Sunday, August 31, 2014
August 28: Charles Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce, was born on this date in 1877
Charles Rolls could have done nothing with his life. Born into the English aristocracy, educated at Cambridge, his family had peerage and wealth aplenty to support whatever he did.
What Rolls wanted to do was go fast and fly, becoming the first student to bring a car to Cambridge in 1896, setting a speed record of 91 mph in Dublin, and opening a car dealership at the turn of the 20th century.
That's how he met Frederick Royce, an engineer who had been building his own cars; using his upper-class connections, Rolls and Royce began building their own models in 1904, soon finding favor among wealthy Britons for their power and quietness.
Rolls had stepped back from the company in favor of flight by 1910, when he became the first pilot to perform a two-way crossing of the English Channel — and died a month later when his plane broke apart just 20 feet off the ground. He was 32 years old.