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Any brand with a decent bit of history behind it is bound to have a few stories in its files. Take, for instance, Rolls Royce’s famous hood ornament, a statuette with enough history to have a movie deal behind it.

The movie is The Silver Ghost, set to star Christian Bale and currently making the pre-production rounds. But the story itself is better than you might think.

The model for the iconic angel figurine was Eleanor Thornton, the secretary of Tory MP and motoring enthusiast Lord Montagu. The pair worked together on Montagu’s *Car Illustrated* and carried out a thirteen-year affair until Thornton’s dramatic death in 1915, when a ship she was traveling on was sunk by a German torpedo. It was Montagu’s friend Charles Sykes who cast Thornton in metal to be placed on the hood of Montagu’s personal Rolls. The figurine, officially titled “The Spirit of Ecstacy”—we can imagine why—caught the imagination of a few executives and became the brand’s most recognizable symbol.

The film will be helmed by Lord Attenborough, whose previous projects took on the lives of Gandhi and C. S. Lewis, so we imagine it will have the same atmosphere of English restraint he’s used to, but the story is a great deal steamier than the average Merchant-Ivory production.

After all, they may call it “motoring,” but we know fast cars and fast women when we see them.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom