Britain's most famous car manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, was formed by aristocrat, Charles Rolls and engineer, Henry Royce in 1904. Rolls had been selling French built cars quite successfully and was looking for a British car to market. A mutual friend, Claude Johnson, introduced Rolls to Henry Royce who was already building his own Royce cars from a small factory in Manchester.
By 1906 Rolls-Royce had launched its first successful model the 40/50HP. This car captured the imagination of the press and public alike and soon gained the name "Silver Ghost". The Ghost was well built and extremely reliable (by Edwardian standards!) and remained in production until 1925. By the mid-20's Rolls-Royce had become so popular in the USA the company had set-up its own US plant in Springfield, although the US buyers preferred UK built cars and so the factory was shut in 1931.
1931 was a busy year for the firm which included the acquisition of Bentley. By now Rolls-Royce had become a household name and was exporting cars and Aero-engines all over the world. In WW2 the company opened another factory in Crewe, Cheshire, where it mass-produced its famous Merlin Aero-engine (as used in many allied planes such as the Spitfire, Hurricane, Lancaster and Mustang). In 1946 the company transferred its car production from Derby to Crewe where it remains today.
Rolls-Royce has suffered financial problems at different times during the past, in 1971 the company almost disappeared although it was rescued and eventually became part of the Vickers empire. Sadly the company was sold-off in the late-1990's by Vickers in a very messy and complicated way. This will mean that soon ownership will pass to BMW whilst Bentley remains with VW, quite ironic since Rolls-Royce spent 7 years of the last century supplying Aero-engines which would destroy the factories of its future German owners!