Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is marking 112 years of the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, which was first registered as the intellectual property of Rolls-Royce on 6 February 1911. The icon has changed over time and is now recreated in a streamlined and athletic form for the marque’s all-electric Spectre.

A symbol of excellence

Despite the evolution, the statue still closely resembles the original drawings made in 1911 by her creator, Charles Sykes. The Spirit of Ecstasy represents ambition, excellence, and success, and every Rolls-Royce car bearing the icon must be worthy of her presence.

Evolution of Rolls-Royce's Spirit of Ecstasy

Charles Sykes and his daughter

Rolls-Royce is a brand that has been synonymous with luxury and elegance for over a century. One of the most iconic features of a Rolls-Royce is undoubtedly its Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. This ornament, also known as the Flying Lady, has become a symbol of status and class for the world’s elite.

In this article, we will explore the history of the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot and why it has become such an integral part of the Rolls-Royce brand.

The Story of the Spirit of Ecstasy

The Spirit of Ecstasy was first introduced in 1911 and was designed by Charles Sykes, a sculptor from London. The ornament was created at the request of John Scott Montagu, a motoring enthusiast, and friend of Sykes, who was also the editor of The Car Illustrated magazine.

Montagu commissioned Sykes to design a statue that would grace the bonnet of his Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Sykes was inspired by a love affair between Montagu and a woman named Eleanor Thornton, who was Montagu’s secretary and personal assistant.

Sykes created a statue that depicted Thornton with her arms outstretched and her clothing flowing behind her as if she were flying. The statue was made of silver and was mounted on the car’s radiator cap. The Spirit of Ecstasy was born.

Evolution of Rolls-Royce's Spirit of EcstasyThe mascot quickly became popular among Rolls-Royce owners, and it wasn’t long before the company began offering it as an optional extra on their cars. The ornament underwent several design changes over the years, but the basic concept remained the same.

Today, the Spirit of Ecstasy is still a fixture on Rolls-Royce cars and has become an iconic symbol of the brand.

Symbolism and Meaning

The Spirit of Ecstasy is more than just a decorative ornament. It has a deep and symbolic meaning that has become part of the Rolls-Royce legacy.

The statue’s outstretched arms represent the spirit of forward motion, while the flowing robes symbolize the speed and power of the Rolls-Royce car. The wings behind the figure’s back also represent speed, as well as the idea of flight and freedom.

Furthermore, the Spirit of Ecstasy is seen as a symbol of perfection, beauty, and elegance. It embodies the spirit of the Rolls-Royce brand and represents the company’s commitment to excellence and quality.

The Spirit of Ecstasy is also a tribute to Eleanor Thornton, who tragically died in 1915 when the ship she was on was torpedoed by a German U-boat during World War I. The mascot stands as a lasting tribute to her memory and her connection to the Rolls-Royce brand.

Controversies and Design Changes

Over the years, the Spirit of Ecstasy has been at the center of several controversies and design changes.

One of the most significant changes occurred during World War II when Rolls-Royce decided to remove the statue from its cars to prevent it from being stolen by the enemy. The company replaced the statue with a plain chrome cap, and it wasn’t until 1946 that the Spirit of Ecstasy returned to Rolls-Royce cars.

Evolution of Rolls-Royce's Spirit of EcstasyAnother controversy arose in the 1970s when the company introduced a retractable version of the Spirit of Ecstasy to prevent theft. The mechanism was deemed unreliable, and the feature was eventually removed from all Rolls-Royce models.

In recent years, Rolls-Royce has introduced a new, illuminated version of the Spirit of Ecstasy. The new ornament is made of frosted glass and lights up at night, providing a unique and modern twist on the classic design.


The Spirit of Ecstasy is an integral part of the Rolls-Royce brand, and its iconic design and symbolism have made it one of the most recognizable automotive mascots in the world. While controversies and design changes have occurred over the years, the basic concept of the mascot has remained the same, and it continues to represent the spirit of Rolls-Royce.

The Spirit of Ecstasy is more than just a decorative feature, it is a symbol of speed, power, elegance, and perfection. It is a tribute to Eleanor Thornton, and it stands as a reminder of the company’s commitment to excellence and quality.

If you are a car enthusiast, you know that a Rolls-Royce is more than just a car, it is a statement of status and class. And the Spirit of Ecstasy is a symbol of that status and class, a badge of honor that tells the world that you are driving one of the world’s most luxurious automobiles.

So the next time you see a Rolls-Royce on the road, take a moment to admire the Spirit of Ecstasy perched on its bonnet. It is a symbol of the history, craftsmanship, and prestige that make Rolls-Royce one of the most iconic brands in the world.

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