The Rolls-Royce 15 hp is considered as one of the first vehicles that were designed by the company since the agreement of engineer Henry Royce and aviator Charles Rolls to form Rolls-Royce, although the car was credited only to Royce’s company, “Royce Limited.” The 15 hp is mostly notable for its stunning appearance and incredible speed, with some even saying that it was one of the fastest cars in the early 1900s. What is so special about the said vehicle? And what are the other cars that were released alongside it? We will find out as we take a dive into the interesting history of the Rolls-Royce 15 hp.
Origins of the 15 hp
Before we get into the brief history of the 15 hp, let us first take a look at how Charles Rolls and Henry Royce formed a partnership to create the Rolls-Royce company. Before the met, Henry Royce first started manufacturing his own car in 1904, as he was not satisfied with the latest vehicles during that time. There were two cars that were made by Royce, and these cars were given to company directors Henry Edmunds and Ernest Claremont. Edmunds was a friend of Charles Rolls, and during one of their interactions, Edmunds showed Rolls the car that Royce made. Royce is said to have been impressed by the performance of the car and wanted to meet its maker, so Edmunds arranged a meeting between Rolls and Royce on May 4, 1904, at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, England. After a few months, Henry Royce and Charles Rolls formally made an agreement to have a partnership on December 23, 1904, although it was Royce’s company who will manufacture the vehicles, while Rolls’ company will sell it.
Royce’s company, Royce Limited, was able to produce four new models before the end of 1904. The first car was the 10 hp, the cheapest and the slowest of the four vehicles, and serves as the successor for the prototypes that Royce designed before the founding of Rolls-Royce. The 10hp features a triangular-shape radiator, which would be seen in other Rolls-Royce cars in the future. Although the 10 hp is named after its maximum horsepower, the vehicle is said to be capable of getting 12 horsepower with a top speed of 40 miles per hour. Royce Limited made 16 10 hp vehicles between 1904 and 1906, but there are only four that exist today.
The second model was the 15 hp, which is considered the rarest of the four because there were only six units made between 1904 and 1905. Much like the 10 hp, the 15 hp is capable of pushing a top speed of 40 miles per hour, although it would remain at 15 horsepower. In addition, the 15 hp has a three-cylinder 3000 cc engine that allows it to maintain its stability and speed at a longer pace. Its other features include a transmission brake located behind its gearbox and controlled using a foot pedal, semi-elliptic leaf springs that are found in the front and rear axles for better stability, and artillery-type wheels for durability. Out of the six 15 hp cars that were made, there was only one that survived, and that was the second one that was once registered as a demonstration car but was turned into a production model before it was sold to a man named T. Dundas in September 1905. In 1906, that 15 hp car was bought by the Countess of Loudoun, and in 1908, it was purchased by Douglas Dick, who was living in Kilmarnock, Scotland. Today, the surviving 15 hp is in the Doune Motor Museum and is owned by the Royal Scottish Automobile Club.
The third model manufactured by Royce Limited was the 20 hp, which was the most produced vehicle out of the four, with 40 recorded units made between 1905 and 1906. The 20 hp features a more powerful 4118 cc engine that was made by combining two 10 hp engines. It is reported that the 20 hp is capable of running at 50 miles per hour, and because of that incredible speed, it was able to win two races at the 1905 Isle of Man TT race when it was used as a racing car. Despite having 40 units, there are only three that exist today.
The fourth model, the 30 hp, is the most powerful vehicle amongst the four Royce Limited cars, as it has 30 horsepower pushed out by its massive 6000 ccs engine. The 30 hp is able to get a top speed of 55 miles per hour, which was the national speed limit for highways in the UK during that time. There were 37 30 hp vehicles that were made between 1905 and 1906, but it is believed that only one survived. The location of the surviving 30 hp is currently unknown.