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 Locking Dog Bone Radiator Cap & Moto-meter Chevrolet Buick Cadillac 1925Vintage Chrome Nude Flying Winged Lady Goddess Hood Ornament 1940 Cadillac Car Original Boyce Motometer Dogbone Ford Radiator Cap Hood Ornament Brass RatrodGeorge Vi Hood Ornament Auto Emblem 1937 Rare With Flags Car BadgeVintage Nash Motometer Boyce Radiator Cap Hood Ornament Teens, 1920's, 1930'sHot Rod Rat Rod Hood Ornament 1953 1954 1955 Nash Flying Goddess *no Reserve*1955 1956 Pontiac Hood Ornament Emblem Lighted Lucite Airplane 1947 Pontiac Indian Chief Hood Ornament Original - Condition GoodVtg. 1937 Chevrolet Art Deco Streamlined Chrome Heavy Winged Hood Ornament Nr Vintage Mack Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament No ReserveVtg. 1934 Chevrolet Art Deco Streamlined Lady Chrome Hood Ornament Radiator Cap Vintage Rolls Royce Spirit Of Ecstasy Hood Ornament Flying Lady1953-54 Chevy Truck New Chrome Hood Ornament L@@@@@@@@@@@@@kVtg. 1930's? Art Deco Streamlined Chrome Winged Hawk/eagle Hood Ornament Nr 1954 Pontiac Indian Chief Hood Ornament Lighted1950's Nash Rambler Flying Lady Chrome Hood Ornament Full MountOriginal New Old Stock Dodge Ram Head Hood Ornament - No Reserve1986 Dodge Ram Charger Oem Hood Ornament / Ram Head /emblem.1950s Nash Rambler Nude Flying Goddess Car Mascot Hood OrnamentVtg. 1928 Art Deco Chrome Swan Hood Ornament Radiator Cap, Chevy*ford*mopar Nr1934 1935 Buick Hood Ornament Flying Lady Goddess Victoire Spirit Of The Wind Bohemian Art Deco Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Antique Vtg Winged Goddess Lady Athena Hood Ornament Radiator Topper Cap Rare 1950's Nash Rambler Flying Lady Chrome Hood Ornament1954 Pontiac Hood Ornament Original Antique Chrome Trim Obsolete Rare VintageJeep Hood Ornament For 1977 To End Of Production Cherokee, Wagoneer, Jeep Honcho1952 47 48 49 50 51 53 Nash Hudson Packard Winged-lady Hood OrnamentVtg Robin Hood Bow & Arrow Snoopy Peanuts Ceramic Xmas Ornament Made In JapanOld Vtg 1940-1950's Cadillac Flying Goddess Lady Hood Ornament Emblem #1462532Bohemian Art Deco Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Design H.hoffmannRare Vintage Big Daddy Roth Rat Fink, Ratrod Hotrod, Motorcycle, Hood OrnamentVintage 1960s White Trucks Stallion Lorry Mascot-mustang/horse Car Hood OrnamentBohemian Art Deco Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Butterfly Design H.hoffmannPontiac Hood Ornament 1954Hot Rod Rat Rod Hood Ornament Motorcycle 1951 Pontiac Indian Chief *no Reserve*1951-52 Chevy Accy Gazelle Hood Ornament Newly Plated L@@@@@@k1935 Ford Radiator Hood Ornament Greyhound, NewBohemian Art Deco Vaseline Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Design H.hoffmannHot Rod Rat Rod Hood Ornament 1956 Pontiac Illuminated Star Chief *no Reserve*Vintage Mac Truck Bulldog Hood Ornament In Great Condition1935 Ford Radiator Hood OrnamentRare Original 1938 Nash Hood Ornament - No ReserveVintage Car Auto Hot Rod Part Pontiac Indian Chief Hood Ornament 1951-52Vintage Mack Truck Chrome & Brass Bull Dog Cigar Ashtray Hood Ornament Usa 87931Plane Airplane Propeller Hood Radiator Ornament Broken PartsVintage Diamond T Truck Hood Ornament Reflective EmblemVintage Chrome Mobil Gasoline Oil Co. Pegasus Ad Cas Auto Mascot Hood OrnamentFord Mustang Emblem Hood Ornament Desk Sign Pony Shelby Boss Truck Mobil TexacoLalique Wild Boar Frosted Signed Hood Ornament Crystal GlassPackard - Vintage 1920s Moto-meter Dog-bone Hood Ornament Original Boyce Motometer Midget Model Radiator Cap Hood Ornament Brass RatrodBrockway Huskie Truck, Huskey Dog Hood Ornament & Emblem On Metal Base1980's Dodge Truck Ram Head Hood Ornament Oem Chrome Emblem Great ConditionVintage Old Antique Chrome Art Deco Retro Car Hood Ornament Jet Air Plane Rocket Rare New Old Stock Vintage Gold Brockway Motor Truck Husky Dog Hood Ornament Bohemian Art Deco Glass Car Mascot Hood Ornament Design H.hoffmann1953 1954 1955 1956 Ford F100 F250 F350 Pick Up Big Truck Semi Hood OrnamentLot Of 5 Jaguar Hood Ornaments Hood Ornament Leaping Jaguars ChromeVintage Mack Truck Bull Dog Chrome Hood Ornament 879311956 Chevrolet Hood Ornament, Nice Condition And Original