As more drivers and automobile owners added mascots to their cars, many drivers wanted to have their own unique and personalized mascot. Unlike the corporate mascot that was created on a mass scale by companies, these unique one-of-a-kind pieces were considered accessory mascots. This desire for customization led to people using creative objects like statuettes or bookends as mascots. Motorists also began to seek out craftspeople to commission special pieces depicting a favorite subject, animal, or event.
Eagle on Rock, circa 1920s-1930s
As the desire for mascots grew, the creativity of how and what to affix to one’s radiator cap knew no bounds. The mascot Eagle on Rock was possibly a flag pole finial, or topper, that was repurposed as an automotive mascot.
Eagle on Rock depicts a majestic and strong eagle perched on a rocky outcropping. With its head raised high, pointing to its left, and beak open on a cry, the eagle gives the impression that it is hunting or ready to take flight.
Schneider Seaplane, 1931
The Schneider Seaplane mascot was inspired by the 1931 winner of the Schneider Trophy race. The race was founded by Jacques Schneider, who was the son of a wealthy French armaments manufacturer and had a passion for high-speed boating and hydroplanes. In 1908, Schneider met Wilbur Wright and became interested in aviation. A hydroplane crash in 1910 ended Schneider's flying career, but his love for aircraft design and hydroplanes led him to create his own competition two years later.
Following the fourth Gordon Bennett Aviation Cup race for landplanes in Chicago in 1912, Schneider announced La Coupe d'Aviation Maritime Jacques Schneider which was more commonly known as the Schneider Trophy. Schneider hoped the competition would foster the development of practical and reliable aircraft. At first, the races were between aircraft entered by individuals or private companies. Many of these early entries were converted landplanes or were inspired by existing designs. After World War I, many nations had improved their aircraft due to wartime demands, and the spirit of competitive flying with a focus on speed took hold.
Between 1913 and 1931, the trophy was won 12 times: once by France (1913), twice by the United States (1923 and 1924), three times by Italy (1920, 1921, 1926), and five times by the United Kingdom (1914, 1922, 1927-1931).
On September 13, 1931, the final Schneider Trophy race was won by Flight Lt. John N. Boothman of the United Kingdom. He would race his blue and silver Supermarine S.6B S1595 with a Rolls-Royce R engine that could produce 2,305 horsepower. Fearing that his plane would not last more than 90 minutes before the engine would melt onto its mountings, Boothman questioned if he would be able to complete the 33-mile lap seven times as planned.
After taking off at 1:02pm, Boothman’s first lap averaged 343.1 miles per hour with a time of 5.5 minutes. In only 47 minutes, Boothman completed the race averaging an overall speed of 340.08 miles per hour.
In honor of this momentous win, the Schneider Seaplane mascot was created, depicting Boothman’s Supermarine S.6B seaplane. The mascot has two pontoons for landing and the propeller freely rotates. The seaplane is also on a swivel which allowed it to bank to the left and right as it caught the air when mounted on its radiator cap on the front of a car.
Chow Chow, circa 1920s-1930s
Animals were popular subjects for automotive mascots, and many drivers would commission unique pieces to showcase their favorite animal or pet. Dogs were especially popular as mascots not only as accessory mascots but also as corporate mascots. Some of the marques that utilized dogs as their mascots were the Ford Motor Company with the greyhound on the Lincoln (1927), and the Mack Brothers Company with a bulldog on their trucks (1932).
The Chow Chow is an example of one of the many mascots inspired by dogs. With its thick fur coat that is reminiscent of a lion mane, curled tail, and alert ears, this mascot stands guard over its automotive charge.
The Chow Chow dog breed may have originated over 2,000 years ago in northern China, or perhaps even 3,000 years ago in Arctic Asia and then migrated to Mongolia, Siberia, and then China.
Through DNA studies, scientists have been able to determine that the Chow Chow is considered an ancient breed of dog, suggesting that the Chow Chow may be directly descended from the first dogs and traveled with their nomadic owners.
There are early depictions of the dogs in pottery and paintings dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 22 CE) showing the importance of these animals in China.
In northern China, the Chow Chow is referred to as Songshi Quan, meaning “puffy-lion dog” or Tang Quan, “Dog of the Tang Empire” as well as many other names.
Many believe that the Foo dog, the traditional stone guardians of Buddhist temples, are modeled after Chow Chow dogs. Chow Chows were then later bred to be working dogs for herding, hunting, pulling dog sleds, and guarding.
The breed gained European popularity in the late 1800s when Queen Victoria took interest in the breed, and by 1895 a breed club was formed in England. Five years earlier in 1890, a Chow Chow named Takya was the first Chow Chow to be in the American Westminister Kennel Club show, taking third place in the Miscellaneous Class. Later in 1903, the American Kennel Club formally recognized the breed, increasing its popularity even further.
The unique history and iconic look of the Chow Chow breed makes it an ideal candidate for an automotive mascot, particularly for a dog-lover. As the Historic Vehicle Association says in its “For the Love of Dogs” article, “Can you think of any animal that loves cars more than a dog? Dogs love to chase cars, ride in cars, and even relieve themselves on cars. Man’s best friend, in fact, embodies many of the traits we want in our vehicles—fun, speed, faithfulness and reliability.”