On May 4, 1904, Charles Rolls, a British aristocrat, racing driver and import car dealer, and Henry Royce, an engineer, met in Manchester, England (to be specific, the meeting took place in the Midland Hotel). Rolls apparently requested the meeting after seeing one of the motorcars Royce had built. Rolls said he would buy all the cars Royce could produce — provided they were built by a company that included his name.
The first Rolls-Royce vehicle rolled out that December, though it would take until the late winter of 1906 before the merger of C.S. Rolls & Company and Royce Limited would be completed.
Though neither a centennial nor even a 125th anniversary, the House of Rolls-Royce held a celebration on May 4, to mark the company’s 115th birthday. The celebration took the form of a dinner at Sotheby’s recently expanded New York City gallery. At one point in the evening, Rolls-Royce announced that a special online RM Sotheby’s auction would take place this fall to sell a custom, one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Monday, the company’s released an artist’s drawing of the car.
“While every Phantom that is delivered from Goodwood carries with it a significant level of Bespoke craftsmanship from marquetry, hand-worked leather to precious works of art within the Phantom’s unique Gallery, this one-of-one commission celebrating the 115th anniversary of Rolls-Royce includes an inspired color combination themed in red, including an original hand-crafted leather work of art within the Gallery,” Rolls-Royce said in its announcement.
“While Roll-Royce motor cars have a history of crossing the block at RM Sotheby’s, tonight we are looking to the future of the brand,” Martin Fritsches, president of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars America was quoted.
“The eight generation Phantom will carry the longest running name in luxury motoring into a new era. Built on the ‘architecture of luxury,’ this new Phantom commission offers one special owner the chance to enjoy a motor car that is bound to be a classic over the next 115 years.”
“It is far more than a car — it is a work of art,” responded David Goodman, chief digital development and marketing officer for Sotheby’s.
“In a testament to our commitment to innovation, we are excited that it will be offered through our online-only auction platform, which continues to be a driving force of our business and the channel of choice for new bidders and buyers,” he added.
Rolls-Royce said the custom Phantom will be delivered through one of Rolls-Royce’s 44 retail dealerships in the Americas, which represents the largest geographic sales region for the company, last year taking one-third of its vehicles.