cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
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
jackinthesac
Pit Crew

Any of the lighted hood ornaments, especially the Pontiac variations. winged victory from Rolls Royce. Although out of the time frame I like the Bugatti Elephant
JackHabart
New Driver

Loved seeing the lighted Pontiac hood ornament. My first car was a 53 Pontiac Chieftain (US model but sold new in Canada) with the lighted hood ornament. Driving back to university after Christmas one year we got caught in a blizzard and I remember looking out the windshield and the only thing I could see was the light on the hood ornament. (I drove by having my passengers look out the side windows and telling me to steer right or left - scary but we made it).
Jonnyboy55
New Driver

Hey - what about the Metropolitan nash hood ornament? Now there's a classic!
plymouthgal
New Driver

I have an original 1948 Plymouth which has the Mayflower hood ornament. I was told by an elderly gentleman in the 70's that I could light up my hood ornament by putting a small light with a thin electrical wire running under the stainless steel trim in the center of the hood attached to a switch under the dashboard. He advised against it though, as he said the tendency while driving the car was to fixate on the lighted ornament while driving in the dark. I never put the light in.
Debx2
Intermediate Driver

I also have a stock ‘48 Plymouth club coupe with the clear/opaque Mayflower insert. It already had the light installed when we purchased it.
With respect to the ‘elderly gentleman’, go ahead and light it up! I’ve never had any issues with distraction unless you count all the people that love it as distractions!
hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

i have a stock 47 plymouth with the clear insert in the hood ornament. i found an original light kit for it, and wired it in with the low beam. very cool, just do it.
i almost bought a desoto when i was a young teen. guy wanted $75 for it, desoto's face lit up at night.........dummy i was did not buy it........
SilentBoy741
Advanced Driver

Oh, a RETICLE ornament! When I was a kid, Dad used to call those "pedestrian sights".
dmccarg
New Driver

I can't believe that you left out the most controversial hood ornament of the '50s--the Nash
flying lady--everybody wanted one for their un-Nash beaters, back in the day. You must add
a post script, or something. Some callous disregard for us gNashers, out there! But you did pretty good, otherwise, takes me back. I was a kid in the 50s, started driving in 1959, and my family
drove around with many of the hoods you have pictured, although it was also cool to add a chrome bull nose and lose the hood ornament. I still have a small collection of beauties, including a 1955 Chevy, the aforesaid Nash beauty, and a 1937 Nash Lafayette. I'd bet you don't remember its funky script flying L design...Keep the e-mails coming! Maybe try a 1930s batch of ornaments?
MrKnowItAll
Detailer

That’s the first I thought of too.. Petty’s lady
Maestro1
Instructor

I remember there was a hot market for the ring around the Buick hood ornament that was stolen off the car and given to one's girlfriend.
The '55 Pontiac hood ornament was always attractive to me, as well as the DeSoto, although I never
thought the car was much in relation to its bigger brother Chrysler, several of which I have owned.
Packard had some attractive ornaments; my '55 Patrician which I drove for years had one. I remember looking at a brand new '55 Nash Ambassador 4 Door Sedan in Gray, parked on the street with no hood ornament if I remember correctly. This was a period when doing bullnose to cars was a big deal and Nash had made a car without an ornament and I thought it was plain and stunning.
Spudsly
Intermediate Driver

Hagerty ? We thought you were car pros. A list of 50s hood ornaments MUST have pics of the Nash Flying Lady. Bend over to get spanked...
Walt
Pit Crew

Tried to attach a pic of mine
(see my comment) but no way to do so.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Tinkerah
Technician

Hi Sajeev - I couldn't get any version of your link to work; even knowing it's not "hot" and pasting different lengths into a browser. Please try something else? Thanks!
Sajeev
Community Manager
rff
New Driver

First car was a '46 Dodge with the ram on the hood. Our family had a "56 Rocket Olds as well as a '58 Cadillac with the two fins. Great memories.
TRdelux
Intermediate Driver

