Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THE DETROIT AUTO show, formally the North American International Auto Show, runs from today, January 11, through January 24, 2016. It’s expected to fill Detroit’s Cobo Hall with global debuts of 18 new production models from around the world and at least four concept cars. President Barak Obama has announced he’ll be visiting the show. In his announcement, with a touch of yesteryear thinking, he called it the Big 3.


The show’s opening got me thinking about the elegant NAIAS logo, formally called the Winged Woman Mark. Young people may not recognize her and similar objects as hood ornaments or, as a Brit car enthusiast might call them, bonnet bling.

Before the demise of the hood ornament for concerns of pedestrian safety, this bonnet bling defined a marque. Even the likes of Lalique produced aftermarket bonnet bling in fine crystal, today highly collectable.

Here are several photos of bonnet bling I’ve collected; the photos, mind; not the bling.


Pierce Arrow and others of the classic era offered one variation or another of a graceful archer.


The archer theme made sense for this marque. In fact, a Pierce Arrow badge had its Pierce pierced by an arrow. One can imagine the safety implications of the archer’s armed weapon as bonnet bling.


Bentley’s B has been adorned by several different wings.

Some Bentleys have only the B; others, it and a trailing wing; still others, a B ready to soar with a pair of wings. W.O. Bentley built aero engines, including the Sopwith Camel’s, before starting his car company in 1919. Thus, the wings are completely legitimate.


Cobra, but not a Shelby. This bling graced an Isotta Fraschini in the 1930s.


Most Isotta Fraschinis featured a winged personage thrusting a wheel forward (as did Packard). However, this Isotta Fraschini seen at the Pebble Beach Concours displayed a hooded cobra with ruby-tipped fangs.


Rolls-Royce Flying Lady. Image by Jed.

Officially, Rolls-Royce’s Flying Lady is the Spirit of Ecstasy. She’s also known as Emily or the Silver Lady, designed by English sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes.

These days, she’s a spring-loaded Spirit, designed to fold in any direction in the event of a mishap. What’s more, there’s a button in the cabin that lowers her away from mischievous sorts. An OnlyOneEll video shows her disappearing act.


Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star. Image from Kyle Adams 365.

The Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star also pivots for safety. These days, many of the marque’s models do without the three-dimensional bling, settling for a badge embedded in the bonnet.


Voisin, a well-earned variation of the winged theme.

Gabriel Voisin was an outspoken advocate of French airpower, highly accomplished early in the last century. Fourteen years after founding Avions Voisin, he turned to automobiles. Deservedly, the Voisin bonnet bling had wings. What’s more, their shape celebrated the era’s Art Deco theme of mechanized potency.


Buick Hood Ornament, painting by Hector Luis Bergandi, R&T, August 1996.

Hector Bergandi said of this evocative image, “When I was a kid, my attention was captured by a hood ornament of a 1926 Buick…. Not long ago, I saw a photograph of such a car. The ornament was no more than a few millimeters high in the photo, but it brought it all back. This painting grew from the idealized memory.”

Hector contributed his art and whimsy in many R&T articles. He did a wonderful illustration that became a perfect addition to “Say Again in ‘Alice.’ ” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2016

One comment on “BONNET BLING

  1. Bill Rabel
    January 18, 2016

    Dennis –
    I’d expect the English would call this a “mascot”.

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