By on February 10, 2012


After writing my earlier post on the Isuzu Statesman Deville, I got to thinking about all the oddball vehicles that have resulted from badge engineering exercises over the years. Some badge-engineered cars end up being successful for the parent company (e.g., the Colt), but most just confuse vehicle shoppers. The Plymouth Cricket. The Isuzu Hombre. The Mercury Mountaineer. The list is long, but I think the Plymouth Arrow Truck gets my vote for the most senseless act of brand-diluting badge engineering in American automotive history. The Plymouth Arrow car was a rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste, and it didn’t exactly set any sales records. Apparently hallucinating much different sales figures for the Arrow, the suits at Chrysler figured they’d slap the name on Plymouth-badged Mitsubishi Mighty Max pickups and make dozens of dollars! Plymouth had made trucks in the 1940s and revived the idea with some success in the mid-1970s, but the marketplace wasn’t clamoring for Plymouth-badged Mitsubishi pickups with confusing name similarity to a slow-selling and essentially unrelated Plymouth car. What feat of badge engineering gets your vote as the most ridiculous?

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231 Comments on “Question: What’s the Most Ridiculous Example of Badge Engineering?...”


  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Cadillac Cimarron?

    • 0 avatar
      dvdlgh

      tankinbeans, you win the Grand Prize!

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        What, because he took a 45 MPH pitch and got a head first slide in single by taking the easy road?

        Come on, think a little.

        Lancia Thema or Toyota Cavalier?

        These are much better answers (and harder to come up with) than the painfully obvious Cimarron.

        That would be like throwing the grand prize to the ugliest car ever made question to the first person that yells out Aztek or Edsel.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Lancia Thema or Toyota Cavalier?”

        If Chevrolet wasn’t selling Cavaliers in Japan, then rebadging it as a Toyota is not an example of badge engineering.

        Badge engineering is a matter of selling near-identical cars with different badges **in the same market**. It’s a marketing problem, not an engineering issue, per se.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Fair enough

        Mercury Tracer vs. Mazda 3 series
        Isuzu Rodeo vs. Honda Passport
        Chevrolet Trailblazer SS vs. Saab 9-7x

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        The Honda Passport is a notable mention because it was being misrepresented by dealers as a “true” Honda and as such, Honda wound up doing so called “corrective advertising” that mentioned the fact that it was indeed not really a Honda product. Same logic that forced GM to mention that “GM cars have engines produced from various worldwide suppliers” after the Chevmobile debacle. Even more interesting to note is that Honda tipped its toe in the SUV waters before making a commitment to them. I guess SUVs seem illogical to Honda engineers who used to slave to efficiency and tight engineering.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      APaGttH –

      Can I have a minor pass due to my lack of age? I know that I haven’t been around long enough to know of the most egregious examples.

      I do know that it takes a very special type of moron not to know that most Mercuries (ys?) from the last 20 years have been carbon copies of Fords (after that’s what killed them); Lincolns too for that matter.

      I recently saw Izusu’s version of the original Odyssey. It was kind of weird, but identical in every way from the outside. Also, didn’t Izusu release a rebadged gen V Accord, the Izusu Aska? Was that ever sold in the US market?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        There was no Ford copy of the Mercury Tracer. The Mercury Tracer was rebadged Mazda 323 from ’87 to ’89 and sold in the same US market (along with being sold down unda’

        They were virtually identical in every way.

        I don’t think the Aska was every sold in the US market.

        You could also add the Mercury Villager, which was a rebadged Nissan Quest minivan. The Villager stunningly survived for a decade (’93 to ’02) and included an upscale “Nautica” edition (as in the clothing brand).

        Take an already poorly executed and irrelevant minivan and slap a dead badge walking on it and then to make it even better, align it to an 80′s clothing brand. YIKES!

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        I have to disagree with you about the Tracer and 323. I owned a Tracer and found that people who were familiar with the 323 didn’t recognize the Tracer as a clone until they sat in mine. The sheet metal was smoother, curvier, and to my tastes much more attractive. I never sat in a 323, but I expect that the Tracer was a bit more plush even if all the bits were in exactly the same place.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        After the 323, and I have no reason to disbelieve what you said, the Escort and Tracer were the same. Along with the Topaz/Tempo, Sable/Taurus and any number of others.

        I once had a person tell me he wouldn’t buy a vehicle with a Ford badge on it. I asked him if he would be a Mercury Sable? He said, “yup”. When I told him the Sable and the Ford Taurus were the same he didn’t believe me.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Beginning in the early 1990′s, 93, I think, the Escort became Mazda derived, as was the Tracer and I think both were derived from the same Mazda model, the 323, which itself was the GLC here in the states when first introduced as a RWD compact hatchback in 1978.

        In 1982 or so, the GLC went FWD before becoming the 323 in ’85 and then the Protege in 93.

        I have the last iteration of the Protege, the 2003 Protege5. I believe the Mazda3 is the successor to the GLC/323/Protege.

        At any rate, due to the vastly different bodies, it’s not easy to tell if they were essentially the same mechanically unless you sat in each one and noted the similarities between them.

      • 0 avatar
        Bryce

        The Isuzu Aska was rebadged as a Holden Camira for New Zealand

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      To be fair to tankinbeans comment and his age, which he willing conceeds to, the Cimarron is a fair answer because it wasn’t just a Cavalier clone. It was all part of GM’s big plan to fight the Japanese with an all-in-one compact sedan, hatchback, coupe, and station wagon. GM’s J-body, all shared the same bodyshell of the following:

      Chevrolet Cavalier
      Pontiac Sunbird/S-2000
      Oldsmobile Firenza
      Buick Skyhawk
      Cadillac Cimarron
      Vauxhall Cavalier mk 2
      Opel Ascona C

  • avatar
    dts187

    Lincoln Mark LT. I shudder every time I see one of those dog babies.

  • avatar
    Davey

    Acura CSX.

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    Not that it was utterly ridiculous, but weren’t the Dodge Plymouth Neons were the exact same everything save the badge?

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    Not that it was utterly ridiculous, but weren’t the Dodge / Plymouth Neons were the exact same everything save the badge?

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    i’m going against the grain on this one: YUKON XL.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Different engine, interior, instrumentation, front clip, driveline, AWD system versus 4WD system.

      Big differences between the two.

      With that said, GMC to me still makes zero sense on why it exists. My understanding is when the ‘guberment bean counters were counting GM beans they concluded that GMC was “profitable” in some bizzaro voodoo math way that no one outside of a quant is going to understand and hence GMC was saved from the chopping block.

      I would just kill the whole damn division, roll the CUV offerings to Buick and create upline Chevrolet products with the option set.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        GMC still exists because it made sense from an overall business standpoint. There are many places that have Buick/GMC or Cadillac/GMC dealerships, especially in more rural areas. And due to the various state laws, it can be costly for GM to close down dealerships. It’s not as simple as it may appear.

      • 0 avatar

        GM unilaterally PO’ed its dealer network 60 years ago during the “Ford Blitz”, forcing dealers to take cars it didn’t want. (Is that the first known instance of a manufacturer forcing product on its dealers?)

        Then they extended all dealer agreements to five years.

        Dealers complained to state legislators who then passed franchising laws that today make it difficult to just up and kill off a brand. GM did it with Pontiac/Olds/Saturn etc…they had no choice but it was costly.

        A MAJOR difference in brand perception between Chevy and Ford has opened up since that time. Whereas Ford did what was best for the Ford brand, taking it upscale (even if it hurt Mercury, which of course killed it), GM felt it could only take Chevrolet so far since it would hurt Pontiac/Olds/Buick.

        I’d argue in the long run it hurt Chevy.

        There are no Chevrolet equivalents for the Ford King Ranch and other premium F-Series…you have to go to GMC for that. That’s reason enough for me to kill GMC and simply build more upscale Chevy models.

      • 0 avatar
        SimonAlberta

        I know I am in a tiny minority but I truly hate the name Chevrolet. To me it implies “cheap and tinny”. I’m NOT saying that is reality, just how the name sounds to me.

        On the other hand, GMC sounds solid and powerful to me.

        Yeah, yeah, I’m probably just weird and GM needn’t keep the brand alive just for me, especially as I won’t be buying one anytime soon, but I would be sad to see it lost nonetheless.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The whole GMCChevy Truck thing is just colossally stupid to me. Just call ALL of them GM trucks and let Chevy dealers AND Buick dealers sell the damned things. Give the Buick boys the fancier trim levels, which is what they get now anyway. Spend the money saved on making them BETTER instead of making them different. Or pocket it as profit.

      I cannot imagine that the cost of making two different versions of everything is less than the revenue they would lose. Extra design, marketing, production, distribution, inventory costs all to make two SLIGHTLY different versions of the same thing, that only MORONS don’t know are the same thing.

      My vote for the dumbest badge-engineering is the TrollBlazer, aka Saab 9-7x, especially in Aero spec. Utterly retarded.

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        Like your appendix which once (supposedly) had a purpose, the GMC/Chevy thing is vestigual. When I was young and just learning about hot rods the big GMC six (260-270something IIRC) was a torque monster. The GMC’s were just plain bigger and stronger than the Chevy. I remember GMC motors still being different in the 80′s (the trucks were not new) and then the belly button engine (Chev 350 took over).

        My mind like any steel trap has become somewhat rusty and probably operates sporadically, however, I think the situation is not much over 30 years old. GMC was heavy duty and Chev was regular. The dealer networks were another factor, however, the trucks only looked the same. I have no argument that the current situation does not indicate typical gm mentality.

      • 0 avatar
        Bryce

        Way back in the dark ages GM ra 3 different 6cylinder engines Chev Maple Leaf& GMC Chevy was 216 cube non pressure bigends Maple Leaf was Chev but with full pressure oiling and GMC was bigger bore with full pressure so the extea you paid for GMC meant you got a heavier duty engine.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    Dodge/Plymouth Neon. Completely identical. What was the point? At least the vans and cloud cars had pricing/feature variation.

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      Chrysler’s intent was that “Neon” would be the recognizable brand, instead of the actual brand name. “I have a Neon!” instead of “I have a Dodge/Plymouth Neon!”

      Also, remember that most Dodge and Chrysler/Plymouth stores were still separate back then. The strategy would make much less sense at consolidated dealerships.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Chevy Nova/Pontiac Ventura/Buick Apollo/Olds Omega

    Beat that list!

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Chevy Trailblazer/GMC Envoy /Oldsmobile Bravada/Buick Rainier/Isuzu Ascender/Saab 9-7X (let me know if I left one out).

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      The Buick Rainier and Bravada actually sold for a time. The Envoy killed the Bravada market though once they went to the 2002 Generation (3rd for Bravada/2nd for Envoy). Up until then I saw tons of Bravadas and relatively few Envoys. They basically switched positions in luxury and GMC never looked back. The Saab 9-7X when it was new was fairly popular. I know we’re talking useless badge engineering but those sales weren’t going to go to the Trailblazer/Envoy duo alone if the others didn’t exist.

      I’m sure to get a fair bit of roughing on this but I have to call the Panther on the carpet.

      Ford Crown Victoria / Mercury Grand Marquis

      A grill does not make it a different car and worse yet the Mercury didn’t get any real options over the Ford. The Town Car made sense as a limo and general livery car. The Grand Marquis is the odd-bird out.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        There are a few ways that the Grand Ma could have been differentiated from the CV and TC. One way would have been to offer more TC options in the Grand Ma. Like heated and memory seats and maybe the navigation and high end stereo that were available in various TC models. (I know some GM were built with heated seats but honestly, far too few.)

        Here’s another idea wheelbase diffentiation. CV on the standard 114 in wheelbase, GM on the 117 in wheelbase of the TC, and put the TC on the TC L wheelbase of 122 in. Finally a more compelling reason to buy each one.

  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    Everything by GM

  • avatar
    redliner

    Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan
    Nissan Frontier/ Suzuki Equator
    Any GM SUV

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Honda Passport

  • avatar
    Acd

    Isuzu Ascender/Saab 9-7
    Mazda Navajo
    1994 & Newer Mazda B-Series Trucks

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Cimarron is an obvious choice.

  • avatar
    jco

    The Toyota Cavalier is a good example. yes because in Japan where so many fine small cars are sold, what you really want is a crappy old GM platform that Americans with credit scores above 450 avoid like the plague. and on top of that, because of the engine size and exterior dimensions, it was issued additional tax.

    The Honda Passport was also a terrible attempt at bandwagon-jumping.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    Lincoln BlackWood

    AMC Pacer / Plymouth Gremlin

    Suzuki Verano, Chevy Epica , Daewoo Magnus

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    Alfa Romeo Arna, where instead of just screwing on the Alfa logo on a Nissan they went the extra mile and combined the dashing good looks of a Nissan Cherry with the stellar reliability of Alfasud mechanicals.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Honda Passport
    Saab 9-7
    Mitsubishi Raider pickup
    VW Routan
    Lancia Thema
    Toyota Cavalier
    All GM A-Body cars from 1982 to 1996
    Pontiac G3
    Lexus LX470/570
    Mercury Tracer

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      What is even similar to the RX450(h)? It has the same “platform” as the Highlander, Sienna, Camry, and a few others, but it shares very little else. Did you mean LX470/570?

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to say the Routan but you beat me to it. I’m surprised noone got it sooner, though. It’s especially egregious when VW couild have come up with a new Microbus concept, but no, they take a Chrysler minivan and put their bad on THAT! Sheesh.

      I would also add the Chevy Aveo. Such a POS, run the Chevy name in the mud.

      And I see you also got the Saab 9-7, which is another egregious one.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        Pardon me, but I believe Chevrolet and GM in general run their names in the mud just fine without any help at all. I’m surprised Daewoo isn’t more embarrassed to have to be marketed as GM as the already are.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      The advertising makes some of these even more ridiculous.
      The “Born From Jets” Saab 9-7
      The “German Engineered” VW Routan

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    The Arna is a good one…

    Chevrolet Lumina/Lumina APV. Then, they changed the Lumina Coupe to Monte Carlo. Then, they made the Lumina for a model year after the replacement (Impala) came along. And that was a completely different car than the B-Body Impala from just three years prior.

    Also, in 1988, you could buy a:

    Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Classic (G-Body RWD, coupe only)
    Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (W-Body FWD, coupe only)
    Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (sedan, coupe)
    Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser (Ciera-based wagon)
    Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais (N-Body compact, sedan or coupe)
    Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser (B-Body, big BOF RWD wagon version of Eighty-Eight)

    And, of course, the Cutlass Ciera had a very “international” badge with 20+ flags from around the globe, while Oldsmobile also offered “International Series” versions of it, the W-Body Cutlass Supreme, and the Cutlass Calais.

