Henry Royce in 1884 started an engineering business that was manufacturing dynamos and electric cranes. The crane business, however, was not going well for Royce.New competition emerging from Germany and the United States reduced revenue and demand was at an all-time low in the aftermath of the Second Boer War. Royceknew he had to do something. So, he thought of a way to diversify his operations.
A motor car.
But not just any motor car. The motor car.
Having been disappointed with the cars he owned,Royce thought to create one that met his own very high standards. In 1904, in a corner shop, he created his own car. He made three of them that he dubbed Royce.He sold two of three of these models to Ernest Claremont and Henry Edmunds. It was Edmunds who showed his friend Charles Rolls his new care who was very impressed. Theyarranged a meeting between Royce and Rolls at the ‘Midland Hotel Manchester’wherethey agreed to work together.
Having loved the original Royce, Rolls wanted to partner with Royce and expand the business.Royce primarily focused on the technical and mechanical aspects, whilst Rolls would provide financial backing and run the business side of things.
The first car they built together was the Rolls-Royce 10. The engine of this historic car was a water-cooled twin-cylinder of 1800 CC. This engine was rated at9 kW at 1000rpm and a top speed of 39 mph (63km/h). The average speed of motor cars in 1904 was between 66-53 mph, making the Rolls-Royce slower than its competition. But speed wasn’t the focus. It was style and comfort. The Rolls-Royce 10 was significantly quieter than any existing cars and looked divine. There were faster and more expensive models available. If speed was something you were after Rolls-Royce created a six-cylinder 30 hp model that generated 22kW of power.
However, this wasn’t enough for Royce and Rolls. 1906 saw improvements to the six-cylinder model as they attempted to give it more power. Their experiments resulted in the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost being born.
Originally named the 40/50, the press decided that wasn’t catchy enough and gave it the name Silver Ghost. Rolls-Royce’s claim of making ‘the best car in the world’ began here. Something the company, again, did not coin themselves, but was given by the press, specifically, the prestigious publication Autocar in 1907.
The Silver Ghost’s power was increased dramatically compared to the Rolls-Royce 10 and even within the same model with the original Silver Ghost’s 48 bhp (36kW) increasing to 80 bhp (60kW) over time. An increase in power did not come at the cost of style. The Silver Ghost continued the trend of brilliant luxury cars that provided comfort, performance, and style in one beautiful package. The car was well-marketed and sold incredibly well, causing it to remain in production for 20 years.
This good fortune, however, did not last. The First World War was hard on most car manufacturers and Rolls-Royce was no exception. Sales of the Silver Ghost were declining after the war. In order to avoid bankruptcy, the company created the cheaper Rolls-Royce Twenty in 1922, effectively ending their one model policy. This car was notable for being quite popular with chauffeurs.
Rolls-Royce continued building luxury cars with the Phantom in 1925.One of their most successful models that has had many iterations throughout the decades. But it was in 2009 the world, heard a bump in the night.A ghostly vision appeared from the past. A vision that was at once familiar, yet different. A car made to honour the Silver Ghost’s legacy. The Rolls-Royce Ghost.
Designed by Andreas Thurner and engineered by Helmut Riedl, the Ghost was created to compete with vehicles less expensive than Rolls-Royce’s own Phantom. Specifically, the Bentley Flying Spur and the V12 versions of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The original Ghost had a V12 twin turbo engine that generated 419 kW of power that could reach 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 155.3 mph (250 km/h). Its design is pure, iconic Rolls-Royce class. It is no wonder it was in production for 10 years.
Which brings us to today. The Ghost’s second generation was revealed in September 2020 with an adapted version of the 6.75 litre twin-turbo V12 engine rated at 420 kW at 5000 rpm. 0-100 km/h is claimed at 4.8 seconds. The exterior styling keeps the Rolls-Royce philosophy of rejecting any superficial expressions of wealth. In other words, it’s class, pure class.
Not quite as rounded as its predecessor, the New Ghost has sharper lines that catch the eye and creates a sense of maturity. The original Ghost, while still fantastic, in comparison appears like a toy car with its rounded edges. The New Ghost subtly improves everything over its predecessor. While it is not an essential buy, especially a starting price of $625,000 AUD, it is a thing of beauty. If you are interested in getting into a Rolls-Royce, the New Ghost is no slouch and definitely a model to consider.