The Rolls-Royce Spirit Of Ecstasy Was Nearly Inspired By Nike
The famous Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy is celebrating her 112th birthday, and she's still looking pretty fine, it has to be said. Rolls-Royce first filed intellectual property rights for the mascot on 6 February 1911, and ever since, she's been associated with grace, elegance, and wealth. She is also the most famous mascot of them all.
She's also known by other names. Throughout the years, she's been called the Silver Lady, Flying Lady, and Eleanor. While the latter is more commonly associated with a Mustang these days, the name comes from the woman who posed for the original sculpture. The idea for the lady did not come from Rolls-Royce but rather from John Montagu-Scott, the second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. The Baron chose Eleanor Velasco Thornton as the model and asked the sculptor, Charles Robinson Sykes, to make a personal mascot for his Roller.
According to legend, the first mascot was a woman in flying robes with one finger on her lips, possibly hinting at an affair between the model and the owner. It was pretty scandalous for the time.
The rumored affair has relevance because other Rolls-Royce owners followed in the Baron's footsteps and had custom mascots made for their cars. Apparently, these mascots were "inappropriate." The rich can be just as obnoxious and obscene as the working class. We're guessing some guys put a mascot of a woman voting, voicing an opinion, or, heaven forbid, wearing pants.
Rolls-Royce was not pleased with lewd and disrespectful sculptures finding their way to its cars, so it approached the previously mentioned Sykes to carve a new emblem. Rolls-Royce wanted its ornament to be inspired by Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. After sending Sykes to find inspiration at the Louvre, where many sculptures and artworks of Nike were displayed, he hood.com/blogs/tags/came">came away unimpressed. His mind returned to Eleanor, and he decided to depict her in a different pose.=
The result is the Flying Lady as we know her now, with her arms stretched back and her robes flying through the air.
She's gone through many changes through the years, but the pose has remained the same. The most significant change came with the introduction of the first-generation modern Phantom, which allowed owners to hide her in the hood.
The second significant upgrade came with the introduction of the all-electric Spectre. As we know, EVs must be extremely slippery, so she needed to lose a bit of weight. Rolls-Royce tried illuminating the lady in 2020, but the European Union was offended by the light pollution. We kid you not. Poor Eleanor can't catch a break.
Hood ornaments are mostly a thing of the past but are traditionally associated with wealth, which explains why Cadillac is bringing the Goddess back for the Celestiq. If you're going to aim at Rolls-Royce, you need a hood emblem. Then again, can any capture the magnificence and grace of a supreme luxury car as well as Eleanor?