By on March 1, 2013

You are looking at the rarest Mercedes-Benz vehicle ever built: a 2011 GLK350 AMG that I spotted last week. How uncommon is this SUV? The exact production number was zero as that model does not exist. It appears the owner of the car added an AMG emblem to its hatch, part of an epidemic of de-badge and re-badge engineering happening here in Southern California. 

When my father bought the first 1964 Mustang in our small Midwestern town, we drew a crowd of people everywhere we stopped. The only problem was the “260” V-8 emblems on our fenders instead of the coveted “289 High Performance” tags. I soon learned folks were buying the Hi-Po emblems and sticking them on their Stangs. I believe the original Mustangs marked the start of the Emblem Manipulation Era.

Here in you-are-what-you-drive land, you can spot examples on a daily basis, like a BMW 328i magically transformed into an M3. There are many Chrysler 300s running around with Hemi badges that are actually V-6s. Some conversions are just plain dumb, like the 1988 Cadillac Coupe De Ville GT that Murilee recently unearthed. Word is that former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal once bought a Mercedes-Benz S500 and transformed it into the world’s first S1000. Even more curious are the people referenced in the title of this story who sometimes remove all the emblems from their rides.

The motivation of these individuals is not always to impress their neighbors – during my Chrysler used cars days a decade ago, we had more than one customer try to trade in their Grand Cherokee 2-wheel-drive adorned with “4 X 4″ badges on its flanks. There are no doubt dealers who failed to check the drivetrain on such trades and thus allowed $1500 too much, just as the closed-mouth clients had hoped.

At least one automaker will not be party to this game – if you are looking for a Ferrari emblem for your Fiat 500, you are out of luck as Ferrari retailers reportedly ask for proof of ownership before they fork one over.

Have you ever seen, or God forbid participated in, a case of re-badge engineering?

 

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133 Comments on “Tales From The Cooler: The Persian Conversion...”


  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    there’s the flip side to this

    i know of a supercharged 600hp LSX vehicle here with the “GenIII badges” removed and meek ‘V6′ badges added instead

    i have removed all traces of LSX badging on mine and it now has the stock ‘V6′ badges on it too

    it doesnt fool everyone though as i have had people go… “this is a six cylinder? really…”

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I would ask the same question to you of people who “up-badge”… why??

      Anyone who knows cars will know the instant you start the engine that it is not a V6, anyone who doesn’t is clearly not going to care either way. If you streetrace, then once again, anyone who is worthy of wasting the gas on racing will know you do not drive a V6.

      I get debadging completely, just for a more streamlined and “I don’t give a crap what you think I drive” attitude. But replacing badges? Nope, I don’t get it.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Agreed. It is like they are trying to ensure that only people slower than them try to race them.

        And you have to be pretty “slow” to streetrace.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          Well I will admit, I used to be big in the street racing scene. I can’t really blame people for wanting to do it, and there are plenty of ways to do it safely. Unfortunately, like many things in life, the morons ruin it for everyone by doing it wrong… so I get why people are so against it. I relate it to texting, or even guns, if you can’t trust EVERYONE to do the right/safe thing, then you need to make rules more strict.

          But you know, those V6 cars are not so slow anymore!

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        its a cheap joke… badges are all of $5 off ebay

        and i have wound people up… i have had people ask… “your v6 sounds excellent… what exhaust do you use to get that sound?”

        i’ve taken people for a ride and they go… “this seems remarkably spritely for a mere six!”

        lastly, its my car, i can do what i like to it, is it not a free country?

        I can put ecoboost badges on it too? what of it?

        Its a common trend around here with transplanted motors too. I know of various GM and turbo japanese motors in smaller cars that retain the original badges. So what. People can do what they like to their cars. I dont judge and I dont care.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          True that, and yes you can do what you want, it is a free country.

          But since this is a post about why people rebadge and debadge, and the great majority of use think its silly, you should expect questions when you post a comment that you are one of the ones who do it.

          I suppose I could put 2.5 badges on my GTI so that people would think I have a really fast Rabbit but then I realize that I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with anyone who would think that.

        • 0 avatar
          carlisimo

          “lastly, its my car, i can do what i like to it, is it not a free country?”

          No one was threatening to put you in jail for it! Doesn’t mean you’re free from questions or ridicule, though.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        We had a guy bring in what he thought was an SL55. It had all the correct badges, even the V8 Kompressor in the fenders. It had stock SL500 wheels and brakes, as well as a very quite exhaust. As soon as I popped the hood it had the regular 5 liter motor. He quitely left when we told him it was just a 500.

        We also get plenty of C classes with CLK badges. The reason for this is that Mercedes doesn’t sell a C 350 etc badge. You get a CLK badge and are expected to leave the LK off on the C.

        The strangest was a 2010 (212 chassis) E350 that had E55 badges on it. We all found it very humourus since the E55 was nvere made in this body, and they have been E63s for a while.

  • avatar
    Tick

    There’s a “one of a kind” X3 here in Anchorage that was apparently part of VERY limited run of M versions. One look at the driver told me that I was indeed correct, there has never been a X3M

    I have seen a few STIs and M3s with their badges missing. The Subaru folks seem to go to great lengths to disguise the true nature of their vehicles, even swapping out the hood. Subtle clues indicate to the astute what’s really going on. I imagine this is an attempt to turn the car into a bit of a sleeper.

    Frankly, I don’t have a problem with de-badging. If you don’t want to broadcast your vehicle’s capabilities, more power to yah. However, adding badges is beyond lame. Take the time you spend playing video games and reading car forums and maybe spend a little more time reading or picking up that extra shift. Then you could afford the real thing. Or, you could just go the third path and spew class envy vitriol, which seems to be even more often the case.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      There is an X3 M-sport. I know that a guy at my last unit had a bright blue one. The badges on the back don’t just say “M”, they depict “M-Sport” with the “Sport” in small writing. They even have the nifty M logo on the bottom of the steering wheel.

      I’ve seen them a few times.

      • 0 avatar
        Tick

        I know what you’re talking about. My wife has the sport version of an X3. This was a faded out M Badge glued onto an X3, complete with fat early twenties driver with sideways flat billed ball cap. Definitely the poser version.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The Subaru folk tend to play up an underdog mentality. I personally don’t get it, but I also don’t see the appeal in hanging out in a parking lot with a bunch of other dudes looking at each others’ cars. I had an original 2.5RS and I let my freak flag fly with the factory wing, scoops, vents, and gold wheels. The scoop just looked right on the hood and the car was just so plain jane without the little rally bits. If I bought a big wing’d STI, I’d leave that sucker on there. If you want to build a sleeper, start with a slow car instead of making a fast car look like a slow car.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        I always thought the 2.5RS was a great looking car (in a scoobie kind of way) but even by pre-horsepower wars standards it was not quick. Looked great though.

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      One of the first things I did after buying my WRX was to debadge it completely. However, there is still a red WRX stitched on the seats and another silly emblem on the fenders that’s part of the plastic fender cover and is therefore not removable. For shame.

      Looking like a sleeper is priceless. Generally much less attention from cops and everybody else. Of course the other positive side of this is fooling the meter maids. If you disguise your car enough some of them just don’t know what to call it. In fact, I was thinking of putting some other badge on the car for that specific purpose.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I don’t think the look of a car garners more or less attention from cops. The speed of the car or rolling through stopsigns gets the cops’ attention.

        Example: I was pulled over and ticketed more in my mudane 1993 Impreza L (plum!) than my big wing, scooped, gold wheeled 2001 Impreza 2.5RS I owned immediately afterward. I stopped speeding when I got my 3rd traffic violation in the purple Impreza. I haven’t had a ticket since despite owning 3 cars that were easily recognizable as enthusiast vehicles (MINI with bonnet stripes, driving lights, hood scoop; GTI with 18″ machined face wheels, factory aero kit, massive black grille; 2.5RS with hood scoops, vents, coupe spoiler, gold wheels, painted sideskirts, pink swaybars). The only time my wife was pulled over was in the Toyota Echo she drove in college! 79mph on a 70mph WV interstate.

        • 0 avatar
          rwb

          Lucky you, to live in an area where they forgo the “courtesy stop” to let you know they’re aware you bought a fast new car, and will be keeping an eye out for you.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Just take I-77 south, then US-460 east.

          You’ll find some much less fair cops there, as soon as you cross the Virginia border.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “The only time my wife was pulled over was in the Toyota Echo she drove in college! 79mph on a 70mph WV interstate.”

          Wow, the cop must have triple-checked that radar reading. The cop was probably saying “Wtf? I didn’t know an Echo could go that fast…”

  • avatar

    They aren’t all fake. I saw a four door e46 ///M once. I pointed out to the owner that they didn’t make an M class sedan e46. He popped the hood, showing a correct conversion and S54 motor.

    but yes, fakey-do emblems are lame to the nth degree

  • avatar
    Mark Stevenson

    My most favourite badge swap isn’t really a badge swap at all.

    A guy I know from when I used to be in the import scene had an Acura EL hatchback.

    “But there was no Acura EL hatchback!” you’ll say.

    He had swapped the whole front end from an EL and grafted it to a Civic hatch. Boom. And it looked incredibly sharp.

    I was tempted to do it myself to my 6th gen Honda Civic. The EL was just a cleaner looking design. But, I never did get around to it. I wish I had.

  • avatar
    BerlinDave

    In Europe you can opt for no badges on most late model vehicles, should you so desire. Quite common to see vehicles with no badges at all other than the brand.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Probably half the S300 W140 Mercedes around here sported the S600 and V12 badges. And I bet some of the AMG-badged E-classes were the lowly E200 Kompressors. These ‘upsized badging’ seem to be mostly reserved to Mercedes Benzes around here for some reason, though.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      This does seem to happen quite a bit more with Mercedes than with other brands, especially the slightly older “big” Benzes. My guess is that guys buy them cheap, since resale is so bad, mostly to just brag that the drive a Mercedes S-class. Since very few people can tell the difference between an S500 and an S600 without popping the hood, fooling people (girls) is easy.

      If you ever watched Entourage, they had a running gag about Ari buying his wife an S500 and changing the badges so she thought he spent the extra money on the S600.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      As a social signaling device, up-badging would work if nobody could tell the difference between a V12 biturbo and a V6. But many auto enthusiasts recognize the factory wheels and body trim within models. So its value as a signal is worse than useless, it’s a “tell”, a poker term that tells the competition that you’re a bluffer (as opposed to a sandbagger, a major goal of stealth wealth).

      Thus, up-badging fools the laymen, but doesn’t fool the expert. The problem with the tell? Only an expert or someone paying attention can read it. So I guess up-badging isn’t going anywhere.

      But emotionally they will never enjoy the full benefits of purchasing the premium model because ultimately they want the benefits of being perceived as one of the experts, the ones who’ve already excluded them from being part of their social circle.

      • 0 avatar
        Tick

        Well said. Wow

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I do not condone upbadging, but you are way overthinking it. They just want to impress women.

        “But emotionally they will never enjoy the full benefits of purchasing the premium model because ultimately they want the benefits of being perceived as one of the experts. . .”

        Being perceived as an automotive expert and $5 will get you a cup of coffee.

        Debadging is doubly effective because it both hides wealth and shows modesty while boasting that “I’m so rich I don’t care about the badge.”

        • 0 avatar
          WaftableTorque

          >They just want to impress women.
          In other words, it’s a social signal.

          Part of modesty is going for good enough instead of ne plus ultra; buying the Grand Cherokee when you could have gotten a G63, or an Equus when you could have gotten a Ghost.

          Oh, and debadging doesn’t work for the high rollers. When was the last time you saw a model designation badge on a Bentley, Rolls Royce, or Ferrari? It’s not the badge, its the signal “all that I am, I don’t have to say”.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I once had a stripped down 91 Caprice that I added Biscayne emblems to that were made like the Impala SS emblems. Seems fitting since the Biscayne was the stripped model back in the day. I met a couple Biscayne owners who weren’t amused but most thought it was cool.

    My personal favorite was a guy I worked with in Florida that drove an 80’s Country Squire wagon that he had debadged and added Wagon Queen and Family Truckster emblems to.

    I also have a couple of old school Land Cruiser emblems and an old Toyota emblem I want to put on my 93 Cruiser…I hate the current Toyota emblem (this is one reason I have a 93 with Toyota spelled out on the grill rather than that stupid bean and sombrero emblem).

    I am a fan of the sleeper though. I have always had a soft spot for Fox Body Mustang LX 5.0 models with the 5.0 taken off and a single exhaust tip in the rear. Not much of a fan though of all the 2.3 stangs with the 5.0 glued to the side though.

    Incidentally, I just spent 30 bucks for the little Mazda sticker that goes below the D/S headlight on my 90 Miata. It bugged me that it wasnt there after the repaint.

