Where Have All The Hood Ornaments Gone?


The other day, one of our friends sent us this photo of a cloud formation that caught their eye. He thought it looked like a hood ornament from a pre-war car, so we thought it might be fun to present it to you guys and see which marque’s mascot you think it most closely resembles.

Image Credit: Gizmodo

Back when car’s radiator caps were exposed, the idea of a hood ornament was a novel one. It was more of a radiator cap ornament than a hood ornament, but it served a dual purpose. Some were fitted with a temperature gauge on the backside so that you could see if things were running hot. They also became a way for companies to set their cars apart visually. Brands such as Cadillac, Duesenberg, and even Oldsmobile had distinctive ornament designs that were easy to identify.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Hood ornaments became so popular that even Dodge pickups had them! But, when was the last time you saw one of these little jewels fitted to a new car? With pedestrian safety regulations and new design trends the hood ornament is history. Luckily, there are still a few bastillions of tradition out there.

Image Credit: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy lives on. It is now connected to a spring so it can collapse into the hood if you hit someone with your Phantom. Now, dont get me wrong. I’m all for advancements in safety, but really? Perhaps your driver had a few too many drinks before driving you over to the crowded Wal-Mart…

Image Credit: Mercedes

Mercedes has also kept their famous three-pointed star around, but apparently only on their flagship S-Class models. It too is spring loaded and obviously a sign of affluence. Lesser models have to make do with a flat emblem, but at least Mercedes will let you light up the star in your grill. This all sort of reminds me of the donkey hood ornament my father affixed to the hood of his old Dodge truck. The eyes lit up on it too…

Thanks for the photo Sid!


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  1. Dolphin Member

    Definitely pre-WW2 Pontiac. I learned to drive in a Pontiac with flathead straight-8. They all had the mascot at the peak of the hood at the front, and some were made of a kind of colored plastic that was a piece of art.


  2. Mike

    Indian motorcycle logo.

  3. Rev. Rory

    Pontiac, and into the fifties.

  4. Paul

    Austin of England


    Pontiac for me as well.

  6. rich

    First car I thought when I saw it was prewar Pontiac as well.

  7. jean lecointe

    The spirit of extasy on the present Rolls Royces is automatically retracted when you switch off the engine. So I was said, I unfortunately do not own one; A famous radiator cap was fitted on the Bugatti Royale in the shape of a standing elephant which was the work of Ettore Bugatti’s brother Rembrant. Cristal made radiator caps by Lalique fitted many luxury french cars as Delage or Delahaye. There are many collectors who keep the radiator or hood emblems but the car it did belong is long ago forgotten

  8. Old Bobby Friendship

    Well, Guys, I’m not too acquainted with the Pontiac motif, but, to me, it resembles the Packard hood motif, glass, made by La Lique. A fiend of mine has collected several and they are quite valuable now.
    Anyways, All the Best to you all from the UK.


  9. Jeff V.

    IMO the most famous representing a make of automobile is Jaguar’s “Leaper”!

  10. Chuck B.
  11. shaky

    IF it had an amber glow it would look exactly like the hood of
    my 55 Pontiac Chief.

  12. Dan Skopp

    Yup!! That’s the pontiac Indian alright!!

  13. geomechs geomechs Member

    Looks like the Pontiac guys are getting ahead. I thought Indian or Pontiac. Either of those is worthy.

  14. Don Melcher

    Pontiac or Mercury

  15. Dave

    The first thing I thought of was the Pontiac Chieftain too.

  16. OLDSTUFF1941

    It actually reminds me of the ornament on my 41 Chevy Cabriolet … or a Pontiac for sure…

  17. balloonman13

    Yes the Pontiac stratocheif . Native american headress with swept back feathers mid 50’s early 60’s

  18. olgraybeard

    Looks like the one on my 37 Pontiac Siverstreak Six Coupe!

  19. Tim H

    I think collectors call them mascots. I have a few, my favorite is the 1936 Hup, it looks like it came from Buck Rogers. It looks way better then the cloud.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      That’s wild! I’d like something like that just to have on my desk. I have my doubts if it would stay on a car very long if it wasn’t guarded closely. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Alan

    My grandmother had a ’48 Pontiac. 3 on the tree. My immediate thought was of that car’s hood ornament. She passed away 40 years ago, and I still miss her.

    • Tim H

      Wow isn’t it great to have loved and been loved enough to still miss them 40 years later.

  21. Rene

    I’m gonna go with Rolls Royce.

  22. KE100

    37 Cadillac?

  23. z1 rider

    Altocumulus lenticularis

  24. Michael Rogers

    I have a BEAUTIFUL gargoyle from a 34 something

  25. Scott Allison

    Altocumulus Pontiaculus

  26. Chris A.

    Lalique hood ornament from a 1930’s Delage D8, see 2012 Pebble Beach. Not as eye catching as the figure study ornament though.

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