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d’Elegance of the Hood Ornament

By D. Brian Smith
Photography: Ben Moment

Coachbuilders of the 19 teens, 1920s and 1930s created magnificent bodies for the luxury automotive brands of the era. The hood ornaments that perched majestically on these impressive machines were not unlike the ornamentation found on the prow of immense sailing vessels from the beginnings of nautical transport up until the early 1900s, when wind powered ships were replaced with engine propelled vessels.

As automobiles became more mass-produced, the hood ornaments that once adorned bespoke constructed car bodies became simpler and almost austere by comparison. But, the ornamentation on the front of every automobile from the 1940s to the present day conveys the message that it needs to; it brands the automobile and is instantly recognizable to automotive fans certainly and even most casual car consumers.

Those bespoke vehicles of a bygone era will never be forgotten, thanks to the Concours d’Elegance events that honor such majestic machines all over the world. Expensive automobiles from the coachwork era of the teens, 20s and 30s were rolling sculptures. Having hood ornaments that well fit these opulent vehicles, in terms of style, was not an easy feat to master. All of the examples depicted here had automotive mascots that fit the cars perfectly.

Enjoy the hood ornaments without the beautiful cars getting in the way, and remember that the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will be here before you know it. Amen to that.

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