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The Startling Reasons Why Hood Ornaments Are A Dying Breed

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The Startling Reasons Why Hood Ornaments Are A Dying Breed

Scooter Davis
February 4, 2013


Walk into any car dealer showroom and you'll see shiny fenders, leather seats, and gleaming wheel covers. There is one item that is missing on many new autos. The trademark hood ornament is becoming a thing, literally, of the classic past. Gothic figures, stauesque models, and ritual art work that used to adorn the front of car hoods are now going away faster than designers can say holy batmobile, robin.

Hood ornamanets are still around but are being relegated to less prominent areas. Some companies are making the classic ornaments optional with costs ranging out of budget for many new buyers. Prices between two hundred and upwards of two thousand dollars mean you too can have the old style monument to the style of your dreams permanetly mounted on your new chariot. But with theft and damage making a comeback on such accutraments, new owners are opting for less bling and more sublety.

Days gone by saw intricate carvings on ship bows, horse drawn carriages with beautiful ironwork up front, and house gates proudly displaying ornate craft work as a symbol of branding. In sync with this style,the auto hood ornament began as a lowly radiator cap and worked its way up by way of creative designers who made the best of a challenging situation.

They dressed the cap up by making it look appealing as a brand featuring names, figures, and symbols that carried meaning up front for all to see. From animals, to greek gods and goddesses, these proud symbols carried the torch for autos over the years and developed their own collectors clubs. As tastes changed by the decades, the big, bold ornaments faded into obscurity.

Europe led the way in redesigning ornaments to meet pedestrian safety standards. Instead of making different cars for other countries, all gave in and settled for less ornamaent and more practicality.Aerodynamics played a role as well as designers skewed more toward swift than eye catching lift.

Of course there are always the leaders of the pack who will not bend to suit fads. Classic name brands are still making the old style with caveats. Some of the expensive ornaments retract into the hood when the doors are locked. Some truck designers are staying with their symbols of brand but most are changing plans and moving on without. Some ornament enthusiasts are watching up and coming countries as they move into the glory days of big, gaudy automobiles complete with wasted efficiency and , you guessed it, big, bold hood ornaments.


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