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Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

Sleek & Lovely Automotive Art - Car Hood Ornaments, Part 1

Car mascots (or hood ornaments) used to be installed on the exposed radiator caps of cars and even when radiator caps disappeared, hood ornaments were still used. These objects were often intricate works of art and today are highly prized by collectors. In the thirties and forties, many of the ornaments depicted flying ladies.

Also in the forties, manufactures used planes as designs for ornaments, with jet planes becoming more common in the fifties. By the sixties, hood ornaments began to appear less and less on mainstream cars and eventually came to symbolize only luxury vehicles. We still see company logos on all models of cars today of course, but here’s a look at just a small selection of hood ornaments from days gone by.

(this incredible variety of hood ornaments (top row) can be seen on Chris Balm vintage motoring site)

Fabulous 1920 Sabino Glass Aerofoil Car Hood Ornament:

(images credit: Tony Wraight, via)

This face example also dates from the late 1920’s (the one on the right appears to have been inspired by the Vikings):

(images via MuscleCars, Thomas McEldowney)

Here is a car mascot (hood ornament) made in the form of a swallow, manufactured in the 1920's by "Susse Freres" (France):

(images credit: Chris Balm)

"Bonzo Dogs" were made into car hood ornaments back in the 1920s (Bonzo was a dog from popular George Studdy's cartoon series, mascots made by AE Lejeune):

(images via)

Here’s an elegant lady in gold, resembling a Greek or Roman goddess:

(image credit: Keith Lovelady; on the right is the Flying Man ornament)

While this one looks like it could almost have originated in ancient Egypt:

(image credit: Alan)

And here’s one depicting an angel:

(images credit: Keith Lovelady)

The Pierce Arrow featured this fabulous archer design in the first three decades of the twentieth century (left image). Citroen's mascot in on the right:

(left: originals unknown; right image: Jill Reger)

Rarely seen Plymouth' ship hood ornament (left). On the right is the 1920 Corning Glass Daughter:

(left image credit: Paul Malon, right image via)

This greyhound was no doubt meant to symbolize the speed and grace of the vehicle it adorned:

(image credit: Brett Morrison)

Here’s an interesting one from a Chevrolet model (right). The hood ornament on the left is from a 1967 Marlin manufactured by American Motors (AMC):

(images via 1, 2)

This jet design dates from the mid fifties:

(image via)

Here’s another rocket hood ornament from a 1936 Terraplane:

(image via)

This is the exquisite ornament from the 1931 Packard Eight:

(image via)

The golden winged woman is from a Cadillac Sixty Special Fleetwood:

(image credit: Automotive Stock Images)

Another Cadillac beauty, slightly tinged by rust:

(image credit: Paul Malon)

Flying ladies were a favorite with Packard:

(image via)

The Delahaye flying Venus design dates from 1947:

(image credit: Steve Correy, via)

This rather odd hood ornament is from a vintage Bentley (right); The official Bentley hood ornament is shown on the 1960 model (left image):

(right image credit: Sandro Menzel, left: Furlined)

This hood ornament is from a 1954 Chevrolet police car (right image). On the right is the hood ornament from the DeSoto Diplomat:

(images via 1, 2)

The Soviet auto industry also produced hood ornaments. Here’s the GAZ Volga deer emblem (left image). On the right is the aftermarket parody - a Lenin mascot on a Bentley:

(left image credit: W. Grabar)

Here is a mascot similar to the Russian Volga one, from the 1930 Chrysler Imperial Eight:

(image credit: Sandy Leidholdt)

This one is from the Packard 902 Coupe Eight from 1932 (left). On the right is another Plymouth' Winged Lady:

(images via)

This is the famous Rolls-Royce' "Spirit of Ectasy" (see the video of how it retracts):

(images via)

The theme of ladies continues with 1920s Chevrolet (left) and a Buick (right):

(left image credit: Walter Coles)

The famous Dusenberg Glass Lady can be seen here (slightly nsfw).

We have to include these incredible car hood identification posters, created by Bertrand Lepoix:

(images credit: Bertrand Lepoix)

We mentioned that some car hood ornaments are highly desirable collector items, commanding very high prices. This particular beautiful piece of car hood art was priced at $35,000.00 U.S dollars while on display at Blackhawk Classic Car Museum in California (more info):

(image credit: Keith Lovelady)

And finally, perhaps the most over-the-top ornament is this pinned lady from the legendary designer Luigi Colani, featured on his Horch Mega Roadster:

(image credit: Tom Vack, via)

Article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.




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OpenID urrik said...

Thank you! I think there is a typo though: "This hood ornament is from a 1954 Chevrolet police car (right image). On the right is the hood ornament from the DeSoto Diplomat". So, which is which?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

!!! Jude Law for 46th Karlovy Vary IFF !! not spam, Jude used the prize - small statue - girl with globe for his car....

Anonymous KaiserTroll said...

The "Viking" inspired ornament might instead be inspired by the Gaul.

Anonymous Skipweasel said...

They're wonderful - but almost all make splendid pedestrian disembowelers! The police car one looks particularly avenging.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This hood ornament is from a 1954 Chevrolet police car (right image). On the right is the hood ornament from the DeSoto Diplomat"... The ornament on the left is from a 1957 Chevy Bel Air. http://www.flickr.com/photos/44323995@N03/sets/72157624804248321/detail/
This is a 54 Chevy Police Car

Blogger soubriquet said...

@Kaiser Troll: The Viking inspired ornament is the emblem of The Rover Car Company, Vikings, and later pirates were known as 'Sea-Rovers'. Others of their cars carried viking ship ornaments, badges of a ship with dragon prow, red and white striped square-sail, its sides lined with shields. The founders of the company were a bit viking obsessed.
In 1948, they built the 'Land-Rover', and have been building them ever since.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mapes Classic Cars has some good ones in their collection.






I went and saw them in person recently. Beautiful cars. I wish I could afford one!

Blogger Luca said...

@urrik: just click on the links below, via 1 and 2

Blogger autothreads said...

Whenever I'm at a museum or car show shooting content for Cars In Depth I always take time to shoot the hood ornaments, mascots or radiator caps.

You can see some of them here:



and here

Also, just the other day The Truth About Cars ran my piece about Jaguar's "leaper", how Wm Lyons may have modeled the leaper on the greyhound Edsel Ford picked out for Lincoln and Changfeng Liebao's knock off of the leaper.

Anonymous Carder said...

Nice gallery. Waited for Volga deer emblem))

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minerva cars used to have nice ones too

Some facts and pics http://minervamotor-car.50megs.com/custom.html
Some solitairy pics:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also worth noting that many of the plastic and glass ornaments were illuminated from inside or underneath and glowed when the car was running at night.


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