Rolls-Royce and Bentley Cars Through the Years
THROUGH THE YEARS
Only 6 of these three-cylinder cars were made, and only the chassis was sold to customers, who had to arrange for their own coachwork to build out the body and interior, though they recommended customers use Barker for the work.
The four-cylinder engine is two separately cast two-cylinder engines combined. While 40 of this model were made, only 3 are known to survive. As with other early models, customers bought only the chassis and made their own arrangements for bodywork.
Keeping up with competitors required producing a six-cylinder car, which in this case involved 3 separately cast two-cylinder engines being combined. While 37 of these were made, only one is known to survive. Customers only bought the chassis and had to make their own arrangements to have the body and interior built.
This was the first vehicle conceived as a passenger car designed purposely as a V-8. It would be another decade before any other company would make a V-8 engine car in larger quantities. Only three were made and it is the only model of which no example survives.
The engine design combined two separately cast three-cylinder units. This is the car that caught the attention of the press and vaulted the Rolls-Royce brand to new levels. A 1907 demonstrator model was painted with aluminum paint and featured silver-plated fittings. Dubbed the Silver Ghost to emphasize its ghost-like quietness, the car proved to be both highly reliable and inexpensive to service. The weekly Autocar magazine called it the “best car in the world” and Rolls-Royce started using that phrase as a marketing slogan. A total of 7,874 were made, and many fine examples survive, including the original.
The chassis would be delivered to the coachbuilder of the customer’s choice, though some dealers would order up runs of identical bodies to have finished vehicles ready for sale. A total of 1,622 were made. It was powered by a 3-liter straight-4 engine designed by ex-Royal Flying Corps engineer Clive Gallop.
This car featured a larger pushrod-OHV straight-6 engine with overhead valves instead of the side valves of the Silver Ghost and was constructed as two groups of three cylinders with a single detachable head. Phantoms were built both in the UK and at the Springfield Massachusetts factory in the US, with standardized bodies in the US provided by Brewster & Co., or more customized choices by Fleetwood.
This model had a larger rolling chassis and smoother, more powerful straight-six engine than the 3L. A total of 544 were produced.
This car became the top-selling model for the company between WWI and WWII and is what allowed the company to weather the Great Depression. It featured a more powerful pushrod-OHV inline 6-cylinder engine. Of the 3,827 made, more than 70% are still in operation today.
This car featured an improved pushrod-OHV straight-6 engine and an all-new chassis with lower frame for better handling, along with the 4-wheel servo-assisted brakes carried over from Phantom I. Around 1,680 were made.
This was a large luxury car featuring a straight-six engine cast as a one-piece iron block with a non-detachable cylinder head. Only 100 were made before the company’s financial collapse.
This rolling chassis car was meant to fix the company’s deteriorating financial state, but it didn’t work out. Only 50 were made when the company went into receivership and was purchased by Rolls-Royce.
The first new Bentley model after Rolls-Royce acquired the company in 1931. Built at the Derby factory, these were chassis-only sales and customers could arrange their own coachwork, though in many cases distributors preferred to have the coachwork done to stock finished cars ready for sale. A total of 1,177 were made.
An updated version of the 20/25 with a more powerful engine since customers would inevitably put overly large, heavy bodies on previous cars and then complain about performance.
A more powerful engine was needed to keep up performance because customers were always having overly heavy bodies fitted on the chassis by coachbuilders. A total of 1,234 were made.
This was the last car designer Henry Royce worked on, as he died at age 70, about a year into its development. It was also the only car with a V12 engine (aluminum alloy pushrod with overhead valves) the company produced until the Silver Seraph was launched in 1998. It also featured unique twin ignition systems with two distributors, two coils, and 24 spark plugs. Only 727 were made.
Featuring an improved pushrod-OHV inline 6-cylinder engine with a crossflow cylinder head and a four-speed gearbox with right-hand changing. While the car was still built on a separate chassis, it was welded instead of riveted. If the body of the car wasn’t overly heavy, the Wraith could reach speeds of 85mph. Only 491 were completed.
This new design featured very deep side rails to reduce flexing and better cope with the changed loads due to a fully redesigned independent front suspension in place of the beam axle. It had the same engine as the 4¼L, though with a reduced number of timing gears. Only 11 were made because WWII started and the company had to stop making civilian products.
This was the first post-WWII car for the company, available as chassis-only for coachbuilders. The straight six-cylinder engine replaced overhead valve gear with an F-head configuration of overhead inlet valves and side exhaust valves with reshaped combustion chambers. A total of 1,883 were made.
The first post-war Bentley, the first to feature all-steel coachwork, and the first to be completely assembled and finished at the factory. Available as a 4-door saloon and chassis-only for custom coachwork bodies. Powered by an F-head straight-6 4.3L engine, 5,208 were made.
This version of the Phantom featured a larger chassis and more powerful engine. It was a big car and intended only for wealthy customers such as the British Royal Family and heads of state. Of the 18 that were made, only 16 have survived.
This J.P. Blatchley design was a major departure from pre-war models and post-war derivatives. Construction was body-on-frame to allow special bodied versions, but most featured the company’s standard steel body shell. It featured a 155 hp/4,000 rpm 4.9L six-cylinder engine with inlet over exhaust valves. A total of 2,354 were made.
The Bentley version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. Construction was body-on-frame to allow special bodied versions, but most featured the company’s standard steel body shell. A total of 3,538 were made.
