News feature: Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary Drive

Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary Drive tuned heads and stopped traffic

2011 is set to be a year full of anniversaries. Ford of Britain’s 100 year celebrations and 60 years of the Toyota Land Cruiser are just two highlights.

Rolls-Royce can claim to be first out of the gate, however. The famous car maker is celebrating its own centenary, as the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy is 100 years old. There was a short delay between the initial build of cars and the inclusion of the statue, but according to the history books that was rectified on February 6 1911 thanks to the sculptor Charles Sykes.

And by way of a happy coincidence, the anniversary fell on a Sunday, allowing Rolls-Royce to gather 100 cars new and old – but mainly old – for a drive through London. Among their number were examples of Silver Ghosts, Silver Clouds, Silver Shadows and Silver Spurs from all eras, plus a handful of new, Goodwood-built models.

The choice of location was no accident, as the route passed a few notable landmarks in Rolls-Royce history. From a starting point in Belgravia, the 100 cars took in the birthplace of Charles Rolls in Hill Street, Mayfair; the site of the studio where sculptor Charles Sykes is thought to have created his famous Spirit of Ecstasy design on Brompton Road; and Berkeley Square, the 21st century home of Rolls-Royce in London.

Famous London landmarks such as Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus were also paid a visit en route to the gathering’s final stop at the Great Conservatory at Syon House in West London, the home of the Duke of Northumberland.

Tourists and Londoners were treated to a rare sight, Rolls-Royce got to celebrate a milestone in its long and illustrious history in unrepeatable style and the rain stayed away on a typically chilly British weekend. A good day was had by all.

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