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1924 Hispano-Suiza H6B Coupe deVille hood ornament – Click above for high-res image gallery

Once upon a time, one of the distinguishing features of all virtually automobiles – especially premium models – were their various forms of hood ornamentation. Those high-end models often had custom coachbuilt bodies, meaning that they rarely looked alike. The ornamentation not only showed the way down the road for captains of industry, it also helped bystanders distinguish a Duesenberg from a Cadillac or a Hispano-Suiza. Eventually, most mainstream cars also carried some sort of sculpture up front as well. Some of these design flourishes became truly iconic like the Rolls-Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy", Bentley's "Flying B", the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star, and, of course, Jaguar's leaper.

In recent decades, however, the combination of cost reduction, attention to aerodynamics and safety concerns have seen the elimination of most hood ornaments. A few remain on modern automobiles, but by and large, the best place to enjoy the artistry inherent in grille-mounted statuary are at events like the Meadowbrook Hall Concours. Enjoy our high-res gallery.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Max Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I thought hood ornaments lost favor because hoodlums kept stealing them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Back in the day maybe that was the reason but I think it was also the whole spearing pedestrians in accidents thing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      These hood ornaments are really like little art-deco / art-nouveau sculptures. Cars from that era were as much the work of artisans as they were the product of factories and foundries.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The glass rooster is the coolest by far
      • 5 Years Ago
      Too bad Lincoln doesn't use the dog today.

      The Packard flying lady is beautiful!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Very cool pics. Thanks for taking the time to shoot all of em!

      And if you are wondering about what the hec those "Moto Meters" are...

        • 5 Years Ago
        cool website, interesting to read the history and all
      • 5 Years Ago
      My 92 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon has one. I use it like a gun site to keep me in the middle of the lane. I think they quit putting them on cars because people got sick of vandals stealing them.
        • 5 Years Ago

        It's only been recently that Rolls-Royce has been offering the retractable Spirit of Ecstasy. I believe the first model available with it was the '03 Phantom.