Hood ornaments have virtually vanished from the automotive landscape but fear not, some chromed creatures have survived so you can still get a bee in – or on – your bonnet.

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

 

Jaguar's Leaper

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

Jaguar's lithe “Leaper” mascot was introduced in 1945 and had a really good run, proudly leading the firm's vehicles for the next 60 years. Changes in EU laws designed to protect pedestrians led to the Leaper being relegated to embossed logos. That said, will Brexit lead to the Leaper resuming its rightful place at the peak of the bonnet? Don't bet on it – like its actual animal namesake, the Leaper remains an extremely endangered species. (animal hood ornament images above via Leah Konicki at top and via Thomas Romen above)           

 

Mack Trucks' Bulldog

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

If you're unlucky enough to get hit by a Mack truck, the legendary Bulldog hood ornament would be the last of your worries... and likely the last thing you'll see. Mack got their “bulldog” rep while serving in World War 1 and the first bulldog hood ornament was factory-installed in the mid-1920s. They're still there... who's gonna tell 'em to remove it? Megatron approves this message, btw. (animal hood ornament image above via Justin)                       

 

Ford's Greyhound

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

The term “hood ornament” is actually a misnomer: the inspiring deco- rative sculptures were actually radiator cap ornaments and it's been a LONG time since rad caps migrated to their current location UNDER the hood. Back in the day, automakers like Ford embraced the concept as it added some upscale pizzazz to their mass-market offerings. Ford's new-for-1932 V8 engine, on the other hand, was announced by the go-fast greyhound affixed to the Model A's hood. (animal hood ornament image above via Nick Lee)                                               

 

Ford's Quail

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

All Fords were not created equal (e-quail?) and as such, some Fords sported a Quail hood ornament instead of a Greyhound. Why a quail? Well, it was one way to give the bird to oncoming drivers. (animal hood ornament image above via Ann-Sophie Qvarnström)                                            

 

Chevrolet's Eagle

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

“Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet,” according to one of the automaker's more memorable slogans. What's missing from this parade of Americana? The American Eagle, of course! Kudos to Chevy for placing the inspiring avian front & center on their vintage vehicles, though it seems obvious a baseball, a hotdog or a slice of pie wouldn't work very well as a hood ornament. (animal hood ornament image above via Grahford)

 

American LaFrance's Eagle

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

Sometimes it's not just the subject but the presentation that counts. Take the above Eagle perched rather forlornly atop a classic American LaFrance firetruck's radiator cap. Looks more like a vulture than a raptor if you ask us. Don't know what the artist got for this travesty but he shoulda' got... fired. (animal hood ornament image above via Jorbasa Fotografie)                                         

 

Citroen's Double Horseheads

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

Time was, cars featured badges on their fenders proclaiming their engine size: 289, 454, 6.2 liter and so on. Then there's this vintage Citroen that appears to advertise its prodigious Two Horse power via an exquisite equine hood ornament. It might not be too speedy but look on the right side: you won't find a more “stable” ride. (animal hood ornament image above via Thomas Quine)                         

 

 

Packard's Cormorant

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

Packard exited the automotive scene in the mid-1950s following an ill-fated merger with Studebaker. The make's iconic Cormorant hood ornament – often mistaken to be a pelican – helped the former luxo-car brand keep neck & neck with prestigious domestic-market rivals Cadillac and Lincoln. (animal hood ornament image above via Robert Payne)   

 

Dodge's Ram

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

Much like the Mack truck bulldog, Dodge's bighorn Ram hood ornament still appears today, although in a substantially reduced aspect. This means being hit by a Ram is less injurious than it used to be. Do Dodge trucks still have big horns, though? Step in front of a moving one if you want to find out! (animal hood ornament image above via Jorbasa Fotografie)

 

Volga's Stag

The Top 10 Animal Auto Hood Ornaments

A soviet car is about the last place one might expect to find a hood ornament yet here we are... or at least, there they were, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These graceful chromed leaping stags imparted an incongruous dash of bourgeois decadence to the first and second series of the iconic GAZ-21 “Volga” but it wouldn't last: they were deleted from the Volga's third series due to rising pedestrian injuries and frequent hood ornament thefts by wannabe russkie rappers. One might say, in soviet Russia, hood ornament wore you! (animal hood ornament image above via Serge Zykov)

Comments

Cool article, Steve. My stepfather used to have the bulldog on his old Ford truck. He used to drive a Mack.