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Did Rolls Royce or Bentley ever consider F1?


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#1 Dunc

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 21:24

Inspired by the Jaguar thread, have either of these two firms ever expressed an interest in F1 in their history. I'd imagine an RR F1 engine would have some power!

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#2 elansprint72

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 21:54

Suggest you read Karl Ludvigsen's "Bentley's Great Eight". Neither company seems to have had the slightest inclination to become involved in F1; why would they- if they came less than first it would harm the brand.

#3 RCH

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 22:07

Rolls Royce built the superchargers for the V16 BRM and Tim Birkin in a "Blower" Bentley did great things amongst the Bugattis at Pau.

#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 22:31

Apart from the centrifugal supercharger for the V16 BRM, I'm sure they contributed money and expertise to the project... the supercharger was of a similar type to those used in their aircraft engines...

Another Rolls component in F1 was the crankcase for the Vanwall engine. This was an alloy crankcase (or complete block?) from the 4-cylinder military engines (Austin Champ and many others) and was married to components with an inkling of Norton heritage.

In the main, engines made by these companies were too large to be associated with Formula 1 or its predecessors.

#5 arttidesco

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 00:07

RR seems never to have approved of participation in any kind of competitive motoring event even when a marine motor was employed, of course that did not stop the odd Silver Shadow appearing in marathon rally events.

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 00:42

And we had the famous Mrs Brown who was a regular competitor here...

She drove her Silver Ghost in a number of Round-Australia trials. You should find some mention of her with google.

#7 David Birchall

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 01:44

RR must have felt that as "The best car in the world" they had nothing to prove by racing and potentially a lot to lose. Rolls Royce cars performed very well in the Alpine Trial pre ww1 but that was to prove their endurance and quality.
The Bentley brand, after acquisition by RR, had a fling in the thirties with Eddie Hall's 3 1/2-4 1/4 special. It performed very well in the TT and again at LeMans post war. I own a Derby Bentley and it is a wonderful beast-totally over engineered and overly complex-but lovely because of that attention to detail.

Bentley/Rolls Royce would not have benefited from participation in F1 since their bread and butter was so far removed from racing--unlike Ferrari, Aston, Lotus and Alfa for instance.

#8 Rob G

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 03:37

While Rolls-Royce never raced, Charles Rolls did, in the 1905 Gordon Bennett Cup at the wheel of a Wolseley, after the first Rolls-Royce made its debut.

#9 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 05:32

C S Rolls took part in a number of races. He was one of the first British drivers to take part in the major European races, starting with the Paris-Ostend race in 1899. He drove a Mors to 18th place in the 1901 Paris-Berlin race, and of course drove a Light Twenty Rolls-Royce to victory in the 1906 TT, the greatest racing success for Rolls-Royce.

RR also won the 1913 Spanish Touring Car GP, with Carlos de Salamanca driving.

More discussion here:

GREATEST ROLLS-ROYCE SPORTING ACHIEVEMENT?

#10 fuzzi

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 05:37

While Rolls-Royce never raced, Charles Rolls did, in the 1905 Gordon Bennett Cup at the wheel of a Wolseley, after the first Rolls-Royce made its debut.


Charles Rolls was first away in the 1905 Tourist Trophy, in a Rolls-Royce, retiring early in the race. He returned in 1906 and driving a Light Twenty model won in 4hours 6 minutes and 0.6secs.

Rolls-Royce invested a good deal of time and effort in Eddie Hall's TT races in the 1930s, sending engineers to Northern Ireland to help if needed.

#11 Lola5000

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 06:15

And we had the famous Mrs Brown who was a regular competitor here...

She drove her Silver Ghost in a number of Round-Australia trials. You should find some mention of her with google.

Phantom One. :stoned: :cool:

#12 Vitesse2

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 06:57

I've seen suggestions that individual Rolls employees at Derby did "homers" for Reg Parnell in the 30s and also that Reg did use the company's facilities more legally.

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 07:36

Originally posted by Lola5000
Phantom One.


My apologies...

I really should have checked, but I thought it was from the twenties. Was it? Any links?

It competed into the sixties, IIRC, I don't think it did the 1970 event.

#14 Allan Lupton

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 08:33

Charles Rolls was first away in the 1905 Tourist Trophy, in a Rolls-Royce, retiring early in the race. He returned in 1906 and driving a Light Twenty model won in 4hours 6 minutes and 0.6secs.

