Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
And how do the young men of Los Angeles indicate their interest in a young woman? Do they court her with roses or candy or mash notes? In fact, ardent suitors have found that there’s no better way to a woman’s heart than with the hood ornament from a 1946 or 1947 Buick.
It seems the chrome-plated circles make perfect bracelets and victimized Buick owners are writing furious letters to The Times.
“I casually began counting Buicks and noting how many did not have the rings in a two-mile drive along Beverly and down Fairfax and found that 13 out of 17 Buicks have lost their rings from the hood ornament,” wrote Bill Gilholm of Hermosa Beach. “Is it a gang doing this for profit or are they just kids trying to be funny?”
A 1947 Buick, its hood ornament intact, located in Orange, Calif., listed at $40,000.
In response, F.D. Langton of Beverly Hills wrote: “Being the owner of a 1947 Buick which is ‘ringless,’ I would like to advise you that there is no mystery whatever connected with this phenomenon.
“It is a well-known fact that the disappearance of rings from 1946 and 1947 Buicks can be attributed to teenaged boys who steal them off Buick automobiles and present them to their teenage sweethearts to wear as bracelets.”
“The theft of these rings has reached an appalling total. An insurance adjuster advised me recently that they paid in excess of $50,000 ($473,209.30 USD 2005) for replacements.” (At $8.50 each, that comes to about 5,800 hood ornaments. Clearly the young men of Los Angeles are a romantic bunch).
“The entire matter is a disgrace and ought to be brought to the attention of the P.T.A. and school authorities, because if the young ladies who are recipients of these ‘gifts’ were not permitted to wear them by both their parents and the school authorities it might have a decided effect on this new form of vandalism.
“I, like thousands of other Buick owners, have not replaced my damaged unit because it would only be a matter of time before another young vandal would remove the new ring,” Langton said.
The rings remained as the Buick hood ornament from 1948 to 1953, but their continuing status as objets d’amour awaits further research. The “V” in the 1954 hood ornament might make it difficult to wear and in any event the ring was replaced by a chromed airplane by the 1956 model year.