A Rolls Is a Rolls Is a Rolls...

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LONDON: What's in a name? If the name is Rolls-Royce, $66 million -- and that's cheap. Like two Dobermans at a single slab of steak, German automakers BMW and Volkswagen AG have completed the tearing apart of the revered luxury car line: Volkswagen gets Bentley, and BMW gets Rolls-Royce -- or at least the name Rolls-Royce. Under the deal (finalized after Volkswagen tried and failed to acquire the name itself), BMW will build its own factory by 2002 to produce the cars. Volkswagen will get to use the Rolls name for free until then, after which it inherit the old Rolls-Royce factory, where it will make Bentleys.

So the Bavarians paid $66 million just for a name? "It's a steal," says FORTUNE auto writer Alexander Taylor. "Rolls-Royce is the best car brand there is." But won't all those Arab sheikhs sour on the brand once they find out it's a Rolls in name only? Apparently not. "The '98 Rolls already has a BMW engine, and someone else builds the body," says Taylor. "All the British do is add the wood and leather." Blimey.