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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Our favorite hood ornaments from the '40s and '50s | Hagerty Media

A few weeks ago we shared some of our favorite prewar hood ornaments. That list was dominated by graceful animals and varied takes on the human form, courtesy of mostly luxury and European brands. Now let's take a look at some slightly more modern versions that will turn our attention Stateside, and to the Big Three.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/our-favorite-hood-ornaments-from-the-40s-and-50s/
77 REPLIES 77
Studenorton
Advanced Driver

Well these are very nice, but the greatest of all wasn't on a car: the Mack Bulldog.
If you have the version with eyes that light up, it'll make Bugatti's elephant sit and stay.
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

Trivia: the Mack bulldog emblems are gold colored if you have a Mack engine in the truck and chrome if you have some other brand.
TRdelux
Intermediate Driver

A new variation on the Gold-Silver Bulldog is Copper. That is for the electric refuse truck in development.

ozrod49
Pit Crew

A long time ago I drove a 1965 Mack B75 with the Mack 711 engine and quadruplex transmission and it had the chrome bulldog and later I owned a 1978 Mack R series with a Cummins 350 and the same chrome bulldog. What I understood was the Mack V-8 engine had the gold bulldog ornament. Just nitpickin here, but great hood ornaments all around.
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

Now that I think about it, your truck had to have a completely Mack drivetrain (engine, transmission, possibly rear axles?) to rate a gold bulldog. It's been a long time.
ralphscarfo
New Driver

my favorite is the 1950 Nash beauty woman with wings.
TonyT
Instructor

We had an elderly customer that owned a 1973 Thunderbird, and we noticed during one service visit that part of the outer border was missing. We called the local dealer about obtaining a new one, but it was obsolete (naturally.) Thumbing through a copy of Hemmings didn't turn anything up, either. So, I plugged a cutoff wheel into a Dremel and carefully removed the rest of the border leaving only the winged bird. A little careful file work and it looked like it came that way. The customer loved it!
PackardGuy4048
New Driver

I think the Packard ornaments from the early to late 40s are terrific. The 50s era Packard ornaments are nice as well.
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

There are very many worthy contenders here, but if I had to pick my absolute favorite, it would have to be the illuminated amber Chief Pontiac! 🙂
63vette63
Pit Crew

I can't believe that you didn't point out that the '55 Pontiac lighted up. That, on top of the fact that the entire ornament is spectacular, puts it in a class of its own. Some earlier Pontiac ornaments were also illuminated but, overall, they paled in comparison to the '55.
Joel
Pit Crew

I thought the very same thing...I have one of those ornaments sitting on the shelf.
63vette63
Pit Crew

Just ran across this example to which I referred...a '53 Pontiac lighted ornament. Cool, but at least for me, not nearly as cool as the '55.

63vette63_1-1610035148589.jpeg

 

perk120
Pit Crew

what about the 49-51 Studebaker truck gun sight ?
ppointer
Intermediate Driver

Greyhound!!
bjc815
New Driver

I don't know what vehicle it came from but I've seen an "Atlas" hood ornament on eBay that has him leaning forward with an illuminated globe on his back. I want to say it had a somewhat art-deco style about it, very sleek. I'd love to know what vehicle had it and see photos.
MR
Intermediate Driver

If your squeamish then I wouldn't continue........ You have been warned!!
I had just picked up my lunch at the drive-thru. I was traveling my usual route from Green Bay Wi to Escanaba Mi in my 1983 Plymouth Reliant K. The hood ornament was the Chrysler emblem.
Just as I sank my teeth into my burger the largest dragonfly I ever saw scored a direct hit at on that emblem eviscerating itself all over my windscreen. Lunch over!
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

@ MR:  I guess I must not be...since I'm eating lunch as I read your post, LOL!! 🙂

DrDog
New Driver

What about the Mack Truck Hood Ornament ?
Cyberkind
New Driver

Any of the Packard especially the winged hood ornaments are just breathtaking
Kim826
New Driver

Hands down, it's gotta be the Buick Gunsight! Very masculine and allows you to take careful aim at the driver that just cut you off.
Longbranch
Pit Crew

Austin A30/35...the Flying A hood ornament doubles as the hood latch.

Wolseley is also great as it is backlit.

I liked my gunsights on the corners of my 1961 Comet too.
bradleydad
Pit Crew

Because Plymouth was named after Plymouth Binding Twine (by the Plymouth Cordage Company) I've often thought a ball of string with the end blowing in the slip stream would be fun. For some reason, the folks at the museum where I volunteer have never been very enthusiastic about replacing the hood ornament on the '36 Plymouth with a ball of string!
hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

sacrilage! april 1st must be your day, LOL
Rubicon1
New Driver

Gunsight Hood Ornament from a
1954 Buick Super and Roadmaster are my Favorite from Buick.
Check it out!
fr88
Pit Crew

The 1953-54 Chrysler Imperial eagle was my favorite. Although its sharp, crisp, stylized design was at odds with the rounded contour of those Imperials, it was one of the most dramatic hood ornaments of the era.
Rob1
Instructor

