Rolls Royce tale.

I love another RR story about their (supposedly) amazing service.

Some dude in the 1930s (maybe 50s) had his Roller stall out in some rural road. He tramped back to the nearest village and complained to the dealership. They told him that he was mistaken. Rolls Royces don’t breakd down. After much heated discussion, he was convinced to walk back to the car. It would work for him.

Rather put out, he agreed to walk back. As he approached his car, he heard a helicopter. Once he got to the car, he discovered a crew of RR mechanics just finishing up. When he went to start the car, it roared to life with no problems. He approached the mechanics, who were piling back into the chopper and thanked them for fixing his broken down car.

The head mechanic quickly shushed the man. “Rolls Royces don’t break down. We were never here.” And then took off.

Undoubtably untrue, but still a great story.

How in the world is a Wikipedia page unidentifiable? If it was a YouTube link, you’d have a point. But Wiki?!

Whenever an urban legend is told and retold, there must be something about it that appeals to the people who spread it. I think I know what that is in this case. There’s a scene that’s appeared in several movies that goes something like this: One archer shoots his arrow, hitting the bull’s-eye. In other words, he does as well as anyone is normally expected to do. A second archer shoots his arrow, hitting the exact center of the bull’s-eye. In other words, he does as well as you could ever expect anyone to do, however good they are. The first archer then shoots another arrow, which hits the arrow on the exact center of the target so precisely that it splits it in half (and which is probably physically impossible).

So there is a thin needle (as thin as is normally expected that someone might make). Someone else drills a hole right down the length of the needle (an engineering feat that’s as good as you might expect anyone could ever do). Then someone else creates a needle which fits in that hole and which has a hole down the length of it itself (which is so good that it seems to be far beyond what anyone could do). This pattern is typical of various urban legends and pieces of fiction in various media, which one person does well, one person does incredibly well, and a third person (or perhaps the first person) does unbelievably well.

A similar story to this appeared in a Readers’ Digest issue when I was a kid, except it was the transmission. RR sent a mechanic from England who brought a replacement tranny with him and installed it. He refused payment. The man waited for a bill, which never came. When he queried the company about paying for his broken tranny replacement, he was told “Rolls Royce cars never break down.” I was so impressed.

I really like this thread, but I have to throw a little water on it…

Needles (little pipe kind) are made by rolling and stretching a bigger tube*

*this is not the only way these are made , just a common one


While Rolls may have had some interesting technology in their time, their parts system was … antiquated.

Around 1978-1979, when I had to order parts for a Rolls, I ordered from a place in New York, but sometimes the parts had to come from Rolls in England itself - mostly odd parts and slow movers.

At one point, no parts were to be coming from England for several weeks. The parts department was shut down for a while and not shipping.

Apparently, a lot of the parts shelves were old wooden shelving, more like bookcases and such, and a lot of parts, for many decades, were stored loose on the shelf and not individually packaged. The shelf was labeled, so the parts on the shelf were … that part.

Someone hit one of the shelves with a forklift and a domino effect insued. A lot of shelves collapsed and parts went all over the floor. Unfortunately, a lot of old and out of production parts ended up loose in the floor and could not be identified having fallen off their respective shelf or bin. I understand that a lot of old and obsolete parts were probably never returned to stock and ended up being thrown out because they were not identifiable any longer.

All I know is that it took forever to get a few small parts from Rolls that were not in stock in New York and our customer was quite upset at the delay.

I don’t know of the specific transmission you are talking about, but modern DSG transmissions work like this. Maybe the RR guys were onto something but the technology was too immature and expensive back then to catch on.

I stopped believing that Rolls Royce cars never break down when I walked past a Rolls Royce repair shop in London.

PM Harold Macmillan’s Rolls broke down in the Holland Tunnel, in NYC. I knew the mechanic who was summoned to fix it-he was a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution. According to him, the car overheated (NYC summer heat and A/C was too much for it).

You’d be surprised. Former VW boss Ferdinand Piech insisted on some ridiculously difficult and pointless design parameters for the Volkswagen Phaeton and Bugatti Veyron, which were the last high-profile models launched by the VW Group before his retirement.

For example, the Phaeton was designed to run for 12 hours at 186 mph in 122 degree temperatures while maintaining a constant 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit).

I say pointless because it’s a two and a half ton sedan which is electronically limited to 155 mph anyway*.

The whole thing was basically a combined vanity project for Piech to celebrate his impending retirement, and thumb in the eye to Mercedes.

*All German automakers except Porsche voluntarily limit most of their cars to 155 mph to keep the German Green Party from imposing limits on them.

O.K., but running for a long time at a high speed while the temperature is high outside and yet the temperature inside the engine stays at a reasonable temperature has some relationship to what a car’s engine is supposed to do. It’s expected that a good engine will run for a long time at a high speed. It’s expected that it will keep relatively cool even though the temperature outside is hot. What Peich was insisting on was that the engine had to do much better than it was really necessary for an engine to do. He was setting the standard (which any engine has to meet) considerably higher than it was necessary to set it. Manufacturing needles though has nothing to do with anything that Rolls Royce or Mitsubishi does in its normal work. Peich’s idea was a waste of money, I suppose (although perhaps it could be considered long-term research for future cars). Manufacturing needles, on the other hand, seems to be just ridiculous.