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    

Indian Head Hood Ornament 20s Pontiac Radiator Cap Copper Face Antique Auto CarVintage 1950s Jet Plane Car Bonnet Mascot-space Age Scooter / Auto Hood OrnamentVintage Dodge Brothers Dog Bone Boyce Moto-meter Hood Ornament Radiator Cap 1927Vintage Mack Truck Gold Colour Chrome Hood Bonnet Ornament Bulldog Mascot 1950s Rocket Plane Style Hood Ornament Antique Car Part Vintage Car Vintage Jarvis Illuminated Hood Ornament Lucite Pink Winged Rocket Ship Model Vintage 1940's-50's? Chevrolet Truck Hood Release Latch Ornament W/ Bow Tie Nr1930's Pierce Arrow Rare Archer Hood Ornament Super Nice!!!Mack Truck Chrome Bull Dog Hood Ornament On Base Part #14mf45Nos Mopar 63 1963 Plymouth Hood Ornament Emblem Belvedere Sport Fury Max WedgeVintage Hood Ornament 1934 1935 Buick Chrome Flying Goddess Art Deco - ModifiedVintage Rocket Hood Fender Ornaments Harley Knucklehead Chevy Dodge Ford Rat RodOriginal Vintage Ford V8 Hood Ornament Car Truck Auto Rat Rod Street Rod CoupeVintage Car Hood Ornament Radiator Emblem ? Early Eagle / ShieldVintage Mack Mac Truck Bulldog Emblem Hood Ornament Chrome MascotVintage Solid Brass Native American Indian Chief - Hood Ornament?Vintage Hood Ornament 1937 Pontiac Fly Indian Chief "rare Mascot Americana Art D1950s Large Angle Hood Ornament Antique Car Part Vintage Car Ornament Rod RatVintage 1950s Triumph? Car Radiator Cap-large Mascot/hood Ornament Display MountArt Deco Chrome Car Mascot Hood Ornament Of A Plane With Spinning Jet FinsAntique Mack Bull Dog Hood Ornament 6" By 6"Pontiac Hood Ornament - Chrome On Heavy Cast Metal 11" LongNos Mopar 1946 1947 1948 Plymouth Hood Ornament P15 1950s Large Ram Hood Ornament Antique Car Part Vintage Car Ornament 1950s Ram Hood Ornament Antique Car Part Vintage Car Ornament Rod RatVintage Mack Bulldog Truck Hood Ornament BaseVintage 1950 Ford Custom Classic Car Chrome Hood Bonnet Ornament V8 Rat RodDodge Ram Hood OrnamentRare Vintage Large International Harvester American Eagle Hood Ornament EmblemVintage 1953-1955 Nash Rambler Hood Ornament Flying Lady Goddess Part Only1946 Chevy Chrome Hood-lady Hood Ornament Hot Rod Rat Rod1950s Ram Style Hood Ornament Antique Car Part Vintage Car 1952 Vintage 7.50" Leaping Jaguar Hood Ornament EmblemAntique Heavy Metal Mack Bull Dog Hood Ornament Dodge Ram Truck Horned Hood Ornament Horns Ramcharger Desmo Jaguar Automobiles Mascot Hood Ornament Radiator Cap1950s Large Eagle Hood Ornament Antique Car Part Vintage Car Ornament Rod RatVintage Car Hood Ornament Ford Buick Pontiac Packard OldsVintage 1930's Hood Ornament Deco Lady As IsVtg Model T Radiator Cap Temperature Gauge Arrometer Hood OrnamentRover Car P4 / P5 Viking Bonnet Mascot Hood Ornament Radiator CapVintage Mack Truck Gold Tone Bulldog Hood Ornament Emblem Big Rig #87931 Heavy1950s Large Wings Hood Ornament Antique Car Part Vintage Car Ornament Rod Rat1980's Oldsmobile Hood Ornament Nos Cutlas Delta 88 Vintage ~ 1934 ~ Flying Eagle ~ Chevrolet ~ Master ~ Hood Ornament ~ Accessory9.5" Coursing Greyhound Mascot Hood Ornament Radiator/gas Cap Packard??Vintage Chrome Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament With Lighted Eyes1920's 1930's Chrysler Dodge Winged Hood Ornament Radiator Cap Super Nice!!!1955 1956 Flying Goddess Cadillac Hood Ornament All Original # 1463388 Nice 1942,1946,1947,1948 Lincoln Continental ,zephyr,hood Ornament OriginalDodge Ram Hood OrnamentRare Model T Ford Eagle Radiator Cap Hood Ornament Mascot Nice L@@k #912 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 Gmc Truck Hood Ornament Suburban Jimmy Emblem OemPlymouth Automobile Car Vintage Enamel Emblem Ornament Badge Hood Trunk GrilleVintage Lot Of 28 Cadillac Hood Ornaments & Emblem Trunk Lock OemMopar Dodge Ram Dodge Ram Charger Hood Ornament Mopar EmblemGbpv - Scarce Unbroken Translucent Blue Plasticville Auto With Hood OrnamentMack Truck Chrome Bull Dog Hood Ornament On Base Part #14mf45 Vintage 1955 Oldsmobile Hood Ornament Very Nice Condition1955 Chevy Chevrolet Jet Chrome Hood Ornament Eagle Trim 3709685 Nomad Bel Air