The Bentley version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II and III, available as a standard steel 4-door saloon or as chassis-only for custom coach-built versions and powered by the 6.2L Bentley V8 engine. A total of 3,940 were made.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II and III were available as a standard steel 4-door saloon or as chassis-only for custom coach-built versions and powered by the 6.2L Rolls-Royce V8 engine. A total of 5,092 were made.
This limousine featured a V8 engine and General Motors Hydra-Matic automatic gearbox. Supplied as chassis-only for custom coachbuilders Mulliner, Park Ward, and James Young (former independent vendors absorbed by Rolls-Royce). A total of 832 were made.
This is the first model to use a unitary body and chassis construction, a necessary development to stay competitive, along with disc brakes and independent rear suspension. Several body styles included a 2-door saloon, 2-door convertible, and 4-door saloon. This model line represented the largest production volume over its long life, with 30,057 made.
These were the Bentley versions that corresponded to the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow I and II vehicles. It was the first unitary body Bentley and the only substantial difference from the Silver Shadow was the traditional Bentley round-shouldered style front grille.
This was the last model to feature separate chassis and coachwork, with bodies made by Mulliner Park Ward, mostly in limousine form but with a few landaulets as well.
A Mulliner Park Ward designed two-door, front-engine, rear-wheel drive, hardtop coupé also later available as a two-door convertible. A total of 6,262 were made.
The Bentley versions of the Rolls-Royce Corniche with traditional Bentley differences.
This two-door saloon was designed by Paolo Martin at Pininfarina and was the first post-war model not designed in-house at the company. It featured a powerful V8 engine and the first-ever split-level climate control. A total of 531 were made.
This was the first model to feature a retractable Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament that had been placed on every card made starting back in 1911. With different versions of this model line came greatly improved suspension, standard ABS (anti-lock braking system), fuel injection, and airbags.
The Bentley versions of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit line, available as a 4-door sedan and powered by either the 6.75L Bentley V8 or the 6.75L turbo Bentley V8 engine.
The Silver Spur was a long-wheelbase version of the Silver Spirit, while the Flying Spur was a turbocharged high-performance version of the Silver Spur. The variants of Spirits and Spurs during this period are too numerous to detail.
The Continental nameplate was revived in 1984, though the first in the lineup made from 1984–1995 was still a continuation of the Bentley version of the Rolls-Royce Corniche and included the Continental S. The Continental R was made from 1991–2002 and did not share a body with any Rolls-Royce car and was a 2-door 2+2 coupé, as was the Continental T made from 1996–2002.
Introduced as a replacement to the Bentley Mulsanne, the first production run was a 4-door saloon first using the Rolls-Royce 6.75-liter V8 engine and later the turbocharged version. The second production run was a 2-door hardtop coupé to replace the Bentley Azure. The Brooklands coupé was a hand-assembled car using traditional coachbuilding techniques and only 550 were made, powered by the 6.75-liter Bentley L Series twin-turbocharged OHV V8 engine.
A four-seater convertible grand tourer built on the Continental R platform. A total of 1,403 were made. A second generation of the vehicle as a 2-door 2+2 convertible made from 2006–2009.
A replacement model for the Silver Spur with a short-lived production run due to Rolls-Royce being bought by the BMW Group. It featured a BMW M73 engine, a 5.4L aluminum alloy V12 engine coupled to a 5-speed automatic transmission, and was the first V12 model since the 1939 Phantom III.
This full-size 4-door saloon/sedan is essentially the Bentley version of the Silver Seraph. Though both were the first all-new models for the brands since 1980.
A two-door, four-seater with a cabriolet body powered by a 325hp 6.75L turbocharged Rolls-Royce V8 engine. Only 374 were made.
The seventh-generation vehicle to bear the Phantom nameplate, this V12 model line helped revive the Rolls-Royce brand and reputation for luxury. It was available as a 4-door saloon, 2-door convertible, and 2-door coupé, with an exterior designed Marek Djordjevic and interior designed by Charles Coldham. A number of variants and special editions were made as well, including the Phantom Drophead Coupé and Phantom Coupé.
After being fully acquired by the VW Group, three different models of the Continental have appeared, including the Continental GT (2-door coupé), the Continental GTC (2-door convertible), and the Bentley Continental Flying Spur (4-door), along with several other variations and special editions.
Named in honor of the Silver Ghost dating back to 1906, this 4-door saloon car was designed to be smaller and less expensive than the Phantom. It’s based on the platform of the F01 BMW 7 Series. Variants include Series I, Series II, and the high-performance Series II Black Badge.
The final iterations of the Mulsanne 4-door saloon. It’s the only Bentley vehicle in recent history to be designed and developed entirely in-house, not sharing a platform with either Rolls-Royce or the VW Group. There were many variants and special editions, but most are powered by either the 6.75L twin-turbocharged Rolls-Royce engine or the Bentley L-Series V8 engine.
Sharing a name with the original 1938 model, it features a two-door pillar-less coupe body style with iconic suicide doors in which all side windows can roll down like a convertible and is powered by a 6.6-liter turbocharged V12 engine.
This is a handmade 2+2 convertible grand tourer powered by a direct-injection twin-turbo 6.6-liter engine.
Bentley’s first SUV combining luxury and performance with off-road capability..
This is an eighth-generation full-size 5-door saloon with a design similar to but evolved from the previous Phantom, with several variants and special editions.
The company’s first luxury SUV (5-door), and the first model to feature all-wheel drive. Designed by Giles Taylor, it’s powered by a 6.75L N74B68 twin-turbocharged V12 engine.