Art On Speed: From function to form of Motoring Mascots.
How an automotive part became the manufactures expression of speed, style and elegance.
The collection of Hood Ornaments and Radiator caps of John Shields, of Ventura County.
Though he has one vintage car in his home garage, John Shields collects some very interesting mementoes of classic cars. These are hood ornaments or mascots that he found at car swap meets and yard sales over the years. Each have their own appeal to him. And they are a lot easier to keep as they take up less room than cars.
The cap or cover of the radiator served as a closure for the opening of the radiator that held the cooling water for the automobile engine. It kept the dirt out, and later would be used to pressurize the cooling system that would increase the boiling temperature of the water.
The simplest design was a cap or plug that usually had threads to lock it in place. It could be removed by twisting it in one direction. As most radiators were on the front of the car
it was a perfect spot to place a mascot to identify the make of the car or personalize the car, transforming the machine to an object of desire.
There were practical applications that made it into the design, like a thermometer that indicated when the engine cooling water was close to boiling. These were referred to as a motometer, or calorimeter.
The radiator cap became an ornament that evoked speed, grace, beauty and power.
Each accessory manufacturer commissioned their ideas into shapes of wings, animals and more.
Most were metal but there are some sculpted in glass or crystal. Some would blend two animals, and give wings to a fleet footed gazelle.
1932 Chrysler Imperial
As peoples interests changed so did the designs. Some would represent gun sights, torpedoes, airplanes, and later rockets. The aftermarket suppliers allowed for individual tastes that you could even get a flying pig.
More at wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hood_ornament.