Rolls-Royce invested a good deal of time and effort in Eddie Hall's TT races in the 1930s, sending engineers to Northern Ireland to help if needed.

It has been argued (by Sam Clutton I think) that, had Charles Rolls not been killed when he was, the Rolls-Royce marque would have been a very sporty one, and the VSCC's founders' sports-car of choice. Royce certainly supported the sporting activities of Supermarine and then after his death the company supported the use of the same engine in various non-aviation record-breakers.

#15 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 08:53

I really should have checked, but I thought it was from the twenties. Was it? Any links?

It competed into the sixties, IIRC, I don't think it did the 1970 event.

From this site:

THE INCREDIBLE GRANNY BROWN: Born Blanche Cooper in 1907 but dubbed 'Granny Brown' by the press, this amazing woman, together with her son Vince Brown, bought a 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 for £450. She and her friend Mrs Cath Price had been active in club night and weekend rallying, and with Vince doing a lot of the driving the three-tonne car finished 13th outright in the 1956 Ampol round-Australia trial, suffering only a cracked windscreen. Then they finished fifth outright in the 1957 Mobilgas round-Australia, 78th in the 1958 Ampol round-Australia, and 92nd in the 1964 Ampol, by which time Cooper was 57. The huge car won them three times its purchase price in prizemoney. Granny Brown died in 1999, aged 92.



#16 D-Type

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 09:51

Why would they?

The target buyer for a Rolls Royce or a Bentley is unlikely to be influenced by success on track. The Rolls Royce selling point has traditionally been build quality, tried and tested, and traditional values rather than innovation. (On the other hand, those upstarts from Stuttgart and Bavaria felt the need to showcase the quality of their engineering so they did compete)

While it's enough for Toyota to demonstrate they're better than Honda or Ford or vice versa, as a previous poster pointed out if you claim to be Number One in road cars if you enter F1 you must immediately be Number 1 there. It's better not to take the risk.

#17 Terry Walker

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 11:55

At the very beginning, Rolls-Royce did race, although I suspect purely because Mr Rolls wanted to; having won a major race (the TT) and proved their point that R-R could be quick and reliable, they focussed on long-distance reliability trials to prove that R-R quality was more than skin deep - the Edinburgh trials, the 1000-mile trial and whatnot demonstrated durability as well.

Once they'd made THAT point, they dropped out of competition altogether. They could sell all the 40/50 Silver Ghosts they could build, indeed, you had to order, and then it was built for you. The image they were after was silence (relative of course; no car is truly silent), reliabilibity, and luxury. Once the brand name and image was solid, why race or rally an more?

Various privateers punted Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles in rallies and yes, the Spanish GP (for touring cars), the Monte Carlo Rally, and whatnot. Recently a madman in the UK heavily modified a Bentley Trubo R for sprints and hillclimbs, which given the two-ton weight seems bizarre.

The first hillclimb in Western Australia, promoted by the RAC WA, was won by a 40/50 Ghost (fastest time of day) in 1916.

As for Grand Prix racing, to what purpose? Also, no money. Despite the name and image, for much of its life R-R (the car division) was a small company indeed. Annual production varied from 1000 to 2500 cars per annum, a very small output. It was a huge financial gamble after WW2 to commission body dies to be made for the new postwar Bentley Mk 6 and Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, the first models to be bodied ex-factory by R-R.

Edited by Terry Walker, 16 May 2012 - 14:23.


#18 Sharman

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 13:57

Their employees were keen enough, correct me if I'm wrong but I think that's where Tony Rudd came from

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 22:18

I believe you are correct... Tony Rudd did work for Rolls...

I think you will find (Doug to confirm?) that a few people in the industry had some kind of background at Rolls, the reason being that their R & D departments (automotive and aircraft engine) would have taken on a lot of apprentices in those early post-war years.

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#20 Allan Lupton

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 07:43

I think you will find (Doug to confirm?) that a few people in the industry had some kind of background at Rolls, the reason being that their R & D departments (automotive and aircraft engine) would have taken on a lot of apprentices in those early post-war years.

I know that the same logic is what put a lot of ex-de Havilland apprentices into motor sport engineering.
I expect that's true of any seriously effective engineering apprentice scheme of the time.


