The image of a Rolls-Royce has long been inseparable from the famous hood ornament of a woman with her arms spread out behind her, her clothes billowing in the wind.
The statuette is officially known as the “Spirit of Ecstasy” and dates back to the early days of the automaker.
It was created by British sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes.
Sykes made the first version of the hood ornament for motoring enthusiast Lord Montagu. His model was Montagu’s secretary and mistress, Eleanor Thornton, according to The Telegraph.
Soon after, Rolls-Royce, annoyed that its customers were making up their own hood ornaments, commissioned Sykes to create a similar statue for all its cars. The Spirit of Ecstasy has been standard on Rolls-Royces since the 1920s.
Since 2003, Polycast Limited, based in Southampton, has been responsible for making the Spirit of Ecstasy. Today, it churns out about 5,500 per year.
Reuters photographer Stefan Wermuth went behind the scenes to see how they do it.
[An earlier version of this story was written by Alex Davies.]
Southampton-based Polycast Limited has been responsible for making the Spirit of Ecstasy since 2003. It now makes about 5,500 per year.
The details are fine enough to make out the features of Eleanor Thornton, the secretary who modelled for the original version.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.