By on January 23, 2013

Today, we’re going to talk rebadges.  I know what you’re thinking: a TTAC post about rebadges.  Here comes an assault on General Motors.  You can almost hear the GM PR department groaning, except for the recently departed Joel Ewanick, who doesn’t have time to groan because he’s too busy putting out a garage fire.  But I’m going to leave GM out of this.  Mostly.  Instead, I’m going to focus on some of the more obscure rebadges from the last few decades.  They were all badly conceived.  Most were poorly executed.  And none of them should’ve happened.

I have to start with my all-time favorite rebadge, which is the first-generation Honda Crossroad.  I say the first generation because there’s a second-gen out there now and it looks like the love child of a Nissan Cube and a bulldog.  But the first-gen instead resembled a Series I Land Rover Discovery, because it was a Series I Land Rover Discovery, just with the square Honda emblems quite literally placed in the Land Rover oval’s round pegs.

It would be cool to have go-anywhere Land Rover cachet with Honda reliability, right?  Well, this was the exact opposite: Honda badging, which carries little cachet outside a reputation for reliability, and Land Rover construction, which is generally a good place to start a garage fire investigation.  Unless you’re at Joel Ewanick’s house.  The Crossroad went on sale in Japan and a few other unlucky countries in 1993 before being cancelled in 1998, presumably due to embarrassment.

But the Crossroad wasn’t the only embarrassing car to emerge from Honda’s alliance with Rover.  You can still see rebadged Honda Civics driving around Europe as the Rover 400, though maybe only in Swindon.  Honda also lent the Ballade and Concerto to Rover for the 200, while the Euro Accord became the 600. That meant during the 1990s, virtually every Rover driving (slowly) around Britain was actually a Honda underneath.  Despite the quality this implied, sales remained confined to old-age pensioners who would’ve bought a car made of wood if it had a windshield, a motor, and came from Mother England.  Hell, they actually do this: it’s called Morgan.

There’s still more from Honda.  Most Americans are unaware that the Acura EL (and later, the CSX) is an upscale Honda Civic that’s been available in Canada since 1997.  Naturally, the car is mediocre, though it included major changes from the Civic like different taillights and a larger center console.  Nothing says luxury like a larger center console.  I have a theory that Acura has been moderately successful with the car simply because Canadians are too polite to refuse it.  And some are so polite they actually buy it, but only so Honda’s feelings aren’t hurt.

Of course, many of us know about some of Honda’s more widely publicized rebadge flops – but if you don’t, I suggest putting “Isuzu Oasis,” “Acura SLX,” and “Honda Passport” into Google Images.  Sales were so poor, you certainly won’t find any on the road.

Speaking of Passport, we now must follow the lead set by every other rebadge article and introduce General Motors.  But in a rare twist, I won’t mention the Cadillac Cimarron.  Except just now.  Instead, I’m calling out Passport International Automobiles.

Named like the kind of thing Malcolm Bricklin would’ve attempted to force on America, Passport was actually a GM brand in Canada.  Passport dealers sold Saab and Isuzu, but also the Passport Optima – a rebadged Opel Kadett E, sold in the states as the Pontiac LeMans.  Not the LeMans that underpinned the GTO, mind you, but the front-drive 1980s subcompact later sold in Southeast Asia as the Daewoo Heaven.  Yes, the Heaven.  I swear this is true.

As expected, Passport was a flop.  Also as expected, GM learned from its mistake by trying the same thing again, except on a grander scale.  It jettisoned Passport in favor of Asüna, complete with an umlaut, apparently in deference to GM’s favorite heavy metal bands.  Or maybe it was a Häagen-Dazs-style attempt to sell the brand as an exotic European automaker – a plot that failed to convince even the most polite Canadians, who apparently have no qualms about hurting GM’s feelings.

Asüna died in 1995 along with all three of its products: another Kadett rebadge called the SE or GT depending on bodystyle; the Asüna Sunrunner, better known as the Geo Tracker or Suzuki Sidekick; and the Asüna Sunfire, which was not – as you may expect – a Pontiac Sunfire twin, but rather a rebadged Isuzu Impulse.

