Hood ornaments began to fall out of vogue in the 1960's after Ralph Nader's 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed lionized hood mascots for the injuries they inflicted in pedestrian/vehicle collisions. After the uproar from the book and changes in regulations by NHTSA, hood mascots shrunk in size and became easily detachable, a hollow shell of their former glory. The new flimsy plastic or thin metal hood ornaments really sounded the death knell for the artfully designed, heavy, metal hood mascot.
Today, the precious few hood ornaments that still exist are smaller and less graceful than those of the past. In fact, only three ornaments have really stood the test of time. Rolls Royce's Spirit of Ecstasy has adorned the hood's of Rollers since 1911. Mercedes-Benz's Three-Pointed Star has been used in various capacities since 1910. Finally, the Jaguar 'Leaper' has been bouncing off the British luxury cars since 1935.
For more information on hood mascots, be sure to check out Mascot-Mania. Also, for more shots of great mascots, see the Northstar Gallery's "Flying Ladies." Finally, if you are ever in the
Hood ornaments, clockwise from lower left, are from a1934 Packard Twelve Victoria Cabriolet, a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 630K Murphy Town Car, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sedan, a 1954 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, a 1953 Buick Skylark, a 2006 Maybach 57S, and a 1953 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible.
Also, in the coming days, look forward to coverage from this past weekend's Geneva Concours d'Elegance and the Rockford AACA Blackhawk Region Meet.