I am told that I am not usually lost for words. Just as well, as I make my living from them! But when the news broke that Rolls-Royce was likely to be sold out of British ownership, I was reduced to an angry silence.
I have never owned a Rolls-Royce, nor felt much remorse over this. I have never gone over the top in admiration of all the products of Manchester, Derby and Crewe. Indeed when it seemed that the once-respected Silver Clouds were technically outdated I said so in these pages, before the advent of the capable Silver Shadow. Before that I had wondered at R-R’s anxieties over their big-ends on the new motorways, and I once had the audacity to point out that the Rover 3500 I was driving had many of the loudly proclaimed specification highlights of the new Shadow, for a third of its price…
That is not to say that, along the years, in those heavy 6d Special Motor Show issues of this magazine, one did not await with extreme interest descriptions of the latest R-R models. Rolls-Royces were, and are, not so much motor-cars, more a way of life… So one read The Autocar’s road-test reports on the 40/50s (Ghosts, if you prefer), New Phantoms and the fabulously-engineered PIII with almost religious awe. The journal commented on the new R-R Twenty: “Quite what gives a Rolls-Royce its character is hard to define, but there is no car in which detail has been more carefully studied or in which it has been proved by experiment carried out over such long periods”.
And of course one remembers the performances of the R-type racing engines in the final Schneider Trophy race and of the Merlins during the Battle of Britain, and Eddie Hall’s consistent showing with the Derby-Bentleys in three Ulster TTs, and the later abilities of Turbo-Rs, etc. Now the magic name behind those achievements has been sold to Volkswagen. Germany already has Mercedes; how terribly sad that we no longer own Rolls-Royce… or Bentley… Does this mean that the next edition of the RREC bulletin will carry a black border?