Lord Montagu had, with a certain
amount of flair, taken up an idea of his time, to put a mascot on top of
and it had become a fashion. Rolls-Royce had noted other owners of their cars following the new vogue, but doing so
with less style by choosing mundane or even risque and vulgar subjects.
Following th Lord Montagu commission,
Charles Sykes was asked to create a mascot which in future would adorn
every Rolls-Royce. In February 1911 he
presented to Rolls-Royce the "Spirit of Ecstasy", which was easily recognisable
as being a variation on the theme of "The
Whisper". The similarity was hardly coincidental
because the model for both had been the
lovely Miss Thornton.
The Spirit of Ecstasy was now delivered
by the Company with every Rolls-Royce. Each was done using the technique
was thousands of years old and known as the lost-wax method.This practice results in the mould's being destroyed to reveal
the casting, which explains why no two figures are exactly alike. Sykes, assisted by his daughter Jo, remained responsible for manufacturing the Spirit of Ecstasy for many years. Likewise, each of the unique creations bore his signature on the plinth.
The sculptures are eithersigned "Charles Sykes, February 1911" or sometimes "Feb 6, 1911" or "6.2.11".
Even after Rolls-Royce took over the casting of the figures in 1948 each Spirit of Ectasy continued to receive this
inscription until 1951.
to 1914 the Spirit of Ectasy was silver-plated
thus many thought it a massive piece of precious metal -
one reason for the frequent thefts. In smaller versions, and now made from highly polished nickel alloy, the radiator
decoration has stood its ground on every Rolls-Royce, including those in the present range.
Over the years various alterations
have been made. Those mascots for Rolls-Royce motor cars at the Springfield
the USA were modified. Bowing a little more forward no longer were they a danger to the bonnet. The original version
had touched the bonnet sides when these were opened without the precaution having been taken of turning the figure
No enthusiasm for the Spririt of
Ecstasy was shown by Royce, who
judged her to be but a fashionable
bauble and carped
that shespoiled the clear line of the car's bow.The order to create the sculpture was given during the chief engineer's
illness and had been absent. Thus it became a habit that Rolls-Royce cars used by Royce were rarely driven with a mascot
When, towards the end of the twenties
and the new body line of Sports Saloons had reduced the height of the coachwork,
Royce was prompted to think about a lower variationof the Spirit of Ecstasy, by which alteration a driver might benefit
from clear vision even with the windscren lower and his seating position reduced in turn.Sykes created a kneeling version
of the mascot, whih fulfiled this demand. Signed "C. Sykes, 26.1.34" the inscription on the plinth revealed the day when the
first piece had been finished.
The kneeling version remained after
the Second World War for the new Silver
Wraith and Silver Dawn. All following
models, however, sported a standing mascot, although this has now been reduced in size considerably compared to the
Rarely, however, is the correct
term"Spirit of Ecstasy"used
- detractors remark this was only done at the factory in Crewe.
The nickname "Emily" is widespread and Americans speak of the "Silver Lady" or the "Flying Lady".
In 1920 Rolls-Royce had taken part
in a competition in Paris for
the most apposite mascot in the world. This they did with a
gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy, which secured
Rolls-Royce first place. From
then on gold-plated versions of the Spirit of
Ecstasy were available from the company - at an extra charge.
Safety regulations in some countries
turned out to be a stumbling block to the fitting of the Spirit of Ecstasy.
as a sharp-edged piece of metal jutting from the coachwork, which might injure a victim in an accident. because of this, in Switzerland during the second half of the seventies, the installation of mascots on Rolls-Royces was forbidden and purchasers
of a new Rolls-Royce delivered to that country found their mascot in the glove compartment. The problem was solved with
the Silver Spirit and Silver Spur; at the merest knock the Spirit of Ecstasy sank into the radiator surround and vanished out of harms way. Thus were the safety regulations satisfied.