by Dave Weber THIS IS NOT A RECENT ARTICLE
images by Doug Breithaupt
In 1904, Rolls-Royce LTD of Manchester, England was founded by the partnering of Henry Royce, who already was a successful electric crane manufacturer, and the Honorable C.S. Rolls, a dealer of French Panhard automobiles in London. The 1906 40/50 HP 6-cylinder car, later called the Silver Ghost, was introduced to the automobile market as a car of quality.
Rolls-Royce still is manufactured at present, although this marquee has been sold numerous times. The latest acquisition of the licensee to produce this car and its sibling Bentley has most recently been transferred from Vickers of England to Volkswagen GMbh. However, new ownership for the Rolls is on the horizon, and in 2003 the manufacturing control will be transferred to BMW, who now produces engines for these cars. The explanation is that VW, although purchasing the manufacturing rights, failed to purchase the RR logo of Rolls-Royce, and the powers that be have determined BMW will be the new owner, while Bentley will stay with VW and be a competitor for sales against Rolls-Royce.
The Rolls-Royce automobile, which was produced for the upper class not only in England, but also throughout the world, became one of the best cars made in the world. Millionaires, royalty, and anyone else who could afford this car had to have one! The demand increased into the 20's and Rolls-Royce decided to establish a US subsidiary in Springfield, MA, where Silver Ghosts and Phantom 1 chassis were produced. These were prepared for custom coach bodies to be installed on them. Most "Springfield Rolls" were left hand drive, but not all. The easiest way to identify a US Rolls from the early years is to examine the headlights. The US cars had an entirely larger barrel design head light assembly, whereas the English models used a much more refined reversed bullet design. But as of 1929, photographs show the US Rolls also used the English style assembly. The Springfield, US factory continued in full operation until 1931, at which time no new parts were imported and only spare parts were used to produce a few additional Phantom models through 1935.
In 1925 Rolls-Royce of America purchased the Brewster Coachbuilding firm and merged it into the production activities of Rolls-Royce. With the arrival of the Great Depression in the early 30's, hard times fell upon Rolls-Royce of America. In order to exist, the US company decided to install custom Brewster bodies on Ford V-8 Chassis. The parent Rolls-Royce Company in England objected to this action, and bankruptcy for Rolls-Royce of America was finalized in 1935.
In 1931, Rolls-Royce LTD of England purchased the Bentley manufacturing rights outright, and within a few years the Bentley automobile became identified as the little Rolls throughout the world. The only difference between the two makes, other than cost, was the radiator shell until recently. The Rolls always maintained the traditional silver angular shaped radiator shell, which was representative of the first production "Ghost" in 1906. This tradition is still carried on at present. The Bentley has a more rounded radiator design to differentiate the identities of the two separate makes.
The following list of Rolls Royce models was accumulated over the past 10 plus years. I am sure some models are missing, which I have never had the privilege to find in my hunt, but the following models do provide a sizeable representation of the miniature Rolls community. Doug Breithaupt has provided images of all the small-scale Rolls Royce models in his collection.
