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Above: The original “Spirit of Ecstasy” cast in bronze. First used on 6 February 1911, it was designed by Charles Sykes and is probably modeled on Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Thornton was the secretary and lover of John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, a friend of Sykes and an early motoring enthusiast who commissioned the first statuette for his own Rolls Royce. Claude Johnson of Rolls-Royce described how Sykes had sought to convey the image of "the spirit of ecstasy, who has selected road travel as her supreme delight......

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......she is expressing her keen enjoyment, with her arms outstretched and her sight fixed upon the distance." Because of this, the statue was also nicknamed "Nelly in her Nighty". Until 1914 the statuettes were silver-plated but currently they are made from stainless steel, but can be ordered in sterling silver and 24-carat gold.

To better protect this hood ornament from theft, Rolls Royce has made it retractable on most of its newer vehicles, such as the 2007 Rolls-Royce Phantom. Within the vehicle, there is a button which can immediately retract/extend the hood ornament when pressed
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