In the late 70's I found a one owner 56 Pontiac Starchief in the back lot of a local New Jersey Pontiac
dealer. It belonged to one of the mechanics working in the shop. Needed work (mostly cosmetic)
and owner needed cash. Dealer tried to buy it from him but they did not get along well. I bought it for
$600.00 and got nasty looks from dealer when I towed it out of lot. At that time NOS 50's Pontiac parts were still around at swap meets. I ended up replacing all the chrome trim with NOS or real good used. Best score was a brand new lighted hood ornament. Painted it, tires brakes etc and used it for a about a year. Very cool car but not worth much at the time. Another one that got away.
Walt
Pit Crew

You totally forgot the flying naked woman on the 55 Rambler wagon.
I've got one from a 4 tone (salmon and white) wagon I owned in the 70s. It's in perfect condition because the previous owners thought it was too risque and kept it under the driver's seat.
Pioneer27185
Pit Crew

The amber pontiac ornament lit up when the headlights came on!
JGMan
Intermediate Driver

I’m not usually one to defend the authors of these conversation starting articles BUT, he did open by saying he covered pre-war hood ornaments in a previous article and that this article (and discussion board) was going to focus on the hood ornaments from “the Big Three” from the 40’s & 50’s. Well, I think we all know who the big three were in the 40’s & 50’s, so why are so many dudes shouting out their favs and bashing Hagerty experts for leaving them out?
I too have a 1947 Plymouth (woody station wagon) and it sports the clear dome, over chrome (boat-like) hood ornament containing the little Mayflower ship, and yes it still lights up! I too used to think that Pontiac had the only stock, lighted hood ornaments, but was pleasantly surprised when I came across my Plymouth. (Plus the Mayflower is way more PC than a proud native American’s head with a light bulb in it - sorry Pontiac owners) Not sure why author chose to feature a pic of the plainest hood ornaments Plymouth made during this period versus the similar ones that light up? Probably the same reason he chose a picture of a DeSoto ornament on a Ford grill. (See, I ganged up on the author too).
BTW, the lit ornament is not distracting at all and the ornament itself blocks most of the light that would shine rearward. So, to the gentleman that asked, I’d be more concerned about the old style, round, 6V headlights not lighting up the road the way we’ve become accustomed, than being distracted by this tiny light. With original headlights every little bit of light shining forward helps!
farna
Detailer

Like me, most just glanced over the article and missed the first paragraph. I was looking through the comments to see if someone mentioned the Nash "flying lady" (used on big cars in the 50s too, not just the Rambler), when I saw your comment. I looked at the previous article, but it covered 20s-30s cars. There area lot of interesting hood ornaments in the 50s, so breaking things down to just the big three this time is fair. Maybe an "independents" 40s-50s article is in order now...
elheadflat
Intermediate Driver

Pontiac with Amber lense....
chrlsful
Instructor

Mack, pretty nice w/the bull dog, some of earlier era were naked ladies, the jaguar for Jaguar, and so on. The world has changed, folks go over'n knock them off/steal. The pace of life & # of ppl on the planet say get ride of them (hazard to health). I like the last of them, seen on econo cars - the fender gun sights.
Patrician
Intermediate Driver

No Packard Swan??????
silverado
Intermediate Driver

My first car was my grandpas 1950 desoto deluxe and I thought the hood ornament was pretty kewl. I also loved the glow of the dash light in the dark after shutting the lights off. They had a purple glow to them. Very Kewl.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Here's the hood ornament @Walt was looking to post. 20190921_192853.jpg

 

 

By the way, if you need help posting photos, this link should work now...hopefully???  

-Nate
Detailer

FWIW ,

This ornament _was_ considered a bit risque in it's day .

I've forgotten the name of the man who designed it but he used his wife for the model .

Notice the base is detachable, they used this same ornament of many different Rambler/Nash cars including the diminutive Nash Metropolitan .

-Nate
Walt
Pit Crew

The designer's name is Petty, it's stamped intro the leading edge of the wing.