(photo: Mainly Art)
by Jacques Gordon
Last fall I wrote about a hood ornament that’s been hanging in a friend’s garage for years. We had been trying unsuccessfully to identify it, so I decided to ask you, our readers. One reader responded saying “I’ll get you for this,” and I understood immediately what he meant. I’ve spent hours looking at pictures of hood ornaments on the Web, and if you’re into cars at all, it’s oh-so-easy to fall down the rabbit hole of old-car and old-car-parts websites. You’ve been warned.
Six readers sent me pictures of identical hood ornaments, and all of their responses went something like this: “I don’t know what it is, but here’s a picture of mine. Let me know if you find out what car it came from.” One reader said he had found a design patent number on his, 149443 (yep, it’s on ours too). An on-line auction of a matching ornament stated that the patent was granted on April 27, 1948 to a man named Lucian Ring, and a quick patent search (using Google) confirmed this. Another auction with a photo of an identical piece said it was from a pedal car of the 1950s, but I can’t confirm that either (imagine how many pedal car photos are posted on the Web).
The production car hood ornament I’ve found that looks most like this one is the 1953 Oldsmobile, but it’s obviously not a match. I still don’t know for sure, but I’m reasonably certain it was not an original car part. I’ve found two different sources that indicate it was an aftermarket accessory from the late 1940s or 1950s, and that seems most reasonable to me because new aftermarket hood ornaments are still being made today. Other parts catalog accessories of the day include chrome exhaust pipe tips, curb feelers, spotlights, fog lights, traffic light viewers, tinted sun visors, exterior visors for the windshield, side windows and headlights, fender skirts, steering wheel knobs (a.k.a. cuff-catcher or suicide knob), fender guides, and of course, the dashboard hula girl and fuzzy dice.
Enjoy the search, let me know if you find anything more about my friend’s hood ornament.
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