I recently posted about a hot-rodded 1936 Dodge, focused mostly on the ram hood ornament. Hood ornaments were often a large part of a manufacturer’s identity. One can think not only of the Dodge ram, but also the Mack Truck bulldog, or Jaguar’s leaping cat, or the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy. While the mascots themselves may have remained consistent to the brand, that is not to say that at least some of these miniature sculptures went unchanged over the years. In fact, many received frequent redesigns. The Dodge ram seems to be one that was updated often.
I apologize for the fact that I didn’t post these in a proper chronologic order (poor planning on my part). It seems the ram mascot came about some time after the Dodge brothers had died, and under the ownership of Chrysler, some time in the 1920s. Our example here is the 1931 Dodge car. As you see, the ornament is mounted on what was originally a nickel-plated radiator shell, with a large base. The ram itself is fairly detailed (though badly pitted due to age). The ridges of the horns, the separation of the horns from the neck, the forelegs tucked in front, are all noticeable. There’s a sort of realism to the design, an attempt to faithfully reproduce a ram.
Compare this to the 1936 car, and it seems apparent that auto design was becoming much more aerodynamic. The radiator shell had now evolved into a 3-piece grille, integrated into a rounder design of the car overall. The ram sits on a much smaller base. The ornament itself has been smoothed a little, with deeper, but shorter and fewer horn ridges, the horns tucked closed to the neck, and the forelegs reduced in size.
Note too the Dodge Brothers winged logo. Comparing the 1931 version to the 1936, we definitely see the influence of streamlining and aerodynamics at play. The wings are less feathered and more what you’d see in an air service insignia.
This is the type of thing that got me interested in cars as a kid. I used to notice the differences in design, how elements of the car’s shape and details would be refined (or wouldn’t in some cases) from year to year. It caught my interest enough to start looking for images of cars and reading about different makes and models. Of course, for many people, those minute details are too subtle to warrant more than a passing nod, but for some car people, these things can spark hours of discussion.
I found this 1931 Dodge at a show I have mentioned many times, the 2015 Fleetwood Country Cruize In. I actually found 2 other Dodges at the same show, which I will feature in upcoming posts. I shot this with the same Nikon D3200, 15-55mm lens set at 52mm, ƒ/10, 1/400 sec shutter and ISO100. As you’ll see by the original below, the shot came out quite dark, and required quite of bit of adjustment in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust to bring up the green grass reflection in the shiny radiator shell.