Motor Museum Part 4

1 : Introduction
2 : Motor Museum
3 : SOE Exhibit
4 : Gardens
5 : Beaulieu Abbey
6 : Palace House
7 : James Bond Exhibit


The Mercedes Benz logo was designed in 1909 by Gottlieb Daimler and is a three point star encircled by a ring.

The three points in the Mercedes Benz logo design indicated that Mercedes Benz had created transport products for sea, sky and land.


The logo pictured above is on a 1928 Mercedes Benz 36/220 S Type which was one of the first cars to appear after the amalgamation of Daimler and Benz in 1926.

Designed by Dr Ferdinand Porsche, the supercharged S Type has since become one of the most desirable of all vintage sports cars.

This 1928 example, YX5964, was once owned by Peter Ustinov - the Museum has recently restored it to its original condition.

Only 146 examples of this model were made.

Year : 1928
Country : Germany
Capacity : 6,789cc
Cylinders : 6
Maximum speed : 110mph (64.37kms/hr)
Price new : £110


The Baby Austin fulfilled Sir Herbert's ambition of a 'motor for the millions'. It was one of the most significent of British cars.

Introduced in 1922, the mass produced Baby Austin combined big car features with a low price making other small cars virtually obsolete. In just a few years the Austin Seven changed the face of British motoring and the fortunes of the Austin Motor Company.

The Austin Seven was introduced in July 1922 as an affordable alternative to the motorcycle combination. A scaled down version of the popular post-war one Austins, earlier cars of this size and price were mostly crude 'cyclecars'.

Described as 'real motoring in miniature' the Austin Seven boasted four-wheel brakes, which was rare at the time.

Affectionately dubbed the 'Chummy', the Tourer model shown here was the first. The car was an immediate success and soon proved itself in sporting competition.

Year : 1923
Country : Britain
Capacity : 747cc
Cylinders : In Line 4
Valves : Side Maximum speed : 50mph (80.4kms/hr)
Price new : £165
Manufacturer : Austin Motor Co. Ltd


The Alpine Eagle was a sporting version of the Silver Ghost. It was so named because the Rolls-Royce team swept the board in the 1913 Austrian Alpine Trials. After this success replicas went into production where they were sold as the Continental.

This car, AA43, had long been the property of coachbuilder Leslie Willis who made it available to the Beaulieu Trust in 1977 at a very generous price. It was purchased with the help of a grant from the London Science Museum.

Year : 1914
Country : Britain
Capacity : 7428cc
Cylinders : 6
Output : 1.75hp at 1,500rpm
Maximum speed : 82mph (131.97kms/hr)
Price new (chassis only) : £985
Manufacturer : Rolls-Royce Ltd

'SPIRIT OF ECSTASY' (right and bottom)

(The following edited and acknowledged information is largely taken from 'Wikipedia'.)

The 'Spirit of Ecstasy', also called 'Emily', 'Silver Lady' or 'Flying Lady', was designed by English sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes and is in the form of a woman leaning forwards with her arms outstretched behind and above her. Billowing cloth runs from her arms to her back, resembling wings.

Its creation carries with it a story about a secret affair between John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu (Second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu after 1905) and his secret love and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Velasco Thornton.

Eleanor was John Walter's secretary, and their love was to remain hidden, apart from being limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade.

The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which formed an obstacle to their love. John-Walter, succumbing to family pressures, married Lady Cecil Victoria Constance, although the secret love affair continued after this.

Eleanor died on 30 December 1915 when the 'SS Persia', on which she accompanied Lord Montagu on his journey to India, was torpedoed off Crete by a German submarine. This was four years after she had been immortalized by her lover.

Claude Johnson, managing director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars around 1910, had turned to Charles Sykes, a young artist friend and a graduate of London's Royal College of Art, to produce a mascot which would adorn all future Rolls-Royce cars and become generic to the marque. Its specifications should convey "the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace..."

Sykes chose Eleanor Thornton (left) as his model' and originally crafted a figurine of her in fluttering robes, pressing a finger against her lips - to symbolize the secrets of their love. The figurine was consequently named 'The Whisper'. (See Part 1)

Later, Sykes chose to modify 'The Whisper' into a version similar to today's; 'The Spirit of Ecstasy'. He called the first model 'The Spirit of Speed'. Subsequently the name was changed and described by Sykes as : "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." He presented the mascot to the company in February 1911.

Some critics and fans of the Rolls Royce have given 'The Spirit of Ecstasy' the dubious nickname 'Ellie in her Nightie', suggesting Eleanor's influence as Sykes' muse.

Claude Johnson, however, devised a description of 'The Spirit of Ecstasy', and described how Sykes had sought to convey the image of "the spirit of ecstasy, who has selected road travel as her supreme delight......she is expressing her keen enjoyment, with her arms outstretched and her sight fixed upon the distance."

Royce was ill during the commissioning of the 'Flying Lady' as it was otherwise known. He did not believe the figurine enhanced the cars, asserting that it impaired the driver's view, and he was rarely seen driving one of his company's vehicles adorned with the mascot.

Sykes' signature appeared on the plinth and were either signed "Charles Sykes, February 1911" or "Feb 6, 1911" or "6.2.11". Even after Rolls-Royce took over the casting of the figures in 1948 each 'Spirit of Ecstasy' continued to receive this inscription until 1951.

Royce made sure it was officially listed as an optional extra, but in practice it was fitted to almost all cars after that year, having become a standard fitting in the early 1920s.

Automobiles change with the times, and the 'Spirit of Ecstasy' was no exception. It was silver plated from 1911 until 1914 when the mascot was made with nickel or chrome alloy to dissuade theft. The only departure from this came in Paris at the competition for the most apposite mascot of 1920, where a gold-plated version won first place. Gold-plated versions were subsequently available at additional cost.

Although it seems unchanged, the mascot had eleven main variations in its life. Lowered height of coachwork forced subsequent reductions in the mascot size. Consequently, several alterations in the original design were made. For instance, Sykes was once again commissioned by Rolls-Royce in the 1930s to make a lower version of the mascot to suit the sports saloons.

An early version below is to be found in the Montagu section of the museum.

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