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    

Vtg Surfing Trophy Duke Kahanamoku Statue Hood OrnamentAntique Vintage Auto Car Mascot Radiator Cap Accessory Hood Ornament 1920's-30'sVintage Winged Radiator Cap Hood Ornament Rat Rod 32 Ford Flat HeadVintage Brass Hood Bonnet Car Mascot Ornament Pontiac? Like Rocket Man FigureOld Chrome Rocket Bicycle Fender Or Kid's Pedal Car Hood OrnamentArt Deco Car Mascot Hood Ornament Flight Nude Woomen1935 Studebaker Lark In Ring Hood Ornament Radiator Cap1981-1990 Dodge Ram Pick Up Truck Ramcharger Hood Ornament Emblem Mopar 1930s Nash Cadillac Goddess Mermaid Antique Vtg Old Hood Ornament Mascot EmblemVintage 1950s Winged Female Car Rad Cap Mascot -old Trophy Topper -hood OrnamentNos 1964-1966 Studebaker Lark & 1964 Studebaker Hawk Hood Ornament Nos1920s Minerva Hood Ornament / Radiator MascotChrome1940 41 Chevy Chevrolet Bullet Train Hood Ornament Trim Spear Vintage Rare1954 Pontiac Indian Lighted Hood Ornament1948 Nash Chrome Hood Ornament Nice Used 1947 1946 Flying Lady Nude Petty RatrodBrockway Husky Dog Gold Metal Hood Ornament Advertising Paperweight On Wood BaseVintage 1930's-1940's Packard Auto Swan 2 Piece Hood Ornament Nothing BrokenEarly Ford And Or Cushman Motor Scooter Hood Or Fender OrnamentNos Automobilis 1950s Wind Silencers + Hood OrnamentCub Cadet 782 Front Hood Ornament 731-3059 1810 1811 1806 1282 982 682 Winged Goddess Mascot Triumph Gloria 1934/36 Radiator Hood Ornament MascottPink Convoy / Death Proof Duck Hood Ornament -2015 Second Annual AuctionRare Vintage Brockway Truck Gold Husky Hood Ornament Ashtray Mack Truck Bulldog Emblem Hood Ornament Vintage Car Mascot Radiator Hood Ornament MascottVintage Chevrolet Hood Ornament -badge1920s-1930s Mercedes S / Ssk Series Hood Ornament / Radiator MascotHot Rod Rat Rod Hood Ornament Motorcycle 1948 Pontiac Indian Chieftain *rare*Seagrave Vintage Hood OrnamentVintage Chevy 1949-51 Red Lucite Hood Ornament, Rat Rod, Old School # 36873Chrome Mustang Horse Car Hood Ornament Fighting Stallion Vintage VehicleVery Nice Old Hood Ornament Or Emblem For A Chevrolet W Gold EmblemVintage Hood Ornament Peep Site/sight Car Truck Rat Rod 1940-1950's Studebaker?1955 Desoto Hood Ornament Oem Vintage Mopar '55Gm 8 Piece Buick Emblem-hood Ornament Lot Lesabre Electra Century Riviera RegalOem 1946 1947 1948 Dodge Hood Ornament Ram Chrome Very Nice!Dodge Ram Hood Ornament Emblem 1969 1970 1971 Dodge Pickup Truck Adventurer Hood Ornament D100 D200 W100 W20081-87 Chevy Suburban C10 Pikup K5 Blazer Hood Ornament Emblem 82 83 84 85 86 87 Nos Vintage Torpedo/gunsight Hood Ornament Old School 40s-50s Gm Ford Mopar BombVtg Hot Rod Nude Lady Radiator Cap Mascot Hood Ornament Original Speed Equip Wonderful Deco Period Hood Ornament Of A Flying Winged MermaidVintage Illuminated Lady Hood Ornament Lighted Original With Box1937 Ford Hood Ornament Handle 37 Accessory Blue Glass Hot Rod Rat 1954 Chevy Hood Ornament - Chevrolet Bel Air 210 Original Vintage1949 (1950) Ford Ray Russell Accessory Winged Hood Ornament** "speed Nymph" Car Mascot Hood Ornament Mascotte** ?? 1920'sVery Nice Old Hood Ornament Or Emblem For A Calais1940s Packard Swan Hood OrnamentVintage Original Chrome Bulldog Mack Truck Hood Ornament1955 Chrysler Hood Ornament. Vintage Futuristic Jet Airplane Hood Ornament1935 1936 Ford Hood Ornaments Hood All Need Help! Original 35 36** "speed Nymph" Nudw Lady Car Mascot Hood Ornament Mascotte** ?? Greek Warrior Accessory Hood Ornament - No ReserveRare Vintage Brockway Truck Gold Husky Hood Ornament Ashtray ~mack Truck Bulldog Ashtray Chrome Vintage Hood Ornament New Murray/steelcraft Small Airplane Pedal Car Hood OrnamentGreat Condition Mack Truck Bulldog Chrome Hood Ornament Design 8793194 95 96 Mercedes Benz C & S Class Hood Star Chrome Emblem Ornaments Lot Of 4