Eye candy: Hood ornaments from an elegant era

Once upon a time, radiators that provided coolant to a car’s engine sat proudly out front in the open air.

Photos by Larry Edsall

Once upon a time, radiators that provided coolant to a car’s engine sat proudly out front in the open air. Often, that radiator was topped not merely by a cap, but by a decorative piece that included a temperature indicator to warn the driver of approaching the boiling point.

Along came engineers with wind-cheating aerodynamics and designers who added style to the automotive equation and instead of exposed parts cars had sleek bodywork that enclosed the radiator behind a sometimes decorative grille and beneath a hood.

But how would the driver know the temperature of the coolant? Now there was a gauge on the vehicle’s dashboard.

And what of the ornate radiator cap? Well, that space now could be used for any sort of  decorative ornament, usually designed by the car company to portray its mascot, but sometimes car owners would find, commission or create their own hood ornaments.

For your nostalgic viewing pleasure, these are some of the hood ornaments we’ve seen as we’ve visited classic car shows and auctions in the past few months.

 

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