The Story Behind The Rolls-Royce Hood Ornament: The Spirit of Ecstasy

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rolls-royce hood ornament

The Sprit of Ecstasy – an iconic symbol of the finest vehicle on earth. Created by sculptor Charles Sykes in 1905, the Spirit of Ecstasy was first commissioned by Lord Montagu. Montagu wanted a way to delineate his Rolls-Royce from others, so he enlisted Sykes, a renowned sculptor, to create this master piece. Thus was born The Whisper.

It Started With a Whisper

The Whisper was Sykes’s first edition of the Spirit of Ecstasy. It resembled a lady standing on one foot, with her gown flowing behind her, and holding one finger to her lips as if she was keeping a secret. There is speculation that Charles Sykes’s muse for this statue was Eleanor Velasco Thornton, secretary and mistress of Lord Montagu. Although this is only conjecture, the evidence is strong enough that Rolls-Royce’s modern Spirit of Ecstasy has followed in The Whisper’s footsteps. We’ll never know for sure, but we love a good mystery.

rolls-royce hood ornament

Photo credit: www.arteauto.com

The Early Spirit of Ecstasy

Soon after Sykes created The Whisper, Rolls-Royce asked Sykes to produce a mascot that would adorne all future Rolls-Royces. Rolls-Royce Managing Director of the time, Claude Johnson, felt the statue should convey “The spirit of Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy, and a beautiful living organism of superb grace…”

what is the rolls-royce hood ornament

Photo credit: Classic-auctions.com

Charles Sykes described his creation as “A graceful little goddess, the Spirit of Ecstasy, who has selected road travel as her supreme delight and alighted on the prow of a Rolls-Royce motor car to revel in the freshness of the air and the musical sound of her fluttering draperies.” Oddly enough, co-founder Charles Royce felt that the Spirit of Ecstasy impaired the drivers view, and did not enhance the cars in any way.

Today’s Spirit of Ecstasy

Today’s model has been digitally sculpted to resemble Eleanor Thornton and is hand-cast using the lost-wax process. This method dates back over 5700 years and is known for its fine-quality castings. The Spirit of Ecstasy can be stainless steel, 24-carat gold, frosted crystal, or even studded with diamonds. Whether this sculpture was inspired by Eleanor Thronton or not, it has adopted the essence of luxury, craftsmanship, elegance, and even divinity.

the rolls-royce hood ornament

We hope you can come by our dealership and see a Spirit of Ecstasy for yourself. They’re small, but to designers at Rolls-Royce they represent “the uncompromising pursuit of perfection that goes into every car they produce.” Visit our showroom and experience one of the many sterling examples of Rolls-Royce excellence.

The Story Behind The Rolls-Royce Hood Ornament: The Spirit of Ecstasy was last modified: October 7th, 2015 by Rolls-Royce Raleigh

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