Matchbox has been prolific with Rolls-Royce models since the Lesney beginning. The Matchbox 1-75 range has also offered the following models in various paint schemes. The fist Lesney issue was #44A, a Silver Cloud sedan measuring 2 5/8 inches in 1958, which was produced until 1964. It was originally issued with gray wheels and had no moving parts or any window glazing included. The color was a light metallic blue. It was replaced by #44B, which is a 2 7/8 inch Phantom V, and remained in production until 1967. This model had clear windows and black plastic wheels. It came in both a metallic gray or metallic pinkish tan. The trunk lid did open on this model. The next model, #24C, was issued in 1967. It was a Silver Shadow, measured 3 inches in length, and was painted a metallic red in color. It was originally issued with black wheels, but changed to superfast wheels in 1970. This model, #24 D, remained in production until 1973. The trunk lid also opened on this model. The Silver Shadow Coupe (convertible) #69C was issued in 1969 and remained in production until 1973. It also was 3 inches in length and was painted either blue, lime gold, or metallic gold during its production run. The trunk lid also opened on this model. In 1979 Matchbox issued model #39E, a Silver Shadow II that measured 3 1/16 inches. It was produced until 1983. Features included either a metallic silver gray or metallic red body. Model #62F (31-I ROW-Rest of the World), a Silver Cloud 4 door sedan, represented a 1955 vehicle. It was issued in various colors for 1986-1989. This casting was also included as a James Bond model in silver, plus it was also issued in the World Class II (enhanced) series as #9 in the early 90's. This latter model had golden metallic paint with silver chromed windows. The most recent Rolls from MB is #55-H1/66F (ROW) and is a Silver Shadow. It was first issued in 1987 for ROW and 1990 in the US. It had a metallic maroon or bronze color with opening front doors on a 4 door sedan during its production run. Finally, Matchbox UK issued a model of the fictitious "Thunderbirds" TV program FAB 1, owned by crime fighter Lady Penelope in the early 90's. The model is a highly stylized body with 6 wheels. There are 4 in the front and 2 in the back. The Rolls-Royce radiator slants forward. The clear dome roof covers a pink 2 door body that has a center seat in the front for the driver.
Matchbox 1957 Phantom V No 44-B
Matchbox 1955 Silver Cloud No 62-F
Matchbox 1966 Silver Shadow No 24C
Matchbox 1966 Silver Shadow No 24D
Matchbox 1968 Silver Shadow Convertible No 69C
Matchbox 1978 Sliver Shadow II No 39-E
Matchbox 1986 Silver Shadow No 55-H
Hot Wheels first issued a Silver Cloud sedan, #6276, in which the hood opened, in 1969. This Red Line model was issued in 10 various colors. Mattel later issued a 1930 Phantom II roadster with removable top in 1984. I note that this model has left hand steering and suggest it could possibly be considered an American Rolls. Further research is suggested.
Hot Wheels 1930 Phantom II Roadster
Hot Wheels 1968 Silver Cloud No 6276
Edocar, of the Netherlands, in the late 90's issued a 1986 4 door sedan carrying model #5. Although it appears that this firm either copies or uses Maisto castings, I have never seen a Rolls made by Maisto in 1/64 scale or 3 inch length. This model is silver with a black base and both front doors open. Edocar no longer offers this model in their catalog for 2000.
Edogar 1986 Silver Shadow No 5
Ertl, of Dyersville, IA, issued 2 Silver Shadow sedans. The first appeared in 1977 in the International Cars set #1701 and the Replica series #1895. It was a blue Silver Shadow with a hood that opened from the back revealing the engine compartment. This casting resembles one that was used later on the white 1982 Cannonball Run movie series model #1865, but the hood no longer opens and the roofline has been lowered.
ERTL 1976 Silver Shadow No1895
ERTL 1976 Silver Shadow Cannonball No1865
In 1966 the Underwood Engineering firm of New Zealand issues a black Rolls Phantom V under the trade name of Fun Ho Midgets #33. This model originally was issue without window glazing. It has recently been reproduced with glazing and enhanced painting of head and taillights by the Fun Ho National Toy Museum.
The Hong Kong section lists generic products. Some were only identified when inside their original blister packs. Others gave no clue as to who or what toy company made them. In this group is a 3 inch green 1907 #6101 touring car copied from the Matchbox/Lledo design, but is a little bit larger in size. There are 2 additional models that also are only identified by model number. Number 4 is a yellow plastic Silver Cloud sedan and #414 is a golden diecast Phantom V or VI model which shows some similarity to the production style of Summer models summarized below. The radiator/grille is black plastic.
Generic 1976 Silver Shadow (Ertl copy)
International Hobby Corp of Philadelphia, PA issued a somewhat crude model of the 1906 Silver Ghost model #302 in metallic maroon. This manufacturer is not identified on the casting, but this model is pictured in the above firm's catalog. The model has large fat wheels with gold spokes. The wheels resemble the superfast wheels of Matchbox. They definitely do not enhance this vehicle's appearance. International Hobby concentrates largely on model train production and these cars are offered to the model train enthusiast for platform display.
