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Are bonnet-mounted car mascots illegal?

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I’VE BOUGHT a 2006 Jaguar X-type with a “leaper” mascot on the bonnet. Some people say it’s legal, others that it isn’t. Who is right?

RC, via email


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JAGUAR stopped fitting leaping cat mascots to cars for the UK market in 1970. The company says its dealerships will assist owners in getting hold of mascots — they are available on eBay, for example — but no longer supply or fit them.

There is a basic legal rule against fitting anything that obstructs the driver’s view, but your cat passes that test. “Having a bonnet mascot is not a criminal offence,” the Department for Transport (DfT) told us. Complicating matters, though, is the potential danger to other road users, particularly pedestrians. If you were involved in an accident and the mascot were deemed to have caused injury, you might be found guilty of an offence.

“Ultimately, it would be up to the courts to decide whether the mascot was within the law,” the DfT said. Car makers such as Rolls-Royce that still fit bonnet mascots make them spring-loaded, which means they will retract, bend or break off in the event of a collision.

The Jaguar Enthusiasts Club (jec.org.uk) said it was unaware of a case having been tested in court. “We don’t tell our members not to get mascots,” it said. “But we are aware of owners who have been stopped by police and asked to remove them. Drivers must make sure they are spring-loaded. Also, be aware that they need to be bolted on, which means if the owner ever decides to remove one, they will be left with two holes in the bonnet.”

Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Emma Smith, consumer advice

LADY DRIVER
Emma Smith is a journalist specialising in consumer issues and is a regular Driving contributor – read more from Emma here.

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