Henry Royce didn't start life as a Sir - he was a hands-on engineer, a craftsman who'd served a painstaking apprenticeship on what was then the Great Western Railways and who got into the car business after he bought a seriously expensive French voiture and was less than impressed by its build quality.
Not much has changed, has it?
Royce brought his own brand of quality control to bear on his cars - particularly after he teamed up with the Honourable Charles Rolls to build “the best car in the world” for the moneyed elite.
He famously urged his employees to strive for perfection in all that they did, “to take the best that exists and make it better”.
More than a century later that is still the mantra that guides Rolls-Royce, and has led to the introduction of the Phantom Series II at the 2012 Geneva motor show.
This is not a facelift.
The Phantom range - Saloon, Coupé and Drophead Coupé - have rather been updated to accommodate cutting-edge technologies that make the car smoother to ride in, safer at night and its electronics easier to use.
Rolls-Royce head Torsten Müller-Ötvös said in Geneva on Tuesday: “These cars are timeless in their appeal, but technology moves rapidly and we cannot afford to stand still.”
Director of design, Ian Cameron, compared the Phantom Series II design to a “familiar theme, lit in a different way”, perhaps best illustrated by its striking new front treatment with re-styled bumpers and rectangular headlight clusters.
CURVING LIGHT AROUND CORNERS
Rolls-Royce claims to be the first to include full LED headlights as standard on a production car, providing a characteristic whiter light, improving safety by reducing driver fatigue and making possible new technologies that better control lighting.
The curve light function, for example, uses electronically-controlled reflectors to focus headlamp beams in the direction of travel, while stretching the cone of light projected onto the road in response to different driving speeds.
The multi-media controller has been re-designed to make its use more intuitive, and there's a new simpler-to-use satellite navigation system featuring 3D maps with landscape topography, guided tours and enhanced points of interest, as well as composite route planning, on a larger (225mm) display with eight programmable bookmarks presenting access to key functions at the driver's fingertips.
Front, rear and top-view camera systems make manoeuvring easier, with rear path prediction coming up automatically when reverse is selected.
Rolls-Royce marketing mavens have long been fond of the word; it's pure fluff but it aptly describes the superb ride for which the marque has long been renowned.
The Phantom Series II makes a good thing even better with a new eight-speed automatic transmission and rear differential with longer final-drive ratios, complementing the direct-injection V12 engine, and also reducing average fuel consumption by 10 percent and CO2 emissions from 388 to 347g/km.
One can't help feeling that Sir Henry would have approved.