Bentley, the British car maker, is to recall hundreds of vehicles in the United States because of fears that pedestrians could be impaled on the iconic “Flying B” bonnet ornament in a crash.
The winged statue is designed to retract in the event of a collision, but fears have been raised that the mechanism may fail if the ornament gets rusty.
“There is a potential for the ‘B’ hood ornament’s retracting mechanism to become corroded. This may lead to the ‘B’ hood ornament not retracting as intended when a vehicle is involved in a crash,” a recall notice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said.
“If the hood ornament does not retract, it could increase the risk of injury to a pedestrian in the event of a crash between the vehicle and the pedestrian,” the agency added.
The recall affects the Arnager, Arnaget, Arnage RL, Brooklands and Azure models from 2007 to 2009, some of which come with a recommended price tag of well over $300,000 (£191,680). The NHTSA estimated around 600 cars are implicated.
The recall is highly unusual for Bentley, which manufactures some of the world’s most expensive and sought-after vehicles.
The company decided to recall the cars after a dealer spotted the problem in Britain.
In notifying NHTSA of the risk that pedestrians could be harmed by a rusty “B” sign, Bentley stressed that “this condition has not been witnessed by or reported to Bentley Motors Limited, neither is Bentley otherwise aware of any accidents or injuries related to this matter.”
The company has pledged to fix the problem at dealerships beginning later this month for free.