Earlier this year, I was up in Michigan with David Tracy, filming a silly, messy video (stay tuned for that!) and working on, you know, Autopian stuff. One night after a hard day of shooting, going to the junkyard for David’s complicated and confusing religious practices, and probably some wrenching, we flopped down into some of the piles of cardboard and old rags that make up David’s furniture. “Hey,” said a voice that I assume was David’s from one of the piles, “Let’s watch a movie.” At that moment I didn’t realize I was about to be confronted with one of the most baffling automotive appearances in any movie, ever.
David’s suggesting a movie at all is unusual; his cultural upbringing is something like what you’d expect from an Amish kid, minus the Rumspringa experience. So, as you can expect, I was curious. The movie he suggested was the 2014 comedy 22 Jump Street, a Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill buddy-cop movie, the specifics of which aren’t really important, except for the details of one specific scene, a scene that takes place in Mexico, and includes a car chase that features a few shots of this vehicle:
What the hell am I looking at, here? The car appears to be a mid-’90s Isuzu Rodeo, as you can see here:
It’s clearly an Isuzu. And yet, somehow, staring right at us from dead center in that grille, is the blue Ford oval. What the hell is going on?
I checked with the fantastic Internet Movie Cars Database, and sure enough, they had the car listed as a 1994 Isuzu Rodeo, and the few commenters on the page were as baffled as I was about the Ford badge.
Let me explain, slowly and clearly, why everything about this is so damn puzzling:
- There never was a Ford-badged Isuzu of any kind. Isuzu is mostly owned by GM; they have never been badge-engineered Fords in any market I’m aware of, and the logistics that would possibly even cause such a thing to happen would have to be absolutely Byzantine. This is not a thing that exists.
- The re-badge is clearly deliberate. This isn’t something accidental that happened; that badge has been deliberately sourced, the original Isuzu badge has been removed, and the Ford badge has been affixed to the grille. There was effort required for each of these steps.
- There’s no clear reason in the movie’s plot for this to be needed. It’s not like this car was ever referenced as a Ford somewhere in the dialog, or even, if I recall, referenced at all. The badging of this car in the movie shouldn’t matter one bit. It’s also not just some random car in the background; it’s enough a part of the scene that it had to be sourced by the movie’s production, and is likely driven by a professional driver who works for the production.
- There’s no behind the scenes reason that makes sense for the Ford badge. If the movie was, say, sponsored by Ford, there is no way in hell they’d be fine with just slapping a Ford Badge on an old Isuzu. If the movie production didn’t want to deal with Isuzu branding being shot, they could have just pulled off the ISUZU badge and left a blank grille, and no one would have cared.
Nothing makes sense! Why is this Rodeo badged as a Ford? Was it the personal preference of someone involved in the movie? Did the stunt driver make some childhood pledge to Edsel Ford never to drive anything that wasn’t sporting a blue oval?
So far, I have yet to find any reference to this beyond the IMCDB page, and, shockingly, the internet seems to not be concerned, somehow, about what all this may mean. Someone out there, though, must know something.
Someone made a choice. Someone involved in the production of this movie made a decision to have a Ford-badged Isuzu take a prominent, visible role in a car chase scene, and there has to be some sort of reason why. Ford badges don’t just adhere to cars by accident. Choices were made.
Please, help me understand! I’m open to any and all theories. Let’s get to the bottom of this, once and for all.
I think you’re missing the obvious: The producers did not want it known that it was, in fact, their first rodeo.
“If the movie was, say, sponsored by Ford, there is no way in hell they’d be fine with just slapping a Ford Badge on an old Isuzu.”
You say that, but you might be over estimating both the production department and and Ford’s PR people.
Production Department: “Product placement? yeah sure we got this scene right here”
Ford PR: /squints “OK” /writes check…
I’m reminded of someone near me rebadging a late 80s Tercel hatchback with Jaguar badges. Credit where credit’s due they were thorough; they put a leaping Jag on the hood, profile badges on the lower quarter panels and the Jaguar script on the back including an XJ6 badge. I still see this car occasionally and it always makes me laugh. If only they’d remembered to cover the Toyota script on the hub caps.
This scene was filmed in Puerto Rico. As a fellow latino I’ve seen weirder shit around my country (Hyundais/Hyundaii? with BMW badges and so on) so as others have pointed out, the film crew probably sourced cheap local cars, one of them was a piece of crap Rodeo with franken-parts and now it’s all a big automotive mystery.
If the planet doesn’t implode by then, I feel for the future archeologists who will uncover all these weird things and will scratch their heads trying to figure it out, like “why does this young human had soap pods in his stomach? Hmm… probably a religious thing”.
Funny enough my dad also owned an Isuzu (Trooper not Rodeo) and stuck a Mack truck badge on the front. I asked him why he did it and it was simply because it made him chuckle. I think we may be overanalyzing the force of dad jokes, the humor of which may be lost on us mere mortals.
In the close up, it *almost* looks like the front of a Ford Transit, but not quite.
Joe Isuzu, used car salesman: “Yeah, sure, we’ve got a Ford truck. I’ll be right back.”
“Wanna see the airbags?”
That’s not a Rodeo, that’s a Vauxhall Frontera!
FWIW I agree with DoYouHaveAMomentToTalkAboutRenaults – probably locally sourced and someone had stuck a Ford badge on many years ago.
That’s my bet as well. Like my neighbor that has a 90s 4Runner with the Toyota emblem removed and a Ford blue oval installed in its place. Why are people the way they are? Is it a joke we don’t get?
never seen the film, this is the first i knew of it.
Occam’s razor: production sourced cheap local cars, one of them just so happened to have a Ford logo – or perhaps a parody of the Blue Oval? Whatever the logo says, I’m willing to bet there’s no special, plot-related reason for this.
Exactly: my thought is that whoever happened to own this Isuzu was a Ford fan. Also, the oval looks rather oversized, as if it came from a truck.
That’s right, the size does look weird. Definitely a logo from a truck. Probably also helps to better conceal the mounting spots for the Isuzu lettering, which is considerably larger than the Ford logo on most passenger cars.