The new figurine will debut on Rolls' first EV, the Spectre.
The Spirit of Ecstasy is among the most identifiable figures in the automotive world. Appearing on the hood of all Rolls-Royce models, the figurine was designed in 1911 by famous British artist Charles Sykes. Since then, the SOE has remained largely unchanged, with only two brief periods in history (1934-1939 and 1946-1956) seeing major variations with a kneeling version of the statuette. Various materials have also been used, with finishes even including illuminated frosted glass. But ahead of the first mainstream EV to be produced by the automaker, the Rolls-Royce Spectre, Rolls has redesigned the famous figurine.
The announcement comes on the 111th anniversary of the day the original Spirit of Ecstasy was registered (February 6, 1911), and serves a bold new purpose. The development of modern EVs is accompanied by the pursuit of efficiency, and the new figurine has been developed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind, taking 830 hours of modeling and wind tunnel testing to achieve the final result. The Spirit of Ecstasy is now smaller than before, measuring 3.26 inches tall compared to the previous iteration's 3.94-inch height. The robes of the figure, which many have mistaken for wings, have been redesigned too, to not only be more aerodynamic, but more realistic in their appearance, too. But the biggest change is in the Spirit's stance. Whereas she previously stood with her legs together, leaning forward into the wind, she now stands with one leg forward and her body tucked low, powerfully pushing forward as "a true goddess of speed."
Rolls-Royce claims that early prototypes of the Spectre equipped with the new Spirit of Ecstasy have seen drag coefficients of just 0.26, which is remarkable given the proportions and size of the Spectre, and the fact that the Pantheon grille will remain a core design element of electric Rolls models going forward. The Spirit will still be manufactured using the same classic techniques of old, namely 'lost wax casting' or 'cire-perdue', but as before, each figurine will be finished by hand. Rolls says this is not only a subtle nod to all Spirits of Ecstasy produced before 1939 (each handmade by Sykes himself) but a show of the human element involved in the production of each car and an intriguing contrast to the highly precise engineering of each vehicle.
The new version will appear on all new vehicles, while the old version will be retained on models like the Phantom, Ghost, Wraith, Dawn, and Cullinan.
"The Spirit of Ecstasy is the most famous and desirable automotive mascot in the world," says Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce. "More than just a symbol, she is the embodiment of our brand, and a constant source of inspiration and pride for the marque and its clients. Like our brand, she has always moved with the times while staying true to her nature and character. In her new form she is more streamlined and graceful than ever before - the perfect emblem for the most aerodynamic Rolls-Royce ever created, and for gracing the prow of our bold electric future."