During the early days of the automotive industry, manufacturers placed “motometers” on the hoods of the cars to serve as radiator caps and temperature gauges or thermostats, a way to read the heat of the water in the radiator. As technology improved, the monitor was moved into the dashboard. So, by the 1920’s, the motometer was obsolete but the radiator cap was still needed, and automakers began incorporating motifs to them – decorations to try to make their cars stand out above the competition. This tradition lasted into the 1950’s, but as car designs changed, the radiators were situated inside the engine space, and the sleek and beautiful radiator caps have since all but disappeared.
Buick’s figure was popularly called “Goddess,” and supposedly symbolized the famous 1920’s-era dancer Isadora Duncan, whose life was cut short when her trailing scarf got tangled in the rear axle of her car in 1927 and killed her. Something unique that Buick did was have the 1934 Goddess with eyes open, while the next year they produced her with eyes open.