Rolls-Royce V-8 (1905)

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Rolls-Royce Legalimit
ManufacturerRolls-Royce Ltd
3 made [1]
Engine(s)3535 cc V-8
Transmission(s)three speed
WheelbaseLandaulette 90 inches (2286 mm)
Legalimit 106 inches (2692 mm)[2]
DesignerSir Henry Royce
ManualsService Manual
File:Rolls Royce 1905 Landaulet.jpg
The V-8 with Landaulet par Excellence body

The Rolls-Royce V-8 was a car produced by Rolls-Royce in 1905 intended to compete with the then popular electric cars used in towns.

Claude Johnson, business partner of C. S. Rolls suggested there would be a market for an internal combustion engined car that could take on the electric car market. To do this it would have to be silent, free of vibration and smoke free. The engine would also have to be mounted under the car to give the appearance of a town brougham and so needed to be very shallow. To do this Henry Royce designed a completely new engine in the form of a 90 degree, side valve, 3,535 cc (215.7 cu in), V-8.[2] To reduce fumes the then common drip lubrication was replaced by a pressure system. The power also seems to have been limited to maximise smooth running.[1]

Two body styles were proposed, a Landaulet par Excellence to attack the town electric market and the Legalimit which was governed so as not to allow the then United Kingdom speed limit of 20 mph (32 km/h) to be exceeded. The Legalimit had the engine conventionally mounted at the front but under a very low bonnet. Only one example of the V-8 was sold, a Legalimit (chassis number 40518) to Sir Alfred Hamsworth. This was later taken back by the factory. All three cars then seem to have been used as works cars or for customer visits. Rolls ordered three more chassis for delivery in 1906 but there is no evidence these were ever made.[1]

Although the car cannot be judged as being a success, lessons were learned from the engine design that were later used on the six cylinder models that made the Rolls-Royce name.

The V-8 is the only car model made by Rolls-Royce of which no example survives.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Evans, Michael (2004). In the Beginning-the Manchester Origins of Rolls-Royce. Derby, UK: Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. ISBN 1-872922-27-9. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Rolls-Royce Motor Car. Anthony Bird and Ian Hallows. Batsford Books. 2002 ISBN 07134 8749 6
  3. Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-57958-293-1.