Carmel Magazine

CM Summer 2015

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Page 97 of 291

ach August, thousands of col- lectors, car aficionados and celebrities scurry to Pebble Beach for the Concours d'Elegance. Gone are the families with Fido pic- nicking on the beach and touring the Carmel Mission. They are now replaced with a crush of pretty peo- ple set in a glittering backdrop of win- dow displays that have made the overnight transition from quaint sum- mer offerings to merchandise carrying luxury price tags. It's Concours week and it's exciting as hell. For years I would escape the desert heat of Las Vegas to vacation in Carmel. Many times my stay would overlap with Concours and what a sudden, almost architectural contrast the town underwent. At sunrise, the deep hum of the Ferraris winding through the village permeated the misty air and, on every street, rare automobiles sat in dazzling displays vying for attention. Even the mood in my hotel bar transitioned from casual flip-flops to the blinding sparkle of diamond rings and Rolex watches from the new hotel guests. Sunday, on the 18th green at Pebble, there is nothing quite as exciting as sipping a glass of champagne, surrounded by the pounding surf and ocean breeze, while gazing at prized, rare automobiles. It's extraordinari- ly elegant, as are the people. Dogs wearing designer shades, couples dressed in their "Derby Day" black and whites, friends enjoying gourmet picnic lunches on the lawn, and linen covered tables bursting with fat cigars and crystal glasses of bubbly. It's all about the cars. The engines are exposed for viewing. The leather interiors are dressed to kill. But always, my eye goes to those sculpt- ed mascots perched on the hoods. They flirt with you as you pass them by, tempting you to peer over your shoulder for one last look. They are the coveted hood ornaments, show- ing off as if they are precious jewels. And while the cars themselves take center stage, these small pieces of art, with their sheer level of detail, make them worthy of recognition. Histor y has revealed the first known hood ornament to be a sun- crested falcon, bringing good luck, mounted on Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen's chariot. In modern times, it all began with the Boyce Moto-Meter, patented in 1912, which was a thermometer that read the temperature of the radiator's vapor. It screwed into the radiator cap and its purpose was to keep the driver informed of the engine's tem- perature. As these Moto-Meters were unattractive, the radiator cap was transformed into an art form topped with chrome sculptures, called "mas- cots." Here is where the evolution of the automobile dictated the pro- gression of the hood ornament. In the late 1920s and throughout the '30s and '40s, Moto-Meters were no longer needed, since the temperature gauge was inside on the dash- board. The cap for the radiator was still on top of the grille, outside of the 96 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 1 5 COLLECTING T E X T A N D P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y M A R J O R I E S N O W Antique Hood Ornaments E 1932 Stutz hood ornament featuring the sun god Ra

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