Maxwell Radiator Cap

We went to a flea market over Memorial Day weekend, and, amid a pile of modern radiator caps, this worn beauty was barely visible. Needless to say, I couldn’t grab it up fast enough.

The design forms the letter “M,” which stands for Maxwell. In regard to the year, it looks like this radiator cap is the one featured on this page from the 1915 brochure:

Named for engineer Jonathan D. Maxwell, this early automobile resulted from a partnership between Maxwell and sheet metal manufacturer Benjamin Briscoe and was funded in large part with J.P. Morgan’s money. It was a successful little car, at one time ranking third in the industry behind only Ford and Buick. The Maxwell eventually became the Chrysler Four, and you can read that whole story here:

The Inception of One-Third of the Big Three

Oldsmobile’s “Winged Spur” Crest

By 1929, Oldsmobile had already been in existence for more than three decades, and the company decided it was time for a new crest that was symbolic of Oldsmobile and the important place it occupied in the automotive industry.

According to the story that went with this 1929 headline, each element of the crest depicted, in the language of heraldry, some characteristic of the company:

“Centered in the shield is a winged spur. This symbol of fleetness represents the harnessing of horsepower and the development of transportation to its present efficiency. The role of the Oldsmobile in this development has been so outstanding that the prominence of the winged spur is well deserved.

Under the spur and superimposed on the gold field are three acorns. These represent the historical position of Oldsmobile, the first company to introduce quantity production methods and from which the automotive industry branched out and grew to its present foremost position.

Oak leaves form a decorative background around the top of the shield. These symbols of strength and sturdiness are symbolic of the industry as well as of the strength of Oldsmobile and its parent corporation, General Motors.

Centered above all is the lamp of knowledge, depicting the brain and research power at the command of this veteran company. The flame of this lamp represents the continuous research work being conducted by Oldsmobile engineers and the additional facilities afforded them by the General Motors’ proving ground, General Motors’ research laboratories and their staffs of experts.

At each side of the lamp of knowledge are a micrometer and a triangle. This modern touch tells the story of exactness and precision methods. They also represent the spirit of craftsmanship which impelled the Oldsmobile workmen to originate and take as their creed, the motto, ‘Anything short of my best is not acceptable.'”

Some examples of Oldsmobiles sporting a variation of the “Winged Spur” crest in 1958, 1948 and 1937, respectively: