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Rolls-Royce: 20 facts

A 1907 Silver Ghost.
Rolls Royce

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The following are little-known facts about Rolls-Royce past and present.

  • When Rolls and Royce founded Rolls-Royce Ltd, they set out to prove the car could become a means of transport to rival the train and the horse.
  • An early advert for the company carried the testimonial from an owner: "I may say my car is a perfect dream. It is so reliable that I have done away with my carriages and horses."
  • Vladimir Lenin owned nine Rolls-Royces during his Soviet leadership.
  • Rolls-Royce should always be written with a hyphen, which represents the link between the two founders.
  • Sir Henry Royce belittled leisure activities such as golf and tennis. He considered these activities to be non-creative and non-productive. For those who desired some for of exercise he recommended gardening.
  • At the end of a day shift at the company's factory in Derby, women were able to leave work two minutes before the men, so as not to get caught in the crowds.
  • In total just over 6,000 Silver Ghosts were produced between 1906 and 1925. The original Silver Ghost was given its name due to the silver plating of the metal trim, while the "ghost" implied its quiet operation. This later became the generic name for all the 40/50hp cars.
  • Rolls-Royce use two mechanical wooden heels to test the durability of their Wilton carpets. The heels are rubbed backwards and forwards 100,000 times to ensure the carpet is strong enough.
  • There are no known photographs of Rolls and Royce together.
  • The Rolls-Royce R engine is the only engine type to have air, land and water world speed records.
  • Rolls-Royce opened a U.S. factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1921, but it closed 10 years later because American customers preferred British-built models.
  • The latest Rolls-Royce nuclear reactors powering the Astute class nuclear submarine fleet do not need to be refueled throughout the 25-year life span of the submarines.
  • The Spirit of Ecstasy mascot was designed by Charles Sykes. No two figurines are the same. Royce did not like the Spirit of Ecstasy, which he said spoiled the clear line of the car's bow.
  • In 1907 a Silver Ghost, one of the first 40/50hp cars, was driven repeatedly from London to Scotland. The car traveled for 40 days and over 14,000 miles before requiring a service.
  • In 1962 a memorial window was unveiled in Westminster Abbey dedicated to the memory of Henry Royce.
  • Rolls-Royce plc ceased manufacturing motor cars in 1971. Since then, licensed cars have been manufactured by Vickers, Volkswagen and most recently BMW.
  • Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown made the first non-stop aerial crossing of the Atlantic in 1919 in a Rolls-Royce Eagle powered Vickers Vimy.
  • More than six out of 10 Rolls-Royce cars are still roadworthy. The oldest still on the road is a 1904 10hp owned by Thomas Love Jr. of Perth, Scotland.
  • Four Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus engines powered Concorde, the first and only supersonic passenger aircraft in the world. Concorde amassed more hours than the combined total of the Western world's military fleet.
  • The power a Trent engine generates at take off is about 90,000 horsepower. This is equivalent to the power of 1,200 family-sized cars and the same amount of energy as 250,000 people jogging at the same time.

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