Although it’s known for pandering to the whims of its special clients, British brand Rolls-Royce is noticeably discrete when tending to the business of building the world’s best cars, and thus a certain mysticism has always shrouded the Spirit of Ecstasy product.
The company has decided to debunk or confirm a few secrets to quench the world’s curiosity.
1. The mechanism that electrically retracts the Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet mascot to prevent theft and damage is comprises 24 unseen linkages and bearings.
2. Fourteen highly qualified Rolls-Royce engineers run a fleet of 16 intensive test vehicles 365 days a year on top of their normal workloads.
3. Some 4,500 automated electronic test and commissioning sequences are executed during assembly to ensure the car is crafted to its correct specification. A further 3,500 take place once the car is finished. A car must pass every test before it is permitted to leave the factory.
4. To achieve the mirror-like body finish, five layers of paint are applied by the only robots you will find at the Home of Rolls-Royce. Any hard-to-reach spots are painted by highly skilled human paint experts. In total the process of applying a flawless exterior finish takes seven days and uses more than 91l of paint.
5. Paint quality is checked by the most sophisticated measuring tool in the world: the human eye. If a car does not meet with the approval of the marque’s notoriously fastidious auditors, it will be scrapped.
6. It takes 17 days to hand-craft the leather elements of a Rolls-Royce interior.
7. Engineers will analyse cavities with an endoscope during monsoon water tests to ensure no moisture ingress. Should a car fail this test it will be scrapped.
8. A Rolls-Royce is so quiet, company co-founder Sir Henry Royce ordered the fitting of signs at the factory proclaiming ‘Caution, Silent Cars’. Modern health and safety dictates that craftspeople manoeuvring cars around the Manufacturing Plant must intermittently sound the horn as a warning.
9. A Rolls-Royce rides on a 16l air cushion married to dampers and springs that dynamically adjust themselves every five milliseconds to deliver the marque’s sovereign “magic carpet ride”.
10. While test driving a Rolls-Royce Dawn, an American journalist drove through an earthquake that measured 3.6 on the Richter scale, followed by an aftershock that measured 2.6 on the Richter scale. Owing to the marque’s hallmark soft ride, he was unaware of this until the following morning.
11. A tailor-made heat station brings every Rolls-Royce body to an exact temperature of 25C° to ensure that the rubber seal between the sunroof and the body is perfectly mated. This eliminates any road and wind noises over many years of driving.
12. Rolls-Royce’s craftspeople have been drawn from a variety of industries including make-up artists, tattooists, military tailoring and even a former parliamentary red box maker.
13. During the testing period of the Rolls-Royce Dawn, lead Test and Analysis engineers were required to wear shorts so they were able to detect unpleasant airflow around their legs and feet. This testing was conducted in January at three degrees centigrade.
14. A sensor within the Gallery Clean Room continually measures the particle concentration in microns — an alert is sent if particles are detected at a size larger than 0.001 of a micron. The width of a human hair is between 50-100 microns in diameter.
15. The Spirit of Ecstasy is so valued by the marque that there is a safe lock on the shop floor containing no more mascots than the necessary for one day of production. The code is known only by a small circle of craftspeople.