With the imminent demise of Pontiac upon us, we ask ourselves “What defines Driving Excitement?” How about a giant screaming chicken plastered to your bonnet? Here is the brief story of one of the most unmistakable symbols of car culture, the hood bird.
In 1970, under the direction of Bill Porter (Chief Designer of the 1970 Firebird), Ted Schroeder was in charge of designing the Trans Am package. To this day he can’t recall who floated the idea, but Schroeder sketched the huge decals for two different 1970 Trans Am show cars. Using traditional racing colors, one was to be white with a blue hood bird and vice versa. Designer Norm Inouye finalized the artwork and 3M produced two unique decals. After catching a sneak peek of the work in progress, GM Vice President Bill Mitchell shot the idea down immediately because of the “Indian blanket on the hood”.
In 1972, the new Chief Designer for the Firebird, John Schinella, gave it another shot. Changing the color of the decal and throwing it on a red prototype 1973 Trans Am, he drove the streets of Woodward Ave and garnered huge praise from the general public. Knowing that Bill Mitchell was a fan of the black-and-gold John Player Special paint scheme, he had a black Trans Am painted up with a gold foil bird and gold pinstripes. This iconic look captured Mitchell’s attention and the hood bird was born.
Good luck to all those screaming chicken fans out there, and we can only hope that one day this phoenix shall rise again.