From their plain beginnings as manufacturer’s badges installed on car radiators, hood ornaments evolved into an art form all their own. Early automobile badges were often made from enameled metal decorated with a company's name and logo, like the intricate butterfly symbol that branded Invicta automobiles in the 1920s ands '30s. Three-dimensional hood ornaments, or mascots as they are also called, were created as a combination of these official insignia and the home-made talismans car owners frequently attached to their radiators. A mixture of brand identifier and good-luck charm, hood ornaments quickly became standard decoration on automobiles during much of the 20th century.

A few early hood-ornament designs had functional properties, like the popular Calometer temperature gauge from the 1920s, which featured a glass-enclosed radiator thermometer mounted between a pair of outstretched wings. However, as car designs matured, most radiator mascots were created simply as emblems of speed and power, like the sleek jet-plane symbol used on Ford cars in the 1950s and '60s. Others explicitly integrated the manufacturer’s logo or brand, like the Austin of England ornaments from the 1940s, whose windswept lines formed the letters “A” and “E.”

Countless statuettes were modeled after animals, like the Packard swan, the Mac Truck bulldog, the Dodge ram’s head, or the Ford greyhound. Many other hood ornaments were created to represent ancient civilizations or mythological characters, like Armstrong Siddeley’s sphinx, Pontiac’s Native American bust, and Cadillac’s winged goddess.

While there have been many variations of the flying woman mascot, Rolls Royce’s “Spirit of Ecstasy,” is perhaps the most celebrated. Also nicknamed “Nelly in her Nighty,” the Rolls Royce ornament was designed from an original radiator cap statuette sculpted for Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, modeled after his mistress Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Rolls Royce’s hood ornaments were actually silver plated through 1914, but their frequent theft caused the company to switch to stainless steel.

During the 1920s, the illustrious glass studio Lalique introduced a series of beautifully sculptured radiator covers featuring classical deities and animal figures. These ornaments, which could be used to customize any standard car, ranged from “The Archer,” a flat disc engraved with a nude Grecian bow-hunter, to a stylized row of leaping glass horses. One of Lalique’s most popular designs, “The Dragonfly,” included a lighted, multicolored mechanism beneath its base, which revolved as the car moved to cast various shades of light up through the clear glass statue. By 1932, Lalique was offering 46 different radiator cap designs in its annual catalog, and the company’s eagle emblem had been adopted for use on cars belonging to Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich political party.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Hemmings Auto Blogs

