Rolls-Royce 10 hp marked the legendary British brand’ history beginning. The model presented at the Paris Motor Show in December 1904 is one of the sought-after classic cars for collectors from all over the world as the British created only 16 copies then, and today its starting auction price is about $3 million!
Source: Science Museum Group Collection
The first Rolls-Royce car, which appeared back in 1904, was built by chance by a talented engineer and designer, Henry Royce. It so happened that the French Decauville car he bought turned out to be real junk, with a bunch of problems: it started with difficulty and drove even worse, at the same time it rumbled, vibrated, and smelled very bad. Royce, like a true perfectionist, firmly decided that he would build a better vehicle. Moreover, he already had solid experience in mechanical engineering: Henry was the owner of a company that was producing port cranes and hoists known throughout Europe. He treated the design of the machine wisely: in order not to reinvent the wheel, he took the simple design of Decauville, improved and supplemented it, thereby improving everything possible.
Source: Auto Vercity
At first, Henry built his automobile without any far-reaching plans, but fate decreed otherwise. After seeing and testing the prototype, London dandy and businessman Charles Rolls offered Royce a business partnership. In 1904, an agreement was signed between two gentlemen to create a Rolls-Royce 10-hp car under a new brand. The vehicle was assembled at the Royce plant, which was located in Manchester. The brand presented a novelty at the Paris Motor Show, which took place in 1904. At the same time, the company showed the 15-hp and 20-hp models. The design of 10 hp was the modification of the car that Henry Royce built earlier – the Royce 10. He released them in 1903 in 3 copies. The car was based on the Decauville that Royce owned. He hoped that he could improve the design of the vehicle And according to some parameters, he succeeded – the car became quieter. And already in the winter of the same year, the first cars of the then unknown, but now world-famous brand went on sale.
Source: Auto Vercity
Today the very first 10 hp is the dream of rarity hunters. Even though it had more than modest technical characteristics, its value is not in the “stuffing”. This was the first vehicle personally designed by company founders Charles Rolls and Henry Royce. The volume of the 2-cylinder engine was 1800 cubic meters. In later versions, it was increased to 1995 cubes. The motor received an improved crankshaft. The brake could be controlled with a foot pedal. Rolls-Royce was supposed to produce a batch of 20 cars, but in 1904 it assembled only 16, as in the company the management decided that a 2-cylinder engine was not suitable for such a car. Thus, the last sample was collected in 1906. As for the dimensions of the vehicle, the length was 125 inches, the width was 55 inches, and the wheelbase was 75 inches. The power unit was installed in the front of the body. Torque was transmitted to the wheels of the rear axle. With all of this equipment, this model belonged to the highest class of vehicles. Unlike the Royce 10, which had a flat radiator top, the 10 hp got a triangular top and was later inherited by the company’s other cars.
The transmission brake was mounted behind the gearbox and controlled by a foot pedal, while extended inboard drum brakes on the rear axle were controlled by a handbrake lever. The suspension was on semi-elliptical springs on the front and rear axles. Initially, only 16 copies were produced, and it is believed that only four of them have survived to this day. One is owned by Bentley Motors, one is owned by the British Science Museum, and the remaining two belong to private collections.
The sale of 1904’s first and oldest 10 hp, one of 16 limited editions was a twice record! In 2007 at the Bonhams auction, it was sold for £3 521 500 or $8m! Never in history, Rolls-Royce and a classic car had been sold for such a high sum.
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