Rolls-Royce Limited was established by Charles Rolls and Henry Royce in 1904. The company designed and built luxury cars and with the help of Henry Royce’s previous experience in building cranes, it soon gained widespread reputation for engineering excellence.
During the First World War Rolls-Royce added building aero engines to its skills. This enabled them to later become involved in the development of jet engines. They worked engines for both the civilian and military market. However, a costly over-run in designing and building the RB211 civilian aircraft engine brought the company to financial ruin. Even though the RB211 proved a great success in 1971 the owners of the company entered voluntary liquidation.
The government of the day bought the productive parts of the company which became known as Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited. Portions of the company were sold to British Aircraft Corporation and transferred the profitable car division to Rolls-Royce Motors Holdings Limited. In 1987 Rolls-Royce Ltd was privatised and subsequently became Rolls-Royce plc. The Rolls-Royce Motors brand was bought by BMW in 1998.