What's a Red, White & Blue Elephant Doing Selling Hondas?
Since the early days of the industry, car companies have used a variety of animals as mascots and hood ornaments as well as in their logos and promotional materials. Long before Ford called a sporty car "Mustang", Sir Lyons renamed his company Jaguar. Lyons used a cat, perhaps an idea taken from Edsel Ford, who put a dog, a leaping greyhound, on his Lincolns. Delage used greyhounds as well, but some of their hood ornaments were elephants. More famously, Ettore Bugatti fitted each of his Royales with an elephant hood ornament sculpted by his brother Rembrandt. I recently saw these and many other animal ornaments and mascots at the Classic Car Club of America's museum on the grounds of the Gilmore Car Museum. Animals don't just show up in the car world as classy hood ornaments, though. Auto dealers, part stores and car washes are known for renting giant inflatable gorillas, lizards, and even fish, to attract attention to their businesses. So it shouldn't be that surprising to find an American flag painted life size elephant in front of a Honda dealer in suburban Detroit. Still one wonders just what an elephant has to do with selling Hondas.