antique rolls-royce model with lights on and hood ornament

The History Behind the Spirit of Ecstasy

What Is the Meaning Behind the Rolls-Royce Hood Ornament Symbol? 

One of the most famous icons in the automotive world is that which is found on the hood of each Rolls-Royce model. For Rolls-Royce drivers, enthusiasts and even just the general automotive world, the image of a woman, leaning forward, with wings stretched out behind her, as if she is about to lift off from the ground, is instantly recognizable and associated with Rolls-Royce. 

But what is the meaning behind the famous Rolls-Royce hood ornament, and what, if anything, does it symbolize? Indeed, the symbol does have a history and purpose, so let’s dive into a little background. 

spiriti of ecstasy with stars and a faceWhat Is the Name of the Rolls-Royce Symbol? 

This figurine, as you might call it, does actually have a name. It’s called the Spirit of Ecstasy. After all, that’s quite fitting for the types of cars Rolls-Royce makes. 

What even some Rolls-Royce owners may not know is that the Spirit of Ecstasy was not the first icon to adorn the hood of Rolls-Royce models. Initially, there was no mascot other than the Rolls-Royce emblem, but in 1909 a sculptor was asked by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu to create a mascot for his Rolls-Royce hood. The resulting figurine was that of a woman in fluttering robes with a finger to her lips. The hood ornament was given the name, “The Whisper.” 

[Read more: Why does Aston Martin name their cars with the initials DB?] 

History of the Spirit of Ecstasy 

closeup of futuristic rolls-royce grille and headlights with spirit of ecstasy hood ornamentSince this type of hood ornament was fashionable at the time, many Rolls-Royce owners took it upon themselves to affix their own personal figurines to the car, some of which were not necessarily befitting of a Rolls-Royce.  

The Spirit of Ecstasy was the icon that lived on, of course, also going by the name of Silver Lady or the Flying Lady. Its creation began in 1910 when Rolls-Royce decided to accommodate the stylistic desires of its customers. Using the “The Whisper” mentioned above as the starting point, a variation of the hood ornament was created and called “The Spirit of Speed,” and this later turned into the “Spirit of Ecstasy.” 

The ornament was initially optional, but since it ended up being put on almost any Rolls-Royce that rolled out of the factory, it was then made a standard feature in the 1920s. Today, the Spirit of Ecstasy has been made available in a few variations, from stainless steel to gold-plated. The ornament can also be retracted into the hood when moved suddenly, keeping it safe from theft and for safety purposes. 

With some many features to be in awe of on today’s Rolls-Royce models, the Spirit of Ecstasy may seem like a small detail, but it has a storied history and remains one of the most iconic symbols in the automotive world. To see it for yourself and all else available in a Rolls-Royce, check out or inventory or contact us at St. Louis Motorcars.