley, Motorbooks, ISBN-7603-1686-4