Bentley's `Flying B' Hood Ornament Poses Crash Risk, U.S. Says in Recall

Bentley hood ornaments may injure pedestrians in a crash by failing to retract, leading the luxury carmaker to recall 596 vehicles in the U.S.

The metal emblem known as the “flying B” may not fold down in a collision as intended because a mechanism may become corroded, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which posted the recall on its website.

The recall covers 2007 to 2009 Arnage, Azure and Brooklands models, the safety agency said. Dealers for the Volkswagen AG brand will replace the retractable “B” mechanism free of charge, the agency said.

Hood ornaments, common on vehicles through much of the 20th century, have been dropped amid safety concerns and lack of consumer demand, Scott Oldham, editor-in-chief of Edmunds.com, an auto research firm in Santa Monica, California, said in an interview today. Luxury cars such as the Bentley still feature the emblems.

“Simply over time they fell out of fashion,” Oldham said. “If the people wanted them they’d be on every single car you’d see.”

The Bentley’s emblem normally drops down into the hood in a collision, said Valentine O’Connor, a company spokeswoman, in an interview. Dealers alerted the carmaker to the corrosion, she said.

“We do take it seriously,” O’Connor said of the defect. “This is a precautionary measure.”

No Accidents, Injuries

There have been no accidents or injuries with the Bentley “B,” O’Connor said. A supplier has taken steps to prevent corrosion, adding grease to the mechanism and preventing water from collecting inside it, she said.

All three recalled models have a retail price for the 2010 model year of more than $200,000, according to the website Edmunds.com.

Safety regulations led manufacturers to make the decorations retractable so they wouldn’t impale or jab pedestrians in a collision, Oldham said.

His 1955 Chevrolet has an ornament “the size of my head” and it is bolted down, Oldham said. “Over time they realized that wasn’t such a good idea.”

To contact the reporters on this story: John Hughes in Washington at jhughes5@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.

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