Curbside Outtake: Vail, Hood Ornament

hyundai equus (2)

A lot is written about the impending death of the V8 engine, but where are the articles about that moribund styling affectation, the classic hood ornament? Nevertheless, reports of their imminent demise should not be taken too seriously.

hyundai equus (1)

With fuel economy and emissions standards and rising fuel costs putting pressure on automakers and influencing consumer decision-making, the automotive media was often speculating during the 1980s that eight-cylinder engines wouldn’t survive past 1990. But those threats weren’t as severe as the threats facing the venerable hood ornament. The emphasis on aerodynamics in the 1980s changed car design, creating rounder cars less conducive to a beacon on the prow. Add to that European pedestrian safety regulations and a consumer preference towards cars that are sportier (if only in appearance) and you’d be forgiven for thinking the hood ornament is in its death throes. Well, it would probably be a cold day in hell before Rolls-Royce ditched the Spirit of Ecstasy – now spring-loaded for pedestrian safety – but there are still a handful of cars available with a hood ornament, including the Jaguar XJ, Mercedes S-Class and the featured Hyundai Equus. Despite the rounded sheetmetal, this Korean luxobarge wears its ornament quite convincingly.

Do you miss the hood ornament? Or are you glad it has gradually disappeared from automotive design?