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Badgeology ROLLS-ROYCE

  • Carsguide

No bonnet ornament has lasted longer than the Roll-Royce "Spirit of Ecstacy''.

The reason it's there goes back to the turn of the 20th century when a temperature gauge called a motometer sat atop the radiator.

To make them more attractive, carmakers gave them wings or other adornments. By the 1920s, the water temperature gauge moved to the dashboard and the motometer was replaced with a radiator cap with an ornament. The bigger and more impressive the ornament, the greater the status of the car and the people in it.

Rolls-Royce commissioned English sculptor Charles Sykes to create a radiator ornament in 1911. The result was the silver lady with wings that still signifies the Rolls-Royce brand, although the lady now automatically retreats into the bonnet when the car is unattended.

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