  • avatar
    mikenem

    This gets on my nerves. I saw a CLK430 AMG yesterday. Stop posing and be happy you have a Mercedes to begin with. Adding an AMG badge to the trunk lid, only makes enthusiasts laugh at you.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Think it shows how brands like this are diluted. Years ago the Mercedes itself was the status symbol. Now the three pointed star isn’t enough on its own.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The black kid at work thought AMG was a wheel and ground effects company until I explained to him it was MB’s in house tuner that tweaked the car inside and out.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        And his race is relevant how?

        • 0 avatar
          Tick

          A lot of the tuner shops that tailor primarily to an urban crowd make badges meant to resemble manufacturer badges. Example: DUB. It seems reasonable that this kid could see that stuff and get confused. Let’s not all jump on our high horses just yet. It would be naive to pretend that these shops don’t primarily have an urban black customer base in mind when they produce a product that is in huge demand because of the inluences of black musicians. Doesn’t make it right or wrong, just reality. Or call me a racist. I don’t care.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            Do you think that a musician’s influence is limited to members of their own race? I think that started to end in the 1950’s. This is the 21st Century where Caucasian kids dance to the music of Korean rappers.

          • 0 avatar
            Tick

            No, I do not think a musicians influence is limited to people of their own race but I’m also not going to jump on my politically correct high horse and pretend it has no influence either.

            I’m simply defending NormSV650 a bit.

            Is it really the 21st century? Wow, thanks. I need really smart people to remind evil racists like me every so often.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        “The black kid at work thought AMG was a wheel and ground effects company. . .”

        He’s 99% correct. It used to be a separate company until MB saw the profit in pimping Benzes and brought it in house.

        Mercedes offers AMG Styling Packages on most of its cars that are just rims and body kits.

        The engine/suspension modification that AMG does perform is in vain. It is just a guise that lets rich housewives overpay for tacky rims and bodykits, and still look down at poor black kids that do the same.

        • 0 avatar
          Tick

          Sweet, now we’ve got some class envy to wrap things up. Seriously? Yes, you’re right. My friend who bust her ass building a business and bought herself an AMG is just a “rich housewife who looks down on poor black kids”.

          Am I allowed to say “TTAC Rules” everytime someone jumps onto the eveyone who drives german is a rich white snob bandwagon? I drove an M car. Does that make me a rich housewife who looks down on black kids?

          I have an idea, let’s talk about cars instead of infering racism or stereotyping their drivers.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            That’s horrible that your friend bust her ass building a business and still got stuck
            with a rich housewife car. The MB dealer should be ashamed.

            I do well, and know a lot of VERY wealthy people. They drive Yukons and Lexuses.
            If they care about cars they will have a Corvette or Elise that they actually track,
            not a rims package on their daily driver.

            Not every mocking of bad taste is class envy.

  • avatar

    A guy in high school had a 1964 Malibu with 283 badges. He left them on when he pulled the 283 and dropped in a 390 big block. This was for sleeper, street racing purposes.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    This is NOT uncommon and some of these badge engineerings are not badge engineerings.

    When I worked for Volvo, we had a guy trade in an early 00’s MB SL320 with “AMG” badging on the trunk and AMG-ish wheels, but lacking the diameter. I think they were 17’s as opposed to the real AMG 18’s. When I noticed this, I called the local MB dealer with the VIN and they verified that in fact it was an AMG but it was an AMG “Sport”. Basically, MB puts “AMG” on vehicles with sporting appearence but for people that don’t desire the speed/power of a real AMG.

    GLK could be really an AMG, but a sport package- possibly dealer added.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Lexus all offer sport trims of their more pedestrian cars that have various badging on the vehicle. They are all very careful to keep that badge off the trunklid, though. BMW will sell you an M sport 3 series with M badges on the steering wheel, wheels, seats, dash, etc, but you won’t find an M badge on the trunklid, for example. Same for the AMG package Mercedes, S-Line Audis, and F-sport Lexus. In general, all of these packages are simply suspension and appearance packages and it is good for all parties involved. Consumers can get a more aggressive version of their luxury sedan without going full bore into the madness that is a real AMG, M, RS, or F. For the brands, it ties their 335i to the M3 that really doesn’t share much of anything other than a basic chassis and who knows, maybe that guy decides he wants more the next time he buys a new car and goes full on into the M3. Now that the M3 looks so different from the standard 3 series, you’d be hard pressed to confuse a 335i M sport and an M3. Back in the e36 days, when the M3 took a much more trained eye to tell the difference, I’d agree that a 328i w/ an M sport package would be far too close to the M3.

