Heritage

Before Rolls met Royce: How a bespoke automotive partnership was born

The Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, West Sussex, England, stands today as a testament to how a meeting in a hotel can initiate lasting change for an entire industry.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The history of Rolls-Royce isn't just about cars. It's also about the men, Charles Stuart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce, their families, and their ambition.

Charles Rolls is a distinctive character in history for a number of reasons. On his mother's side, Charles's mother Giorgiana was a member of Parliament born the daughter of Sir Charles Maclean, 9th Baronet of Morvern. The 9th Baronet's upbringing saw him attend Eton College and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst - a favorite route for royals, even today.

C S Rolls sitting at his desk, c 1902. Charles Rolls sits at his desk in 1902, two years before he met Henry Royce. Photo by SSPL via Getty Images

His father, Sir Fitzroy Maclean, 8th Baronet was also a military man who was at a series of pivotal battles over the colonies of the Dutch West Indies including: the capture of Tobago, the attack on Martinique, the capture of St. Thomas and St. John, and the capture of Guadeloupe. The roots of the family tree extend far into Scottish landowning and titled history.

On his father's side, Charles came from a long line of gentlemen. His father, John Rolls, 1st Baron Llangattock, was a wealthy Welsh landowner, and his grandfather, John Etherington Welch Rolls, was an art collector, high sheriff, and justice of the peace who founded the Monmouthshire Show. His father before him was also a wealthy landowner and justice of the peace.

They were known as "The Rolls of Mommouthshire" for hundreds of years, in the way upper crust families gain referred-to reputations to be introduced as at society fetes.

Charles Rolls was also educated at Eton, earning himself the nickname "dirty Rolls" due to his fondness for tinkering with engines. Upon graduation he gained entry to Trinity College in Cambridge, where Prince Charles would study some 70 years later.

Charles Rolls Peugeot car English motor car manufacturer Charles Stewart Rolls (1877 - 1910) in his first motor car, a 3.75 hp Peugeot motor car imported from France, with a man walking in front with a red flag as the law of the time required. Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Aged 18, he traveled to Paris to purchase his first car, a Peugeot phaeton-style auto and became a founding member of the Automobile Club of Great Britain after first joining a similar organization in France.

The Rolls family estate is The Hendre, a Grade II-listed full-scale Victorian country house in Monmouthshire, Wales on land owned by the family since the mid-1600s. It was there that in late 1900, the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V (grandson of Queen Victoria and grandfather to Queen Elizabeth II) and Queen Mary) were taken on what was likely their first motorcar excursion by Charles.

Charles Rolls George V driving car 1900: From left, Sir Charles Cust, equerry; Lord Llangattock; his son the Hon C S Rolls (at the wheel); King George V, (1865 - 1936), then Duke of York. They are leaving the Hendre, Lord Llangattock's seat in Monmouthshire, for a drive in the 12 hp Panhard. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Rolls continued to keep up with innovation in the automotive world, trying much of it out for himself. On February 26, 1903, Rolls sat behind the wheel of a specially-constructed 110-horsepower Mors car driving it quick enough to break the World Speed Record at Welbeck by going over 82 mph. The record, however, was not officially recognized. Just one year later, an American named Henry Ford would best it, clocking a speed of 84.73 mph in his Ford 999 Racer.

That same year, Rolls met Royce.

Frederick Henry Royce, who went by Henry, wasn't born into the type of blue blooded family tree that Rolls was. He was one of five children, the son of a man who ran a flour mill to failure. When he was just nine year old, his father died and Henry had to go to work selling newspapers to help support them, leaving school after just one year of formal education.

Henry Royce Henry Royce came from a less affluent background than Rolls. One might even suggest their economic circumstances were nearly opposite each other.Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

At the age of 15, when Rolls was just two years old, Royce started an apprenticeship with the Great Northern Railway company. Three years later he was forced to move on, working various jobs and eventually saving £20, which he used to enter into a partnership with a friend to form a company that created domestic electric fittings. By 1894 the company was making cranes and dynamos, however by the end of the Second Boer War in 1902, demand for those components had greatly diminished.

Royce began to be increasingly interested in electric motors. He purchased a De Dion to tinker with, but found that it didn't meet his standards or needs. He took what he had learned and designed, then built a car of his own in the corner of his shop in 1904.

That was the same year that Rolls met Royce at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, England. It was a meeting that left Rolls declaring, "I have met the greatest engineer in the world".

Midland HOtel Manchestser Members of a police search team abseil down the front of the Midland Hotel in Manchester during a security sweep, where delegates attending the Labour Party Autumn Conference will be staying on September 21, 2006, in Manchester, England. Photo by Getty Images

Just six years later, Rolls perished while flying his Wright Flyer aircraft.

The short-lived but influential partnership helped shape the bespoke automobile industry even as it stands today.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Nissan Rogue is designed with families in mind.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue has been redesigned for the 2021 model year. It continues to bring a lot of what families like to the table. As one of America's top-selling SUVs, the Rogue competes directly with the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Ford Escape, among others. Check out the Nissan's most compelling features by scrolling down.

Every Rogue comes loaded with safety technology.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of safety and driver assist technology comes standard on the Rogue. It includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, land departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking.

Additionally, the company's Intelligent Driver Alertness and Rear Door Alert technologies are standard.

The rear doors open wide.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's engineering team has enabled the rear doors on the 2021 Rogue to open to nearly 90 degrees. That not only makes it easy to get luggage and groceries in and out, but also kids and car seats. All three rear seating positions allow for child seat installation.

Keyless entry has been expanded to the rear doors.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

No need to pull out the key to open the doors of the Rogue. Traditionally the keyless entry function works for the driver's door (and sometimes the front passenger's door) and then the driver must open the door and press the unlock button to unlock the rear doors.

