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Back in the Day: when Rolls met Royce

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Back in the Day: when Rolls met Royce


May 4, 1904. Charles Rolls is introduced to Henry Royce at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, England, a meeting that spawned perhaps the most prestigious brand in the automobile industry. Rolls came from an aristocratic family and had a background in engineering but excelled more as a salesman and entrepreneur. He also provided the financial capital for the business. Royce, who came from more humble beginnings, was the mechanical brain of the partnership. Together they aimed to provide engines “for use on land, or water, or in the air”. The first model, the Rolls Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in late 1904. World War I later brought Rolls Royce engines into the aviation industry. Royce went on to receive the Order of the British Empire and died in 1933, while Rolls was killed in a flying accident in 1910. Car-maker Rolls Royce Motors was bought by BMW in 1998, while the aircraft and marine engine entity Rolls Royce plc was privatised in 1987.

Also on May 4: Napoleon Bonaparte begins his exile on the island of Elba (1814); Al Capone begins an 11-year prison sentence for tax evasion (1932); Margaret Thatcher starts her first day in office as prime minister of the UK (1979).

Born on May 4: Hosni Mubarak (1928), Audrey Hepburn (1929), Jorge Lorenzo (1987), Rory McIlroy (1989)

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