The Rolls-Royce Spirit Of Ecstasy Turns 110 This Year

The graceful mascot that is synonymous with Rolls-Royce celebrates it’s 110th anniversary in 2021. 

Rolls-Royce has blown out 110 candles for its Spirit of Ecstasy recently. With the intellectual property of its registered way back on the 6th of February 1911, this notable bonnet ornament has since graced the tip of the chromed nose of every Rolls-Royce roll out of its Goodwood production plant from the early 1920s.  

A creation of the sculptor and illustrator Charles Sykes, the venerated Spirit of Ecstasy was a derivation of one of his earlier works, namely the bronze statuette known as the ‘Whisper’ which was commissioned by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu for his personal 1909 Silver Ghost. Much like the tale behind the iconic rear spoiler of the Lamborghini Countach then, the (over-simplified) story of the how the Spirit of Ecstasy came to be was that it first appeared as a personal addition by an owner, before Rolls-Royce moved to affixing this now iconic mascot as standard on all its models. 

Conveying ‘the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace’, some might think the Spirit of Ecstasy a winged lady. However that is not the case as this iconic hood ornament instead takes the form of a woman leaning forwards with her arms outstretched behind and above her, with billowing cloth that runs from her arms to her back that resembles wings.

Here’s a little fun fact too, there were actually a few deviations from the original iconic pose that made it on some Rollers over the years. The most notable of which is a kneeling variation of the Spirit of Ecstasy that was fitted to some of Rolls-Royce’s sportier models in the 40s and 50s. 

Furthermore, Rolls-Royce has also experimented with differing materials that this iconic emblem was to be made off, especially in these modern times. Originally silver-plated, the now stainless steel Spirit of Ecstasy has since also been clothed in 24-carat gold, made from illuminated frosted crystal, painted in matte black, or even studded with diamonds. 

Continuing on the topic of the times gone by, the Spirit of Ecstasy has also shrunken over its 110 year lifespan. Coming in at only a more modest 9.5 cm on the current Rolls-Royce models, as compared to its statuesque 18 cm figure that is to be seen atop the hood of its pre-war ancestors. 

Additionally, to comply with modern safety regulations, current iterations of this iconic Rolls-Royce mascot are mounted atop a retractable mechanism. Known as the ‘the rise’, this precisely engineered mechanism allows for the Spirit of Ecstasy to be kept safely out of sight until the V12 that lives behind it roars into life. 

Nevertheless, there is still a setting within the infotainment system to raise and retract the Spirit of Ecstasy according to the whims and fancies of the owner. Y’know, just when that extra touch of class is required when one leaves their Rolls-Royce parked in right in front of a swanky restaurant or luxury retreat. 


PRESS RELEASE: “As an emblem, the Spirit of Ecstasy represents far more than just our company and our products. To our customers, she is a potent symbol, instantly and universally recognised – of success, endeavour, achievement and standing. In her beauty, simplicity, elegance and rarity, she encapsulates everything our customers seek – and find – in their Rolls-Royce motor car.

“Within our company, the Spirit of Ecstasy fosters pride and esprit de corps, uniting and empowering the Rolls-Royce family right across the world. She reminds us of our inheritance and principles, and inspiring greatness in all of us. Every car we build must be worthy of bearing her, because it is she that makes every Rolls-Royce, and our company, unique and complete.” —Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars celebrates the 110th anniversary of the Spirit of Ecstasy – its official emblem. The intellectual property of the design was registered on 6 February 1911, establishing a defining feature of the Rolls-Royce brand and one of the most famous, iconic and desirable symbols of luxury in the world. Almost unaltered throughout her long and storied life, the Spirit of Ecstasy graces the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce motor car built at the Home of Rolls-Royce, Goodwood.

Her design was taken from a bronze statuette, entitled the ‘Whisper’, created by Sculptor and Illustrator Charles Sykes for his employer, motoring pioneer and Rolls-Royce early-adopter Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. The company’s foundational connection between the automotive and art worlds continues today with MUSE, The Rolls-Royce Art Programme, a lead protagonist in the world of moving-image art. 

The first Spirit of Ecstasy figurines stood a statuesque seven inches (c. 18cm) tall. Today, she is a more petite three ¾ inches (9.5cm). She is kept safely out of sight within a special housing in the bonnet until the engine starts, when she takes the stage smoothly and gracefully by a precisely engineered mechanism known as ‘the rise’. 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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