Journal: Who Made The Most Beautiful Hood Ornaments?

Who Made The Most Beautiful Hood Ornaments?

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
September 16, 2016
12 comments

Once upon a time, wealthy motorists bought custom-made caps called “mascots,” twisting them onto radiators to sit proudly on top of the car’s front grille. Ever since, thousands of unique designs have been crafted, with fans of mascots paying five figures for the most desirable. On the other hand, one company made its hood ornaments from scrap metal and few customers seemed to mind.

Automobiles made by Avions Voisin resisted the hood ornament craze for years, until designers finally decided to come up with an “unpretentious” design of their own. Using sheets of aluminum that were cut into a shape worthy of the nickname La Cocotte, once bolted together formed a striking Art Deco figure.

Others, like Rene Lalique, fashioned theirs from glass that could be illuminated from below—which is definitely a striking feature I’m surprised hasn’t been replicated on an ultra-luxury car for 2016. One of the nice things about collecting hood ornaments is their usefulness even without a car to mount them on, especially if you’ve been looking for a substantial paperweight.

Simple or complex, manufacturer-designed or completely bespoke, who made the most beautiful hood ornaments?

Photography by Michael Furman & Nat Twiss

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Dana
Dana

Rolls Royce is certainly one of the most beautiful mascots out there, but, for me, my favorite is the Jaguar cat my dad had as the mascot on the trucks he drove while I was growing up. When he retired, he had it mounted to a plexiglass stand, and, when he passed, I inherited it. It’s the best memory I have of my dad.

Darel Matthews
Darel Matthews

Pierce Arrow, if only for the delicateness (is that a word?) of the ornament.

Michael Potiker
Michael Potiker

For those lacking in taste, Rolls Royce currently offers a lit “faux crystal” Spirit Of Ecstasy made of opaque plastic with an LED underneath.

DROP TABLE
DROP TABLE

I recall being 11, and snapping the hood ornament off my late uncles Merc. oh man, those things are not flexible.

M Webb
M Webb

I own the eagles head. I passed on the Rooster and now regret it.

CJ_Madson
CJ_Madson

As for “only” ornaments of beauty — responding to the question — I’d include the ’31 & ’36 Pontiac and one of several in the ’46-’54 range of Pontiac ornaments with the amber Chieftain, along with the ’31 and ’36 Cadillac goddess ornaments. And yes, certainly Lalique.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Rene Lalique hands down … no questions asked . Lalique’s creations are craft risen to the realm of art are worthy of display in any venue … whereas everyone else regardless of the craft and aesthetics only ‘ crafted ‘ hood ornaments … period ! PS; Banovsky . Three guesses where I was all last week . I’ll give you a hint or two . It’s now the designated number two automotive event worldwide by Europeans and Americans alike .. and has something to do with the number … 1000 …. 😉

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Oh … and PPSS Banvosky . Its official .. made clear by those participating regularly [ of which there were several at last weeks event ] The Mille Miglia is a ‘ show ‘ and an event … not a race or a rally .

Thom Semeniuk
Thom Semeniuk

IMO Bugatti..

Dan Cole
Dan Cole

I agree the Royale’s elephant is wonderful.

Nom DelaNom
Nom DelaNom

No Jaguar leaper? Surely the most enduring, if not the modt iconic of hood ornaments, no? Sometimes I think Petrolucious has an anti-Jaguar bias…

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Errr … the chrome kitty is somewhat iconic albeit losing much of its charm , iconic status and recognition of late .. but the most beautiful ? Not hardly .