55 Poncho out of the bunch thats my pic a classic
win59
Detailer

Mom's '49 Nash Landau had a bomb sight on a chrome flash on the hood. Third day with my new drivers license I shaved it off under the back of a stake bed truck when I got my braking a bit wrong.
After that Mom would drop it - pointy end first - into the carburetor to hold the choke butterfly open when it (frequently) flooded.
Prop the hood open, remove the enormous oil-bath air cleaner and set it on the curb, drop the hood ornament down the carb, stamp on the clutch pedal to crank the starter until it fired up, and reverse the whole procedure.
Quite a sight in her Sunday best in the church parking lot.
Not much that could stop Mom!
Rob1
Instructor

How about doing a favorite hood/scoop combo muscle car vote luv those 70,s hood designs.Cheers R
terryjudd
Intermediate Driver

Ignoring the fact all of the featured hood ornaments designs were absolutely oblivious to the devastating and most likely fatal injuries they would inflict on errant pedestrians — I shudder at the thought of being struck by an Oldsmobile rocket — one of the best from ’50s were the variants of the “Flying Lady” or “Flying Goddess” offered by Nash Motors Co. starting with the 1950 Airflytes. Designed by renowned pin-up artist George Petty and featuring his signature, the ornaments boast a sensuous “lady” sprawled on a unique wing design. Incredibly sexist by today’s standards, the “Flying Lady” was promoted by Nash as “the least expensive date you every had.”
Debx2
Intermediate Driver

I think the bumper breaking a pedestrian’s knee caps is a much bigger concern than the hood ornament 😉
Russ1963Pontiac
Intermediate Driver

My vote goes to the 1953 Oldsmobile one of my favorite cars of the 1950's.
GTRacer
New Driver

Illuminated Pontiac was real class in the day. Good memories here, thanks!!

Ducknuts
Pit Crew

My favorite 50's hood ornament would be the Chevy bird that was on my '56 my dad bought me used, and it was my first car.
tim_stockwell57
New Driver

Why not the Packard emblems. They are truly the best.
Jack1955
Pit Crew

1953 illuminated amber Pontiac. I was brought home from the Hospital in one. Later saw one in the waiting room for the Boardroom for the top executives at GM Headquarters while waiting to present my case for a new car model. Mentioned to a guy from GM powertrain and he delivered one to me on his next trip to my location (Korea). Mounted and on a shelf in my house.
jstrohm
New Driver

#11 is the faux hood ornament featured on the album cover of Blind Faith's first album.

Not the girl. The chrome sculpture.
Firehawk2K2544
Pit Crew

Correct me if I am wrong but didnt Blind Faith only do one album........
.....Had to Cry Today.......for that reason...(not the title, one of the songs)
terryjudd
Intermediate Driver

Actually, Blind Faith’s premier album featured two covers. The first cover, to which you refer, was promptly dropped by Atco Records and replaced by a second boring cover featuring a poor quality black-and-white photo of the four band members. The first cover apparently was deemed too controversial at the time, not because of the hood ornament, but because the person holding the ornament was a topless, barely-budding, pubescent girl. Early editions of the album with the controversial cover are sought by collectors.
Tim
Instructor

Wait, is that an upside-down Ford logo underneath that DeSoto emblem? Is that just a one-off that the owner of that particular car did or is there more to the story?
Debx2
Intermediate Driver

Looks like de Soto is on a ‘Rat Rod’ in the picture.
Tim
Instructor

The '54 and '56 Chevys have an Art Deco style to them and may be the best zoomorphic examples. Mercury's emblem is very "jet age" without being too literal like some of the Oldsmobile Rocket emblems. The '56 Chieftan looks every bit a B2 bomber. The Cadillac's hood fins seem almost too understated, especially considering the size of the tail fins on its cars of those years. I find I like the human heads the least, but there are so many good examples. Some are works of art.
42Plyguy
New Driver

You missed the best Plymouth hood ornaments. Those of the 40's, the lighted Mayflower ornaments. I have a 42 Ply with the lighted Mayflower, my friend has a 47 also with a lighted Mayflower. These always draw attention at shows.
DC
Intermediate Driver

Iconic ‘55 Chevrolet bird on the iconic ‘55 Chevrolet, a stylized P 38 Lightning by Harley Earl !
Rockem
Intermediate Driver

I have a 51 Ford Victoria hood ornament on the wall of my shop.It's sleek,smooth no crazy fins sticking up,it looks like it's going a thousand miles per hour just hanging there.I should admit that I've hade five differant shoe box Fords over the years.
stevecobb45
Detailer

I have a 57 Chevy & like the rockets but the 56 Pontiac I once owned, that lit up when the lights were on, I always thought was way cool.
RonRod
New Driver

The Face of Desoto on the hood ornament on my Dad's 1950 Desoto was glass lit up in an amber color.
Charlie
Pit Crew

The lit Pontiac Indian is the most treasured of all domestic hood ornaments for all time.
Jew
Pit Crew

Your favorites are plain Janes when compared to the early '50s Nash George Petty designed pure art.
ESB19SS
Pit Crew

Always liked that bombsight on the old man's Buick. But the BEST has to be the illuminated Pontiac. Those were cooooool.