Back in the day, as recent as the early 1990s, car manufacturers loved the immediate branding that came with an easily identifiable logo or mascot standing out from the rest of the car in the form of a hood ornament.
Since then, more and more automobile makers have been shifting away from the three-dimensional hood ornaments and opting for the two-dimensional badges. One of the reasons for this was to prevent teenagers and others from breaking ornaments off cars to wear around their neck.
Remember the late-1980s/early-1990s fad started by rappers, such as the Beastie Boys, wearing Volkswagen and Mercedes hood ornaments?
The origin of hood ornaments date back to a time long before even the first automobile was introduced in the 1800s. In an article on Inside Hook, Efe Uygar was quoted as saying, “The mascot that was first to be known was a sun-crested falcon (to bring good luck) mounted on Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankhamun’s (aka Tut’s) chariot.”
The article continues, “But despite their ornamental origins, the first automotive mascots had far more practical means.”
The use? The first hood ornaments on cars (not chariots) were used to gage the temperature of the engine coolant since they often rested atop radiator caps.
Today, there is a strong market for rare hood ornaments that make them extremely collectible. After a quick search on ebay, a Lalique Car Mascot Cinq Cheveaux Amethyst Hood Ornament had an opening price of $34,999. There were several others going for more than $5,000.
Walking amongst the cars in the field at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance it’s hard to miss the variety of hood ornaments — standard and collectible. They were each unique and beautiful with their own stories.
Check out the hood ornaments spotted during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegeance.