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A beautiful car body is the sum total of many talents. It takes the genius of the engineer who designs the engine and its mechanics, the talent of skilled craftspeople who tame wood and metal, copper and glass and the audacity of the coachbuilders, producing unique and exclusive pieces. In this conscious search for beauty, the task is comparable to other applied arts.

Many great artists, architects and designers have linked their names to that of Rolls Royce. American architect Frank Lloyd Wright was so seduced and inspired by the combination of beauty, power and elegance that he based his innovative designs on automobile-related concepts. The ramp leading up the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue mimics the smooth gentle slopes required by the automobile. Another artist influenced by the aesthetics of the automobile was French designer René Lalique, who created an iridescent glass bonnet ornament to crown the radiator of a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith.

The great aesthetic trends of the first third of the twentieth century were dominated by the eclectic Art Deco style, with its geometric shapes, strong colours and striking outlines. The image of elegance, functionality and modernity of the Art Deco forms inspired the style of regular Rolls-Royce coachbuilders, including Windovers and Hoopers. The pleating of the robes draped across the delicate figure of the “Spirit of Ecstasy" is also imbued with this influential style and at the 2012 Paris Car Show, Rolls-Royce presented three new models evoking the decorative spirit of Art Deco.

However, Rolls-Royce built on a centuries-old artistic legacy. The firm's emblematic mascot was originally inspired by the Hellenistic Winged Victory of Samothrace. Another distinctive symbol of the marque, the radiator grille, evokes the pediment of a classic Greek temple crowned by a tympanum of polished aluminium. They even adopted the same principle as used in the construction of the Parthenon, with the columns –or radiator grilles– arching outwards slightly to give the impression of perfect straightness.

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