Monday, April 29, 2013

One-Offs #3: The LaFrance Maltese Cross Hood Mascot

In this continuing feature series on the strange and rare, we'll take a look at a super-cool hood ornament, one that  would make any hot-blooded hot-rodder drool with desire. No, it's not a bust of Marilyn Monroe perched above your grille, but definitely the next best thing...
The LaFrance Maltese Cross Mascot.

In the 1960's, the Maltese Cross was a very prominent symbol in the custom rod world. Besides being the traditional symbol of firefighters, it also evoked Deutschland for these builders in a rebellious way; it was sort of the Confederate flag of the "Rheinlander Rodders".
 Much of it's popularity had to do with the German heritage of some top-notch hot rod designers and parts companies, like Big Daddy Ed Roth , Schneider Cams and others.

1964 Car Craft Magazine, January.

Vintage Big Daddy Ed Roth ad

From Speed Age magazine, January 1959

The hood ornament is a super-rarity. I haven't seen another pop up for sale, and I'm kinda regretting selling mine. They were solid cast, heavy, with enamel red fill. It was about 6 inches long, and had just enough curve in the base to hang triumphantly in front of your rig, splitting the air with the proud fire-fighting emblem leading the way.

Plus, if you really wanted to go all out, you stuck this matching dash in your cockpit, a vintage LaFrance Firetruck gauge panel...

Big Daddy would have been proud!

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