Spirit of Ecstasy. The story of the most famous decoration of Rolls-Royce cars carries both desire and death


Spirit of Ecstasy. The most famous statuette in the automotive world, the creation of which is a love affair. Even her journey to the front of the hood of Rolls-Royce cars is very interesting. And beware, whoever would try to capture her will be very surprised.


Probably no decorative element of a car evokes such emotions as the figurine called Spirit by Ecstasy on Rolls-Royce cars. She has changed her form several times, yet she is still the embodiment of perfection. The story of the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine is straight out of a romance novel. The British conservative politician, founder and editor of The Car Illustrated magazine and thus a great promoter of motoring, Lord Montagu, is indirectly behind its creation.

How Spirit of Ecstasy came to be

Lord Montagu wanted to decorate his Rolls-Royce car with an unusual statuette. “So he approached his friend, the sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes, a graduate of the Royal College of Art. The wish was to create a statue of a woman, standing on one leg, with a flowing robe and a finger on her lips, as if she were holding a secret,” the interest website Daily Art Magazine explained.

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The finger was supposed to be on her mouth because it was supposed to symbolize a secret. The mystery of the love affair between Lord Montagu and a lady named Eleanor Velasco Thornton. She was also Lord Montagu’s secretary. The statue was named The Whisper, translated in Czech as whisper.

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Then, when the then CEO of the famous British car company saw the statuette on the car, he asked the sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes to create a similar statuette that would permanently decorate Rolls-Royce cars.

Spirit of Ecstasy captured against a beautiful sunset in Queensland, Australia:

“Sykes’ task was to convey the spirit of Rolls Royce through the statuette, namely the combination of speed and silence, the absence of vibration, the use of great energy and above all to show the car as a beautiful living organism with stunning grace,” said the Daily Art Magazine website.

It was completed at the turn of 1910 and 1911. Specifically, on February 6, 1911, the statuette under the name Spirit of Ecstasy was registered as intellectual property of the Rolls-Royce brand.

The tragic fate of Eleanor Velasco Thornton

However, the entire story of the statue based on love and passion also has a dark background. Eleanor Velasco Thornton met a cruel fate.

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“She drowned with hundreds of other passengers on December 30, 1915, when the SS Persia was sunk by torpedoes fired by the German submarine U-38,” reminds the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Lord Montagu then survived the sinking related to the war events of World War I. He died in 1929.

One hundred millimeters of perfection

While Eleanor Velasco Thornton tragically perished, the Spirit of Ecstasy, also known as Emily, Silver Lad or Flying Lady, continues to amaze on the hoods of British cars. What does it look like now?

It must be added that the shape of the statue changed more than ten times during its more than a century of existence, although it was never a dramatic transformation. Her current look was introduced last February.

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“The new Spirit of Ecstasy is 82.73 millimeters tall compared to the original 100.01 millimeters. Her gown, which billows behind her in the wind and is often mistakenly referred to as wings, has been subtly redesigned to be more realistic and aerodynamic,” said the Rolls-Royce website.

The goddess of speed defies the flowing air

The company website added that the most visible change was her attitude.

“She used to stand in a slight forward bend with her feet close together. Now she is a true goddess of speed. With one leg stepped forward and her chest bowed low, she is ready to defy the fast-flowing air, her eager gaze directed forward,” the British brand’s portal described.

Even considering that there are quite a few Rolls-Royce cars, the Spirit of Ecstasy can be a big attraction for die-hards. However, the car makers thought of that too.

“If someone tries to manipulate the figurine in any way, the car recognizes what is happening and immediately pulls the figure to the safety of the hood,” the Daily Art Magazine website described.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Spirit Ecstasy story famous decoration RollsRoyce cars carries desire death


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