Raiders' 30th: Cargo Truck Hood Ornament Artifact

A new addition to my Cabinet of Curiosities. This odd artifact was said to be found in Egypt with other items salvaged after an international incident during the 1930s covered up by the US Government. I acquired it from someone who I can only say was one of few "top men" working in a secret warehouse somewhere. Even though it's just a rusty old Mercedes-Benz truck hood ornament, it seemed important enough to tag and save.

Creating an Indiana Jones relic is a tall order considering the subject manner and that some of the coolest props ever made came from those movies. Many of which are often recreated. I decided to keep this one simple, fun and in theme with the past "storytelling" artifacts I've made.

It's from one of the best moments, among many, in Raiders of the Lost Ark when our hero was tossed out of the cargo truck and grabbed the hood ornament in a desperate attempt to hang on. Then of course, in cliffhanger fashion, it breaks off! I've always wondered what happened to that emblem. In my imagination, at some point the US Government went in and cleaned up all the evidence of the Ark incidents, even the smallest details.

It was real easy to make. Using reference of a new one online, I cut out the shape from foamcore (about 3" in diameter). Knowing it was going to look beat up, rusty and 70 plus years old when finished I didn't stress on making my cuts, dimensions and angles exact or perfect. As seen in the movie, a small bottom edge of the ring seemed to have remained on the hood stand after it broke off. I also cut away more of it to add some weathered character as if been laying in the road for years.

I spray glued on a coat of dirt from the backyard for texture. Once dry I dusted off the excess and built up a few mottled coats of black, brown and orange craft acrylic for color. While wet I added another light dusting of dirt.

I made the label in Photoshop and printed onto card stock. I wanted to keep it unsophisticated, as if hastily scribbled in the field. After I trimmed it, I glued on construction paper made circles as old fashioned reinforcing rings and punched out a hole for the string. It's all aged with coffee.

 On a side note while on the subject of Indy artifact making, I posted earlier this month I was going to make Elsa's lighter from Last Crusade and share the "how-to". Believe it or not, it actually turned into a more involved project than I planned on. I've had to put on the back burner for now, but it will show up down the line here soon.


  1. Very cool prop, indeed! :) I'm pretty sure I could scourge the depths of the internet and not find a single Indy fanatic with this prop either :) Craft foam, dirt, string, and some paper (sounds like a MacGyver episode,) and you have one heck of a prop that will look awesome in your Cabinet of Curiosities!

    Simple, fun, and imagination trump extravagant bloated props any day!

    Good luck on finishing the lighter and tutorial! I found an awesome tutorial when I was looking for a template for my grail, but it's been lost somewhere in the depths of my ever growing list of bookmarks, lol.

  2. How do you....? Really, how do you manage to be so bloody brilliant!

    Everytime I visit here I think that is the coolest thing....until the next post and then THAT is the coolest thing.

    Thanks for sharing....LOVE to see what you are up to.


  3. Dismal, thanks!
    Yeah, I thought it be fun to make something not the norm and help add to Indy's myth. You know, something a great grandson would find and think maybe all those stories of his adventures were real.

    My lighter has been turning out pretty good, the only draw back was the way I've painting it has involved numerous steps and drying time between. I decided not to rush it, just to get posted in time for this blog-a-thon.

  4. I must say, I am REALLY digging all these Indy posts. It's a neat idea for a blog event. I also like your artifact-themed props, my favorite being a Headless Horseman's horseshoe.

  5. Mr. Chicken, thanks!

    HalloweenNut, happy to hear you're liking the Indy stuff. The headless horseman horseshoe is one of my favorites too. I'm thinking about adding a few more Halloween story themed relics to the cabinet this October.

  6. You have definitely inspired me to give new thought to the possibilities of foamcore. Thanks for this blog!

  7. I am late in stumbling across this post, but it blew me away when I saw it. Not as obvious connected to the Indy movies as an idol or grail, but if you are fan, you instantly get it. I certainly got a huge smile on my face when I saw it. I have a couple of questions about the piece: You said that you got the dimensions of the hood ornament online and I would love to know where. I was also wondering if you were able to source the dimensions of a larger truck ornament or did you size up one from a car? I was also wondering why you settled on the LG63 as the model number mentioned on the label instead of something like the LG 3000? Excellent work.

    1. Andrew, glad you like.

      First bear in mind, this was never meant to be a dead on historically accurate prop. I didn't use dimensions found online, I used what I found online as visual reference. My dimentions were based on comparing the ornamnent to the size of Indy's hands in the screen grabs. Then using my hand as a scale, 3" inches wide seemed to be a plausible size.

      I was under the impression that LG63 and 3000 were basically the same truck. I'm not a gearhead, so I wrote "Possibly from" on the label. I choose LG63 because it just reads and feels "older" as a number for an antique label, 3000 reads and feels futuristic. Artistic choice.