In addition to the E Type and Midget anniversaries being celebrated this year the folks at Rolls Royce would like you to know that they also have a reason to party. The world renowned Rolls Royce radiator mascot 'Spirit of Ecstasy' is 100 years old this year.
Radiator mascots were all the rage in the early days of motoring with special designs being commissioned with an eye to out-do other posh automobile owners. Mascots could be anything that the car's owner could dream up and that was what lead Rolls Royce to search for one that captured the essence of driving ( or rather, being driven in ) a Rolls Royce automobile. It just wouldn't do to have something vulgar on a Rolls.
Charles R. Sykes was given the task of designing the mascot that would become forever associated with the luxury marque. Sykes chose as his model one Eleanor Velasco Thornton, secretary and life long mistress of Edward Douglas-Scott Montagu. This was not the first time that Sykes sculpted a mascot using Thornton for his inspiration; he created a similar mascot for Lord Montagu earlier for his personal Rolls.
This year, Rolls Royce has created a special edition (aren't all Rollers special?) called the Centenary Collection. Along with special paint colors and a unique dashboard clock, the proud owner will have a replica statuette for the mantel or bookcase. In case the occasion is lost on your front seat passenger, the glovebox lid is inscribed with this quote from Charles Sykes:
"A graceful little goddess, the Spirit of Ecstasy, who has selected road travel as her supreme delight and alighted on the prow of a Rolls-Royce motor car to revel in the freshness of the air and the musical sound of her fluttering draperies." - Charles Sykes, 1911
It almost sounds like Eleanor has a bit of indigestion...