May 4, 1904 – Rolls meets Royce

Henry Royce was born poor and was working by age 9. Charles Rolls was born to an affluent family and had a formal education at Trinity College in Cambridge. The two made an unlikely pair of business partners, but they had two things in common by the time they met; a background in engineering and a desire to build the world’s greatest car. On this day in 1904 that partnership came to be at an arranged lunch meeting in Manchester. Prior to the meeting Rolls, an accomplished motorist already, had started a car dealership selling imports from Belgium and France. However, he desired to build and sell English cars that were second to none. Royce was already building 10 hp cars, his first being produced in early 1904. The arranged lunch was set by Henry Edmunds, a friend of Rolls and a shareholder in Royce’s automobile business. After Rolls found saw the twin cylinder vehicle and took it for a spin around the block he agreed to sell as many as Royce could build, so long as the name was Rolls-Royce. The company was officially founded on March 15, 1906. In order to create a brand that would be recognizable around the world they hired marketing and publicity genius Claude Johnson, who is often referred to now as the hyphen in Rolls-Royce due to his role in the success of the brand. Within just a few years the team had amassed a solid following and the rest, as they say, is history. Charles Rolls, left, and Henry Royce.