Hood Ornaments of Amercian Cars Circa 1940 and '50

Hood ornaments kill.

Find me a car on sale today that comes standard with a hood ornament that juts forward out of the hood and leaps towards pedestrian like a soldier’s bayonnette, and I’ll give a you a super big high five.

When I’m done patronizing you, I’ll remind you that once upon a time, before safety regulators started saving our lives, there was a land called America that made cars. These cars were bought in droves by the post-war generation, thereby turning a hard-working and resource-wealthy nation from an also-ran on the world’s stage to the world’s economic and industrial showpiece.

The cars that represented so much of the nation’s cheery optimism grew bigger and more opulent by the year. Where once austerity and modesty sufficed, ornate opulence grew unfazed by the grim shadow of war.

To reflect on the noble art of hood ornamentation, here is a gallery of gems from an era blanketed in nostalgia, like Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris. The photos are from The Ultimate Car Show, which took place on June 11, 2011, at the Reynolds Museum in Wetaskiwin.

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