Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Let’s Rolls: See how the other half lives, without ever leaving the midstate.

Rolls-Royce may be the ultimate symbol of opulence and luxury.

A long-slung commercial stretch on the outskirts of Mechanicsburg? Arguably not.

But the two come together perfectly along Hempt Road, where the Rolls-Royce Foundation exhibits a stunning collection of the world-famous motorcars.

Despite its low-key location, the destination attracts about 1,500 visitors a year. It’s comprised of a show room, an art gallery, a warehouse and a working garage where volunteers employ their mechanical skills.

Mark Lizewskie, executive director of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club and Rolls-Royce Foundation, said that he enjoys seeing people when they first enter the showroom.

“We are the largest organization in North America dedicated to Bentley and Rolls-Royce motorcars,” he said. “It is always fun to see the expressions on our visitor’s faces when they discover our facilities.”

Those who visit are escorted through the showroom, which displays about 30 Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars dating back to the 1920s. Guests learn about the history of the brand, including how Rolls-Royce owned Bentley for a period of about 70 years (today, Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW, while Bentley is owned by VW).

Visitors also hear interesting details about the cars on display. These include a 1929 Springfield Phantom I, which was a replacement for the original Silver Ghost, and the 1946 Silver Wraith, which was the first post-war automobile manufactured by Rolls-Royce. They also see a unique-looking vehicle that may prompt them to dig a little deeper into the story of a cult leader who was a huge enthusiast, the owner of 93 Rolls-Royces.

After the showroom tour, guests are led into an adjacent room to view a gallery of artwork. There, they’ll see works by the painter and illustrator Melbourne Brindle. The Australian-American artist’s passion for Rolls-Royce motorcars shines through in his work. Among the vehicles featured are the first Silver Ghost shown in front of the Cook Street factory in Manchester, England, in 1907, a 1911 tulip-back limousine, and a 1914 Rolls-Royce that belonged to a Russian aristocrat by the name of Prince Yusupov. A handy printout allows visitors to learn about the history of the cars shown in the paintings.

Gearheads can delve into the weeds as much as they like since this is also the largest research center for Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars. Sarah Holibaugh, research librarian, is on site to answer any questions.

The public is permitted to look through books, technical manuals, handbooks, sales literature and periodicals, as well as historical documents.

“One of the favorite parts of my job is researching all the hidden stories that come with a Rolls-Royce or Bentley,” she said. “[Also, I] get to show new owners that these are more than just classic cars, but drivable art, complete with rich histories, notable ownership and unique provenance.”

The Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club & Rolls-Royce Foundation is located at 191 Hempt Rd., Mechanicsburg. For more information, visit or call 717-597-4671.


On a Roll

Here are some fun facts about Rolls-Royce:

  • The hood ornament called “The Spirit of Ecstasy,” which debuted in 1911, was commissioned by car collector Baron John Edward Scott-Montagu, who based it on a likeness of his secretary-turned-mistress. Initial ornaments portrayed the sculpture with a finger pressed against her lips.
  • More than 60% of all Rolls-Royces are still on the road.
  • Rolls-Royce offers a “White Glove” training program, which teaches drivers how to open and close doors without leaving fingerprints behind, how to brake without jolting the passenger, and how to drive for maximum smoothness.
  • Rolls-Royce uses only bulls for the leather interior, since cows can get stretch marks from pregnancy. They don’t use just any old bull, though. They source bulls from Europe, since higher altitudes mean fewer insect bites.
  • The Rolls-Royce wheels logo always remains upright. When the car is in motion, the logo on the center cap remains static. A gyroscopic mechanism keeps it from rotating.

Perhaps these few fun facts will pique your curiosity enough to pay a visit and maybe more than once, since the donated cars rotate every few months.

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