Ram recently introduced the retro-inspired Traveller pickup and one of its coolest features was a modern-day take on the company’s classic hood ornament.
The old school styling cue was a hit with fans and it got us thinking about the golden age of hood ornaments. While they’ve largely fallen out of favor, hood ornaments can still be found on a handful of models including the Bentley Flying Spur, Mercedes S-Class, and the entire Rolls-Royce lineup.
However, that’s a far cry from a few decades ago, when hood ornaments were fitted to an assortment of different models including those from Buick, Cadillac, and Lincoln. These were simpler times as automakers weren’t obsessed with aerodynamics and pedestrian safety regulations weren’t as strict.
Also: Rolls-Royce Unveils New Aerodynamic Spirit Of Ecstasy For The Spectre
Nearly 50 years ago, The New York Times reported on the comeback of hood ornaments and talked to GM vice president of styling, Bill Mitchell, who proclaimed “I can’t stand a hood that looks like a turkey roaster or a bed pan.” He added the resurgence of hood ornaments was a “renaissance of the classic tradition” and a way to stand out.
Interestingly, Chrysler’s then chief stylist, Dick Macadam, claimed hood ornaments were a “driving tool.” As the paper explained, “Detroit’s executives believe the ornaments give the driver an aiming point toward the center of the road, possibly making for easier and safer car handling.”
We’ll chalk that statement up to the 70’s being a wild time, but automakers have turned out some iconic hood ornaments over the decades. Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy is probably the best-known, but Jaguar’s Leaper is still popular enough that Arden offers one for modern vehicles.
There are plenty of other examples including the bulldog from Mack Trucks, the Pierce-Arrow Archer, and the Hispano-Suiza Stork. There are also an assortment of lesser known ornaments and The Henry Ford has a number of aftermarket ones including those advocating for the reelection of President Calvin Coolidge and supporting the women’s suffrage movement.
With all that being said, what are your favorite hood ornaments and do you think they should make a comeback?