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 1930s Crossley Lady Car Radiator Cap Mascot - Pre-war Hood Ornament RareHudson Terraplane 8. 1935' Hood Ornament Car Mascot, Used, Rarity, Part. 112722Vintage 1930s Flying Eagle On Ball Car Mascot-old Raf/scooter/auto Hood Ornament426 Hemi Hood Ornament #2578 531 Gtx, Coronet, Mopar, Dodge, PlymouthAntique Boyce Moto Meter Light Parking Lamp Rear View Mirror Car Hood OrnamentAuthentic Rolls Royce Spirit Of Ecstasy Flying Lady Hood OrnamentCadillac Emblem Lot Hood Ornaments Crest Wreath Heritage Of Ownership Grille Vintage 7" Lindberg Chrome Spinning Propeller Hood Ornament Studebaker Hot RodL3309- Lot Of Vintage Car Emblems & Hood Ornaments - Ford Chevy Dodge CorvetteAntique Vintage 1920's 1927 1928 Buick Goddess Hood Ornament Mascot Radiator Cap1939 1940 Chevrolet Chevy Truck Hood Ornament Emblem Part #36507 4 Coe Car  1951 0r 1952 Pontiac Hood Ornament, Mascot, Indian Chief Head, All OriginalGmc 1955-57 Hood Ornament Car Mascot, Used, Rarity, Good Condition Part.2333755?Vintage Radiator Cap Oakland Eagle Ford Hood Ornament Boyce Moto MeterVitesse, Nude Lady Hood Ornament, Car Mascot, Radiator Cap Ornament1981-1990/81-90 Dodge Ram Pick-up Truck Ramcharger Hood Ornament Emblem MoparVintage Or Antique Original Chrome 1948 Nash Winged Beauty Hood OrnamentAntique 1954 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Rocket Hood Ornament 5645781941 1946 Gmc Chevrolet Truck Chrome Hood OrnamentVintage Metal Art Deco Donkey Hood Ornament Finial Made In Austria Hagenauer81-87 Olds Cutlass Supreme Hood Ornament Salon Brogham 442 Oldsmobile Emblem1926-1927 Pontiac Chief Indian Head Radiator Cap Hood OrnamentVintage Or Antique Original Chrome Hood Ornament Winged Goddess For Impala Car1950s Jaguar Mkiv Mkv Car Radiator Cap-ss Rad Mascot Hood Ornament Mount Dodge Ram Hood Ornament Emblem Vintage Crosley Car Hood Ornament Emblem Name Plate Badge Factory OriginalDodge Ram Hood Ornament From '52 Or 53 Dodge Coronet CarVintage-speeding Lady Hood Ornament- Deco, Re-purpose, Automobilia, Rat-rodVintage 1949 Buick Hood Ornament Lighted Plane,rocket,ratrod,hotrod,streetVintage 1930s (1934 1935 1936 1937 1938)packard "goddess Of Speed" Hood OrnamentOriginal 1939 Chevrolet Hood Ornament Mopar Dodge Ram Dodge Ram Charger Hood Ornament Mopar Emblem1946-1948 Ford V8 Chrome Hood Ornament Truck Emblem Rat RodVintage Or Antique Original Chrome Airplane Hood Ornament From A 1956 BuickVintage Abstract Modern Angel Hood Ornament Rat Rod, Hot Rod, Mirror Finished Vintage Franklin Loin Hood Ornament Made In EnglandVintage Flying Lady Hood Ornament, 40's, 50's, 60's. Dodge Ram Truck Silver Metal Ram Hood Ornament Vintage Car Auto Part 1954 Chrysler Hood Ornament Vintage Pontiac Hood OrnamentVintage Rocket Jet Plane Car Truck Auto Hood Ornament Radiator Rat Hot Rod1930s Graham Desoto Hudson Hood Ornament Emblem Grille MedallionRolls Royce Flying Wing Lady Spirit Of Ecstasy Hood Ornament / 7" / No Reserve 1984 Buick Century Olympic Edition Hood Ornament NosVintage Mack Truck Gold Bulldog Large Ears Up Hood Ornament #87931, Bolt BaseVintage Chrome Mack Mac Truck Chromed Bull Dog Hood Ornament #87931Hot Rod Rat Rod Hood Ornament 1939-1940 Pontiac 8 Cylinder Indian Chieftain 1949 1950 1951 Studebaker Pickup Truck Hood Ornament Bullet Rat RodMack Truck Hood Ornament - Bull Dog Patent No. 87931 Mounted On OakVintage 1951 Pontiac Chieftain Indian Head Amber Insert Hood Ornament- Orange-De Soto 1950' Hood Ornament, Car Mascot, Used, Very Rarity, Good ConditionVintage Dodge Ram Automobile Hood Ornament Original Bolts Also 1940's ??1910-1920 Hood Ornament Car Mascot Radiator Cap Ornament1950-50- Mercury- Hood Ornament-original-1949-1951-jet-age Oem 1950's Dodge Ram 1951 1952 1953 Truck Hood Ornament Hot Rat Rod Nice!1982-85 Impala Caprice Hood Ornament Emblem New Gm Nos 14010590Vintage 1940's Plymouth Hood Ornament/emblem #1335472Older Reproduction 1941 Packard Hood Ornament, Goddess Of Speed. Rat RodGmc Truck Blazer K5 K10 Sierra Pickup Hood Ornament Emblem 80-91 Used 1980-1991Cadillac Gold Hood Ornament