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.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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The LEGO Speed Champions series is adding two new Dodge models to its lineup.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The new LEGO Speed Champions series is expanding by two. A 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster are being added to the growing collection. They are the first purple vehicle and first Top Fuel Dragster in the Speed Champion series.

"Owning, or aspiring to own, a Dodge muscle car is as much about the lifestyle of joining the Brotherhood of Muscle as it is about the vehicle purchase," said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. "As a result, our brand enthusiasts are passionate about all things Dodge, including the latest cool collectibles. So, following the success of the Dodge 2018 LEGO Speed Champion building set, fans will now be able to build and show off not only the first ever 8-inch-wide (8W) muscle car, but also the first ever Plum Crazy 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, along with an incredibly detailed 13½-long Top Fuel Dragster."

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge box The 627-piece Challenger T/A and Dragster include box art of their Rea-life counterparts. Photo courtesy of Stellantis

LEGO has had the Challenger over two inches high, five inches long, and 2.5 inches wide. The Dragster is four inches high thanks to its wing, and has a body that is 13.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide.

The set features a male Challenger driver in Dodge-branded clothing. The Dragster has a female driver in a Dodge race suit.

"In 2021, we are extremely excited to reteam with Dodge and expand the Speed Champions 8W Vehicle Collection even further by including new vehicle types and building experiences, for the first time, that appeal to vehicle fans of all ages," said Christopher Stamp, LEGO Design Lead.

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge The set includes two models.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The models will be released on June 1, 2021 at LEGO.com. Pricing for the models is not yet available.

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