One year after the end of the Great War W.H. Park and C.W. Ward founded
their company with a clear determination to produce coachwork for motor
cars. This marked a considerable difference to the established
coachbuilders, who almost without exception were looking back to founding
dates at times when the horse still reigned supreme and only coaches had
been in demand. However criticism wasn't ill-based that antiquated
techniques from that era still were transferred onto the production of
motor car bodies. Automobiles were by far faster than a coach could be,
very often cars were bigger too and the working conditions demanded the
body should perfectly harmonise with the chassis.
It was a gesture of confidence for the 1919 founded company of Park and
Ward, when only one year later the first coachwork for a Rolls-Royce
was ordered from them. Quality alone however doesn't guarantee economic
success. As soon as 1924 the partners had to face financial difficulties
which only were solved by taking outside capital. The company changed its
name to Park Ward & Co.
After one of his rare visits to the London sales bureau of Rolls-Royce
the chief engineer Frederick Henry Royce by pure coincidence spotted a
motor car with a Park Ward body parked by the side of the street. The
perfect work and the well-designed details impressed him. Immediately
after he had returned to his drawing office he ordered H.I.F. Evernden, a
member from his staff, to go to Willesden without any delay and contact
the coachbuilder Park Ward. This visit came at just about the right time,
because Park Ward again was near the edge of bankruptcy.
Rolls-Royce Phantom I, #47EH, 1928 Park Ward Landaulette
Rolls-Royce's appreciation led to a number of orders which helped Park
Ward to bridge their difficult situation. In steady contact with F.H.
Royce's construction bureaus in West Wittering and Le Canadel - since the
pre-war time the chief engineer had not entered the factory at Derby with
but one exception - new ideas were experimented with. Slim steel B-posts
for example replaced the former wooden ones. This saved weight and gave
better visibility. Going further step by step Park Ward developed a steel
skeleton instead of wooden one and patented this in 1936. Thus a higher
degree of stability was gained and the problem of vital parts made from
wood being prone to rot was solved.
Rolls-Royce 20 H.P., 1927, Park Ward Faux Cabriolet
The co-operation between the coachbuilder and the motor car
manufacturer worked very well. Numerous bodies for prototypes, so-called
experimental cars were made. In 1930 Rolls-Royce motor cars were counting
for more than 90 % of Park Ward's production. Two years later a contract
was signed, to build several bodies in series, as a sort of standard body,
for Rolls-Royce. This enabled customers to take complete Rolls-Royce motor
cars with coachwork by Park Ward directly from the showroom if they found
design and interior to their liking. Consequently the production changed
to go on on a bigger scale and at the best time the rate went up to eight
bodies per week for Bentley alone. But co-operation had changed to
complete dependence. In 1939 Rolls-Royce took over Park Ward.
Bentley Mk VI, 1951, #B102KM, Park Ward Two Door Saloon
After the interruption due to WWII production started anew. Although
the status of separate identity had been kept, bodies were built for
Rolls-Royce and Bentley only. considerable number of Rolls-Royce from the
early post-war period exist, whose appearance must have been quite
old-fashioned even then because Park Ward stuck for some time to pre-war
design ideas. A radical orientation to present time demands came with the
sportive styling for a few Bentley
and the Bentley
of the fifties. Two door cabriolets and coupés - although Rolls-Royce had
chosen the term two door saloon - were created which were and still are
much sought after by connoisseurs.
Rolls-Royce Wraith, 1949, #WHD11, Park Ward Limousine
With coachwork in the form of drophead and fixed head coupés for Alvis
motor cars Park Ward tried to catch some additional business. Alvis had
bought drawings and wooden body formers for a design by the Swiss
Wichtrach near Berne. After Alvis' attempt of co-operation with
Willowbrook quickly failed it was decided to order bodies made by Park
Ward. For several years Rolls-Royce and Bentley and Alvis were clothed
side by side at the Park Ward factory.
With the purchase of H.J.
1959 Rolls-Royce didn't really start a sort of in-house concurrence. Only
for the time needed to arrange a merger of both companies into one unit
these were run separately.