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    

Rare! Nos Original 1934 Ford Greyhound Automobile Radiator Hood Mascot Ornament 1933 Hudson Essex Automobile Griffin Head Hood Ornament 101945-1733Original 1934 Oldsmobile Hood OrnamentVery Rare! Felix The Cat Walking Automobile Radiator Hood Mascot Ornament Absolute Gorgeous Original 1955 Cadillac Hood Ornament Part No 1462532 Vintage Antique Original Hupmobile Rocket Ship Car Mascot Hood Ornament Deco1951 Pontiac Deluxe Indian Illuminated Hood Ornament Antique Art Deco Radiator Cap Hood Ornament ***wow***Antique Vintage Car Part Desoto Hood Ornament 1935-1936Vintage Hood Ornament 1932" Plymouth Flying Mermaid" Ultra Rare Mascot Rad Cap "Vintage 1930s Female Flapper Car Rad Cap Mascot-art Deco Lady Desk/hood OrnamentRare! Lalique Chrysis Kneeling Nude Auto Radiator Hood Mascot Ornament FranceVintage 1930s German Eagle Officer Staff Car Mascot - Pre-war/ww2 Hood OrnamentHood Ornament Vintage AntiqueHood Ornament Vintage Pontiac Indian #1Rare! Lalique Eagle Tête Daigle Automobile Radiator Hood Mascot Ornament FranceVintage 1920 - 1930’s Hispano-suiza Stork Hood Ornament / Auto Mascot1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 Studebaker Truck Radiator Cap Hood OrnamentVintage Kenosha Nash Wisconsin Wing Boyce Moto Meter Hood Ornament 1918 RadiatorVintage Mack Mac Truck Chrome Bulldog Hood Ornament 87931 Near MintVtg 1927 Reo Speedwagon Truck Script Auto Radiator Emblem Hood Ornament OriginalHood Ornament Vintage Pontiac Indian #2Vintage 1951 Pontiac Indian Deluxe Illuminated Hood Ornament Original Rare1950 Pontiac Hood Ornament W/lucite Indian Head & Wings1946 Pontiac Hood Ornament 1948 1949 Pontiac Hood Ornament Vintage Original 1941 Chevrolet Flying Lady Hood Ornament Needs RepairVintage 1964 Blue Plymouth Fury Convertable Built Model Kit ~ W/ Hood OrnamentVintage Hood Ornament 1923 Radio Liberty Boyce Motometer ! Rad. Cap Ultra RareVintage 1927 Chevrolet Quota Trophy - Spirit Of St. Louis Hood Ornament / Auto Ultra Rare Original 1937 Hudson Hood Ornament Bakelite & Chrome Jarvis ExcellentDodge Ram Truck Hood Ornament Original Emblem Oem 1980-19891954 Chrysler Hood Ornament Vintage Hood Ornament 30"s Oldsmobile Buick ? Flying Goddess Rare Mascot Rad CapAntique R & V Knight Automobile Motometer Hood Ornament Radiator Cap Moline Il1954 Studebaker Hood Ornament Jet Airrplane Spaceship Rocket Very Nice1981-98 Gmc Truck Hood Ornament New Never Installed Gm# 2234788Steelcraft Pedal Car Hood Ornament Pre-war 1930'sAntique 1932 Hudson Essex Terraplane Griffin Car Hood Ornament Arvard FairbanksFantastic Vintage Pharaoh/egyptian Head Silvertone Vehicle Hood Ornament. Art Deco Minerva Car Mascot Hood Ornament Automobile Kühlerfigur 1920s Original Vintage 1949 Chevy Deluxe Hood OrnamentVintage1950 "flying Lady" Chrome Hood OrnamentGreyhound Antique Hood Ornament (for Vintage Radiator Cap?)Vintage 1950s Wolseley 4/44 Car Mascot - Old British Auto Radiator/hood OrnamentVtg Antique Radiator Cap Hood Ornament Mascot Oldsmobile Olds 1929 1930 1931 Vintage Hood Ornament 1951 Pontiac Indian Chief " Rare Lucite Americana Art DecoOriginal 1936 Vintage Dodge Ram Car Pick Up Truck Hood OrnamentCompco Aftermarket Space Ship Light Up Rocket Hood Ornament Willys Knight Hood Ornament Car Mascot Antique Vintage Art Deco As FoundOriginal Vintage 1936 Dodge Ram Car Pick Up Truck Hood Ornament Mopar Rat Rod1956 Chevy Hood Ornament Vintage Hood Ornament 29 Cord? Fly Rooster ""us Patend Rare Mascot Radiator Cap1949 Pontiac Chrome Indian Hood Ornament And Pontiac Name Plate (2 Pieces)*nos 1980-87 Chevy Malibu El Camino Hood Header Panel Ornament Emblem Gm 1401134Plymouth Hood Ornament 1936 Chrome Original Part#653596Dodge Ram Hood Ornament*nos 1978-80 Chevy Monte Carlo Front Hood Header Panel Ornament Emblem Gm 459288Model A Ford Quail Hood Ornament 1930-311955 1956 1957 Chevrolet Gmc Truck Chevy Napco Hood Ornament Accessory