Skip to main content

An increasing number of sports cars have stuffed animals hanging from their rear bumpers. Sports car owners can’t agree on what started this trend, but it is obviously exclusive to owners who have installed an aftermarket tow hook on their rear bumper. In addition to sports car owners, buses and garbage trucks in certain parts of the world often have stuffed animals hanging from their rear bumpers.

The rise of the rear bumper tow hook

Closeup of a red aftermarket JDM tow hook installed under the rear bumper of a car.
JDM tow hook | Macdaddy Pimpping via Youtube

For sports car owners to hang a stuffed animal from their aftermarket tow hook, they need to have an aftermarket tow hook in the first place. Installing these “JDM tow hooks” has exploded in popularity, paving the way for the stuffed animal trend.

Many racing classes require competitors to install large, bright tow hooks on the front and rear of their cars. This makes it quick and easy for track personnel to hook onto the car if it breaks down or crashes. Several high profile Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) sports cars shared this feature.

As sports car fans began importing these unique cars to the United States, they began to connect these bright red JDM tow hooks with elite sports cars. Now, many sports car enthusiasts order aftermarket JDM tow hooks and mount them on their street car’s bumpers.

How do you decorate a decorative tow hook?

These aftermarket tow hooks may give modern street cars a racy JDM look, but many aren’t even functional. Many of these JDM tow hooks are listed as “decorative.” But in their defense, even most race track tow hooks are engineered for pulling a car onto a trailer, not towing it at high speeds.

So what do you do with a shiny new tow hook you probably won’t use? Many owners are so proud of their modification that they hang something off of it.

One very common item to hang from a JDM tow hook is a spare key ring (hopefully not with your spare car keys still attached). Another increasingly popular item is a key ring with a small stuffed animal, or even a full-size stuffed animal. I’ve actually seen full-size teddy bears hanging from bumpers, getting torn up every time the car goes over a bump.

Several owners of similar sports cars have asked forums if they missed some new tradition with the stuffed animals. The consensus seems to be that while many sports car owners landed on this decorative mod simultaneously, no car club ever discussed it officially.

Some trucks and buses also have a stuffed animal hung from their rear bumper

A stack of stuffed animals decorating the front bumper of a MIstubishi Fuso.
decorated Mitsubishi bumper | Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

American sports car enthusiasts are not the only drivers hanging stuffed animals from their rear bumpers. In fact, it is common practice for truck and bus drivers in Southeast Asia as well as some garbage truck drivers here in the United States.

According to Mashable, it is common to see a small stuffed animal hung from the large tow hooks of trucks driving in Southeast Asia. But there may be a common reason for these truck drivers’ stuffed animals: a superstition that such toys can distract ghosts and prevent them from causing a car accident out of boredom.

In addition, its not uncommon to see a stuffed animal hanging from the rear of a garbage truck, according to This is not based on any recorded superstition. It may simply be because garbage truck drivers occasionally rescue a cute toy out of the trash and use it to decorate their truck–in hopes of bringing a smile to the face of other motorists and their children.

Next, learn more about JDM tow hooks or see one motorist who took stuffed animal vehicle decoration to the next level in the video below:


Why Do Some Dump Trucks Have Wheels Up Top?