Rolls Royce’s new Spirit of Ecstasy & other iconic hood ornaments

Schenelle Dsouza
Rolls Royce celebrated its 111th birthday in style unveiling its new and updated Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament recently. The new Spirit of Ecstasy will make its first appearance on the luxury marque’s first and upcoming EV – The Spectre.
 Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy
Photo Courtesy: Rolls Royce
Compared to the previous flying lady, the new ornament is slightly smaller in size, 0.7 inches shorter to be specific. Another noticeable change is the position of the flying lady. Instead of being tilted at the waist, with her legs straight and feet together, she is now slightly crouched, with one bent leg in front of the other. The robes of the Spirit of Ecstasy have also been reshaped.
 Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy
Photo Courtesy: Rolls Royce
While the changes in the Spirit of Ecstasy are new, the new Silver Lady is said to resemble the original drawings by illustrator and sculptor Charles Sykes more closely. He had designed the original Spirit of Ecstasy which went on to become one of the most iconic hood ornaments among luxury cars.
Aside from Rolls Royce, several luxury car brands too had their own unique hood ornaments. Originally hood ornaments were created as fashionable radiator caps with thermostats to maintain the radiator pressure. Over time, however, hood ornaments became more of a fashion statement; a status symbol and a signature design for the said brand. As these became popular, car manufacturers all began to design their own brand ornament delivering some of the most elaborate yet versatile designs.
Take a look at some of the most iconic creations below.
Bentley – Flying B
Bentley Flying B
Photo Courtesy: Bentley
Designed in 1919, Bentley’s Flying B hood ornament first appeared on the brand’s ‘Bentley 3 Litre’ car model in that same year. Characterised with the letter B (for Bentley of course) and flying wings which symbolised Bentley’s best-known feature at that time – speed. It is now available on request for limited models like the Azure, Arnage, Brooklands and Mulsanne.
Bugatti – Dancing Elephant
Bugatti Dancing Elephant
Photo Courtesy: Bugatti
Designed by the brand’s founder Ettore Bugatti’s brother Rembrandt Bugatti, the Dancing Elephant was first used on the Type 41 car in 1927. The iconic mascot was later replaced by the ‘Bugatti Macaron Badge’ after the company was bought by the Volkswagen Group. In 2014, Bugatti unveiled the Rembrandt Bugatti car to pay homage to the man behind the Dancing Elephant emblem.
Buick – Goddess
Buick – Goddess
Photo Courtesy: Buick
Created in 1933, Buick’s Goddess logo has an ominous story behind it. It is said to be a tribute to acclaimed American dancer Isadora Duncan. In 1927, Duncan was riding through Nice, France when her scarf got entangled in the rear axle, causing her to die of strangulation. The emblem features a dancer just like Duncan, wearing nothing but a scarf that blowing in the wind.
Jaguar – Leaper
Jaguar – Leaper
Photo Courtesy: Jaguar
Unlike other brands on this list, the Jaguar Leaper can still be found on several models today. Introduced in 1940, the ornament features a sleek silver Jaguar in mid-leap. Previously Jaguar’s official symbol was the “Roaring Jaguar” badge, which was discontinued after the new Leaping Jaguar emblem.
Lincoln – Greyhound
Lincoln - Greyhound
Photo Courtesy: Lincoln
Before Jaguar’s Leaper came the Lincoln Greyhound. Created in partnership with Ford, the leaping Greyhound was developed in 1922 to reignite public interest in Lincoln. However, the Greyhound remained in production only for about a decade as it was discontinued in the late 1930s. Despite its short run, the Greyhound was greatly appreciated and stood as inspiration for animal hood ornaments for many brands.
Mack – Bulldog
Mack – Bulldog
Photo Courtesy: Mack Trucks
Another impressive animal hood ornament is the Mack Bulldog. While it was a truck and not a luxury car, the bulldog was still quite a popular symbol. Resembling a British bulldog, the Mack Bulldog was designed in 1932 by Chief Engineer Alfred Fellows Masury. Some Mack trucks featured a gold plated bulldog instead of the grey metal one, which indicated that the truck was 100 per cent Mack with an all Mack drivetrain, motor, transmission, as well as axles.
Maybach – Double M
Maybach – Double M
Photo Courtesy: Maybach
Started by Wilhelm Maybach in 1909, Maybach once had its own legendary hood ornament, the Double M. While the Double M has been replaced by Mercedes’ iconic three-pointed star emblem, the original Maybach ornament makes a few appearances in the interiors of Maybach models, on pillows and other amenities.
Mercedes-Benz – Three-Pointed Star
Mercedes-Benz – Three-Pointed Star
Photo Courtesy: Mercedes-Benz
The most popular emblem on this list has to be the Mercedes-Benz Three-Pointed Star. Introduced in 1910, the three-pointed star has undergone several changes over the years, from a wreath to a badge and finally the hood ornament. While some models still have the hood piece, others have the three-star emblem fitted on the grille.
Packard – Goddess of Speed
Packard – Goddess of Speed
Photo Courtesy: Packard
Packard had quite a few hood ornaments including a swan, pelican and cormorant. The most popular one, however, was the Goddess of Speed created in 1938.  Designed by John D. Wilson, the Goddess of Speed was based on Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. The ornament features a silver-plated woman with an outstretched arm holding on to a tire.
Pontiac – Chief Pontiac
Pontiac Chief Pontiac
Photo Courtesy: Pontiac
An ornament that stands out the most on this list is Chief Pontiac. The original design created in 1930 featured the head of a Native American Chief of the Odawa tribe. It later saw modifications with the head being attached to a jet plane in the 1950s. The head itself is made of amber coloured glass that glows beautifully during the day.
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