Hood ornaments have been a watermark of the classic car for many years. From Rolls-Royce’s “Spirit of Ecstasy” to Packard’s “Goddess of Speed”, the emblems represent the true craftsmanship and luxury of the classic car era.
In the early 1900’s when vehicle manufactures first started producing exclusive luxury lines, cars required external temperature gauges and radiator caps on the vehicle hood. As a way to make the meters more attractive, automakers sought out a solution that was a perfect combination of form and function- miniature sculptures that not only disguised the unsightly radiator caps but were in themselves dramatic works of art!
Hood ornaments, or mascots as they were some times called, became a popular way for car makers to distinguish or brand their company. As time went on, the hood ornaments became more and more elaborate in design. Winged goddesses, graceful birds, and intricate animal designs were common. The auto mascot was developing a life of its own. So much so that by 1930, when caps and temp gauges were moved under hoods or onto dashboards, the ornaments were so popular they remained a part of the car.
Perhaps the most recognizable examples of these glamorous hood ornaments include the archer on the Pierce-Arrows, the leaping Jaguar or the Mercedes-Benz three-point star. But, possibly the most famous and most readily recognized emblem is the Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Ecstasy”; the beautiful silver lady with wings still signifies the Rolls-Royces brand today.
Over the years, the presence of hood ornaments has dwindled and nearly disappeared altogether, yet they will continue to be a wonderful example of the luxury and craftsmanship of the classic car era.