In case you needed any more reminding that the future of EV’s is firmly upon us, the world’s greatest luxury car manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, is reimagining its most famous emblem in a bid to achieve new levels of aerodynamic performance and grace. 111-years after it was first registered as intellectual property, the emblem is set to debut on the upcoming all-electric Rolls-Royce Spectre, where it will help usher in a new generation of vehicles positioned to be quieter and more luxurious than ever.
A Brief History: Rolls-Royce
While the Spirit of Ecstasy was trademarked on February 6th, 1911, its origin history dates back even further with a tantalizing tale involving love affairs, Britain’s first car magazine, and an illustrator.
In short, the emblem on the bonnet was first a custom trophy sculptured by Charles Robinson Sykes for John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu. Charles was an illustrator for Britain’s first car magazine The Car Illustrated founded by Montagu. Montagu was in the midst of a 13-year affair with his office manager Eleanor and during the affair, Sykes handed Montagu a figure of a woman with a forefinger to her lips (whispering). Montagu would display the trophy on every Rolls-Royce car he owned in the years after. Many believe it to be modeled on Eleanor Thornton, but the face better resembles a woman with who Sykes had a close relationship with – his mother.
While the mascot today resembles the pure definition of success for anyone lucky enough to pilot a Rolls, it’s not often appreciated that the Spirit of Ecstasy was an ‘Optional Extra’ right up until 1939. Sir Henry Royce was vocal about his disapproval of mascots and as such only about 40% of the 20,000 or so cars delivered during this period sported the figure. Of course, many were later retrofitted. Even more impressive to note is that from 1911, every figurine was personally cast, inscribed, and hand-finished by Charles Sykes himself – until 1928.
So what’s changed for this new application on the Rolls-Royce Spectre?
Today, the figurine is made using materials that date back 5000-years, check out this video.
She now features a lower, more dynamic stance that brings her much closer to the drawings made by her original creator, Charles Sykes. The new Spirit of Ecstasy stands 82.73mm tall, compared to her predecessor’s 100.01mm, and her robes, which flow behind her in the slipstream – often but erroneously characterized as ‘wings’ – have been subtly reshaped to make them more aerodynamic and realistic.
The most visible change is her stance. Previously, she has stood with her feet together, legs straight and tilting at the waist. Now, she is a true goddess of speed, braced for the wind, one leg forward, body tucked low, her eyes focused eagerly ahead. These changes have both practical and stylistic benefits, contributing to Spectre’s remarkable aerodynamic properties. The earliest Spectre prototypes have a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.26, making it the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever created. We expect those figures to get even slipperier as development continues.