An English manufacturer, best known for its hand-built luxury limousines but also a producer of aircraft engines.
Former by Sir Henry Royce in 1884 and producing its first automobile in 1904, Rolls-Royce vehicles have been popular as limousines for the very rich ever since. Produced in very limited quantites, they offered extreme opulence, particularly for back-seat passengers while their chauffeurs whisked them around. As production levels were so small, vehicles can be and are built to order on the factory floor. The company also purchased the Bentley marque, using the name for modified "sports" models.
However, the continual improvement in slightly less expensive and ostentatious vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW limousines saw elderly Rolls-Royce designs looking increasingly anachronistic, and continual reductions in sales and the costs of developing a new model saw the company in crisis. In 1998, a complex deal saw the aerospace aspects of the company seperated from the car-making business. The car plant and equipment was sold to Volkswagen, whilst the rights to use the Rolls-Royce name on vehicles ended up with BMW.