I have a leg up with car manufacturers. There are simply not enough hood decorations today, and the companies known for their flashy decor simply provide everything, not particularly concerned with that kind of symbol. And why not?
Mercedes has once again deprived a Benz – this time E-Class – of its own hood ornament. This, my friends, is a sad day.
Now I’m generally here for design and technology improvements in cars. I’m not the type of person who longs for the good days (although I can appreciate those days for what they were; there is a difference). Normally when an old-fashioned item disappears from a car, I say “good riddance.” But hooded ornaments are where I draw a line.
Hood decoration is like the car’s mascot. They serve no modern purpose other than to enhance the visual, but decoration has always been important to us humans. Egyptians and Romans used to decorate their chariots with ornaments and talismans, which generally served a mysterious as well as an aesthetic purpose. Icons of gods or animal symbols that convey strength and happiness were stuck somewhere on these wheeled vehicles, partly to achieve what the icon represented, but also to remind the rider to embody that representation.
It therefore made sense to add similar icons to the hood or radiator hood of cars when internal combustion engines hit the streets. Visible radiator caps were visible on the hood of the first cars, and it was a way to control the temperature of the water vapor. But when just about anyone could start a car company and there were many different names out there, the hood on the hood was a nice, easy way to identify the car’s brand.
They eventually became a symbol of luxury, especially because of Mercedes-Benz’s iconic hood ornaments.
They began to be phased out because they are a danger to pedestrians. I have been hit by a car and I have to say it was painful enough without being hit by a giant pointed thing on the hood as well.
But they were a nice touch. They were the little extra doodad to be proud of and we could all use that little extra personalization in our lives these days.