During the 1930s and the 1950s the classic car mascots were very popular among car manufactures. The car mascot concept started with the earliest car temperature gauges placed on external radiator caps. Waiting for these motometers to be available, the drivers overheated the engines. The new improvement solved that problem and gave the manufacturer the opportunity to display a distinctive form or a stylized logo on the cars produced.
At the beginning, these motormeters displayed wings or other features and became more and more popular because of the car manufacturers. So, very soon sculpted pieces became available as part of the design, but in the same time those pieces hosted the motometer. Once the water temperature gauges placed on the dashboard were introduced the exterior heat gauge stopped being used. In addition to this, the exterior radiator caps started to disappear because the manufacturers opted for radiators placed beneath the hood. As a result, the classic car mascots became only ornamental without any need to be functional as well. That’s the way the classic car mascots became even more original.
All these classis car mascots were usually cast in zinc, brass or bronze and after that they were plated with chrome, nickel or silver becoming more attractive and interesting for the viewers. These mascots symbolized the car company or a feature of the car manufactured by the company. These ornaments were used especially on luxury cars and became impressive works of art.
In the 1930s the classic car mascots took different forms. One of these forms was the goddess which was a popular motif that could be admired on the Cadillac, Buick, DeSoto, Packard, Plymouth, Graham, Oldsmobile or Studebaker. But other mythological figures were used as well such as the griffin used by the Gardner, the gryphon placed on the Chevrolet cars or the Pegasus mounted on the Duesenburg.
Along with the mythological mascots, the animal forms were popular as well. So, you could be impressed by the lions placed on the Peugeot cars, the cormorant that was used by Packard while the Ford could be distinguished because of its quail in flight mascot. The stork was used in different versions by Hispano Suiza, Morgan and Fonck and the eagle became a popular motif for the Oakland, Marmon and Chevrolet cars.
But the classic car mascots included also forms based on inanimate objects such as a sail for the Talbot, a crescent moon for the Moon, a crown for the Briscoe or a diving helmet for the Dagmar and the Checker brands. Some of the most popular car brands such as Studebaker, Pierce-Arrow, Austin or Chevrolet used the winged wheel as a classic mascot, a motif which survives even today on these classic cars and can be admired at every classic car auction or show.
Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy
The most well known hood classic car mascots include the Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy (“The Flying Lady”), the Lincoln’s greyhound, the Pierce-Arrow’s Archer and some incredible stylized ornaments such as the 1934 Cadillac Goddess, the Duesenbird or the eagle placed on the 1930 REO truck.
These works of art are produced even nowadays by custom houses and some car manufacturers such as Rene Lalique in France, Lejeune in London and since the 20th century the Elkington Company in Britain and the Doehler Jarvis Company operating in the USA.
All these classic car mascots are master pieces and bring back the memory of old times. But nowadays, these mascots are only collector items that impress and are admired every time when a classic car enthusiast or a collector has the opportunity to observe them.