Girls In The Hood…or, ON the hood


Auburn 2

Packard 7DSC_0292


Nash 1

Packard 5
While at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend I was treated to a display of beautiful classic autos in the infield/fan zone.
There was a time when all cars were a luxury.  Not that they were all ‘Luxury Cars’, but they were a luxury for the few who could own them.


I have heard that there was actually a time when celebrating one’s 16th birthday did not necessarily make one feel entitled  to one’s own car…! 🙂


Cadillac 1

Most of these autos WERE luxury cars though.

Packard 8

They had been beautifully restored.  My first thought was to photograph several of them from whatever interesting and/or unusual angles I could devise but when each car is surrounded by several onlookers, that becomes a bit…umh…distracting in a photo, so I settled for a study of the tiny sculptures that adorned most of them…the hood ornaments.  (And, BTW, I didn’t bother to remove my ‘self-portrait’ from many of these.)

Lincoln 3

Here is the photo ‘instruction?’ part of this story.  I am evidently so ‘old school’ that I first thought that I should get out a journal and keep notes of what ‘mascot’ belonged to which car…you know…don’t want to waste film on placards…Actually, I was storing my images on digital cards, so….well, you get the point, right?  I don’t really HAVE to tell you the intensity of my brain-freeze, do I?  So…hint…tip…when you are photographing something that you want to remember logistic details about, go ahead and use a few megabytes to record it!  If it’s a landscape that you want to come back to, many cameras and certainly cell phones will record the exact GPS location for you. (I’m not really trying to tell you something you already know….I’m trying to hammer it into my own mind.)


Now, for me, it just gave me an excuse to ‘look it up’ later which therefore gave me a bit of history that I didn’t know, though some I could have guessed…

Packard 9

The hood ornament started as a radiator cap.  Originally they had thermometers on them so that you could see when your engine was going to boil over and you would pull off the road and have a picnic while it cooled off.

Stutz chrome

When water pumps and better radiators came around, the designers were then free to add a unique touch to their product, still as radiator caps for a while and then as iconic ‘identifiers’.

Pierce Arrow 2
Most everyone knows a Mercedes Benz hood ornament.  You can see that and you don’t even have to see the rest of the auto to know what’s under the ‘mascot’.  Though there is NOT one here…

Lincoln 1


There are various stories about each mascot, from the Rolls Royce woman (who was the mistress of….well, I won’t tell tales…) with a billowing negligee that represents wings

Rolls Royce

to the very obvious ‘Swallow’.


Swallow 2

The 40’s moved from the classic sculpture into a more streamlined look and the 50’s and 60’s introduced the  ‘Space Age’ themes.

Lincoln 6



Packard 6

Most ornaments in some way signified, or intimated speed….movement…to lead you down the road.


Auburn 1

I mean, you don’t ever see a Jaguar mascot resting on its haunches…or a cormorant sitting on its nest

Packard 2

Anyway….as much as technology has improved autos, I still think that someone should take the basic design of say a Packard, or LaSalle, or Duesenberg  and simply reduce the size to Toyota, Nissan or VW wheelbase specifications….Nash 3
Wouldn’t it be extremely cool to have a 2015 Ford pick-up truck that is the exact design as a 1948 pick-up, with wrap-around windows and all, compact sized, fuel efficient….wooden bed..?  okay, I’ve gone too far…



Bring design back to automobiles!!

Lincoln 4
At least reintroduce the hood ornament!


Packard 3


(I do like the way the reflection of the Indy Pagoda reinforces the lines on this one)

I may have mis-identified a few of these, because, well, I didn’t have the sense to…NVM…

Lincoln 2


Cadillac 2




~ by rkpowers on May 15, 2014.

4 Responses to “Girls In The Hood…or, ON the hood”

  1. Nice job. Love those hood ornaments


  2. Neil Young used to park his car in the street at the restaurant where I worked in the 80’s. His hood ornament was just a great big skull with horns from a steer.


  3. beautiful…and I agree bring back the design element…


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