The Impulse also factors into our next bizarre rebadge story, which entangles Detroit, Seoul, and … Hethel.  You see, in the midst of all this rebadging, GM somehow found the time to buy Lotus, then a fledgling British underdog untainted by Malaysians and Dany Bahar’s four-figure haircuts.

Deciding a little cost-cutting was in order, GM commissioned an all-new Elan, powered by the Impulse’s four-cylinder Isuzu motor.  After the Elan’s run, which resulted in a record half the cars leaving Hethel in working order, Kia rebadged the car in South Korea as the Kia Elan.  Aside from new badging and wheels, Kia’s only change was to add the words “Ultra Power” in capital letters on the engine block.  Really.  I can only assume the ensuing electrical problems and leaking roofs scarred Kia for life, as they haven’t returned to the sports car market since. (Cue angry e-mails from the Forte Koup forum.)

Probably inspired by Oliver North, Kia was buying rebadged sports cars from Lotus just as they were selling subcompact hatchbacks to Ford.  Remember the Festiva and the Aspire?  Both were rebadged Kia Prides.  Ford took its Asian fetish well beyond Korea, snagging a huge interest in Mazda by the mid-1990s.  The most (un)forgettable rebadge to come out of that kinship was the Mazda Navajo, a two-door Ford Explorer clone released at the height of demand for the four-door Ford Explorer.

Of course, you can’t discuss Japanese-American auto relations without a shout-out to the “mediocre mashup,” which is the only possible way of describing the union of Chrysler and Mitsubishi.  Like a couple D students working together on a school project while sharing a bowl, virtually everything these two made was an instant failure.  We’ll start with two products called Raider.  The first was a 1980s Mitsubishi Montero sold as the Dodge Raider, which loudly announced its owners weren’t buying American with badging that read “Imported for Dodge.”

Payback came in the form of the Dodge Dakota-clone Mitsubishi Raider, which debuted for 2006.  Taking its cue from the earlier Raider, or possibly the Oakland Raiders, the Mitsubishi version was also a failure.  This was in spite of massive incentives Mitsubishi had on the truck, which included “zero percent forever” and “buy two, become the dealer principal.”

Aside from the DSM cars, the only thing Chryslerbishi got right was the Starion, a sports car that preceded the Mitsubishi 3000GT. But Chrysler even managed to screw that up thanks to a naming strategy that gave every one of its brands a turn.  The Plymouth Conquest and Dodge Conquest were first, while the Chrysler Conquest later replaced both.  I’d like to tell you this is the only nameplate ever sold by three brands, but Chrysler actually repeated its feat with the Neon, also sold with Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth badging.

So there you have it, folks: a little obscure rebadge history.  Maybe you learned something, maybe you had a chuckle, maybe you’re Joel Ewanick and you want me dead.  But no matter what, I’m sure the comments will be littered with tales of even more obscure rebadges.  Bring ‘em on.

Doug DeMuro has owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta.  One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer.  His parents are very disappointed.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

99 Comments on “Rebadge Chaos: A Look Back...”


  • avatar
    ott

    Oh, Honda… –A Land Rover? Really???

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Honda and Rover played pattycake in the ’80s. The cars that were sold in the US as the Acura Legend and Sterling 825/827 were a joint Honda-Rover project. Honda eventually repented of their British dalliance and managed to fob it off on BMW, who kept the Mini nameplate and dumped the rest on the Chinese.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      At one point, Honda owned 20% of Rover, and they shared a lot.

      Before opening their own plant in Swindon, some UK-market Hondas were built by BL/Rover, and some Australian-market Rovers were just straight rebadged Japanese-built Hondas (the Rover Quintet/Honda Quint, Rover 416i/Honda Integra).

      When BAE wanted out of the car business in 1994, they tried to sell the whole company to Honda, but Honda was only willing to increase it’s stake to 40-45% max, so BAE pawned it off on BMW instead. The rest is history.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      Oh Oh what about the Caravan/Routan? :)

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    GM’s experiment in Canada seem to assign blame to its failure to the brand, not the product. An Opel Kadett under any brand is still an Opel Kadett. So how can changing the brand but not the product change its fortune?

    Reading about rebadges here gives me the impression that it always end up in failure. But is this really true, or it’s just the epic failure that got an article here? Is there an example of a successful brand made up of rebadges? Because automakers seem to be keen on repeating the same experiment over and over again.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Lexus, Acura (for a while), and Infiniti (about the time Acura took a pratfall). Geo, arguably, during the ’90s.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “An Opel Kadett under any brand is still an Opel Kadett.”

      The Chevy Chevette was a US-built Opel Kadett. It was a strong seller (albeit an awful car.)

      “Reading about rebadges here gives me the impression that it always end up in failure.”

      There’s a fair bit of confusion around here between “badge engineering” and captive imports.

      Badge engineering is the attempt to sell what is essentially the same car under more than one brand to the same market. It’s a snarky term, since the engineering is largely limited to changing the badge on the car. It’s also generally a bad idea, since it usually causes consumer confusion and tarnishes the associated brands. It’s the type of thing that appeals to accountants, while destroying the company.

      Captive imports are cars that are rebranded and perhaps renamed for export. This is common, and it can work well if done properly. The Honda Legend was sold in the US as the Acura Legend, and was a hit in the US. The European Ford Capri became the Mercury Capri, and also did well in the US. The Corvette sold in Europe is just badged as a Corvette, without the Chevy brand attached.

      • 0 avatar

        As far as I’m concerned, the Chevy Cruze is a rebadged Daewoo, and it does quite well…

      • 0 avatar

        The difference I see with the Cruze as opposed to the other previous Daewoos is the intended market. Cars like the Forenza and Verona (both Daewoos), nor the actually badged-Daewoos sold here in the states, really competitive. The Cruze is a far more international, buttoned-down attempt at being a good compact. There are certainly weaknesses to the Cruze, but I think having more global-GM than Daewoo-rebadged makes the badge less relevant.

        I can’t look at the Holden-based Daewoo Veritas sold in Korea and say “Daewoo.” I see the Holden. The Cruze gives me the same feeling. It’s not the Aveo/Lanos/Laganza.

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        There’s a difference in ‘basing’ the car on another and purely slapping their badges on another too. The humble Chevette was a 100% US Chevrolet product, even if it’s based on something else. It’s like saying a Dodge Dart is an Alfa Romeo rebadge, or Chrysler 300 is an E-class rebadge. They’re not. And in today’s world of platform sharing, this is more true than ever.

        Slapping a Pontiac, Passport, Asuna, Daewoo, what have you, badges on an Opel Kadett E with little changed other than badges, grilles, is definitely badge engineeering, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Passport was primarily done in by Saturn (and GEO). It was a sort of nebulous strategy to both create a brand of automobiles (that just ended up being one car), and something to sell GM’s foreign brands under. Not that the Optima failed because it was a bad car, but the Saturn had much more hype, and GEO gave another quasi-import brand, but with the much more ubiquitous Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealer network.

      Asuna just existed because a bunch of Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealers whined they didn’t have the same toys as the Chev-Olds kids (see also the Pontiac Tempest, Pursuit, and Wave).

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    We can’t discuss rebadging without mentioning the sheer wackiness of Australia’s own Button Plan, which brough us such delights as the Toyota Lexcen (Holden Commodore) and Ford Corsair (Nissan Bluebird).

  • avatar
    noxioux

    I would take a Kia Elan in a heartbeat.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      You and me both, although I’d prefer it with the Lotus badge on the hood.

      The reason these rebadge mashups always appear to be failures is that they were never intended as long-term solutions by any manufacturer. This was a quick and easy way to add another line to the marque, at minimal expense.

      Some of them were actually quite decent. Having owned both a Geo Metro and a Ford Festiva, I can say that both were very good cars within the confines of their price range and intent.

      By the way, from the stories that I’ve read (AROnline.com primarily), the Honda/MGRover mashup actually worked quite well and both parties were happy with what transpires. Triumph fans, not so much. The selling of MG Rover to BMW was done behind Honda’s back and pissed the company off rather well.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Anyone remember the probably one off Shogun Festiva with the Taurus SHO V6 mounted mid-ship? Anyone?

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        I enjoy AROnline too, but they are not really correct about the Honda/Rover tie-up. The site is over the top clueless about Rover’s quality, the the K series engine they shoved into rebadged Civics and old Sterlings. They are fanboys for British cars just like the dozens of sites waxing eloquent about Detroit vehicles in the US are about Yankee iron. You know, the patriotic flagwaver types all countries have who refuse to see reality, and bristle at mere suggestions that things might not be 110% great.

        CAR Magazine blew the lid off the problems Honda had with Rover management and workers. Honda had allowed Rover to assemble the Legend for them, because Rover was making the Sterling which was the same basic car co-engineered. The Rover assembled Legends were so piss-poorly made they had high warranty costs when Honda expected essentially zero problems.

        Honda investigated, and discovered that Rover was satisfied if a vehicle made it to the end of the production line with only a handful of parts left out, and the end result looking like a car. Rover management’s cluelessness was imparted to their workers -nobody gave a damn.

        So Honda called a halt, took all Legends being made, those made but unsold, made space in their Swindon factory, tore the Legends apart and remade them properly to their standards. Highly expensive and documented in CAR.

        No wonder Honda didn’t want to buy out Rover. They wanted no part of that corporate culture, thanks all the same. We all know how good Sterling 820 and 827s were (not). They were utter crap, except for the occasional good one, statistics being what they are.

        Amazingly, Honda never publicly criticised Rover, perhaps because it would have implied they hadn’t performed due diligence in tying up with Rover. They just couldn’t believe the who gives a shit attitude at Rover.

        Now, has Honda ever tied up with another auto maker? No, they haven’t. They have decided to trust themselves and no one else.

      • 0 avatar
        markholli

        I remeber it! I think Jay Leno had one, and I think it was a one-off.

        I read a writeup on it where Leno said he drove it to work for his first day at the Tonight Show. I guess it was his sort of parody if the LA commuter car. Then he would pull up to stop lights and blast the doors off the car next to him.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        Total of 7 Festiva Shoguns built. Jay Leno’s is #3.

  • avatar
    psychoboy

    While the Honda Passport was a steaming pile upon introduction, it did find success in a very important manner: it allowed Honda to gain an immediate foothold in the soon-to-be-profitable SUV market.

    Until Honda gave Isuzu the Civic and the Odyssey in exchange for the Rodeo, Honda had squat for “off road” wants in the US. They didn’t even have a baseline smallish truck they had been building for thirty years like every other Japanese brand.

    With the Honda Passport, which was literally nothing more than a Rodeo with emblems, Honda suddenly had standing in a brand new field, with almost no start up costs. A few years later, they encouraged Isuzu to upgrade their interiors to Honda quality, and then launched the Pilot.

    Pilot and CR-V sales are foolish, the profits are probably even moreso. If not for the Passport, Honda would still be stuck building high revving, fun-to-drive, sporty/practical/economical cars while the other major Japanese brands blanded themselves into General Electric type obscurity.

    Wait…you’re right, the Passport WAS a failure.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The Honda Passport was basically Honda saying: we ain’t got an SUV thingy which seems to be popular these days, so who will let us slap an “H” on theirs? I thought it was the most un-Honda vehicle ever. Who in the world thought this was a good idea? Clearly the same person(s) who came up with the Crossroad?

    However as bad as the idea was it suckered me into the buying a Rodeo. I figured if it was good enough for Honda to risk their reputation on then it couldn’t be that bad. I was wrong… I sold my Rodeo after only 8 months.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Yeah that was part of the whole decline of Honda thing of the period.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      I blame the U.S. Honda dealers for the Passport. They wanted an entry into the hot SUV market, but rejected the ‘still in development’ CR-V as a product that they could sell. When they saw the finished product their tune quickly changed. The CR-V could have been on sale in the US in late 95 rahter than 97. It was a smashing success right out of the gate. The Passport could have been completely avoided.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      I was almost tempted to go with a Rodeo instead of my current Nissan Pathfinder, and found the Isuzu seriously lacking. The Rodeo is/was/always will be a complete POS.

      Even much newer Rodeos feel rickety and fragile compared to the ol’ Pathy.

  • avatar
    ffdr4

    Second generation EL( 2002 and newer) and CSX both had engines from the Acura RSX not available in the regular civic sedan, better seats, better interior materials and slightly better sound deadening. Other then that it was a Honda Civic dipped in gold.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    There often is a surprising ignorance on the part of the buyers of these rebadge efforts as to their real origins . Years ago I remember a coworker who bought a new LeMans ( Daewoo) who didn’t seem to understand what it was , and was surprised it didn’t have the get-up-and-go of her early seventies LeMans . Another co-worker had a Mazda Navajo who seemed totally unaware of the resemblance to the Explorer -admittedly it came in unique colors IIRC and was based on the much less popular two door model. And a friend who bought a new Passport was quite disappointed that it didn’t measure up in reliability to Hondas he had previously owned . The Honda Crossroad I had totally forgotten about . Was it sold in the U.S.?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Rebadging goes back a long way, and some customers were very aware of it. This may date me (I’m over 39) but I remember my uncle, who drove Hudsons because they were fast, complaining that the last one he bought was nothing more than a Nash Ambassador. He also complained that the Packards of the late ’50s were nothing more than Studebakers. That nameplate had its own rebadging, though you could call them spinoffs, of the early ’50s Starliner, versions of which were still being produced in the ’60s. The Hudson, Nash and Packard nameplates were all gone by 1960, though Studebaker held on to the mid-’60s, their demise delayed by the Avanti.

    • 0 avatar
      markholli

      Yeah, I’ve met a few poor suckers who bought Honda Passports thinking they were actually built by Honda and would therefore be more reliable than the Rodeo.

      Well, maybe the adhesive on the Honda badge was a higher quality adhesive?

  • avatar
    Snaab9-3

    Hmm..I always had a strange interest in the FWD Lotus Elan. It was just such a mismatch of companies, parts, and ideas. A FWD Lotus!?! I never understood it. The idea of a Kia Elan is very strange as well. If its anything like my ex girlfriend Kia, its a lot of fun when its topless but a complete hassle to have in your life.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I had one of those early Monteros, with the carbureted 4 cyl engine.

    The most unreliable vehicle I’ve owned in 40 years.

    • 0 avatar

      Didn’t the Plymouth Voyager come with that same 2.6L? We had a Mitsubishi 2.6L carbed engine in ours and oh yes… awful. I found it quite reliable as it was consistent in how horrible it was, but that’s it. Coupled with a three-speed automatic, it did a 0-60 best of 26 seconds, and a worst somewhere near 40. It had its moments of praise from us (the damned thing pulled us up a Wyoming grade on I-80 while loaded with five people, their stuff, and a small tent trailer with an unannounced wheel fallen off). The fact it did that is beyond me.

      Vile as that van could be, the ride was comfy and the steering was good about re-centering.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    This could be a great idea for a recurring story: Rebadge of the Week

    There are so many craptastic rebadges out there that this could go on forever without even mentioning the Cricket by Plymouth or Vauxhaulls that GM sold in Canada.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Back when GM had a controlling stake in Subaru, they rebadged a Subaru Forester for sale in India as a Chevy Forester.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    hahahahahah ROFLMAO. very enjoyable read.

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    I had no idea my beloved first car, the Chevrolet Kadett (that’s how it was branded in Brazil) was at one point available in the US and Canada!

  • avatar
    jhargis

    Don’t forget the Saabaru 9-2X.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Thanks Derek. I knew about most of these, but somehow, the hilarity of the 1st-gen Crossroad escaped my knowledge until now.

    Question to Canadians (or anyone else who might know): was there ever a Pontiac version of the Geo Metro called the “Sunbee”?

    I remember seeing one in an obscure library book about cars, but it could have been having me on.

  • avatar
    eunos

    My favorite crappy rebadge is the Toyota Cavalier. As Toyota Corollas were rebadged as Geo then Chevy Prisms, GM “returned the favor” and from 1995-2000 slapped a Toyota badge on a Cavalier and foisted it on the Japanese public.

    The wikipedia page writes itself: “Despite the fact that Toyota made great attempts to market the Cavalier to Japanese buyers, the Japanese public was not impressed with the quality of workmanship, typically expected of cars sold in Japan”

    I can’t find any sales numbers but I’d bet their pretty low

  • avatar
    Nick

    From what I’ve seen, Acura’s relative success (for what it is) with the CSX and it’s predecessor is that fact they’d roll the price back so much they were into fully equipped Civic territory, so I figure a lot of people shrugged and went ‘oh what the hell’. Speaking of which, that would be a great slogan wouldn’t it?

  • avatar
    dts187

    Another fun read from DeMuro.

    Someone mentioned it earlier:

    The Saab 9-2x is by far my favorite badge swap of all time. I never expected to see a Subie wear Swedish clothes.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I am ashamed to admit that I know someone who purchased an Optima. It was quite amusing actually. The clamshell around the seat belt clip separated and fell apart within a, I think, a week. Within the first couple of thousand kms the engine spat a spark plug out of the cylinder head requiring a new head and considerable rebuilding. Then at one point the all the wiring under the dash flopped out and dangled down into the footwells. That’s all I can remember for now, but basically the car’s entire existence was comical…to those of us that didn’t have to rely on it.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Sorry for the multiple posts…the click to edit isn’t working.

    Canada has been home to a vast array of odd rebadges actually. There is the Suzuki Equator. Apparently Suzuki Prime Meridian sounded too pompous. I have seen a grand total of ONE on the road. I guess the good news is that if there any left on dealer lots, you should probably be able to get one for about 20 cents on the dollar.

  • avatar
    bg

    Back in the 1990s my wife had a Ford Probe. The rearview mirror was glued to the windshield and kept falling off in the summer heat. I knew the car was a near clone of the Mazda 626, which I noticed had it’s rear view mirror bolted to the headliner. I pried open a valence panel on the headliner of my wife’s Probe and there were two mounting holes. I went to the parts yard and found a Mazda 626 unbolted the mirror assembly and bolted it in m wife’s car. Problem solved.

  • avatar
    vikast

    I love the rebadge of the week (or some other time-period) idea. There is a lot of ground left to cover:
    1. Merkur – German Fords sold in Mercury dealerships
    2. Cadillac Catera – The Caddy that zigs was a rebadged Opel
    3. Suzuki – A cadre of rebadged GM Daewoos
    4. Volkswagen – The VW Routan
    5. Buick Opel GT – The original Buick by Opel
    6. FIAT 124 – Rebadged automotive excellence for Russia (Lada 1200), India (Premier 118), Spain (SEAT 124), Turkey (FIAT), S. Korea (FIAT KIA 124) and Egypt.
    7. Toyota Matrix / Pontiac Vibe – NUMMI Twins (don’t know if it’s truly badge engineering, but pretty close)
    8. SAAB 9-2x – The Saaburu
    9. SAAB 9-4x – The Trailblazer with the ignition key moved
    10. Volvo S40 – A rebadged Mitsubishi Charisma

    • 0 avatar
      julkinen

      S40 is not a rebadged Carisma. The cars don’t even look like the same. It’s rather a case of platform/engine sharing.

    • 0 avatar

      8) You’re thinking of the Saab 9-7X. I was surprised that they even took the effort to move the ignition switch to the centre-console and to turn GM’s corporate keyfob into an all-in-one for that particular vehicle. The public actually nicknamed the 9-7X the “Trollblazer”, a reference to Saab’s headquarters in Trollhättan, Sweden. But really the sheetmetal was much closer to that of the Buick Rainier and (departed) Oldsmobile Bravada. The 9-4X you mentioned actually shared the Theta Premium platform (and engines) with the late-model Cadillac SRX, and it was a victim of Saab’s recent demise. I’d guess that there are less than 600 examples total…

  • avatar

    With the mention of the Honda Ballade, my mind immediately went to the nail-in-the-coffin Triumph Acclaim rebadge.

    There was also the Suzuki Forenza, which was given to so many brands and so many names that I cannot begin to keep them all straight. And the Toyota Corolla turned Chevy Nova.

    I still really like the Saab 9-2X, and I’d like to have one providing it’s the more powerful Aero version. It was destined to not do well as a new car, but it seems pretty neat and unique as a used car. I’ve no idea how reliable they are, but I’d guess they couldn’t be worse than my A4.

    • 0 avatar
      Fenian

      The most desirable 9-2x is the 2006 Aero m/t. The 2005 Aero had the 2.0l turbo while the 2006 Aero got the 2.5l turbo. Considering a lot of Aero’s were automatics, the 2006 Aero m/t is extremely desirable and the price will reflect that.

  • avatar
    tuscreen-auto

    Depending on your definition of “re-badging”, VW is a prime candidate for numerous listings.

    The Beetle is a rebadged Golf, which is a rebadged Skoda Favorit, which is a rebadged Seat Leon…..

    The Bentley Continental is a rebadged VW Phaeton…..

    Well, you get the idea. :)

    • 0 avatar

      There are differences, sure, but I would still look at both and decide which is better. On my blog I call the “rebadge rounds.” The 2001 Eclipse, Sebring Coupe, and Stratus Coupe were a good example of rebadges that did a lot to the body, but little to the inside.

      Personally I’d consider a Phaeton over the Bentley Flying Spur. The Conti GT never did anything for me, and while I do like the Bentley and feel it’s a better car, I see too many to find it interesting. The Phaeton was a bargain Bentley, still loaded with engineering goodness.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think so. Rebadging in this sense is when a car is changed very minimally (badges, grilles, possibly engines) and offered under a different brand. The Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon are prime candidates for the status of “rebadging.”

        The Bentley Continental isn’t a rebadged Volkswagen Phaeton because they are significantly different from one another, particularly in the sharing only a platform and the W-12 engine (optional on the VW; standard on the Bentley). But Bentley did have its bout of rebadging. Back when it and Rolls-Royce were the same company, the two brands shared the same platforms and bodies, with different treatments for each…

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely. They are very different cars, but are similar enough (to me, anyway) where I’d consider either. The W12 of the Phaeton never had the turbo the Bentley has, for one thing.

      If you look at the dashboards side by side, one can see the shared pieces very easily. Things like the gauge cluster, center-stack controls (the lower portion, the stereo and up are different) are in very close relation (they may have changed the knobs, as the Bentley has smaller ones to the VW). The Flying Spur is the better looking interior, I have to admit. But is it honestly worth the extra $100k or so when new? I’m not positive on that one. The Bentley’s should be better and are, just like the Escalade should be better than Yukon and Tahoe with success.

      Yet I’d still take a top model of the lessers, myself. The Tahoe looks best to me, and the Bentley is still too commonplace for me to see the appeal over the more quirky, still-impressive VW. One still gets a top-range, large sedan with loads of bells and whistles, the same platform, etc. Is it really going wrong?

      Given, I tend to root for an underdog, anyway.

  • avatar
    russty1

    I always liked the early 1990′s Eagle Summit wagon by Mitsubishi with its sliding door. These wagons were a great boxy size and ahead of their time. I think they were also known as Dodge Colt wagons? 20+ years onward we finally get domestic cars like this such as the Ford C-Max.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Lest we forget the Plymouth Arrow? I remember looking at them in 1976 when I was in the market for my first car. I remember them as not being all that bad since they were a re-badged Mitsubishi. I particularily remember the “2.2 liter Fire Arrows” that came along later.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      The Fire Arrow/ Arrow Jet, the only car that could match the Mustang II Cobra for loud, unnecessary stickers. Though a look at the Volaré options indicates someone at Plymouth had a real fetish for them.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This makes me want to find a “photo-chopper” to cut and paste together a bunch of fictional rebadges. Mercurys as entry level Mercedes, Lincolns as Audis, cats living with dogs, MADNESS!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    “I suggest putting “Isuzu Oasis,” “Acura SLX,” and “Honda Passport” into Google Images. Sales were so poor, you certainly won’t find any on the road.”

    I beg to differ. My brother actually uses an Oasis as his daily driver. When I first saw it I didn’t know what to make of it, having never heard of them. It’s servicable altho pretty beat by this point.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I agree. I see a Passport at least once a week, and there’s always an SLX on Craigslist or Auto Trader (albeit beat to hell and cheap, or maintained and overpriced).

      I think I have only seen 2 Oasis(es) in my lifetime. Of course I don’t see any of that model Odyssey either.

  • avatar

    While I live in the U.S., as a wedding present (1967) my father gifted me with a Ford Frontenac, which turned out to be a Canadian Ford Falcon. The less said the better . . .

  • avatar

    The Chevy Aveo (Daewoo) practically made other cheap Chevrolets look good.

    I’ve known a number of owners who would have their timing belts snap before the suggested 60k miles. Aside from good ride and relatively good frontal crash ratings, I never really saw the appeal for it. Italian design on an economy car only goes so far.

  • avatar
    Slab

    The second generation Honda Crossroad was a sharp-looking car. Too bad they didn’t import it as a replacement for the Element. By 2008, the Element was past its prime.

  • avatar
    c5karl

    Four words: Buick Opel by Isuzu

  • avatar
    Styles79

    Some of the craziiest rebadging happened and happens in Japan. Isuzu 4×4′s sold as Hondas, Honda sedans sold as Isuzus, Nissans sold as Mazdas, Mazdas sold as Nissans, Mazdas sold as Mitsubishis, Mitsubishis sold as Nissans, Nissans sold as Subarus, Suzukis sold as Nissans…….

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      And even spilled over to the US market per the late Suzuki Equator pickup truck re-badge of the Nissan Frontier…

      • 0 avatar
        MadHungarian

        I just saw an Equator for the first time yesterday. I had never heard of them at all. Wikipedia says Suzuki has sold a grand total of 5000 of them since 2009, maybe that explains why.

        I suppose since the Equator didn’t catch on, we won’t be seeing other vehicles named for latitudes. No GMC Arctic Circle, Mazda Tropic of Cancer, and sadly no Kia 38th Parallel . . . .

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I have seen 2 Equator’s total, one black and one red. I noticed them because of the ridic-huge Suzuki logo on the front.

  • avatar
    redav

    I stopped at a friends place once, and she was watching Parking Wars (the fact that such a show exists is a sure sign of the apocalypse). A guy had his Honda Passport towed and was trying to get it back, but they had no record of a Honda being towed.

    The highly-skilled workers realized that the car in question was actually an Isuzu, and the guy clearly didn’t know his own car. When they finally located it in the yard, another highly-skilled worker had a shocking revelation: it had Honda emblems on the hubcaps, grille, steering wheel, and lift gate. His response: “Weird–you have Honda badges on your Isuzu.”

    Badge engineering is one thing, but when people can’t tell them apart, even by reading the make + model that’s on the car, that’s something else.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Badge engineering is one thing, but when people can’t tell them apart, even by reading the make + model that’s on the car, that’s something else.

      Does YouTube have that infamous Lincoln commercial where some guy couldn’t tell a Buick from a Olds from a Caddy?

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      You’ve obviously never dealt with the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Sometimes there is some real reality in reality TV.

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    The Honda/Land Rover thing is crazy. Never knew that.

    As for the Acura Civic…I remember fondly being in French Canadia land on vacation as a 7 year old, seeing the back of a “Civic” just like the one pictured, and being very confused at the sight of an Acura logo. A few years ago I finally found out about the Acu-Civic. As for the Isuzu Oasis/Honda Odyssey, this was also perplexing as an elementary school age car enthusiast.

    I saw an Acura SLX the other day, much to my surprise. A Dodge Raider is something I haven’t spotted in many years.

    I love the Starion/Conquest, even with all its mechanical flaws, I really lust for them.

    My stepfather took his F250 to the dealership for service in 1996, and they lent him an Aspire. Boy was he disappointed.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Great article.

    I think the Lotus/Kia Elan doesn’t qualify as a “rebadge” in the strict sense, Kia bought the design from Lotus after production ended and produced it on their own.

    There are so many rebadges to cover Toyota Cavaliers, Holden Apollo, VW Routans, it never ends…

  • avatar
    markholli

    The comparison of Chrysler and Mitsubishi’s relationship to two D students working together on a school project: hilarious!

    I don’t often laugh out loud when reading on the internet, so when I do, I feel kudos are in order.

    Great article.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I can’t believe nobody has mentioned AMC/Renault/Eagle rebadging their cars as the Monaco, Premiere, etc!

  • avatar
    mklrivpwner

    I thank you, sir, for the chuckle-fest you have created in this article.

    Now I will go to my very important meeting and try to keep a straight face.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India