#21 fuzzi

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 08:35

From Ray Bell:

"I believe you are correct... Tony Rudd did work for Rolls..."

Sorry to be pedantic Ray, but very few people worked for Rolls at Derby - a good number worked at Royces. :wave:

#22 Nordic

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 08:43

Gordon Spice was supposed to run in a Rolls Royce powered F5000 car.

Not sure if it ever happened.

#23 Sharman

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 09:05

Gordon Spice was supposed to run in a Rolls Royce powered F5000 car.

Not sure if it ever happened.


See "Marina" a big banger sports cat, used a RR marine application V8 but Rolls were not at all keen on the idea

#24 Allan Lupton

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 09:27

Sorry to be pedantic Ray, but very few people worked for Rolls at Derby - a good number worked at Royces. :wave:

Yes and that terminology rubbed off on those of us who dealt with the firm sometimes known as the Derby Cranemakers by their opposition. :D

#25 AAGR

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 16:36

I believe you are correct... Tony Rudd did work for Rolls...

I think you will find (Doug to confirm?) that a few people in the industry had some kind of background at Rolls, the reason being that their R & D departments (automotive and aircraft engine) would have taken on a lot of apprentices in those early post-war years.


Like Spen King, for instance, who later became famous at Rover. He started his working life at Rolls-Royce ....

GRAHAM R

#26 BRG

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 16:46

Gordon Spice was supposed to run in a Rolls Royce powered F5000 car.

Not sure if it ever happened.

Wasn't this to be the Kitchiner K8(?) of 1972. The RR engine was supposed to be significantly more powerful than the Chevys of the time. Presumably the RR management did not want to co-operate?

#27 RCH

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 17:00

Wasn't the BRM CanAm car originally intended to be Rolls Royce powered?

#28 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 20:59

I don't know about the Rolls engine being more powerful...

That would take a bit of doing. It was in need of a destroke, wasn't it? But it should have been lighter.

#29 Sharman

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 21:07

I knew about the Marina (Jimmy Blumer drove it I think) before it was built, i did some work for a chap in Cheshire who asked me initially to try to find a wrecked Roller but then started to look for a marinised version.

#30 HistoryFan

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:12

And what about Chevrolet? They did built F5000 engines, but why never F1 engines?
Were there some F1 plans from Chevrolet?

#31 David McKinney

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 10:10

I don't recall Chevrolet building F5000 engines. The formula was for cars with engines from production cars, and the Chevrolet Camaro happened to be the right size. It was other people who turned them into racing engines.

I'm sure Chevrolet wouldn't have given F1 a thought. Nor would Chrysler or American Motors, whose engines were also developed for F5000 use. Ford was the exception

#32 BRG

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 10:29

And what about Chevrolet? They did built F5000 engines, but why never F1 engines?
Were there some F1 plans from Chevrolet?

Chevrolet (or rather General Motors) supposedly for a long time had a policy of not being involved in motorsport, although in practice they seemed to spend a lot of effort finding ways around their own policy. This led to curiosities like alloy blocks for the Chapparal cars and the 'dealer teams' in rallying and racing. It wasn't until they employed Ilmor to build a Chevvy badged engine for CART that they came out of the closet as it were.

#33 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 11:53

Originally posted by David McKinney
I don't recall Chevrolet building F5000 engines. The formula was for cars with engines from production cars, and the Chevrolet Camaro happened to be the right size. It was other people who turned them into racing engines.....


However, the engine which was the 'right size' was an engine put into production for racing purposes...

The Trans-Am series was limited to 5-litres and the Camaro would popularly have had 350 and 396 engines. The biggest engine GM had under 5-litres was the 283, the next one up was the unloved 307 (two cubes over the limit) and the 327 was being superseded by the 350. The 283 crank in the 327 block, I believe it was, gave them their 305.

I agree that GM would never have looked at F1, but Chrysler did through their ownership of Lamborghini.

#34 Vitesse2

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 11:53

Chevrolet (or rather General Motors) supposedly for a long time had a policy of not being involved in motorsport, although in practice they seemed to spend a lot of effort finding ways around their own policy. This led to curiosities like alloy blocks for the Chapparal cars and the 'dealer teams' in rallying and racing.

Exactly. There's a hard-to-find 1972 book by Paul van Valkenbergh called "Chevrolet = Racing.? Fourteen Years of Raucous Silence!!" which covers that very topic.