Rolls-Royce is very proud of its Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. To Rolls, it’s more than just a hood ornament, it’s a symbol of opulence and heritage. I’ll admit that there’s something very special about driving a Rolls and seeing the flying lady leading the way, at the end of a long, V12-powered hood. Rolls isn’t the only brand with a cool hood ornament—Bentley has the a flying ‘B’ and Mercedes has the three-pointed star—but Rolls’ is certainly the best. Maybe not for long, though. Cadillac is bringing back the ‘Goddess’ for the upcoming Celestiq and it’s just as special as the Spirit of Ecstasy.
Cadillac’s Goddess hood ornament was first used in 1930 but didn’t become a Cadillac staple until 1933. That’s quite a bit after the Spirit of Ecstasy first debuted, in 1909. And considering how similar they are, it’s almost impossible that the Spirit didn’t at least mildly inspire William N. Schnell, who designed the Cadillac Goddess.
Similar to the Spirit of Ecstasy, the Goddess is a sculpture of a woman, whose windswept gown resembles wings, as her chest projects forward and arms sweep backward. The similarities to the Spirit of Ecstasy are impossible to ignore. Though, that’s not a bad thing. Mimicry is the highest form of flattery. I will say, though, that ‘Goddess’ is a better name than ‘Spirit of Ecstasy.’ It’s one word, easy to remember, and it instantly creates powerful imagery in the mind. Spirit of Ecstasy is cool name but it’s kind of vague and doesn’t really mean anything.
When Cadillac’s flagship electric luxury car, the Celestiq, debuts it will carry the Goddess on its hood, as well as inside the cabin. She’ll stand proudly, pointing the way for the driver, but she’ll also be encased in glass in the infotainment dial inside the car. The dial turns independently of the Goddess, so she always stays upright, which a very Rolls-Royce thing to do. Also, you’ll find her on the milled billet aluminum plaques throughout the car. There’s even a Goddess symbol in the charge port, which illuminates as its charging.
GM designer Richard Wiquist created the new Goddess, using the original ’30s sculpture as inspiration. Now, there are two great hood ornaments for ultra high-end luxury cars. The Celestiq will be a hand-built, $300,000 electric luxury car, one that intends to compete with Rolls-Royce. When it debuts, Rolls will have the Spectre, its own electric luxury car with its own special hood ornament. So it will be exciting to see them together, to compare how each brand went about electrification and how their flying ladies compare.