Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 21st September 2017

History is full of famous car manufacturers, and Rolls-Royce is one of the best. Founded in 1904 by Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, the business quickly took off and became a recognisable name in the automotive world. Their accomplishments include bringing out the 1907 Silver Ghost, which cemented their legendary status. There are many intriguing facts surrounding the brand, and here are seven things you might not have known.

The first Rolls-Royce logged 14,371 miles in 1907

Royce and Rolls drove their first car between Glasgow and London 27 times in 1907. The total mileage was 14,371, making it an impressive feat for the time period.

The Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament was the result of an affair

The Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament is iconic and was modeled after a woman called Eleanor Thornton. She was having an affair with John Walker, editor of The Car Illustrated Magazine.. He had a lot of money and wanted a hood ornament, so he paid a sculptor to put Eleanor on the front of the car in 1911.

The ornament can be retracted

In the early days, the Spirit of Ecstasy was prone to being knocked off the front of a Rolls-Royce. But a safety feature added to later models allowed the ornament to be retracted into the grille by remote control. This is useful in the case of a collision.

Rolls-Royce cars have been used as street sweepers

When Jai Singh, a Maharaja in India, was told he couldn’t afford a car by a rude Rolls-Royce salesman in London, he bought ten. Then, Singh shipped them to India and ordered the cars to be used as rubbish collectors. It could be argued that he made the company a lot of money, but at that point in time honour was more important than cash.

Rolls-Royce have designed nuclear reactors

In addition to being car manufacturers, Rolls-Royce have made nuclear reactors for British submarines since the 1950s. They work with US technicians in exchange for the company helping the US make their submarines quieter.

Charles Rolls was an accomplished flyer

Charles Rolls was a passionate aviator and he became the first man to fly across the English channel and back. The journey took him 95 minutes, though he tragically died when the tail of his Wright Flyer fell off.

Only one man is allowed to paint the coach line on a Rolls-Royce

The pinstripe on a Rolls-Royce is one of its most common features, but only one person paints it. Mark Court, a former village sign painter, works out of the company’s factory in Goodwood. His job comes last in the manufacturing process, so the right mentality is important. Court has said “this is just another car to me. If you start worrying about who owns them or where it’s going, it’ll play with your mind. Then you’ll never do it. You’ve just got to be able to learn to shut off and do what you need to do.”