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Car Mascots

Car mascots have been around since the early days of motoring.

28/03/2024     Blog

My husband is a great motoring enthusiast especially the Italian car marques. We have visited many car museums all over Europe and as well as the beautiful cars, I am always drawn to the car mascots.

Car mascots have been around since the early days of motoring. Initially cars had radiator caps perched externally on the grill to indicate the temperature of the engine. The cap soon evolved into a method for the car owner to personalise their vehicle.

There are two types of car mascots those produced by the car manufacturers themselves and the individual or novelty mascots.

Most of us will be familiar the Rolls-Royce mascot the “Spirit of Ecstasy” which is modelled as a winged lady. It was commissioned from the artist Charles Robinson Sykes in 1911 for the Silver Ghost model. Another famous car mascot is the leaping Jaguar, the star of Mercedes Benz or the leaping elephant used by Bugatti.

Mascots were made in a variety of materials most commonly in brass, bronze or zinc sometimes with a silvered finish.

Some of the most valuable and collected mascots were made by the famous French glass maker Lalique. The first Lalique car mascot was commissioned by the car company Citroen in 1925 and was modelled as five horses and was applied to the model 501 car.  Lalique went on to produce around twenty-nine different mascots and ranged from bird and animal models, nude figures, shooting stars and even mermaids. The mascots were made mostly in clear glass, satin or frosted finishes. Sometimes they had tinting or staining to enhance the design in shades of amethyst or pink. The most desirable and expensive pieces by collectors today are those in bright colours.

Another French glass manufacturer to look out for is the Sabino factory who made very similar mascots to Lalique but can be brought much more cheaply. They were founded in Paris in 1919 by a Sicilian born gentleman called Marius Ernest Sabino.

Popular figures from the movies such as Charlie Chaplin or even Mickey Mouse were made into mascots or to express the owners’ sporting hobbies like skiers or golfers, cartoon character from WW1 “Old Bill”, Felix the Cat, aeroplanes, trains - the list of different models that can be collected is endless!

Since 1974 due to legal restrictions car mascots fitted to new cars have to be designed with a spring mount that fold on impact or they have been moved to the grille at the front of the vehicle.

The auction prices for car mascots varies enormously from an extremely rare Lalique “Renard” fox mascot that recently sold for £110,000, a Michelin tyres “Scrutent L’Horizon” metal car mascot for £3,000, a Biplane car mascot for £750 to the more affordable “Old Bill” for £260 or animal examples at around £100. 

Today collecting car mascots are often used on a gentleman’s desk as a paperweight so if you are trying to think of a present for a car enthusiast a vintage car mascot might be the solution.