    Whew!

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      After surviving the Cutlasspalooza of the 80s, I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that nobody makes a Cutlass today. It’s like living in a parallel universe. Kudos for that exhaustive list, although I wouldn’t be surprised if you missed one. Those things mutated like the common cold.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        The guys down lower in the thread reminded me… I did forget the ’97-98 N-Body Malibu-based Cutlass! It wasn’t on the market at the same time as the others, but it picked up one model year after the W-Body Cutlass Supreme was eliminated to replace the Achieva. The Cut Supreme wasn’t replaced until the ’98 Intrigue debuted…

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I’ll add the Mazda B2000/B2200 trucks (the Ranger ones) only becuase the original models made in Japan and still sold in Australia are just so superior it’s not funny.

    I’ll also add the Porsche 914, which is probably the suckiest brand-damaging case of badge engineering in the history of sucking.

    • 0 avatar
      bsquarewi

      Then you need to include the Mazda Tribute / Ford Escape twins. The Tribute lingered on as an odd-ball ugly duckling way too long as the rest of the Mazda products “zoom-zoomed” away. Never fit with the brand. The new CX-5 is a welcome replacement.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      How is the Porsche 914 badge engineering? It was sold as a Porsche in the US, and a VW-Porsche in Europe, but it was just as much a Porsche as it was a VW. And you do realize that Porsches pre-911 WERE effectively suped-up VWs, right? The 914 was no more heresy than the 356 was, to my mind. And the 914-6 was a better car than a same-engined 911.

      Now the Cayenne on the other hand…

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Saab 9-7X and Isuzu Ascender, because Chevy, GMC, Oldsmobile (and then Buick) versions of the GMT360 platform weren’t enough. Oh and while your at it lets steal SmartTrac from Oldsmobile for the high end versions of this platform to take away one of Olds’ pieces of exclusivity.

    Although gentelmen we need to remember that one benefit of all this badge engineering is that you can often pick up an “orphan” cheap. Yeah I wouldn’t want to do bodywork on an Isuzu but the mechanicals sure would be easy to get! Oh and a few weeks ago I saw a Bravada with a Chevy front clip, saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Oh and a few weeks ago I saw a Bravada with a Chevy front clip, saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time.”

      Kind of like putting a 1962 Chevy front end on a 1961 Chevy. No – I didn’t do that, but was sorely tempted due to the propensity of the ’61s to rust out over the headlights so bad.

    • 0 avatar
      j3studio

      “Oh and a few weeks ago I saw a Bravada with a Chevy front clip, saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time.”

      Out on the road today I saw an Olds Bravada with a Chevy front clip,
      A little voice inside my head said don’t look back, you can never look back.

    • 0 avatar
      MDBT

      The GMT 360s had unique sheetmetal, cladding, and interiors as well as a variety of options and trim packages that were exclusive to individual makes. The Oldsmobile died off after 2004 with the rest of the brand so they changed it to a Buick and made a few changes until the Lambda platform was ready (Enclave). The three model years that the Olds was made the Bravada was the only GMT360 with Smart Trak (two words not one, and spelled with a K not a c). Buick and Saab got the same system only after Oldsmobile closed up shop.

      Unique suspension was designed for the Saab 9-7x and it worked so well Chevrolet stole it for the SS in 2006. The Saab had factory HID headlamps and washers and a number of other touches not found on its fellow platform mates.

      Other vehicles here are much more aggregious examples of true “badge” engineering. With the GMT360 platform they did more than simply change the badge from one make to the next.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        Who cares about it or how it’s spelled? It’s General Motors badge engineered crap. Why bother to explain when we already know?

        This reply ended up on top of mdbt’s post, which it was meant to rebut.

    • 0 avatar
      MDBT

      The GMT 360s had unique sheetmetal, cladding, and interiors as well as a variety of options and trim packages that were exclusive to individual makes. The Oldsmobile died off after 2004 with the rest of the brand so they changed it to a Buick and made a few changes until the Lambda platform was ready (Enclave). The three model years that the Olds was made the Bravada was the only GMT360 with Smart Trak (two words not one, and spelled with a K not a c). Buick and Saab got the same system only after Oldsmobile closed up shop.

      Unique suspension was designed for the Saab 9-7x and it worked so well Chevrolet stole it for the SS in 2006. The Saab had factory HID headlamps and washers and a number of other touches not found on its fellow platform mates.

      Other vehicles here are much more egregious examples of true “badge” engineering. With the GMT360 platform they did more than simply change the badge from one make to the next.

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      I’ve seen one or two S-10/S-15s with Bravada front clips. I think it’s a good look, similar to the handful of Grand Nationalised El Caminos out there – different and classy if you key it properly.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      To be fair, by the time SmartTrac was offered outside the Olds showroom, Olds had already been handed down a death sentence. Same with the rear air suspension that was a Bravada exclusive until the Rainier debuted.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Yeah I just get cheezed off because of the way Olds was treated (OLDEST CAR BRAND IN AMERICA!) by the GM heirarchy. The executives might as well pull a Cutlass into the parking garage of the REN CEN and deficate on it to mark the anniversary yearly.

  • avatar

    How about Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, and Toyota FT-86?

    It’s one thing to badge engineer a car that’s not remotely central to the brand. But a sports car that you’re hoping will enhance the brand’s image? I thought they’d at least give the car’s some unique sheetmetal and different interiors, but nope, they’re nearly identical.

    Is the shared car a Scion, a Suburu, or a Toyota? Which brand’s identity does it actually express? None of the above?

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      I don’t think the FR-S and FT-86 will be sold in the same market though.

      Don’t forget the similar Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, Plymouth Laser, and whatever the heck Dodge’s version of this car was called.

      Murilee was asking about ridiculousness; My vote would be for the Mercury badged Ford trucks I saw up in Canada as a kid. I sort of recall seeing Plymouth branded Dodge vans as well. You know, the old school full size ones, pre mini-vans.

      Talk about really messing up a 10 year old kid’s world seeing that…

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Is the shared car a Scion, a Suburu, or a Toyota?”

      In the US, it won’t be a Toyota.

      As for Scion vs. Subaru, it probably makes little difference. However, the car has styling that doesn’t resemble other Subarus while it shares styling cues with Toyota-family vehicles, which could make it a bit of an orphan for Subaru.

      Badge engineering is at its worst when it destroys luxury and near-luxury branding. The Cimarron is one of the worst examples because it launched a torpedo into Cadillac’s ability to maintain a premium price point. That car alone has probably cost GM hundreds of millions in lost revenue due to the erosion of brand equity that came from it.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      Count me as one of the confused. I thought leading up to it they all but guaranteed the Toyota/Scion and Subaru would look very different.

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        I agree. When they revealed the two designs and they looked so similar (down to the V-shaped light on the bottom of the back bumper), I remember remarking to myself that such blatant badge engineering on all-new cars seemed quite outdated, especially for Japanese brands — reminded me of the Eagle Talon/Mitsu Eclipse in the ’90s.

    • 0 avatar

      I happen to think that “brand identity” is very much overstated by marketing professionals. A friend of mine just bought a Mazda 2. Did it damage Ford’s identity in any way?

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        I see your point, and don’t entirely disagree given certain circumstances.

        However, the 2 and Fiesta share very little. Different engines, automatic transmissions, options, interior parts, bodies, and even whole body styles (2 is not available as a sedan). They only share minor unseen mechanicals (brakes, steering racks, etc), basic platforms, and base manual transmissions.

        Are they competitors on the marketplace? Sure, but that comes with the territory when sharing mass-market components, especially in the lower reaches of the market where these two play. But I think theirs is a case of components-sharing that works well to differentiate.

        We aren’t talking GMC Jimmy vs. Chevy Blazer here, where a grille, wheels and badging are the only seperators. At that point, it comes down to colors and which dealer is more willing to negotiate on the price.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        KalapanaBlack, Pete Zaitcev,

        While both of you are right, the Fiesta and the 2 share similar shape and bodies as a 5door hatch though you CAN tell them apart, their looks aren’t radically different otherwise, unlike the Ranger/B series trucks whereby you CAN definitely see that the B series was a variation of the Ranger through and through, despite different bodies.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      As stated already Toyota’s badged version won’t see our shores. We get a Scion version and a Suburu version. From what I get is the Scion will be infinitely customizable, all sorts of different body kits and such tidbits. The Suburu is going to be a fairly limited option set that will start more expensive but supposedly be more in-line with Miata in terms of goals.

      I’m not against them yet because they may diverge sooner rather than later. But the total lack of difference in sheet metal is disturbing.

  • avatar
    ajla

    9-7x Aero.

    A Chevy Trailblazer SUV with a 6.0L OHV LS-series V8.

    In a Saab.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Sharing the lot with the 9-2x Saabaru.

      Anyone remember the Saab 600? It was a Lancia Delta in all but name, part of the Saab-Fiat partnership that also led to the Fiat Croma, Alfa Romeo 164, Lancia Thema, and Saab 9000 clones.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    It would be the SAAB 9-7. A close second is the Porsche Cayenne, while not badge engineered, certainly based on the VW Toureg.
    SAAB 9-2 probably third, although Subaru and SAAB had similar engineering philosophies and appealed to the same audience.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Pontiac “Astre”. Talk about the sincerest form of flattery, badge engineering a Vega! They should have just named it “Turd 2″.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Since you went there….Mercury Bobcat. The up-scale Pinto. I think for a while they offered a V6 exclusively in the Bobcat, so it had that going for it.

      That car had to just kill Mercury’s brand, were dealers really clamoring for a Pinto of their own to sell?

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I just found the winner on Wikipedia: The 1978 Chevrolet Monza “S” and Monza wagon. They took a few thousand Vegas left over from the 1977 run, and stuck Monza grilles and badges on them. Badge engineering WITHIN THE SAME BRAND! That is absolutely epic kung-fu.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    How about the Triumph Acclaim?

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      I forgot all about the Acclaim! I guess I’d blotted it out after witnessing the horrors that were giant fist-sized rust holes all over the bodywork after a mere 5-6 years on British roads, which I guess is about right for an early 80′s Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      Beat me to it. There was something uniquely sad about that car. Whereas the US domestics at least put up a half-assed fight in the early ’80s, the British motor industry just rolled over and died and started selling Accords.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    Crown Vic, Marauder, and TC…..

    I’m going to go hide now.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I agree….but I think you have to include the Acura “SLX” with the Pissport.

    Totally egregious! At least with the NOVA quads and Granada/Monarch twins, grilles and taillights were changed out. The Trooper->SLX and Odyssey->Oasis was just the plastic grille. Lazy.

    Ok, maybe the Neons…that was just a sticker!

  • avatar
    210delray

    No one mentioned this GM (who else?) mish-mash:

    Chevy Venture –> Uplander, Pontiac Trans Sport –> Montana –> Montana SV6, Buick Terraza, and Saturn RELAY.

    When they received their snouts starting with the 2005 models, they were called “crossover sport vans.” Riiiiiiight!

  • avatar
    jeanpierresarti

    Toyota Corolla and Geo Prism in the late 1990′s? If I recall the engine badge even said Toyota.

    Upon further consultation with the great Wiki it looks like the Prism for all three generations was a Corolla in GM drag.

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    Pontiac T1000.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    How about the Lexus ES250? A last minute effort to give Lexus dealers another model to sell. A more obvious rebadged Camry that didn’t sell very well. It was offered with a manual trans though…

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Naw, it was the next gen ES300 that was available with a stick. Solid car though. Buddy of mine has one and it runs as smooth and quiet as I would ever want.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      ES250 doesn’t share an ounce of sheet metal with the Camry and the interior was different. They are platform mates, but it was a lot more than just a simple badge job.

  • avatar
    Bob

    The best example is the 1988 Buick Skyhawk. I had the station wagon version, it was a Cavalier with a different front end and chrome trim.

  • avatar
    Neb

    The last crop of GM minivans. They were all horrible, so naturally all divisions got their own separate ‘model’, so they wouldn’t miss out.

    VW’s Dodge minivan re-badges are up there, as well.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    The Volkswagen Taro sold in Europe from 1989 to 1996. This truck was nothing more than a one-ton Toyota Hilux pickup with VW badges. Strange move by both companies, though I’d bet that the Taro was more reliable than VW’s own trucks.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Taro

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The Suzuki Daewoos, they completely destroyed the brand equity of the company.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Add descriptive terms like “hand crafted” and the badge of 007 and you get the Cygnet. $30k UK lbs starting price versus its identical under the skin Toyota iQ that starts at $10k UK lbs.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Pontiac Firefly.

    It was an Isuzu, design and build.

    IF that wasn’t suckified enough, it was also sold by GM in Oz as an Holden, and in North America as a Chevy Sprint…

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
    Winner, winner, Chicken dinner!

    Sucktastic mid-eighties Pontiac cladding and horrid graphics from the “Wide-Track, We Build Excitement!” People.

    Shyte like this is what killed the brand. Shameful.

    • 0 avatar
      Wacko

      It was a Suzuki swift, not isuzu
      It was also the Geo metro, the chevrolet sprint, and the firefly.

      We forgot to include the Suzuki sidekick, chevrolet/GMC/pontiac tracker and the geo sunrunner if I am not mistaken.

  • avatar
    nickeled&dimed

    I was about to mention the GM branded minivans too… It’s astounding the minivan sharing, nobody wants to invest anything in those platforms.

    In addition to the SV6/Uplander/Relay/Terraza mentioned earlier,

    Routan / Caravan / T&C
    Previous gen Montana/Venture/Silhouette
    Entourage/Sienna
    Freestar/Monterrey

    I think the Terraza, Relay, and Silhouette, and Routan are the stupidest repeats

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    Pontiac G3 (Chevy Aveo)!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Good one! It makes me think back to Jack’s story about how dealers have to take crap cars to get the one’s they want. My local P-B-GMC dealer had a back lot full of G3s from trying to get the G6s, G8s, and Vibes they wanted. Didn’t sell those sorry SOBs till after Pontiac bit the dust. Had to fire sale those suckers.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      G3 was a Cobalt, “champ”.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        G5 was a Cobalt.
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/02/2008-pontiac-g5-coupe-review/
        ___________________
        G3 was an Aveo.
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/09/gm-defends-pontiac-g3-nee-chevrolet-aveo-hack-job/

  • avatar
    cfclark

    I don’t recall ever having seen an Isuzu Ascender in the wild, although I have met a guy who bought an Isuzu I-Series truck (rebadged Colorado) precisely because it was cheap.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Sterling and the Acura Legend
    Mercedes-Benz/Dodge Sprinter
    Saabaru 9-2x

  • avatar

    I once has a Mercury Mystique/Ford Contour The grilles were different, I think, and the Mercury had all the options. Oddly, equally optioned cars were cheaper at Mercury. V6 and a stick.

    X type is my fav badge engineer…

  • avatar

    Looking at this list, something jumps out at me:
    How is it that Isuzus were so unsuccessful as Isuzus, but it seemed every other brand wanted a piece?

  • avatar
    JMII

    The Honda Passport still ranks high for me because it was Honda’s lame attempt to jump on the SUV craze. And I fell for it! I bought an Isuzu Rodeo because I figured if it was good enough for Honda it was good enough for me. Big mistake, I owned my Rodeo for 8 months before getting rid of the slow, gas-guzzling, ill-handling beast. Should have gotten the VehiCross instead!

  • avatar
    TokyoPlumber

    My vote is for GM’s Asüna brand. Asüna was offered only in Canada and was supposed to be a “Geo equivalent” brand for Pontiac / Buick / GMC dealers. Asüna badged cars were sold for a couple of years in the early 1990′s before the brand was terminated. Here’s what they sold:

    1993 Asüna SE. The SE was a re-badged version of the Daewoo LeMans (which was itself a re-badged Korea version of the Opel Kadett E). This car was previously sold in Canada as the Passport Optima (1988-1991) and in the United States as the Pontiac LeMans (1988–1993). The Asüna SE was a truly momentous feat of badge-engineering – it was the re-badged successor to a re-badged version of a Korean economy car that was in turn a re-badged version of a European Opel.

    1992–1993 Asüna Sunrunner. The Sunrunner was a re-badged version of the Suzuki Vitara / Geo Tracker.

    1993 Asüna Sunfire. The Sunfire was a re-badged version of the Isuzu Impulse.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Chevy Forester in India

    Holdern Suburban in Australia

    How about the K-Car? Aries, Reliant, Imperial, Dynasty, the list is endless.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    L-body dodge charger, plymouth duster and turismo.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Mercury Villager, complete with Nautica edition!

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Dodge Rampage – Plymouth Scamp

  • avatar
    nvdw

    I’ve read some British Leyland references over here, which must probably the European equivalent of GM – except for the fact that it already died.

    Apart from the usual suspect, the 1100 model of the 1960s (which was sold under every conceivable nameplate the group had by then), I nominate the triplets Austin 1800/2200, Morris 1800/2200 and the Wolseley Saloon, all the same car with very little distinct features. What’s more, after only six months of selling these cars (with unique advertising for each brand!) the cars were replaced by a single version that had no brand at all. It was called the Princess. Not Austin Princess, or Morris Princess, or even Leyland Princess. Just Princess.

    Mind-boggling affair, badge engineering…

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    The Chevrolet Trackers by Suzuki. Man those were some awful cars.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Dodge Stealth vs. Mitsubishi 3000

  • avatar
    geo

    Didn’t Chevy have a Cutlass clone back in the nineties . . . dubbed the “Cutlabu”?

    The 902x — Saabaru. I think this tarnished both Subaru and Saab.

    That Masarati clone of the leBaron was ridiculous, though I don’t know how much they had in common under the sheet metal . . . I suspect a lot.

    The Routan Caravan is just awful, not because the vehicle itself is bad, but because we were expecting a modern minibus to come from VW. Or at least something innovative, rather than an overpriced T&C. At least VW got to steal the VW-engineered handling improvements.

    The GM minivans are among the worst recent examples, though I might one day buy one myself due to the price and 3.9l engine. Did GM actually think people would accept these as SUVs with innovative sliding doors, needing new names to “fool” people? Why did every GM brand have to have one? I get vaguely embarrassed when I think of the marketing cynicism involved. Americans love cars, and know a lot about them. So why do the marketing MBAs assume they know nothing?

  • avatar
    S2L2SC

    While we are at it – Early 90′s GM B-bodies.
    All three of these (at least in wagon form) are almost identical.

    Buick Roadmaster
    Chevy Caprice
    Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser

    Some different features and some minor differences (taillight sizes). Not sure if the sedans were the same, I know the Roadmaster at least had a different front end. Not sure what the Olds sedan version was. More interested in the wagons myself.

    As was pointed out earlier: Ford Crown Vic / Mercury Marauder / Lincoln Towncar.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    1955-57 Hudsons were rebadged Nashes
    1957-58 Packards were rebadged Studebakers.

  • avatar

    My favourite little known badge job is the Mercury Capri 5.0, basically a Foxbody Stang with a Mad Max Interceptor bodykit. I think they ooze 80s ponycar cool, and I stop everytime I spot one. Which isn’t often, they are damn hard to find.

    I see someone mentioned the Acura CSX. I second that motion and add the 1.6/1.7EL to the list, which was even more indistinguishable from the Civic it was based on.

  • avatar
    jogrd

    We had a Mercury M-250 4×4 when I was a kid. There were Fargo pickups around as well. I’d love to have a Fargo Power Wagon.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    Speaking of the Plymouth Arrow truck, does anyone remember the Plymouth Trailduster?

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Did I look through these comments a bit too fast, or has no-one mentioned the Lincoln Versailles? One thing is jumping 15 years back in time, and find a compact car platform to build a brougham’med super malaise era ‘Mercedes’ competing Granada, but then adding some chrome, some straight lines, and charging a lot more ‘pr unit of actual content’ than even the Cimmaron
    At least the Cimmaron was based on contemporary European engineering, and given a slightly sporty’ish image, while the Versailles was sold as a Luxury cruiser based on a close to 20 year old , pretty spartan compact American platform, that wasn’t even considered modern when it first arrived in ’61.)
    There are a lot of good examples of wild an weird badge engineering that I’ve never heard of mentioned here (Isuzu really made a great effort here), but not many were quite as ridiculous as the Versailles…

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    I nominate: Eagle Talon/Plymouth Laser/Mitsubishi Eclipse.

    Runner-up: mid 1970′s Olds Cutlass/Chevy Chevelle/Chevy El Camino/Buick Century/Pontiac LeMans

    Or the 6000 Sux.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Look, badge engineering is ridiculous enough on its face, but I thought Murilee was looking for particularly egregious examples. I’d consider these to be in the spirit of “look how low we’ve sunk”:

    The penultimate bad badge job: 1978-1982 Mitsubishi Galant –>Dodge Challenger. The real Challenger had been gone for only four years when it was “replaced” by this tiny, gutless wannabe. The two saving graces for this car: one, it had a balance-shafted 2.6L four that smoothed out the vibes (but did nothing for its oil appetite), and the styling absolutely presaged the Foxbody Mustang. Fortunately, the Challenger nameplate has been honorably revived with a more-than-worth successor.

    The worst of the worst: 1986-1993 Opel Kadett E–>Daewoo–>Pontiac LeMans. This once-proud nameplate, synonymous with the mid-60s and early-70s Tempests and GTOs, became a T-body sh!tbox, badly translated as only the Koreans could do it in the 1980s. Unreliable with extremely expensive parts. I remember a friend with a three-year-old car that required a $600 alternator that was simply not available from anyone other than Mr. Goodwrench. What a horrible ending for this model name.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Good calls. I’m sure there’s a special spot in Hell reserved for whomever decided to saddle the LeMans heritage with that sorry little car.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “The worst of the worst: 1986-1993 Opel Kadett E–>Daewoo–>Pontiac LeMans”

      That was a God-awful car. But that is not an example of badge engineering.

      “Badge engineering” is when two or more cars that are largely identical to each other, in ways that are obvious to most consumers, are sold in the same market.

      The Opel Kadett was never sold in the US. The Daewoo-badged version was never sold in the US. The LeMans was an example of a captive import, i.e. a car that was rebranded for export.

      The Acura TSX is a captive import. The Chevy Caprice sold in the Middle East (a rebadged and modified version of the Holden Commodore) is a captive import, as was the Pontiac G8. During the 70s, the Mercury Capri was a sort of captive import. (Those were sold as the Ford Capri in Europe.) Captive imports and badge engineering are not the same thing.

      • 0 avatar
        TokyoPlumber

        The way most people use the term “badge engineering” is not limited to vehicles sold in the same market. Badge engineering is typically used when one model of car is re-branded with no (or very minor) changes (cosmetics, trim and options)

        In Murilee’s post he refers to the Plymouth Cricket as an example of badge engineering. Jalopnik uses the same example in their article “This Is The Most Badge-Engineered Car Of All Time” (Jason Torchinsky, 2012.01.30). The Plymouth Cricket was basically a 1500cc Hillman Avenger with minor alterations to meet US regulations and preferences (ex, lights, brakes, trim). This car was only sold in the US under the Cricket name … and elsewhere under many different names. The Plymouth Cricket is an example of a captive import and an example of badge engineering (the terms are not mutually exclusive).

        The 1988 to 1993 Pontiac LeMans was to the Opel Kadett as the Plymouth Cricket was to the Hillman Avenger. Up in Canada we had two versions of this same car. Originally it was offered as the Passport Optima. After GM folded Passport the car was re-branded (with some minor re-styling) as the Asüna SE. In all cases no hard engineering work was done. New badges were slapped on an existing design (which is the crux of “badge engineering”).

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Just because you’ve seen the term misused in two blogs doesn’t mean that they’ve used it accurately.

        I’m using the term as it would be used in marketing. An article by the McKinsey consulting firm describes it as “cars and light trucks sold into the same market by two different car companies, often with little but a nameplate to differentiate the products.”

        “Badge engineering” usually has negative connotations. It suggests a cynical attempt by the automaker to fool the consumer with multiple versions of the same product, offered with only trivial variations. (The only “engineering” involved is in relabeling the copy.) But badge engineering often backfires on the producers, and at its worse can harm all of the brands that sell the different versions of the product — consumers can usually tell the original from the copy, and most will prefer the original.

        In contrast, there’s nothing inherently wrong with captive imports. Varying product names by markets is not unusual, nor is it necessarily bad. As an example, if the consumer can’t buy both a Honda Fit and a Honda Jazz in the same market, then there is no deception in calling it a Fit in one place and a Jazz in the other.

      • 0 avatar
        TokyoPlumber

        And your definition of “badge engineering” isn’t automatically acceptable simply because it was derived from an article written by a management consulting firm. That said, there’s nothing wrong with using the term from the perspective of marketer. In the same way there’s nothing wrong with accepting a fox’s justification for pulling a few chickens from a coop.

        Marketing people and management consultants are apt to use the term “badge engineering” in a manner supportive of their own goals. For example, they may not wish the term to apply in certain circumstances because the negative connotation would impact consumer sentiment and hurt sales. However, a consumer (or automobile journalist) is not so encumbered. For them “badge engineering” can refer to the practice of re-branding an existing make and model of vehicle. In the vast territory beyond marketing (and management consulting) this is how the term is most commonly used.

        I’ll illustrate with an example. Many journalists and bloggers refer to the 2004 to 2006 Pontiac GTO as a case of “badge engineering”. The car was ONLY offered in the US as the GTO. It was essentially an Americanized version of the 2001 to 2005 Holden Monaro (sold in Australia). The same basic car was also sold as the Vauxhaul Monaro (UK), the Chevrolet Lumina (South Africa) and the Chevrolet Lumina Coupe (Middle East). Here are a few assessments:

        - “Badge engineering is deceitful because it pretends a car is something that it isn’t. The last car to wear the iconic American Pontiac GTO moniker was actually an Aussie Holden. That fooled no-one, especially diehard GTO lovers.” (“Why badge engineering sucks”, Car Magazine UK, Gavin Green, 2010.01.26)

        - In the Wikipedia entry for “badge engineering” photos of the Holden Monaro, Pontiac GTO and Vauxhaul Monaro are exhibited as examples.

        - “While the idea of the Monaro and GTO being twins again may irk GM enthusiasts, the act of badge-engineering was not what most analysts feel led to the downfall of the GTO. Rather, common wisdom is that the car’s styling was insufficient in the first place.” (“Holden Monaro, Pontiac GTO to be twins again?”, Left Lane News, 2006.07.27)

        - Carpoint.com.au lists the Monaro and GTO on their “badge-engineered cars hit parade” and offers the following definition:
        “Car companies prefer the terms ‘captive import’ or ‘model sharing’, but marketing the same design with minor styling tweaks and under a variety brands has been known for decades as ‘badge engineering’.” (“What is badge engineering?”, Red Book Australia, Cliff Chambers, 2011.11.04)

        It’s your right to use the term as you wish. There is no formal Oxford dictionary definition for “badge engineering” (ie, other than the web-based: “the practice of marketing a motor vehicle under two or more brand names or badges”). However, to suggest your usage is correct and that the rest of us have it wrong is a bit rich.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Many journalists and bloggers refer to the 2004 to 2006 Pontiac GTO as a case of ‘badge engineering’”

        And they shouldn’t. It completely misses the point.

        The problem with the GTO wasn’t that it was a Holden. The problem is that the had nothing in common with the original GTO, which had a legacy to uphold or betray.

        If Chevrolet started making a minivan on a Michigan assembly line but called it a Corvette, then it would pose the same problem. A Corvette is a coupe, not a minivan — it would betray the heritage of the nameplate to slap that name onto a minivan.

        The last Pontiac GTO should have been called something else (and priced a bit lower.) Legacy nameplates carry their own baggage. If old names with strong heritage are going to be used on newer cars, then they have to be used carefully. Where the cars are built or whether they are rebranded for other markets isn’t relevant to that issue.

      • 0 avatar
        TokyoPlumber

        The crux is that you are defining “badge engineering” in a manner that suits certain purposes. In marketing circles the term may be used as you’ve framed it. However, the fact is that many people (including automobile bloggers and journalists) do not use the term exactly as you’ve defined it. You can argue that you are right (and they are wrong), but what is the basis for this argument? You can write that a point was missed, but on whose authority? That you and McKinsey Consulting wish to define “badge engineering” as you’ve done is your right. Forcing others to accept this definition (without some good reason / argument for doing so) simply won’t work.

        More than a few people think “badge engineering” when they see a Plymouth Cricket or a late model Pontiac GTO. Chrysler slapped a Plymouth badge on an existing car (the Hillman Avenger). Doing so they created a “new” car for the North American market. GM needed to fill a gap after the demise of the Pontiac Firebird. They did this by slapping a Pontiac badge on an existing Australian Holden. In both cases, minimal engineering effort was put forth designing vehicles that were meaningfully different from the original designs. This is the hallmark of what most people consider “badge engineering” (ie, same corn flakes, same box, different label).

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “However, the fact is that many people (including automobile bloggers and journalists) do not use the term exactly as you’ve defined it.”

        I can’t control the blogosphere and the misuse of terminology, even if that misuse is widespread. Nor did I did create the term, so you can’t give me credit for the definition as being “mine.”

        Badge engineering suggests a basic business problem, which is the brand dilution and confusion that is caused by this cynical attempt to present a single product to a market under a variety of names. It is subject to criticism because it presumes that the customer is gullible enough to be easily fooled with a bit of trim and a name change. This has nothing in common with the benign and not uncommon practice of varying the name and badge from country to country.

        If you need to see an extreme example of badge engineering, research the Australian Button car plan. That was badge engineering as a matter of government policy, with virtually identical cars being sold under different marques.

      • 0 avatar
        TokyoPlumber

        We’re doing donuts in the parking lot here. If you are asserting misuse of terminology what is the the original source of the definition? (McKinsey Consulting?) Also, it should be clear why this source should be accepted as the authority on the term (rather than, say, Murilee Martin, Gavin Green or anyone else).

        As you write it is common practice to vary the name and badge of vehicles from country to country. Whether it is benign in all cases is debatable. Automakers brand to sell. Sometimes this can be used to slant consumer perceptions away from the true nature (or origin) of a product.

        Marketing an Australian designed / Australian built car in the US under a storied model name was a little greasy in my opinion. The Monaro was not originally conceived as a twin to the Pontiac GTO. Lutz moved to Americanize the Monaro AFTER it had been released for production in Australia. Pontiac GTO badges were slapped on an existing design.

        When Chrysler marketed the Plymouth Cricket in the US they advertised it as “Chrysler engineered / Chrysler built” (see YouTube “1971 Chrysler-Plymouth Cricket Commercial”). Development on the Hillman Avenger began in 1965, but Chrysler didn’t have full ownership of Rootes until 1967. Technically, then, the Plymouth Cricket was designed by a British company bought out by Chrysler. Certainly, something like this is too complicated to explain in a one minute commercial. But to brand the car as a Plymouth and call it “Chrysler engineered” may have given some US consumers the impression the car was from Detroit (rather than Ryton-on-Dunsmore in England). In the early 1970′s small imported cars were a growing threat to US automakers. Ford had their US made Pinto and GM their US made Vega. Consequently, Chrysler may have intentionally played up the “this is OUR car” angle on the Cricket (ie, to give consumers the impression that it was NOT an import). In my view this is perhaps not so benign.

        These examples aside I was going to suggest that TTAC do a post titled “Question: What is Badge Engineering?” I doubt this would settle the debate you and I are having, however! ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If you understand the problem with badge engineering, then there is no confusion about what it is.

        Let’s take a concrete example — the Toyota Corolla vs. Chevy Nova and Geo Prizm. Basically, the same car (in this case, even built on the same line), with the same basic engineering, with only minor differences.

        The Corolla was a hit in the US. The Nova and Prizm sold at a fraction of the volume, and suffered from higher depreciation rates.

        In this case, the problem was for Geo and Chevy. Despite the efforts made to distinguish the cars from their Toyota twins, the public didn’t buy the idea…literally. They perceived the Toyota as offering the original and therefore better product, even though these models were designed with both the GM and Toyota variants in mind, and consumers spent their money accordingly. Instead of this sharing providing a cost savings to GM, the badge engineering only reinforced the company’s reputation as being incapable of building good small cars.

        This is a very different problem from the issue of the GTO or the Lemans. The Lemans was merely a followup to the Chevette, both of which were offered in Europe as the Kadett and were originally engineered overseas. Aside from the badge, the primary difference between the two cars was the place of manufacture (the Chevette was built domestically, the Lemans was imported.)

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        This is primarily a distinction without a difference. Connotations and appearances notwithstanding, one is a subset of the other.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “This is primarily a distinction without a difference”

        No, there really is no connection between exporting a single model of car with variations in branding, and selling near-identical cars under multiple brands to the same market.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      Here is a better example that meets PCH’s criteria.
      The 1975-78 Dodge Charger which was a rebadged Chrysler Cordoba.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    The Honda Crossroad should rank well up on the list of badge engineering WTFs since I can’t see any good reason why Honda would want to sell a rebadged Land Rover Discovery in Japan. Apparently nobody else did either since the Discovery handily outsold the Crossroad in Japan and Honda dropped them after BMW bought Rover.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    After I saw what could be done with aftermarket mods I thought Plymouth should have gotten a “GT” version of the Neon.
    The Arrow was a truly horrible example of bad(ge) non engineering. A friend had one in high-school. What it lacked in power and truck versatility it made up in, um well, um, absolutely nothing. It was Craptastic.

  • avatar
    gmrn

    -Aspen/Durango
    -Aztec/Rendezvous
    -Challenger/Sapparo
    -Explorer/Aviator
    -Escort GT/Lynx XR3
    -EXP/LN7
    -Fairmont Futura/Zephyr Z7
    -Monza/Starfire/Skyhawk

  • avatar
    Joss

    Vanden Plas 1500 – BL’s very own Cimarron 10 years sooner.

    Volvo by Bertone – can you say squished landau?

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    The A32 Nissan Maxima and the Infiniti I30.

    When I bought my ’96 Maxima, a co-worker with an I30 – in the same color – refused to believe me when I mentioned that our cars were, um, fairly similar.

    Less than a week later, I caught her trying to unlock my car…

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    The NOVAs…Chevy Nova, Olds Omega, Pontiac Ventura, Buick Apollo….
    The J-Cars and the last generation GM Mini-vans…the Chevy Chevette
    and the Pontiac 1000.

  • avatar
    gromit

    Australia has had some appalling examples.

    Holden Commodore/Toyota Lexcen
    Ford Falcon utility/Nissan Ute
    Toyota Corolla/Holden Nova
    Toyota Camry/Holden Apollo
    Nissan Pintara (known elsewhere as Bluebird) and Ford Corsair
    Nissan Patrol/Ford Maverick
    Honda Integra/Rover 416
    the Honda Quintet was only ever sold here as a Rover.
    and various Holden-badged Suzukis and Isuzus and Ford-badged Mazdas.

  • avatar
    gromit

    I’ve never forgiven Chrysler for their handling of the Sunbeam brand. They threw away 60 years of tradition as a manufacturer of sporting machinery and stuck Sunbeam badges on Hillman Minxes and Commer vans for the US market.

  • avatar
    geo

    My dad used to drive a 1984 Chrysler LeBaron. It was a Reliant with a talking dashboard (“Your door is ajar”, “Your washer fluid is low”, “Please fasten your seatbelt). Very high-tech engineering, to some minds.

    Chrysler decided to go with a man’s voice because American men, as everybody knows, don’t like women telling them what to do. It sounded like the automated “Please hang up and try your call again” voice you’d hear on the phone.

    Awful car. I drove later K-cars, which were much better. It’s hard to believe Chrysler’s fortunes turned around on this underpowered, unreliable first-gen K-car.

    And yeah, the Lincoln Blackwood was indeed ridiculous. Not even a blocky Lincoln-style dashboard?

