10 cool stories about the “Spirit of Ecstasy” – the symbol of Rolls-Royce carsOctober 17, 2020
It would seem, what does the secretary and lovers of souvenirs have to do with it?
The statuette that has adorned the endless hoods of Rolls-Royce cars for over a century is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. But how many people know the story of the Spirit of Ecstasy?
In today’s slideshow, we share a dozen short, but succinct and curious facts about the winged symbol of the British brand.
The original figurine was authored by a British sculptor named Charles Sykes. However, other people were the ideological inspirers – the master only fulfilled a specific order.
And although today the name “Spirit of Ecstasy” is firmly entrenched behind the symbol of the Rolls-Royce brand, at the beginning of the century the statuette had many different names: “Incarnation of Speed”, “Silver Lady”, “Ellie in a Nightie”.
The customer of the statuette was Lord John Douglas-Scott-Montague, the owner of The Car Illustrated magazine, a great fan of cars and a good friend of Charles Stuart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce.
It was Mr. Montague who was the first person in the world to install the Spirit of Ecstasy on his Rolls-Royce. His girlfriend and part-time secretary of the edition, Eleanor Valesco Thornton, became the prototype.
The path to the grassroots
Rolls and Royce were so impressed by the beauty and grace of the statuette on his friend’s car that they approached Charles Sykes and asked to create something similar for all future cars of the brand.
Without thinking twice, the sculptor slightly rethought Eleanor and presented the result on February 6, 1911.
Alas, only Frederick Royce managed to admire the “Spirit of Ecstasy” that became the brand’s trademark: a few months earlier, poor fellow Charles Rolls died in a plane crash, becoming the first victim of British aviation in history.
The details of The Spirit of Ecstasy have changed throughout its history. For example, the original figurine conspiratorially held its index finger in front of its lips. Then the sculptor abolished this gesture.
In 1934, Charles Sykes created the “Flying Lady” for the Sports Saloon, kneeling down. And in the fifties, the same mascot decorated the magnificent Silver Wraith and Silver Dawn.
It is a pity that Mrs. Thornton could no longer appreciate the work: in 1915, the British cruise ship Persia, on which Eleanor was traveling, was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Crete.
Three decades of manual labor
Until 1939, Charles Sykes and his daughter Josephine personally worked on every statuette for Rolls-Royce cars.
A noteworthy fact: the original height of the “Spirit of Ecstasy” reached 7 inches or 17.78 cm. The current figures are noticeably more compact – 3 inches or 7.62 cm.
Process of creation
Today, the Spirit of Ecstasy figurines are produced at the Southampton factory. And yes – as in the days of Charles and Josephine – a wax matrix is used for the production, brought to the perfect shape with the help of extremely thin blades.
Molten stainless steel is used to cast the figurine. And the final chord implies shot blasting with a myriad of balls with a diameter of 0.04 mm. This is followed by mirror polishing and sending Eleanor to the company’s factory in Goodwood.
Gold, silver, diamonds
Since many of the brand’s customers are literally obsessed with personalizing their cars, the British had to “invent” a whole division called Bespoke Rolls-Royce. Of course, a special place is assigned to the revisions of The Spirit of Ecstasy.
At the request of the client, the figurine can be coated with silver, 24-carat gold, or even covered with diamonds (one of the most expensive figurines was created in 2011 and was estimated at 250 thousand dollars). But the highlighting of the mascot in Europe is now illegal.
Is it any wonder that the “Spirit of Ecstasy” figurine suddenly became an object of desire for thieves and other souvenir hunters? However, the company was ready for such a scenario.
On the early Rolls-Royces, the statuette was mounted on a spring-loaded base and was hidden inside the hood with the slightest tangible contact. As for modern limousines, the electric drive hides the “Flying Lady” from prying eyes in advance when the doors are locked.
On the occasion of fashion
The somber Spirit of Ecstasy debuted in 2016 with the Black Badge version of the Wraith and Dawn, replacing all chrome elements with black.
We do not think that Messrs. Rolls and Royce would like modern trends, however … what can you do for the sake of a dear client in every sense!
Recently, the European Union, actively fighting against light pollution (from now on, only elements of road infrastructure can be illuminated) banned the illumination of the “Spirit of Ecstasy” figurine, which is so popular among the brand’s customers, and the British from RR have already announced a revocable campaign, during which they dismantle the backlight and organize a refund for the option of funds (3,500 pounds or about 350 thousand rubles).
And yes – this is not the first persecution of “Eleanor in a nightie”. In the 1970s, several countries lobbied for a ban on the use of mascots for security reasons. And customers in Switzerland were given the Spirit of Ecstasy separately from the car. Such is the amazing story.
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