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    

Nash : Convertible 561 1957 Nash Metropolitan Convertible, "flying Lady" Hood Ornament, Restored, Red1950 Art Deco Era Antique Car Figural Indian Super Chief Light Up Hood OrnamentVintage Hofeller-borden Co.archer Man W/ Bow Hood Ornament Mascot Radiator CapRare 1930's Chrysler Gazelle Car Mascot Hood Ornament Radiator Cap Jarvis 802Great Vintage Pontiac Hood Ornament, 1950's ??, Estate Find !!!Old Antique Pontiac Copper Or Bronze Finish Hood Ornament ? Gas Cap Piece RareAntique Bronze Brass Winged Eagle Car Mascot Hood Ornament Figure 19301938 39 40 41 42 Packard Hood Radiator Mascot Ornament Vintage Original Bohemian Art Deco Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Victoire Radiator Cap 1953-1954 Oldsmobile Hood Ornament - Really Nice Original Chrome-1947 48 Cadillac Flying Goddess Chrome Hood Ornament MascotSmall Old Indian Head Bicycle Fender Ornament Or Pedal Car Hood OrnamentOld Antique Art Deco Rat Rod Winged Hood Ornament Streamline Duesenberg Style1920's Pontiac Head Radiator Hood Ornament Rare Antique Art Deco Bronze Nude Lady Witch Car Mascot Hood OrnamentVtg Ternstedt Pontiac Native American Indian Chief Radiator Cap Hood OrnamentVintage 1930s Sitting Cat Car Rad Cap Mascot-pre-war Auto Radiator Hood OrnamentIndian Fender Light Lighted Indian Chrome Hood Ornament 6v Vintage Accessory Hot Rod Rat Rod Hood Ornament 1952 Nash Flying Goddess On Her Knees *no Reserve*Vtg Antique Auto Emblem Badge Automobile Car Logo Radiator Hood Ornament ErskineHot Rod Rat Rod Hood Ornament 1951 Pontiac Illuminated Indian Vtg Antique Auto Emblem Badge Automobile Car Logo Radiator Hood Ornament JewettMetal Ford Mustang Hat Coat Rack Emblem Hood Ornament Boss Shelby Cobra Sign 64Vintage Mid 20c Cristal R. Lalique France Art Glass Chrysis Car Hood Ornament1981-1987 Gmc Suburban Jimmy Pick-up Truck Diesel Hood Ornament Lot Vintage Mack Truck Bulldog Hood OrnamentRare Vintage 1930's 40's Eagle Swan Bird Radiator Cap Hood Ornament Ford Mustang Emblem Hood Ornament Desk Sign Pony Shelby Boss Truck Mobil TexacoNos Vintage Art Deco Type Antique Car Figural Swan Bird Hood Ornament Old StatuePackard? Winged Nude Woman Hood Ornament Wing Goddess Of Speed D-1Original Vintage Graham Paige Bronze Radiator Badge Emblem Hood Ornament - Exc.Vintage 1950's Pontiac ? Indian Chief Head Hood Ornament Gmc Truck "30s-'40s Vintage Showroom Paper Weight Resembling Hood OrnamentMassey Ferguson Mf 50 Hood Ornament Emblem And Ih For DecorationVintage Cadillac Flying Lady 1930-1932 Hood Ornament Radiator Cap-stant VersionPontiac Hood Ornament For 1954 Indian Chieftion Illuminated Near Mint*1955 Pontiac Star Indian Chief Hood Ornament Viking Winged Radiator Cap Chrysler C 1924 Rat Rod Hood Ornament1940 41 42 1946 47 48 49 1950 51 52 53 54 55 Airplane Rocket Ship Hood OrnamentAntique Cloisonne Cadillac Car Emblem Badge Hood Ornament Vintage 1950s Thoroughbred Racehorse Car Bonnet Mascot-old Lejeune?hood OrnamentDodge Truck 1981-1993 Nos Ram Head Hood Ornament1942 Desoto Godess Hood Ornament Emblem Rat Rod Rare Part 976218 1946 1947 1948 Dodge Ram Hood Ornament Nice!!!!!Chrome Bull Horn Hood Ornament Hot Rod Rat Rod1942 Chevrolet Deluxe Hood Ornament, Flying Lady With Plastic Insert1935 Vintage Dodge Ram Hood OrnamentPontiac 1926 Indian Chief Hood Ornament Boyd Glass Replica Paperweight Blue 1 Flying Girl Goddess Lady Car Truck Hood Ornament All Metal Chrome With Wings85 86 87 88 89 Gmc Sierra Classic 1500 2500 3500 Truck Hood Emblem Ornament OemVintage Mack Truck Gold Tone Long Eared Bulldog Hood Ornament #87931Bohemian Art Deco Vaseline Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Victoire Rare Vintage Von Dutch Flying Eyeball, Ratrod Hotrod, Motorcycle, Hood Ornament40 1940 Willys 440 Pickup Truck Original Chrome Hood Ornament Trim 41 42 CoupeArt Deco 1930's Geometric Mack Truck Hood Ornament Bulldog Cigar Ashtray NiceRare Vintage Flying Tire Ratrod Hotrod Bicycle, Motorcycle, Fender/hood OrnamentVintage 1934 Ford Greyhound Hood Ornament Rat Rod1957 Chevy Chevrolet Cameo 1/2 Ton Pick Up Truck Chrome Hood OrnamentNash 1953 Hood Ornament Flying Goddess Original Condition Rare George PettyFord Mustang Gt 5.0 Emblem Hood Ornament Metal Sign Desk Pony Shelby Boss Saleen