  • avatar
    Thinkin...

    What about badge-swapping to fix badge engineering? I know a lot of folks who do that. It’s very popular among the first-gen Scion xB crowd, who swap emblems to Toyota bB – which is what the car began life as. I had a friend who did the same with the early Infinity SUV (QX45?) He swapped the badges to Nissan Pathfinder ones. (Still had the ugly Infinity front bumper though…) I kinda like those sort of swaps, there’s something earnest and funny about it.

    I new another kid years ago who had a Honda Passport, and completely rebadged it as an Izuzu Rodeo. There was no way to tell it was a Honda, and he claimed it got him out of numerous parking tickets. He’s wait until the late notice in the mail, then go to court and with his registration and say “Your Honor – I don’t even have an Izuzu, I drive a Honda – just look at my registration and title!” He claimed it worked like magic – though I have my doubts.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Putting Z71 stickers on S10’s and the accasional F-150 is common in SC. Police Intercepter badges are also seen on all kinds of cars and trucks.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Saw an older gentleman the other day with a brand new Kia Optima, fully decked out with BMW badges, right down to the wheel center caps. Surprisingly, my wife (who is not a BMW fan) saw it too and remarked that the new BMWs look way better than they used to. I almost spit my coffee laughing. This is the same woman who saw the same Optima at the mall recently and turned her nose up at it, because it was a Kia. So I guess that about sums up why people re-badge! LOL

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      I’ve wondered about that sort of thing. The Optima is a really stylish car, but it seems that the Kia brand still has significant lingering image problems, even more so than Hyundai. Seems the product has improved at a faster rate than perception.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Old Kias were crappier than old Hyundais, and a lot of people do not know they are now the same company. They also held onto old designs longer than Hyundai did with some of their cars. Plus, as my wife points out, the KIA badge simply looks cheap and junky. At least Hyundai has that stylish H logo. But she is admittedly a Korean car snob, no matter how good the offerings get she will likely never buy one. She loved the Gen coupe until she saw it was a Hyundai, and thought the Gen sedan was a Lexus when we saw it at the mall too.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    A couple of decades ago, a friend drove the first and only Nissan 750il around O’ahu.

    I know a couple of readers here remember that one; even if they didn’t get close enough to see the badges, the AVG-style shark mouth painted on the front fenders and the scores of surfboard fins bonded to the hood and trunk were unique and unmistakable.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    The one I enjoyed the most was a Crown Vic police interceptor badge on a Ford Aerostar van.

  • avatar
    stars9texashockey

    Yes, my Scion xB is now an xBox.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The AMG Styling Package actually is a $1,990 option on the GLK 350.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    A lot of people when I was a kid would change the TOYOTA on the back of their pickups to TOY.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Its interesting when people change the name of their car to what its called in other countries – I saw a Mazda3 the other day with “Axela” stuck on it. I guess I can relate – I’d love to get a Opel grill for my (Saturn) Astra.

    Also, I couldn’t blame anyone for removing those stupid “GM” logos that were put on the cars for a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      deanst,

      That might have been my wife’s uncle’s car if you’re talking the DC area. It’s the deep purplish blue color. He bought it used that way from the original owner, so, blame the other guy.

    • 0 avatar
      Slow_Joe_Crow

      That was very common with Sprinter vans and several vendors sold kits with Mercedes grilles, badges and even the Gottlieb Daimler autograph sticker for the windshield.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Neighbors wife is named Hemi. He stuck a Hemi badge on her Honda Odyssey. When people ask if it has a Hemi in it he says yes.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    I can’t believe the Hyundai Genesis hasn’t been mentioned yet. Removing the Hyundai “H” and replacing it with a Bentley-esq “Genesis” badge is big around here. In fact, it might be a dealer option.

  • avatar
    Acd

    My wife’s Chrysler Town & Country may turn into a Lancia Voyager if I can get the badges and a new grill cheap enough.

    If I get another Chrysler 300C there’s a pretty good chance that it will become a Lancia Thema.

