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Rolls-Royce traces its lineage to 1904, when the company began making what many view as the ultimate luxury motorcar. Grand, poised, and elegant, the Rolls-Royce was often chauffeur-driven. These hand-assembled vehicles became the preferred formal ride of the British upper crust and a cherished symbol of national pride.

In the decades that followed, Rolls-Royces were owned and beloved by Lawrence of Arabia, Elvis Presley, the former Shah of Iran, and, most notably, the British royal family. John Lennon once purchased a Silver Shadow model and painted it a psychedelic shade of yellow. After close to one hundred years of producing ultra-high-end wheels, the company struggled with global competition and financial instability as it moved closer to the 21st century.

After BMW purchased the struggling automaker in 1998, the German firm moved quickly to reaffirm Rolls-Royce's place at the top of the luxury automotive heap. Their first move was to release the Phantom in 2004. With its traditional lines and stately appearance, the throwback to the Silver Cloud became a standard fleet car for luxury hotels like the Peninsula Hong Kong and Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.

Quick Facts

  • In 1994, a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud that once belonged to classic film star Bette Davis sold at auction for $500,000
  • In 1985, the Phantom V Rolls-Royce purchased by John Lennon in 1966 and used by the Beatles until 1969 sold at Sotheby’s for $2,299,000
  • A 1912 Silver Ghost with ivory and silver fittings more than doubled its high estimate to sell at a 2012 Sotheby’s auction for £4,705,500

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