Laramie, a toy producer and distributor from the Philadelphia, PA area produced a 2 door convertible in their Richie Rich cartoon series and is identified on the blister card as an Old time Car. The model is of a late 30's 2 door convertible with spare tires in the front fenders. The tope is down. The body is bright yellow with a black interior and tonneau cover.
The Lone Stare Impy Roadmaster #22 Silver Cloud III convertible was made by DCMT of England in 1966-1968. The early models had jewel inset headlights and the hood opened halfway from both sides. It was issued in silver but later the color was changed to red and the hood was sealed. The interesting feature of this car is the dual oval slanted headlights in place on each side of the radiator grill.
Lone Star Impy 1964 Silver Cloud III Convertible No 22
Majorette of France has issued only one model of a Rolls-Royce. This is a 1991 Corniche convertible model #1006. It is composed of a maroon plastic body on a diecast base. The top is down. Detail is very exact and even includes wiper blades at the base of the windshield. This model was one of six issued in a special International set, which only existed for a short time in the early 90's.
Majorette 1991 Corniche Convertible No 1006
Motor Force, distributed out of Canada and possibly a SS/Summer Toy Company subsidiary in 1998 issued a 1975 yellow Silver Shadow convertible. The 2 pack blister does not identify the marquee at all, which leads me to suspect it is not a licensed product. There is no chrome on the model. The radiator/grille is black plastic, which suggests this product was intended for the toy market and not the collector. Summer Toys also sometimes identified as NSG has issued at least three different somewhat crude models of this famous marquee. I am sure the management of Rolls-Royce has not licensed or given approval to produce these models, which are more of a kids' toy than a collectible model. The earliest model is an early 30's roadster with the top up. It is yellow and brown and except for the angular body and radiator design, it would be difficult to consider it as a Rolls-Royce. This model was issued in the early 90's along with other nondescript pseudo representations of vintage cars of the late 20's and early 30's. It carries model #S697. Summer also issued a 1965 4 door Silver Shadow #S692. This model is known to have been issued in at least black or silver. The remarkable feature of this model is the pronounced and enlarged flying lady radiator ornament. This model does have the Summer name on the base. Summer also made a 1906-1907 Silver Ghost in 1:58 scale. It has a white body with black top. All chrome parts are gold in color. The name Summer is not on the base, but this firm's logo of a jumping deer inside a circle is visible.
SS/Summer Toy Company 1975 Silver Shadow Convertible
Playart from the Hong Kong issued a Silver Shadow 2 door coupe in green about twenty years ago. The unusual feature of this car is the prominent winged hood ornament. (Editor's note: the Playart model shown sports wheels different from most other Playart models. Are these wheels found on other Playart mdels?)
Playart 1975 Silver Shadow 2 door coupe
Models of Rolls-Royce were also issued by a firm only identified as WT. Model #231 resembles the above '06-07 Ghost made by Summer. However, it is an uncharacteristic metallic lime green color. Model # 303 is identified as a 1931 Phantom II roadster in lime green with black fenders. As I recall, it was originally sold in a four car set of foreign car models some ten years ago.
Tomica of Japan in 1976 issued a nicely detailed 1965 Phantom IV model #F06. It is painted an off color beige/bronze combination.
Tomica 1965 Phantom IV No F06
The final Rolls-Royce model was made by Yat Ming, another firm headquartered in Hong Kong. It appears to be a copy of above Tomica Phantom but is identified as a Phantom VI under model #1051. It is silver in color and the front doors open just like the Tomica model.
This completes my review of the models representing Rolls Royce. No Bentley models have been done in 1:64 scale, an amazing gap that is difficult to explain. perhaps the new Bentley Le Mans racer will be done soon. I don't claim to have included every small-scale model available, and I am sure that there may be others that I have not had the pleasure of obtaining. Any additional input is always welcome.