A hood / bonnet ornament, radiator cap, motor mascot or car mascot is a specially crafted model which symbolizes a car company like a badge, located on the front center portion of the hood. It has been used as an adornment nearly since the inception of automobiles.
The first “hood ornament” was a sun-crested falcon (to bring good luck) mounted on Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s chariot.
Hood ornaments were popular in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s although some marques still use them – e.g. Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
Classic hood ornaments are the Pierce-Arrow (archer), Jaguar (leaping jaguar), Rolls-Royce (sprit of ecstasy), Mercedes (three-pointed star surrounded by a circle), Bentley (flying B), Cadillac (heron), Hispano-Suiza (stork), Isotta-Fraschini (Spirit of Triomphe) and the Duesenberg (Duesenbird ).
Originally fixed stand-up ornaments, safety regulations in many countries led to the creation of spring loaded hood ornaments that fold upon impact.
Hood ornaments are usually finished in a chrome, silver or nickel plated finish. Some also used other materials, such as plastic, bakelite, or colored glass, while others incorporated a light bulb for illumination at night.
There is a strong collectors market for hood ornaments and car mascots.