Henry Royce, the founder of Rolls-Royce company, once said: Strive for perfection in everything. Take
the best that exists and make it better. If it doesn’t exist, create it. Accept nothing nearly right or good
On May 4, 1904, 26-year- old car dealer Charles Rolls and 42-year- old engineer Henry Royce were
introduced to one another at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, England. The fortuitous tête-à- tête led
to the first Rolls-Royce 10 hp, which premiered 7 months later in Paris.
During the subsequent 113 years, the acclaimed automaker has built cars at the cutting edge of each
era: vehicles that epitomize elegance in engineering, design, and detailing. This past July, the company
debuted the eighth edition of its flagship Phantom, a model that dates back to 1925 and has been
owned by both heads of state and glitterati around the globe.
Here is the list of the 10 most important Rolls-Royce cars ever constructed.
1913 “Sluggard” Ghost
The first Ghost chassis, the 1913 “Sluggard” was nicknamed in sarcasm. Far from sluggish, it was
equipped with a 7.4-liter 6-cylinder engine that allowed it to reach a top speed of 101 mph — rather
remarkable for the period.
An experimental example, it gave rise to the Ghost’s reputation for power and performance. “Rolls-
Royce Ghosts of that ilk were set up with what the marque referred to as ‘London-to- Edinburgh’
specification. About 35 of them were eventually built as competition roadsters. And no two of those cars
had the same body. It was one of his early masterpieces that went on to define the brand.
1925 Phantom I Barker 10EX
Before Rolls-Royce began creating the coachworks for its rolling chassis, it was still able to develop a
distinct visual language by defining specific design cues. These included the establishment of the
elongated hood and a vehicle height that was to be no greater than that of two stacked tires. And it was
the experimental 1925 Phantom I Barker 10EX that helped set what would become some of the
marque’s most enduring standards.
Phantom II Continental by Freestone and Webb
When the demand rose for cars that were more viable and reliable at covering substantial distances,
Rolls-Royce answered with the Continental. Whether open-top or closed, Continentals were good at
getting down the road. Today we would call them GT cars. They were meant for travel from country to
country as opposed to many of the Rolls-Royce models that were intended to be limousines for around
Phantom III Sedanca de Ville
A 1934 Phantom III Sedanca de Ville with a body by coachbuilder Park Ward.
The Phantom III—produced from 1936 to 1939—was the marque’s first car to carry a V-12. The engine
was a smaller precursor to the Rolls-Royce Merlin, which served as the heart of Britain’s air force during
WWII, including the power behind the Spitfire fighter.
The moniker “Sedanca de Ville” referenced a body style that presented a dual personality. The roof over
the chauffeur was soft and could be removed or retracted, while the back of the body generally had a
solid roof. And to show you how times change, the driver’s seat in a Sedanca was leather for durability,
but the passenger compartment almost always featured cloth fabric because it was considered more
plush, luxurious, and cooler.
Silver Cloud I
Designed by John Polwhele Blatchley and in production from 1955 to 1959, the Silver Cloud I comprised
a steel chassis, a 155-hp 6-cylinder engine, and a 4-speed automatic transmission. But what made it a
true model of merit was its finely tuned façade. During a decade that delivered automobiles with more
futuristic features—at least in the United States—the Silver Cloud bore an antithetical aesthetic.
Silver Shadow Corniche Convertible
By the mid-1960s, the social climate was beginning to change, and overt exhibitions of material
prosperity were no longer in vogue—and that included vehicles. Case in point, music legend John
Lennon made a statement by having his 1965 Phantom V painted in a fanciful kaleidoscope of colors
that paid homage to the Romani, a European nomadic culture. In recognition of the decreasing market
for over-the- top transportation, Rolls-Royce released the Silver Shadow.
From 1965 through 1980, the Silver Shadow was Rolls-Royce’s model of innovation. Designed by John
Polwhele Blatchley, the car was the marque’s first to include unibody construction, disc brakes, and
hydraulic self-leveling suspension—among other notable features.
The Silver Shadow came in both two-door and four-door versions and has a power train that includes a
V-8 engine paired with, most commonly, a 3-speed automatic transmission. Regardless of the car’s
configuration, however, each example exudes unmistakably stately styling.
With the longest-running model name since cars were created, the Rolls-Royce Phantom has been the
refined ride of royalty, rock stars, and rarefied society in general. Debuted in 1925, the model is now in
only its eighth generation. The latter, the logically delineated Phantom VIII, made its world premiere in
London on July 27 of this year.
Simultaneously dubbed by the marque as “the most technically advanced Rolls-Royce ever” and “the
most silent motor car in the world,” the phenomenal four-door is, quite simply, the epitome of elegance
in aesthetics, amenities, and the occupants’ overall drive experience.
Within the oversized sedan sits a 563 hp, 6.75-litre twin-turbo V-12 with 664 ft lbs of torque. Regulating
the engine is an 8-speed gearbox that works in tandem with the car’s Satellite Aided Transmission. The
overall combination permits the Phantom to fly from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds on its way to 155
Complementing the power train is a new aluminum space frame that bolsters the car’s rigidity by 30
percent compared to past versions. And its updated self-leveling air suspension ensures that the Rolls-
Royce’s renowned sensation of wafting over the road is even more remarkable.
Inside the cabin, numerous details vie for the eye’s attention, but the most visually innovative addition is
the gallery—a glass-enclosed presentation of commissioned art that runs the length of the dash.
But as with the Phantoms before it, the VIII is meant to be truly enjoyed from the backseat, where rear
picnic tables, theater monitors, a Champagne chiller (stocked with crystal stemware), and plush lambs-
wool rugs provide further pampering.
A drophead coupe that’s drop-dead gorgeous, the Rolls-Royce Dawn broke onto the scene in 2015. A
two-door with four-person capacity, the automotive luminary was designed by Taylor and comprises a
predominantly newer body panel presentation than the marque’s other contemporary models.
The opulent open-top tourer is fit with an 8-speed automatic transmission and a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-
12 with 605 ft lbs of torque. The convertible cruises from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and can reach
The Dawn arose to attract a decidedly younger demographic and to be a model that more women would
want. The roomy roadster, however, has found mass appeal among the marque’s devotees, and its
popularity shows no signs of setting.
Introduced in 2013, the Rolls-Royce Wraith is the marque’s most powerful model to date.
Not just a courtly coupe, the Rolls-Royce Wraith is the marque’s most powerful model to date.
Introduced in 2013, the tony two-door may share the name of its 1938 predecessor, but little else.
Built off the same chassis as the Ghost (which debuted in 2009), the car carries a 624 hp, 6.6-liter twin-
turbo V-12 that churns out 590 ft lbs of torque. With an 8-speed automatic transmission part of the
team, the power train allows the Wraith to run from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds before topping out
at 155 mph.
The resplendent four-seater’s cabin features the same Starlight Headliner as the Phantom VIII (just with
fewer lights) as well as top-end technology such as its Satellite Aided Transmission, Head Up Display, and
360-degree camera view. And, of course, lambs-wool rugs lie lavishly underfoot.