Vintage JAGUAR Hood Ornament on Base

Jaguar’s business was founded as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, originally making motorcycle sidecars before developing bodies for passenger cars. I believe the best styles of the classic Jaguar cars drove off the assembly lines between 1950 and the 1980s.

Perhaps the most iconic thing about a Jaguar is the hood ornament:

This particular version comes from a 1959-60 XK-150, pictured below:

There are two basic designs for the Jaguar hood ornament. This earlier version has a shorter base with the tail extending beyond that base. This is so it can straddle the center hood trim, thusly:

The later version had a longer base with the tail ending at the back of the base and it bolted directly through the hood, or bonnet, if we’re being all British about it.

On a recent trip to England, I found this mounted example in an antique shop. With research I was able to determine that it is authentic and not a replica. My reasoning is based on the weight. Next, it is absolutely identical to the original sculpt. The clincher for me was the base and the notch for straddling the center hood trim of the Jaguar XK-150. This would be an unnecessary detail for any Sculptor to include for a mere display piece.

That said, I don’t believe this particular example actually made it onto a car. These would have been cast out of brass and then sent to be chromed. The teeth of the Jaguar should not touch, but these ones do:

The chrome is built up so as to make the teeth touch. So likely this would have returned to the factory for installation and been rejected for this flaw. Someone must have taken it home where it eventually found its way into the hands of a Craftsman who mounted it as an art piece. Also, there should be a serial number stamped on the belly of the cat, which would likely have been added after the chrome was applied, but this is missing. If rejected, this number would not be applied.

The final reason I feel it is authentic is the two mounting screws. These are exactly where they should be for an actual hood ornament of this period and style. Again, this would have been an unnecessary detail for a replica.

Years ago, I owned a 1987 Jaguar that I loved dearly! But it came time to retire her. A day hasn’t passed when I haven’t missed that car. You can see the best part of her here. Just scroll to the end of the post to see the Jaguar hood ornament in its natural habitat.

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