Home » I Am Completely In Favor Of Re-Badging Your Car However The Hell You Want

I Am Completely In Favor Of Re-Badging Your Car However The Hell You Want

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Automotive culture is rich and complex, full of subcultures and warring factions and generally a beautiful microcosm of all aspects of the human condition. As such, there’s lots of elements of the culture that are controversial, and sometimes it’s fun to weigh in on these. One of these elements is the practice of re-badging a car with a different manufacturer’s emblems. While often looked down upon, I think this is almost always fun, if not taken seriously, and maybe one of the most subtly punk things one can do with their cars.

I should clarify one thing here: the kind of re-badging I’m talking about needs to be the kind that re-badges the manufacturer’s badges, not the model. Re-badging one particular model of car to be, say, a slightly more upmarket version of the same car is, well, kinda weak. I mean, it’s not the worst thing one could do, but in many ways it’s the exact opposite of a full manufacturer badge swap, because the improve-my-model-from-a-DX-to-an-LX or whatever plays into the inane status culture of car badges, and offers no commentary or insight. It’s just posturing.

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Changing the whole manufacturer badging is different.

I was thinking about this because I happened to see this tweet recently of a Nissan Altima quite thoroughly re-badged into a Maserati:

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What I love about this is that to a lot of non-car obsessed normies, this may very well read as a Maserati! And you can’t really blame them; I mean, sure, most of us reading this can tell the difference, but if you’re not really into cars beyond badges, how far apart are these, really?

Nissanmaserati

 

There’s three basic categories of manufacturer badge swapping, and this is one of them: Low-to-High. Take a mainstream car and give it the badging of something much more expensive. Usually the car’s owner knows it’s not really going to fool anyone who knows anything, and the ire it has the potential to ignite in wealthier owners of the actual premium car brands is a big part of the fun.

It’s subversive in the same way obvious counterfeit designer handbags are: it’s a middle finger to the elite and expensive brands, and if anyone gets really pissed about it, it’s not a bad litmus test for who is a fussy brand-obsessed dipshit, too.

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The other category is taking an expensive car and replacing the badging with cheap-car ones, i.e. High-To-Low.

DaewoourusThis is a lot less common, but even more punk rock, if you ask me. Rebadging an exotic or extremely expensive car with a down-market brand feels like something only someone very secure would do, and someone who enjoys a good, mildly confusing chuckle. It’s sort of self-effacing, it suggests an understanding of the eye-rolling bullshit of badge snobbery, it also is a great way to piss off the worst sort of purists, and it’s just fun!

Sometimes there will be some reason for the downgraded badge choice, usually suggesting some bit of deeper understanding of the car, like having a Lotus with Toyota badges (they supplied the engines on many of them, you see) or if there’s been an engine swap or something like that.

I can even think of one example where an actual carmaker sort of did this same sort of badge-downgrade: the Kia Elan.

Kiaelan

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Remember, Kia once sold a re-badged Lotus Elan, with their own engine instead of the one Lotus used, which was an Isuzu engine, anyway.

The last way the re-badging can be done is the most geeky way, the Lateral Re-brand. In this case, one car is re-badged as another of roughly the same stature, for reasons that are likely hilarious to the owner and a few close friends and are baffling to anyone else. Like this Porsche Cayman owner with BMW M318i badges on it. I’m sure there’s a funny story there?

MainframeHell, I’ve done this one myself. See the badge on the abused front not-grille of my old Scion xB Autopian Test Car? That’s a Great Wall badge, because the Chinese company Great Wall once made a version of the xB called the Coolbear, and I had a friend in China send me those badges. Just because I thought it was funny. I’m about certain nearly everyone else who saw it had no idea what the hell it was, and likely didn’t care. But always smiled when I saw it.

So, here’s what I’m saying: if you feel like re-badging your car to look like another carmaker built it, have at it! Stick a Tesla badge on your 1992 Ford F-150! You know that’s gonna get a lot of dorks all kinds of worked up! Pop a BMW badge on your Subaru BRZ! Put a nice round VW logo in the round hole in your Mercedes-Benz grille!

Mess with all the brands! Keep things confusing and fun. Make those PR people earn their six bills a week, and get those one-brand loyalists all worked up.

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This is how to fight the scourge of status and badge-snobbery in automotive culture: keep everyone nice and confused.

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Stephen Dillard
Stephen Dillard
1 month ago

Not a manufacturer swap, but I always thought it would be hilarious to put F-350 Powerstroke badges on a hybrid Maverick. Maybe even complete the look with tow mirrors off a super duty.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stephen Dillard
AutoPartsGuyBuffalo
AutoPartsGuyBuffalo
1 month ago

Back when the Chevy SS was a thing, you could spec it out from the factory with Holden Commodore badges. Always thought that was awesome.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago

I want to rebadge my Honda Fit as an Acura.

I’ll call it the “Acura IT F”… but with the i and t in lower case.

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
2 months ago

A good friend of mine has a 96 XJ fully rebadged as a Shuanghuan SHJZH213. I managed to find a shirt for him that says “It’s a Shuanghuan thing, you wouldn’t understand.”

ScottyB
ScottyB
2 months ago

For the obvious reasons (count the holes), I always thought it would be entertaining to rebadge a Maserati with a Buick nameplate from the past, something no longer in service that most non-car folks would be totally baffled by, like Centurian. Just add whitewalls and watch minds melt before your eyes.

Myk El
Myk El
2 months ago

I’ve seen a Saturn Astra with the Vauxhall badges. I’d like to re-badge my 2005 Pontiac GTO as the Holden Monaro it is, but part of me feels it’d be hollow to do without modifying the front and rear bumpers to match and that’s a WAY bigger investment.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
2 months ago

You have to do it well though, make it look like that’s actually where the manufacturer put a badge. Especially don’t leave the original badges on, like the Cayman in the link.
And just smacking a dozen badges on the back is just a mess.

Last edited 2 months ago by Chartreuse Bison
Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
2 months ago

I have often thought of putting Ford crap on/around my ’32 Chevy Confederate at shows since everyone always assumes a ’32 anything must be a Ford. Trouble is, I doubt very many would get the joke!

MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
2 months ago

When I face swapped my Magnum SRT8 with the 300C SRT8 front end (which was how they came from the factory in the EU and AUS markets), I slapped a CITADEL badge on the tailgate from a Durango Citadel. I’ve noticed a few finger pointings and pictures being taken of it while in traffic. No one knows what a CITADEL SRT8 is. LOL

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  MikuhlBrian

No one knows what a CITADEL SRT8 is.”

And OBVIOUSLY the knowledge of what it is was heavily FORTIFIED…

Toddyus
Toddyus
2 months ago

I rebadged my 1988 Club Car golf cart as a Lamborghini. Does that count?

Harmon20
Harmon20
2 months ago
Reply to  Toddyus

Did you at least do a little body work or paint it nuclear fireball yellow? If so, all good.

Flashman
Flashman
2 months ago

Back when I still had my cherished Toyota cargo van I used to spend a lot of time in Calgary scrapyards looking for odds and ends to upgrade (velour seats, carpet, wire headlight covers etc), and I came across a Peugeot 505 carcass. Peugeot has a particular reverence for me as our family car when I was growing up in South Africa was a 1969 404 wagon that my parents had actually picked up in France, driven in the UK for a year and then had shipped back to SA. My dad ended up driving it until the late 90s and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still rattling around the Eastern Cape somewhere.
Anyway, the badge fit perfectly over the ‘Toyota’ on the back hatch, so I stuck it on with contact cement in homage to the storied French marque.
I got waved over by a Calgary cop at a speed trap once, an old-guard English guy, but he just had a chuckle about it as he handed me the ticket.

Kuriti
Kuriti
2 months ago

I took off the ugly sky active badge on my ‘19 MX-5 and replaced with a GDTRFB badge from Grateful Fred. I suspect exactly 2 people may have ever noticed and got the reference, but they really dug it. I also made a custom sticker for my Strap-On toolbox.

Last edited 2 months ago by Kuriti
Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
2 months ago

In highschool, I found a Corsica badge in the parking lot so I taped it where the missing Caprice Estate badge was on my car. Then in the winter the duct tape failed and I was once again badgeless.

SaabaruDude
SaabaruDude
2 months ago

Definitely had the Saabaru rally pig decals over all the Saab emblems on my 92x.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2470/3711029842_661f303dc9_o.jpg

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
2 months ago

This actually confused me the other day. Saw a guy with a brand new Volvo wagon of some sort, but re-badged the grill as a Buick…. I don’t quite understand, but it got me to turn my head twice.

Camp Fire
Camp Fire
2 months ago

That’s odd, given that the Buick Regal TourX already exists (and already looks a bit like a Volvo wagon). I’d probably rebadge that as a Saturn or a Saab or something more abstract.

Last edited 2 months ago by Camp Fire
1961ford
1961ford
2 months ago

I had a Jaguar XJ6 with a small block Chevy conversion. I put “16 Valve” emblem from a Saab on the trunk (boot) lid. It was the only 16 valve Jaguar around.

Piston Slap Yo Mama
Piston Slap Yo Mama
2 months ago
Reply to  1961ford

Technically accurate. No dissembling whatsoever.

Harmon20
Harmon20
2 months ago
Reply to  1961ford

That’s funny right there, I don’t care who you are.

Rob Kern
Rob Kern
2 months ago

I saw a Chevy Bolt in Ohio rebadged as the Opel Ampera-e. My son was convinced someone went to the trouble of importing it. I think they just bought some badges on eBay or somewhere. I often confuse the Honda Fit with Chevy Bolt for some reason, so I think it could be fun to add Honda badges to my Bolt.

Uberscrub
Uberscrub
2 months ago

I’ve been considering adding Type-R badges to my 2008 Fit, I should probably re-badge it as a Jazz while I’m at it.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Uberscrub

You should rebadge it to an “Acura IT R”… but with a lower case i and t.

I’m now considering doing the same with my Fit.

Last edited 2 months ago by Manwich Sandwich
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