Quick Question: Why Are There No Trunk Ornaments?

Illustration for article titled Quick Question: Why Are There No Trunk Ornaments?

Modern automotive design and pedestrian safety regulations have all but eliminated hood ornaments, because as a culture we’ve decided when a car runs into us, we don’t want a chrome jaguar shoved up our hee-whoms. However history judges us on this decision only time will tell, but it did make me realize one important question: why were there never trunk ornaments?

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Illustration for article titled Quick Question: Why Are There No Trunk Ornaments?

Now, when I’m talking about a hypothetical trunk ornament, I’m thinking of a rear counterpart to the iconic, stand-up hood ornament. Trunk lids would often have ornate badges, usually surrounding the lock area, and while these are unquestionably automotive jewelry, no car that I’m aware of ever had a stand-up trunk ornament.

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It’s not like the sorts of cars that had gaudy, spring-loaded, upright hood ornaments were overly concerned with keeping everything subtle; these were cars of the tailfin era, after all. So why did no automaker just take that next, tiny step and slap a big-ass ornament on the trunk lid, to announce to all the poor bastards behind the car how much better their lives could be if only they had a Cadillac or Imperial or whatever?

I welcome your theories involving Freemasonry and, possibly, photographic evidence that I am wrong, and trunk ornaments do, in fact, exist. Have at it.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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DISCUSSION

Because you (the driver) can’t see them. Hood ornaments trace their history back to the Boyce MotoMeter, which was an early way to measure water temperature. Many companies simply added extra ornamentation around it (Packard pictured below), either as standard, or as aftermarket add-ons. When the MotoMeter became obsolete due to on board temperature gauges becoming standard, the ornamentation remained as the hood ornaments as we know them today.