rolls royce: theory of the rolling class

The mystique of the Rolls-Royce. “The best car in the world.” The snob appeal of the marque will endure as long as the car is being built. In an interview of yore an executive was asked how Rolls-Royce managed to cover up its mistakes. The rejoinder was the haughty answer: ” Rolls-Royce never makes mistakes and those we do make we make beautifully.” Company founder Henry Royce’s was known for the dictum that “Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble” …

The 1905 Rolls Royce two seater was designed by Henry Royce and was the smoothest running machine of its day. A reputation for quality and comfort was soon firmly enough established for the company to claim that it offered "the best car in the world." Image:WIKI

The 1905 Rolls Royce two seater was designed by Henry Royce and was the smoothest running machine of its day. A reputation for quality and comfort was soon firmly enough established for the company to claim that it offered “the best car in the world.” Image:WIKI

An item of the Rolls-Royce creed holds that the firm’s business motto, reversing the conventional commerical philosophy in such matters is “The customer is always wrong.” Like James Thurber’s celebrated war between men and women, there is a basic animosity between Rolls-Royce Ltd. and the infatuated potential buyers. Rolls-Royce has always enjoyed a seller’s market,and as such the company has always been impervious to some formidable pressures regarding innovation, color schemes and product features. The patronage of Daimler as the official car of Buckingham Palace in the reign of the late Queen Mary of England was popularly believed to have had its origins in Rolls-Royce’s firm refusal to include a built-in-toilet in one of her bespoke cars.

When the definitive work about Rolls-Royce is written, which will never be, we in the meantime, can go back to Veblen’s work, “Theory of the Leisure Class” published at the turn of the twentieth century in which Veblen asserted that wealth accumulation is never enough in itself since it does not confer a comprehensive status; that status is linked to ego and what conveys status is the evidence of wealth. A car, at the basic level is to transport one from point A to B. To Veblen, evidence of wealth necessitates wasteful display, or what he termed conspicuous consumption, the staus of waste. To Veblen, articles like expensive China, silverware meant these articles were bought not for utility or practical reasons since less expensive versons could work equally well, butthe idea of displaying that they can afford such goods. An idea extended to designer clothing, landscaping,specialty dog breeds, etc. all based on the price barrier. In other words, Rolls-Royce falls into this category of the symbolic role of products in the consumer’s life. Success is owenership and the more pricey the better.

Joshua Cosden, the oil magnete insisted that, on the richly ornate dashboard of his Park Ward Rolls-Royce converible, all the operational switches be identified by raised gold letters in Old English Type…

---The recent Bentley EXP 9 F Concept and Rolls-Royce pickup truck rendering have set our imaginations running wild about rugged vehicles from British aristocracy. Fans of the John D. MacDonald literary character Travis McGee have wondered for decades what a real Miss Agnes -- McGee’s Rolls-Royce pickup truck -- might look like. But for all those concepts, drawings and imaginary exercises that never got made, there is at least one that made it into reality.   While it looks like the brainchild of some eccentric Texas oilman, this 1920 Silver Ghost has a legitimate workman’s past. It is a one-of-one service vehicle that was built so that Rolls-Royces would never have to be seen assisted by a lesser car.---click image for source...

—The recent Bentley EXP 9 F Concept and Rolls-Royce pickup truck rendering have set our imaginations running wild about rugged vehicles from British aristocracy. Fans of the John D. MacDonald literary character Travis McGee have wondered for decades what a real Miss Agnes — McGee’s Rolls-Royce pickup truck — might look like. But for all those concepts, drawings and imaginary exercises that never got made, there is at least one that made it into reality.
While it looks like the brainchild of some eccentric Texas oilman, this 1920 Silver Ghost has a legitimate workman’s past. It is a one-of-one service vehicle that was built so that Rolls-Royces would never have to be seen assisted by a lesser car.—click image for source…

ADDENDUM:

(see link at end)India is a land of diversity. There are many strange folk tales and stories connected to the Indian royal families. Our illustrious erstwhile royals have been a part of numerous tales that entertain generations.
The obsession of the royal families for expensive things and their crazy spending habits are funny stories for the present generation. Their fancy for big, expensive cars too is well known.

Between 1907 and 1947, around 900 Rolls-Royce cars made their way to India. Most of these cars have very interesting stories linked with them. Some of them are outrageous, others funny.

…One such story is related to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. He got furious with the Rolls-Royce company’s refusal to accept his order for a brand new Rolls Royce in 1930.
In retaliation the Maharaja

ered to put his old Rolls-Royce cars to pick up garbage, dung and filth in Patiala city.

The British ruling establishment forced Rolls-Royce to quickly adhere to the Maharaja’s request.

Another story is about Maharaja of Bharatpur. He always bought three automobiles at the same time. Once Rolls-Royce company denied him mechanics to fix faults in his old cars.

Like the Maharaja of Patila he issued a threat to convert his cars into garbage carriers. The car-maker promptly sent a group of mechanics to Bharatpur to sort out the faults.Read More:http://business.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/jul/09/slide-show-1-auto-royal-familes-and-rolls-royce.htm#1

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to rolls royce: theory of the rolling class

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Here’s a quote about John D. Macdonald that I often see bouncing around the web (I hesitate to quote from Wikipeida, which we all know is generally stuff we can wipe our asses with, but this seems legit). “Macdonald is by any standards a better writer than Saul Bellow, only Macdonald writes thrillers and Bellow is a human heart chap, so guess who wears the top grade laurels?” That’s from Kingsley Amis.
    http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2015/01/john-d-macdonald-look-at-some-aspects.html#.VNHn89L

    • Dave says:

      true! bellow to his credit had a sense of timing and sniffing out appealing contexts- what he did with it and how he went about it can be another instance of long form journalism groping to find itself in novel form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *