7 February 2011
Last updated at 11:27
Breathlessly gliding, leaning into the wind with fluttering gown, the Spirit of Ecstasy - a mascot adorning the prow of all Rolls-Royce motor cars - has turned its centenary.
To mark the Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary, more than 100 motor cars joined a celebratory drive around London. The cars taking part were carefully selected to represent the long history of the Rolls-Royce brand.
Rolls-Royce motor car owners are members of a hardy tribe, not afraid of braving the weather to honour the machines onto which they lavish so much time, love and - not least - money.
The owners are an eclectic mix of ultra-wealthy car collectors and enthusiasts who have skimped and saved to afford the cars of their dreams.
However much effort the owners spend on sprucing up their cars, there is no getting away from the fact that these are old machines. Here, one owner is struggling with the lock on his otherwise perfect motor car.
At first sight, early Rolls-Royce models seem very different from more modern ones, but certain designs and other features are shared.
Rolls-Royces have characteristically thin-rimmed steering wheels. which helps making the driving experience more relaxed. The wooden features consist of multiple layers of veneer that has been pressed and bent into shape, then finished by hand.
Both old and new Rolls-Royces shine thanks to their many layers of paint and many hours of meticulous hand polishing. Owners like to compare their glassy lustre to that of a grand piano.
A more recent innovation is how the Rolls-Royce monogram in the hubcaps remains upright at all times, thus it is legible at all speeds, as well as when the car is parked.
Practical design solutions have also evolved and become universal, such as the large c-posts (the metal between the rear and the side windows), which offer a degree of privacy for rear seat passengers.
But it is really only when seated in the rear seat of a Rolls-Royce that occupants get to enjoy the hand sewn leather interior, which in modern versions is made from unmarked hides from bulls living in open Alpine meadows without thorn or barbed wire.
The way the Spirit of Ecstasy tops the Pantheon grille, which leads a long, tapering bonnet, makes it one of the most universally identifiable automotive motifs - and perhaps one of the most widely recognised brands - in the world. By Jorn Madslien.