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History of Rolls Royce cars in India

Rolls-Royce Car Company was founded in the year 1904 by two gentlemen named Mr. Charles Rolls and Mr. Henry Royce. The Rolls-Royce model 'Silver Ghost' of 1907 was the beginning for Rolls-Royce to be known as the 'best car in the world'.

To keep up this title as the best car in the world, Rolls-Royce cars were always priced their cars very high to be also the most expensive cars in the world. Before the independence of India, the Indian Maharajas were the best customers in the world for Rolls Royce cars. In fact Rolls-Royce used to be called the car of the Maharajas. The video below of a parade of vintage Rolls Royce cars in the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance held in California USA gives us a hint of the love of our Indian Maharajas for their Rolls-Royce cars.

Rolls-Royce, car of the Maharajas

Vintage Rolls Royce Cars

1937 model Rolls Royce car
Rolls Royce car 1937 model

Old Rolls Royce cars are collected by Museums all over the world and by very rich people. The value of old RR cars, like the one shown here, run into millions of dollars. Many of the old Rolls Royce cars which belonged to the erstwhile Maharajas of India are now in the possetion of Vintage car collectors all over the world.

Rolls Royce cars as garbage trucks in India

Some of the Maharajas in India, to vent their anger against Rolls-Royce, used Rolls-Royce cars as garbage collection trucks in their Kingdoms in India. These stories hit world headlines and made Rolls-Royce brand to be ridiculed. So the story goes on to say that Rolls Royce took back the Rolls Royce garbage collection vehicles and replaced them with brand new Rolls-Royces.

The Maharajas involved in these Rolls-Royce Garbage cars incidents are Maharaja Jay Singh of Alwar, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and Maharaja of Bharatpur. More on Rolls Royce garbage collection in India from The Hindustan Gazette website.

How BMW got Rolls Royce Cars

Rolls-Royce Car Company diversified into aero engine making during the 2nd world war and later into gas turbines and jet engines. In 1971 the Rolls-Royce Company was in deep financial crisis due to its involvement in the development of advanced jet engines and so it was nationalised by the British Government. A Rolls-Royce Car division producing Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, was carved out as a separate Company called Rolls-Royce Motors and sold to the British Company Vickers in 1980. In 1998 Vickers sold Rolls-Royce Motors to Volkswagen of Germany for £430 million, which was much higher than BMW's bid of £340 million.

What was sold to Volkswagen was the Rolls Royce factory in England plus the right to use the shape of the Rolls Royce front grille and the Rolls-Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy", the flying lady statue which adorns the top of the front grill of all RollsRoyce cars. But the deal with Volkswagen did not include the 'Rolls-Royce' brand name and the RollsRoyce 'RR' Trade mark, since these were still owned by the original Rolls-Royce Company making jet engines, which had split off Rolls Royce Motors out of the group.

BMW bought the licence to the 'Rolls-Royce' brand name and logo for £40 million from the original Rolls-Royce Company now making jet engines. This led to a curious situation in which neither BMW nor Volkswagen could continue to make Rolls-Royce cars, because Volkswagen did not own the rights to the Rolls-Royce name and BMW could not produce a real Rolls-Royce car without the rights to the shape of the Rolls-Royce front grill and the all important Rolls-Royce feature: The "Spirit of Ecstasy", the statue of the flying lady sticking out of the top over the bonnet of any Rolls-Royce car.

Finally a deal was struck between Volkswagen and BMW, where it was agreed that Volkswagen would give up production of Rolls-Royce cars at the end of 2002 and continue to produce only Bentley cars in the original Rolls-Royce factory in Crewe which was renamed Bentley Motors Limited. BMW built a completely new factory for Rolls Royce Motors in Goodwood, England and from 2003 Rolls Royce cars are produced there.

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