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Ah… Someone mentioned the Mercury Villager, I got rear ended by TWO of them! Yes! A green ’97 if I remember right when I still had my ’83 Honda Civic on old Highway 99 behind SeaTac Airport when following my best friend as he left their van at a pay lot for his wife to pick up when coming home from her parents in Kansas, in, 1997.

    Then in 2005 while slowing for traffic on the 405 freeway on my way to IKEA down in Kent/Tukwilla area when, yet another green Villager rear ended me, this this time in my ’88 Honda Accord, but this time, the van was a 2002 MY. I would replace that sad sack of a car 6 months later with a ’92 Ford Ranger I bought from friends.

    Today, that poor truck got replaced by an ’03 Mazda Protege5 just 2 weeks ago nearly.

    As to the Plymouth Arrow truck, wasn’t it identical to the Dodge Ram 50 sold at the same time frame?

  • avatar
    Marko

    Isuzu Trooper, AKA Isuzu Bighorn, Isuzu Trooper II, Caribe 442, Acura SLX, Chevrolet Trooper, Subaru Bighorn, Honda Horizon, Opel/Vauxhall/Holden Monterey, Holden Jackaroo…the list goes on.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    Hillman Minx and with new badges and hubcaps is the Humber 80

  • avatar
    solracer

    Though it wasn’t sold in the USA the SAAB 600, which was a very lightly reworked Lancia Delta gets my vote. http://www.saabsunited.com/2010/05/the-saab-lancia-600.html

  • avatar
    don1967

    Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe.

    One can only imagine the hallucinogens it required to envision a single car being marketed under the Toyota and Pontiac brands. I mean, how can one product simultaneously be a bland, pedestrian, high-quality import and a cheesy, excitement-building, low-quality domestic? Oh, that’s right… it can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Pontiac Vibe is one of the best selling Pontiacs of all time. That’s really sad if you think hard about it. My fiance bought a 2005 model brand new and her best friend (since they were both 12 years old) went out and bought a similar vintage Matrix. The two refused to believe the similarities to each others cars till they sat down in each. (rolls eyes) My woman still loves that Pontiac though.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Some of most egregious examples of badge engineering occur after the car leaves the factory. One example is some of the tacky dealer trim packages that add badges in order to appear as some sort of rare factory edition.

    Another one that annoys me is when BMW owners stick M badges on cars that are obviously not M cars. That happens with other makes as well – the worst example I’ve seen was an Altima re-badged as a GTR.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Dealer badging is one of my pet peeves.

      Others mentioned the Mercury Villager; for years, I would often see one with a dealer’s vinyl badging on the sides, proudly proclaiming that it as a “MULTI-SPORT” edition.

      I always smirked at the adsurdity of trying to badge a mini-van as an “active lifestyle” vehicle…not to mention that I thought the “multi-sport” label would work better on a jockstrap…

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      What about the Venti-ports seen on some of the most unlikely vehicles? For instance, I have seen quite a few Buick Dodge Caravans, Buick Dodge Neons, Buick Ford Escorts, Buick Chevrolet Impalas, Buick …you get the idea.

  • avatar
    damikco

    Camry and ES

  • avatar
    Pan

    Remember when GM was sued because Oldsmobile’s famous “ROCKET V8″ was replaced by a generic GM V8, and some Olds came off the line with “Chevrolet” logos on the motors. Of course, by that time, the ’70s, if I remember correctly, Olds was in a downhill spiral, being nothing more than a poorly built Chev since about 1965. I say that because my Dad’s ’65 was inferior to his ’62 in MAJOR ways, and his successive Oldsmobiles into the’80s were less than stellar.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    The Plymouth pickup, while every bit as ridiculous as you say, has its progenitor in the equally ridiculous Plymouth pickups of the 1937-1940 era. Someone may have already mentioned them, but I’m not going to read over a hundred comments looking for it.

  • avatar
    b612markt

    To go along with the previously mentioned Acrua SLX, you must include the laughable first generation Infinity QX4. While it’s always been a rebadged Nissan, that first generation was clearly a last minute grille/taillights/leather upgrade.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I’d say the entire Plymouth Division from the time of the Plymouth Trailduster (1974?) forward. Prior to the Trailduster, Plymouth was still getting distinct models before Dodge, like the Barracuda and Roadrunner. Even the other Plymouth models based on the same Dodge platforms had unique bodywork and interiors.

    But then something happened. Suddenly, after the Trailduster, Plymouth (with the sole exception of the Prowler) never again got a distinct model but only mildly altered Dodges with different grilles and tailights, the worst example being the Neon which didn’t even have a different grill/tailights.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Ridiculas badge engineering = a common vehicle shared between two companies that only changed the name and badge, no sheet metal or garnish, and then sold as a unique vehicle to said companies in the same market. Examples Ford Ute=Nissan Ute. Badge engineering consisted of the ford badge coming off and a vynal sticker put on. Nissan Patrol=Ford Maverick at least it had real badges. Ford Corsair=Nissan Pintara. Holden Apollo=Toyota Camry. Holden Commodore=Toyota Lexcen (named after Bert Lexcen, who designed the winning Americas Cup yacht :))Holden Astra (original)=Nissan Pulsar. Mazda 323=Ford Laser, the only succesfull rebadge in Australia, sold more Fords that Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      Bryce

      Mazda 626/Ford Telstar/Honda Orthia, Toyota Corolla /Holden Nova/Chevrolet Nova, Vauxhall Viva HB/Holden Torana HB, Austin Cambridge/Morris Oxford A60,Isuzu Gemini Vauxhall Chevette/Chevrolet Chevette/Opel Kadet.Vauxhall Victor/Holden Torana UC/Hindustan Contessa. Cars rebadged for same or other markets

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        Please learn to use some punctuation. Your posts are so painful to try to read.
        nowsoyoucanunderstandit pleaselearn to u sepunctuationyourpo stsareso painf ultotrytorEad

  • avatar
    ChevyIIfan

    A little late to the party. Read this thread yesterday, thought of one that hasn’t been mentioned yet….
    Dodge Nitro and Jeep Liberty
    Pretty blatant badge engineering from an external appearance point of view.

  • avatar
    dave-the-rave

    Chevy Up(yours)lander.

  • avatar
    orioncanam

    Vega/Astre.
    Monza/Sunbird/Starfire/Skyhawk.
    Celebrity/6000/Cutlass Ciera/Buick Century
    Chevy s10/ GMC S15
    ElCamino/ GMC Sprint

  • avatar
    chevy guy

    chevy citation- pontiac phoenix

  • avatar
    detroitcarguy313

    Chevy trucks/GMC

    I am by NO means an expert on the auto industry, but I’m still not seeing why there has to be BOTH when they sell pretty much the same vehicles.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Most Bentley under RR era.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    How bout the Opel Kadett (mid-late 80s), spawning the following:

    Chevrolet Ipanema (BRA)
    Chevrolet Kadett (BRA)
    Daewoo LeMans (ROK)
    Daewoo Racer
    Opel Monza (RSA)
    Passport Optima
    Pontiac LeMans (US) & (AUS)
    Vauxhall Belmont (GB)
    Vauxhall Astra (GB)/
    IDA Kadett (YUG)
    Opel Astra (East Africa; GMEA)

  • avatar
    TopJimmy5150

    Hyundai Excel/Mitsubishi Precis
    Ford Grenada/Lincoln Versailles


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