How Rolls-Royce Makes It Really Hard to Steal Hood Ornaments

Shelby Rogers

Car hood ornaments -- particularly those on luxury vehicles -- can be hot commodities on illegal markets. The most famous of all hood ornaments is the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy. After thousands of owners complained about losing hood ornaments, the company decided to strike back.

Now, if thieves or sticky fingers attempt to remove the Spirit of Ecstasy a slight tug will cause the figure to disappear into the car hood. It won't reappear until the owner manually presses a dashboard button to restore the hood ornament.

This feature comes standard on any 'modern' Rolls-Royce made after 2004. It will protect the stainless steel/sterling silver/gold plated winged figures from potential theft. Standard figures can resale for roughly $2,000 USD (£1,540 GBP), and that's just for the traditional stainless steel plated figures.

The Rolls-Royce figurine has an impressive history all its own. The Spirit of Ecstasy was inspired by the goddess Nike. However, designer Charles Robinson Sykes also took note of a secret romance between an automotive pioneer and his mistress. Eleanor Velasco Thornton served as the model for the emblem. She had an affair with John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, a baron. Thornton was his secretary and they maintained a secret relationship for nearly a decade. When Sykes was approached to make a Rolls-Royce "mascot," he used Eleanor as his muse.

Charles Sykes later said it was "a graceful little goddess, the Spirit of Ecstasy, who has selected road travel as her supreme delight and alighted on the prow of a Rolls-Royce motor car to revel in the freshness of the air and the musical sound of her fluttering draperies."