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Rolls-Royce celebrates brand history with Centenary drive

February 8, 2011

Rolls-Royce marks an anniversary with Centenary drive


Rolls-Royce celebrated the 100th anniversary of its iconic hood mascot, The Spirit of Ecstasy, with a grand procession of branded vehicles in London on Feb. 6.

The Spirit of Ecstasy has been fitted to Rolls Royce vehicles since 1911. The drive celebrated the brand’s British heritage, as well as the rich history of the mascot.

“We needed to do something appropriate to celebrate such an important milestone,” said Nigel Wonnacott, product public relations manager at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, London. “The Spirit of Ecstasy is a genuine global icon and the passing of 100 years needed to be marked in an appropriate occasion, and in style.

“We were recognizing the rich history of the brand while pointing to the fact that we’re looking forward to the next 100 years with a strong product lineup that is appropriate to the world-famous figurine,” he said.

A drive down memory lane

The Rolls-Royce procession drove through central London, making its way through the capital’s streets and past important brand landmarks.

The route passed the birthplace of Charles Rolls and the site of the studio where Charles Sykes is thought to have created the Spirit of Ecstasy design. It also passed traditional British landmarks such as Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus.


The Rolls-Royce Centenary drive

One hundred Rolls-Royce Ghost and Phantom models showcased the Spirit of Ecstasy with the inscription “Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary – 2011” etched onto the base of each statuette.

The Phantom and Ghost vehicles produced at the 21st century headquarters in Goodwood, Britain, headed the parade, followed by classic and vintage models.

Classic and vintage models included Silver Ghosts, Silver Clouds, Silver Shadows and Silver Spurs.

Present were members of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club, VIPs and media guests.

“We are a British company and hosting a Centenary drive in London, one of the most iconic world capitals, is in many ways a home capital for the Rolls-Royce brand,” Mr. Wonnacott said. “The procession of past and present Rolls-Royce cars on the streets of London with Big Ben framed in the background helps to solidify the pinnacle British nature of the brand.

“The famous symbol on the famous cars in a famous city adds to the richness of the Rolls-Royce experience,” he said.

The Spirit herself

Rolls-Royce considers the Spirit of Ecstasy a very important part of the brand’s history.


The Spirit of Ecstasy with the Centenary inscription on the base

Designed in London in 1911 by designer Charles Sykes, the brand is inextricably linked with the iconic woman posted on the front of every Rolls-Royce car.

“The Spirit of Ecstasy is unique insofar that she inspires people,” Mr. Wonnacott said. “She means so many things to so many people.

“To some she represents pinnacle of automotive aspiration, freedom of the open road or the slightly ethereal sense of pride that comes with owning one of the finest cars in the world,” he said. “The Spirit adds value because it symbolizes the brand, and it is impossible to separate it from Rolls-Royce.”

Final Take

Footage from the Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary drive