Hemmings Auto Blogs

This great (and frequently updated) blog from the folks at Hemmings Motor News is a visual feast of old and new pho… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Hood Ornament 1925 Packard Goddess Of Speed Rare Mascot Original Rad CapVintage Hood Ornament 1920s Oldsmobile Kcs Marathon Man"motometer Mascot Rare "Vintage Hood Ornament 1935 De Soto" Speed Flying Goddess Ultra Rare Mascot Art DRare R&v Knight Car Radiator Emblem Badge Hood Ornament LogoVintage Hood Ornament 1936 Hupmobile Spaceship Ufo Original Mascot RareamericanaVintage Hood Ornament 1931 Packard V8 Speed Goddess Rare Mascot Original RadcapVintage Hood Ornament 1935 Buick Fly Speed Goddess Rare Mascot Art DecoamericanaVintage 1928 Studebaker Atalanta/chevy Figural Hood Ornament Radiator Cap Nr YqzVery Rare 1932 Oldsmobile Winged Bird Hood Ornament Radiator Cap 32 OldsVintage Hood Ornament 1929 Chevrolet Figural Aviator Rare Mascot Orig. Rad CapVintage Hood Ornament 1935 Studebaker Fling Lark " Mascot Ultra Rare AmericanaOriginal Early Cast Metal Rca Victor Nipper Dog Phonograph Hood Ornament 1920'sVintage Hood Ornament 1920"s Chevrolet Mercury "goddess Motometer Mascot Rare"Vintage 1930s Humber Vogue 12 Goddess Car Mascot-pre-war Auto Hood Ornament RareVintage Hood Ornament 1930" S Desoto Flying Speed Goddess Rare Americana MascotVintage Hood Ornament 1932 Nash Flying Mermaid " Mascot Rare Rad.cap AmericanaVintage**rare** 1920-30 Buick Headlight Bar Hood Ornament Emblem BadgeRare Stephens Car Radiator Emblem Badge Hood Ornament Logo Freeport, IllinoisClassic & Rare 1926 Original Cadillac Hood OrnamentVintage Hood Ornament 1931 Studebaker President" Heron" Flying Mascot Ultra RareAuthentic Antique Hood Ornament Radiator Cap Winged Flying Lady Plymouth 1933Vintage Pontiac Double Wing Hood Ornament 53 Chieftan RareVintage Hood Ornament 1929 Reo Car Mercury Goddess Mascot Rare Americana Art DecVintage Hood Ornament 1936 Hudson "terraplane Original "lucite Ultra Rare Mascot1953 Pontiac Indian Deluxe Illuminated Hood Ornament No Pitting Gm Part 516830Vintage 1920's Ruffony Lexotique Car Mascot Radiator Cap Hood OrnamentRare Liberty Car Radiator Emblem Badge Hood Ornament LogoVintage Hood Ornament Tucker" Ufo " Spaceship " By Alex.t. Rare Mascot AmericanaVintage Hood Ornament 1928 Buick Fly Speed Goddess Rare Mascot Art. De AmericanaArt Deco Bohemian Glass Car Mascot " Victoire " Hood OrnamentSuper Rare Vintage Brass Rover Car Viking Hood Bonnet Mascot Ornament C1920'sVintage Hood Ornament Original 1927 Cadillac V16 Flying Goddess Us Patent On It1949 Pontiac Deluxe Indian Winged Illuminated Hood Ornament Vintage Hood Ornament Pontiac Flying Indian Chief Lucite"rare Mascot AmericanaVintage Hood Ornament 1929" Plymouth Flying Mermaid Goddess Mascot Americana ArtVintage Hood Ornament 1946 Nash Flying Goddess *americana History Rare Art Nice"Vintage 1950s Ford Mercury Jet Plane Car Mascot -old American Auto Hood OrnamentVintage 1950s Ford Consul/zephyr/zodiac? Rocket Car Mascot -bonnet/hood OrnamentVintage Gryphon Chrome Plated Car Mascot Hood Ornament Bonnet Badge CustomVintage 1950s Simca Swallow Car Mascot -scooter Bird Mudguard/hood Ornament RareVintage 1950s Humber "mobile" Snipe Car Mascot - British Bird Auto Hood OrnamentOriginal 1951 1952 Chevrolet Golden Gazelle Accessory Hood Ornament 51 52 ChevyVintage Hood Ornaments 1928"hudson Essex Flying Goddess"rare Original"mascot ArtVintage 1950s Ford Crown Victoria Jet Plane Car Mascot -old Auto Hood OrnamentFaith Car Mascot Radiator Hood OrnamentAntique 1930s Dodge Truck Car Leaping Ram On Rock Radiator Cap Hood Ornament NrVintage Hood Ornament Original" 1936 Cadillac" Ultra Rare Flying Speed Goddess"Vintage Hood Ornament 1948 Pontiac Indian Flying Chief"rare Lucite" Art D MascotVintage Mack Mac Truck Chrome Bulldog Hood Ornament 87931 / 14mf45Beautiful Vintage 1929-31 Chevy Viking Hood Ornament With Attached Radiator CapVintage Hood Ornament 1920"s Michelin Man" Original "mr B" Air Compressor Body "Vintage 1950s Standard Ten Rocket Car Mascot -british Motor Bonnet/hood OrnamentRare Oem Early 1950's Dodge Ram Chrome Hood Ornament Emblem Part # 9453 1456355Rare Wills Sainte Claire Car Radiator Emblem Badge Hood Ornament Logo5 Inch Chrome Jaguar Automobile Car Hood Mascot Ornament Vintage Hood Ornament Super Man" Mascot Art Deco Americana Big S" On His Chest"Original Chrome Mack Truck Bull Dog Hood Ornament Mounted On Pivoting CapVintage Hood Ornament 1931 Desoto Hernandes Spanish Conquester Mascot Ultra RarePair Of Cast Aluminium Ram Head Hood Ornaments Dodge New UnusedVintage Fender Hood Ornament Flying Lady Chrome Rat Rod Harley Automobilia Wow