The Spirit of Ecstasy

449A26D6-7E29-4A46-BB11-52AE62F7EBE6

I saw a program on TV recently about the Bentley Bentayga, the new signature 4×4 developed by the luxury brand to appeal to a new market and selling at significantly over $200,000. The iconic Jack Barclay showroom in London’s Berkeley Square has been updated to cater for this new market with an extensive and slightly brutal makeover.

I don’t want to sound at all grumpy old bloke about this development, the car certainly does look refined and comfortable, albeit that it could be easily mistaken for an Audi Q7, but I get a little worried by the need for brands to extend – to reach out to a new market.  Arguably the brand needs updating but should they resist the temptation to simply following the crowd? Or is it that these cars are intended to be highly aspirational but are simply not special enough.

9B00084E-8D8E-4641-AD57-D6CA9890F21D

The Bentley “B” on the bonnet is still in place but the bonnet ornament – the chrome winged “B” is no longer – almost certainly for good Health and Safety, if not aerodynamic, reasons. Sadly, it seems a thing of the past. Well not for all manufacturers …and being fair the winged “B” does appear on the bonnet of the beautiful Bentley Mulsanne.

B94D97F0-5220-40E4-B986-1D878518954D

Originally conceived as a way of making a dull radiator cover more attractive only Rolls-Royce and Mercedes seem to continue the fine tradition of bonnet ornaments. The most iconic of these pieces of classic automobilia is, of course, The Spirit of Ecstasy.

In 1909 the then Lord Montagu of Beaulieu – a family inextricably linked to the world of motor cars and the founder of The Car Illustrated – sought something distinctive for the bonnet of his new Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. He commissioned sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes to produce a limited run of four figurines that became known as “The Whisperer”.

Some myth and legend surrounds the model, the sculptur’s muse, but it is said to be the Lord’s secret love, Eleanor Velasco Thornton, a Secretary from his office. Ms Thornton is depicted in flowing robes with her index-finger to her lips, perhaps keeping their love a secret? The affair is rumored to have endured for over ten years.

2ADD6CA3-78FB-448A-AC7E-C1F2A67B28EC

By 1910 Rolls-Royce took a “dim view” as to the appropriateness of these ornaments and co-founder, Claude Johnson, commissioned Sykes to invoke the mythical beauty of Nike – the Goddess of Victory – to produce a dignified and graceful mascot. Sykes wasn’t so impressed by the brief but preferred to deliver the beautiful, “The Spirit of Ecstasy”.

It was a clear variation of The Whisperer but Johnson was very pleased with Sykes’ creation on its arrival in February 1911. Royce, however, who was then ill, felt it disturbed the driver’s view!

F1570BC8-02FE-4462-AFAE-318F67D4A9F9

Initially an optional extra by the early 1920’s the figurine was fitted as standard. Given changes to coach-work various versions of The Spirit of Ecstasy were used and in the 1934 Sykes was again commissioned to produce a kneeling version for the Phantom iV.

1349BFD0-FF41-4D66-89CE-66C0DB3A4330

As of 2003 – the Phantom model and all subsequent versions carrying a reduced the Spirit of Ecstasy only 3 inches tall and mounted onot a spring-loaded cradle that retracts when hit or the engine is turned off. Some years and a smart use of technology resulted in this retractable mount that clearly suggests Rolls-Royce’s determination to ensure the longevity of their iconic sculpture.

Whilst the majority are stainless steel a frosted crystal, illuminated version is a factory option.

82FA5C84-5280-42F9-9F27-5779AA174E03

Images with grateful thanks – Tim Bishop, Jill Reger, Banham’s and Rolls-Royce Motors

If you like this post please “Like” and share it with your friends and colleagues. We’d really like to hear of your experiences of the products/subjects featured in this post. please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks 

MGB

02832334-7A2F-4C32-A8A2-2F20EEC9E5E2

I was flattered to be asked to contribute To the January-February 2018 edition of The London Magazine – the Capital’s oldest. I was asked to write their 25th “My London” piece which you can see here please – My London by Mark FR Wilkins . I refer to one of London’s tribes, as a  “typical” MGB owner. I suggest that this still holds largely true, despite that the owner may now be in his 70’s although the corduroy’s will still be worn!

722D9FCD-E6AB-49C7-B87F-A0B59DF6DF44

These are adored British cars that have even described by Simon Chalesworth in his brilliant piece on the MGB in February 2018’s “Classic and Sports Car”, as the “gateway drug into whatever this is that we do with old cars”. I understand, that a good quality example of an MGB can be acquired at reasonable cost and by a proficient mechanic or a hired hand it can be up, running and looking fine in reasonably short order and comparable cost.

The MGB is a four cylinder, two-door British roadster – open topped/rag roofed sports car – produced by British Motor Corporation, later British Leyland, between 1962 and 1980, from its famed Abingdon (Oxfordshire) works. It used braking and suspension from the MGA and the engine dated to a design from the late 1940’s.

A previous outing of the MG brand was seen in Aestheticons with the MGA – please see here our previous piece – MG – MGA

22755B6E-C4D2-4A20-A519-A5B04C5F4381

 

The MGA is a stunner and I thought it couldn’t be surpassed but those who know tell me that the MGB is infinitivly more fun and certainly a greater level of comfort – particularly later models – over its predecessor. The Sunbeam Alpine, also featured here before, seems to have set an newly raised bar one that the MGB sought to attain –  see our earlier post here – Sunbeam Alpine – Bond’s first car

Below is an MGB Mk 1, in Tartan red with a black interior and red piping. It was built in Abingdon in February 1963 and was an early car; the MGB being first shown to the market in September 1962. This car, a stunning example, is Norwegian owned and had 22 previous owners!

2A3A4BEB-BE2D-4740-AB6D-21B6B6FC10B1

The MGB with its 1798 cc BMC B-Series engine – which was upgraded in 1964 and again in 1967 – initially achieved a 0–60 is around 11 seconds but required detuning in 1975 to be comply to stricter US emission standards, the US being a key export market – you’ll note our featured image is a left hooker. The same year the MGB, which was one of the first cars to benefit from crumple zone technology, was fitted with black polyurethane bumpers to comply yet further with the US Health & Safety codes – some see these as a blight the MGB’s otherwise clean lines and great looks.

9EBD4B2C-E859-4298-9AA5-F845772C4BF8
Variants including the MGB GT – which first appeared in 1965 – the MkII MGB and MGC that both appeared in late 1967 with the latter benefitting from a six cylinder engine in a MkII MGB body. With around 9000 examples of the MGC made by August 1969 it was withdrawn and is highly regarded by collectors for its ride and handling.
 In 1993-5 the MGB bodyshell was brought out of retirement by Rover and used for a limited 2000 MG RV8 roadsters to celebrate the MGB’s 30th Anniversary.
As much as I adore these splendid small English sports car my garage is destined for others. I’d be more than keen to have a die-cast model of an MGB on the shelf in my Man Cave – join me by clicking the Amazon link below the image! 

E4DA912B-5753-4D02-8D93-EDAABB9B392E

MG B MGB Cabrio grün Modellauto 10002 T9 1:43

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks
Photo credits with grateful thnaks – Trygve Sørli/www.petrolicious.com, The London Magazine, Marc Vorgers,

Triumph TR2, TR3 and TR4

927F63AC-FEB8-4A2C-958E-C33D6AC5485C

The response to our recent post featuring the Triumph Stag – see our previous post here – Triumph Stag was phenomenal. Whilst watching a film set in the 1950’s that featured a dashing young chap arriving to pick up his lady love in an early Triumph sports model, I decided to dig deeper into the Triumph Stags’ ancestry. I discovered that the star of the TV show was a Triumph TR2 – quite a stunner.

I have never suited the image of cordouroys, a flat cap and a pipe-smoker but these seem almost compulsory for the devotees of the sprightly, iconic and classic English sports cars.

A model described as the 20TS (unofficially the TR1) was shown at the London Motor Show in October 1952 – see below a rare photo of this prototype – to a mixed reception. The then Chairman of Standard-Triumph, Sir John Black, requested the assessment of the 20TS from BRM’s development engineer and test driver, Ken Richardson. It was so damning – a slow, poor handling death-trap – that Sir John sought Black’s help to redesign the car.

67F956F0-08B3-46CD-964B-5F0C997F45C8

Black’s efforts resulted in substantial improvements and in March 1953, at the Geneva Motor Show, the TR2 debuted. It benefitted from a parts pool culled from the Standard Motors range that gave the TR2 excellent reliability, albeit with rather basic handling and an uncomfortable ride. It sold between 1953 and 1955.

F53B4016-F944-4254-BAE9-DFC5B03123B3

In 1955, the TR2, as a result of minor styling changes and an upgraded engine became the TR3 – “Small Mouth”.

50F690FD-51A5-4A6D-A677-AEEF96C4AD6E

In 1956 Girling Disc brakes on the front were added exponentially improving the braking. Styling changes alone to the TR3 in 1957 resulted in the TR3A – as it is often described – was, for me, the nadir of good design for this series. Although far from “modern”, the TR3As were appreciated in both Europe and the US with annual production exceeding 10,000 vehicles.

In 1962 TR3B entered production and look virtually identical to the TR3A but with engine and carburetor upgrade. It was offered concurrently with the new TR4 in response to dealers concerns about the TR4 being regarded by the core audience as being too modern.

2C622DD8-F6FE-42D0-9FAF-C01EA21E6721

 

Realizing that the TR3 needed a significant facelift in 1961 Triumph engaged Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti – already well known for his work with Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and BMW – to design the TR4. His boxier body looked much more modern with a larger cabin, although under the skin it was largely a TR3 with upgraded steering. Michelotti designed extensively for Triumph, his work included the Triumph Stag.

5583263C-B3AF-4F19-AF0A-A397B9A1F8BF

In 1965, the TR4 became TR4A with a much improved ride, a more tuned engine and quieter exhaust.

FA5CB138-59E2-4D1B-83C5-689B1DB1B2A1

For me the TR4 with its wire wheels and elegant lines is the definitive small English sports car.

The TR3 and TR4 saw production runs in the region of 70,000 cars each so there’s lots of potential examples out there both those that are Concours ready and those that could benefit from a significant re-build. Checking sites like http://www.hemmings.com or http://www.erclassics.com will demonstrate that a price range – depending on condition between £5,000 and £30,000.

5B42D464-915C-4322-A378-B7CD8B25D99F

You’ve been promising yourself that you’ll find a classic sports car to rebuild – perhaps now’s the right time.

Would a Buyer’s Guide to the TR2 and TR3’s assistant you in your quest? If so, published in July 2018 is an Essential Buyers Guide –  click the AMAZON link below the image to order your copy

E2A6E46B-340B-44E3-B37B-AB45BCD84997.jpeg

Triumph TR2, & TR3 – All models (including 3A & 3B) 1953 to 1962: Essential Buyer’s Guide

If a TR4 is more your thing then there is also and Essential Buyer’s Guide for this model – click the AMAZON link below the image to get your copy

9515A4E2-D02B-4065-A5F4-A740BE4818E7.jpeg

Triumph TR4/4A & TR5/250 – All models 1961 to 1968 (Essential Buyer’s Guide)

You’ll, of course need a trusty Haynes Owner’s Worshop Manual – get a copy here that covers the TR2 to TR4A – please click on the AMAZON link below the image

64BAC587-8EDB-4032-BE2A-F028F2DE80D4.jpeg

Haynes 0028 Car Maintenance Service Repair Manual

I do appreciate that your enthusiasm may only stretch to wearing the T shirt – in this case a personalised vehicle registration plate – if so, please click on the AMAZON link below the image

FB5C4426-AD49-4561-99C3-E077F428A969

Triumph TR2, TR3, TR4, TR5, TR6, TR7 Chassis Plate T-Shirt *PERSONALISED* Model & Reg Plate (M, Charcoal)

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Photo Credits – with grateful thnaks – Hemings.com, Standard-Triumph

Maserati A6G/54 Zagato

1955 Maseratti A6G-54 Brlntt 01

I am indebted to a regular Aestheticions reader for expanding my automobile education and introducing me to the sheer delights of the 1955 Maserati A6G/54 Zagato.

The A6 models – with straight six-cylinder 1.5 litre engines – were made by Maserati between 1947 and 1956 and named after one of the company’s co-founders, Alfieri Maserati, who along with his brothers Ernesto, Bindo and Ettore established the iconic company in Bologna in the late 1920’s. Maserati’s trident logo derived from the Fountain of Neptune in the city’s, Piazza Maggiore.

By 1937 the company was in financial difficulty and the remaining brothers sold all their interests to the Orsi family who moved Maserati to Modena where it has been ever since. After year of takeovers, mergers and sales the company is now well funded with an evolving range as part of the car giant, Fiat Chrysler.

1955 Maseratti A6G-54 Brlntt 04

The A6G grand tourer was launched in 1954 at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, it was originally known as the “A6G 2000 Gran Turismo’ – but is more commonly known at the A6G/54.

The A6G/54 was offered in a choice of four body styles: a Carrozzeria Allemano Coupé – only 21 were made, a Coupé and a Gran Sport spyder by Pietro Frua (see below) – only 7 and 12, were made and a fastback by Ugo Zagato of which a total of 19 were made in this configuration plus a racing special on the same chassis. Between 1954 and 1956 the total production was a mere 60 cars.

Given the rarity of these car values are astronomical, it’s anticipated that our featured car, if you could find one to buy would be in excess of $3m.

It may be interesting to note, that in the UK during a similar era Jaguar were making the XK120 – see here our previous post Jaguar XK120 and MG were making the MGA – see our previous post here – MG – MGA. Both of which, although beautiful in their own way, seem to echo the design of cars of an earlier era whereas the A6’s design seems altogether much more modern.

Mas Frua Berlinetta

To be clear our featured car is a 1955 A6G/54 two-door coupe by Ugo Zagato which was sold at Gooding and Co’s Pebble Beach auction in 2010. The name A6G/54 derives from “A” for Alfieri, “6” the number of cylinders, “G” featuring a Ghisa or cast iron engine block and “54” denotes its year of first introduction.

Given the rarity of these car values are astronomical.It is anticipated that our featured car, if you could find one to buy, would cost in excess of $3m.

Maseratti 3

A new A6 inspired Maserati – a 2 plus 2 grand tourer – has been scheduled in recent years to join the range. Called the “Maserati Alfieri”, it was trailed as a concept car in 2014 and is understood that its planned launched will be in 2020.

Whilst I am a little concerned by the increasing similarity of super cars, I hope that Maserati delve into their heritage to make this re-imagined classic truly special and worthy of the A6 legacy.

Maserati Alf

Images by Gooding & Co Auctions