Now, the Nissan Intelligent Key will allow rear doors to unlock by holding the key near the door and pressing the button on the rear door handle. All doors can be unlocked by pressing the button twice in quick succession.

Remote technology keeps you and your family warm or cool, right away.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Avaialbe Remote Engine Start technology with Intelligent Climate Control allows parents to heat or cool the cabin of the Rogue from a remote location prior to entering the vehicle. This allows young children and others relief from enduring climate extremes.

Zero Gravity fills the Rogue's universe.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's ultra-comfortable NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats are no longer for front-row passengers. For 2021, the Rogue gets the seats in the second row - standard. The seats feature low-fatigue spinal support and are available with heated seat functionality.

Privacy and comfort, please.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

You, your passenger, and your kids can enjoy the three zones of climate control in the 2021 Rogue. The front passenger and driver each have a zone while the third is for rear-seat occupants.

Class-exclusive pull-up sunshades help keep the sun out, aiding in climate control system functionality.

Cargo storage has gotten easier.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's team has redesigned the Divide-n-Hide cargo storage system for the 2021 model year, allowing it to provide hidden storage. On the inner right side of the cargo area (behind the wheel arch), there is a space for securing wider items like a. bag of groceries or a gallon of milk.

A motion-activated tailgate is newly available for 2021.

Cords are so last year.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Now owners can connect without cords. The 2021 Rogue comes with available wireless Apple CarPlay as well as a wireless smartphone charger.

If you're an Android user, then you'll have to use a cord to connect. For those users, there are USB Type-C and Type-A charging ports.

ProPilot Assist takes the wheel.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's ProPilot Assist technology doesn't allow for hands-free driving and it's not self-driving, but it does fuse together many functionalities that make daily drive functions easier, especially when your children are doing their best to distract you.

ProPILOT Assist combines steering assist and Intelligent Cruise Control to help control acceleration. It can be used in heavy traffic and on open highways.

For 2021, ProPilot Assist has been enhanced. It has next-generation radar and camera technology that is designed to allow for smoother braking, better steering assist, and improved detection performance when vehicles cut into the lane.

Rogue's drive modes are designed to inspire confidence.

2021 Nissan Rogue

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan has made the Rogue available with all-wheel drive. Those models also get five drive modes: Off-road, Snow, Standard, Eco, and Sport. The modes are engaged using the drive-mode selector mounted on the center console. The all-wheel drive system uses new technology that is designed to respond quicker when slippage is detected.

Production of the 2021 Nissan Rogue is underway now in Smyrna, Tennessee. It will arrive at dealerships later this fall.

Trending News

 
 

The Nissan Z Proto is the next step in the Z story.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Z Proto has arrived. It's not a production car, it's a promise. A promise by Nissan to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car. The model has design elements that harken back to to the Z models of yesteryear that have become iconic waypoints in Nissan history.

Nissan has revealed that the Z Proto is one of the 10 models that the company will be showing for the U.S. in 20 months. The timeline has been adjusted from the original due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other models included as part of the plan are the 2020 Nissan Sentra, 2021 Nissan Rogue, and 2022 Nissan Ariya.

Nissan Z Proto

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

"The United States is home to one of the most devoted and enthusiastic Z communities in the world, with nearly 1.35 million total sales over the model's 50-year history," said Mike Colleran, senior vice president, Nissan U.S. Marketing and Sales. "With new models like Sentra and Rogue opening new eyes to our brand, Z Proto is our loudest statement yet that Nissan will continue to bring vehicles that thrill to U.S. showrooms."

The Z Proto is bathed inn a bright yellow pearlescent paint job - one that is reminiscent of the yellow of the first-generation 240Z and the 300ZX.

At its front are teardrop-shaped LED headlights that have their design roots in the original Z. The Z Proto's rectangular grille is more modern but the design of the grille fins are vintage in origin.

"The LED headlights have two half-circles that hark back to the Japan market-only 240ZG of the 70s," said Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at Nissan. "The ZG has clear dome lenses over the headlight buckets, which under light give off two circular reflections over each headlight. We liked that unique characteristic and discovered that it naturally fit with the Z's identity."

Nissan Z Proto

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

From the side, the Z Proto has a roofline that flows backward like the first-gen Z. It leads to the rear, which takes inspiration from the 300ZX taillights and reinterprets them for a modern world, complete with LED lights. They're set within a rectangular black section that spans the rear of the car and wraps around each outer edge. Below is a dual exhaust.

Side skirts, the front lower lip, and rear valance are made of carbon fiber. The prototype rides on 19-inch alloy wheels. The 2020 370Z also has 19-inch wheels.

The vintage-meets-modern elements continue in the car's cabin where design was focused on achieving a proper balance for road and track. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital display that is arranged to allow to easy data interpretation at speed.

Designed to fit driver and passenger like a glove, the Z Proto's cabin seamlessly blends modern technology with vintage Z touches. A deep dish steering wheel combines modern aesthetics with vintage styling.

Under the prototype's hood is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Nissan says that an automatic transmission option is in development. Horsepower and torque figures were not immediately available.

In looking toward the future, Nissan relays, "work is now underway to synchronize the power with the grace and control that has defined the Z for the past 50 years." The current Z has a 3.7-liter V6 engine that achieves 332 horsepower. It comes paired with a standard six-speed manual or available seven-speed automatic transmission.

Compared to the current Z, the Z Proto is five inches longer and two-tenths of an inch wider. The 2020 Nissan 370Z is two-tenths of an inch taller than the Z Proto.

Where do we go from there? Stay tuned.

Trending News