  • avatar
    Charles T

    South Florida can be just as bad on this front; I’ve seen W124 E-classes with “S600″ badging and badly-fitted chrome grilles riding around Broward County. One of the most pathetic ones was a C-class with “CLK320″ on the trunklid.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Hmm…well I certainly debadged my sportwagen within one week of buying it. It looks a lot cleaner without the tacky chrome lettering.
    I see trim level badging as little different from dealer tagging, it serves as model/trim advertisement for a company that isn’t paying me to drive their car. And since it detracts from the cars looks…

  • avatar

    I bought a Mini Clubman that the previous owner had badge-modified with a “Suburban” badge from GM. It was well-done and looked like a factory badge. I left it on since it was good for about $6k off the price since the Toyota dealer where I bought it didn’t know what he had. They actually had it advertised as a “Mini Suburban SUV.”

    The suburban badge got a lot of laughs, and I didn’t mind it. Here are a couple of pics:
    http://goo.gl/79IGD
    http://goo.gl/eW3t3

    (Damn, I miss that car. Never shoulda sold it, even if I did make a profit)

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Infiniti G35s and G37s badged as Nissan Skylines 350GT and 370GT are the worst offenders around these parts.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      But the ones leaving only the Infiniti symbol with no lettering (maybe other than “G35″/”G37″) is a thing of beauty.

      In Japan, people rebadge their Skylines to Infinitis.

  • avatar
    bikephil

    I oce owned a Toyota Corolla FX16 GTS 1.8i LX/R SE Limited Edition Turbo Coupe.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    To put on fake badges are soo gay. Real man debadge :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Some “real men” are gay – including an ex-military looking skydiving instructor I used to know whose should-be-husband used work for ESPN. They are two very masculine “real men” who were very very gay.

      And the two swishiest men I’ve ever met turned out to be happily married straight family men. I get “gay or straight” wrong at least half the time, and I’m probably better at it than most people.

      Anyway, grow up. Get to know some real people. The definitions you used don’t hold up in the real world.

  • avatar
    west-coaster

    …the coveted “289 High Performance” tags…

    Yeah, they reproduce those badges today. Originally, they only came on the coveted, rare, K-Code Mustangs with the solid lifter 271 horsepower 289. But today, it seems that every other dumbshit who adds a Holly 4-barrel and some chrome stuff to his engine feels justified in putting the HiPo badge on his car.

  • avatar
    11ramsport

    I once owned a really beat up 97 Nissan Hardbody pickup with Denali badges on the doors.

    At the time, I worked near a shipyard that did a lot of spray painting, and after complaining to my fiancee about not being able to drive my new Sierra Denali to work, she ordered me a set of Denali badges for the Nissan.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    On the 2009 Mazdaspeed3 I had, I truncated “Mazdaspeed3″ to just “Mazda” on the rear. I probably went too far when I put an “Alexa” badge next to it.

    The cool thing with the first gen Speed3 was that most people could not tell it from a regular 3 unless they knew what Speed3 wheels looked like, or noticed the bigger exhaust. I can spot a debadged MS3 in a second. Now with 2010+, the hood scoop is an automatic giveaway.

    On my Accord coupe, I took the “Accord” and “V6″ emblems off, leaving only the Honda symbol. I really, REALLY like the look of that. Damn I miss that car. :(

    No need to do ANYTHING to my Juke. Nothing left to the imagination with that ride!

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I see quite a few 2WD Chevy’s and GMC’s around here with “Z86″ decals on the side of the bed. It just screams “I wish I had a Z71″ in my mind.

    Then again, I had a 1998 GMC Sonoma that “ZQ8″ decals on the sport bed, from the factory. Guess I’ll shut up.

  • avatar
    beefmalone

    There’s a guy at the auction that slaps “FX4″ stickers onto all his 2wd trucks before he runs them. Occasionally he’ll catch some sucker not paying attention and they’ll get burned.

  • avatar
    mklrivpwner

    I’ve seen my share. Most notably, one of my best friends (his dad own a small sprecialty dealership) got his late ’90’s Mustang reimaged with all the exterior adornments of a Cobra GT. He had some minor engine tweeks, but aside from that, still a V6. Also, I outran him by a full minute in my 1984 S10 Blazer 4×4 over 10 miles of mountain roads (well maintained).

    But most of the cars with mismatched badges I came to recognize were either sleepers or “legitimate”. There was an infamous Purple Mustang with stock V6 adornments (those actually labeling the engine were removed). In place of the V6 was a SC Lincoln 32V Northstar making over 450hp at the wheels. Also, a car that started life as an Impreza Sportwagon that had a full STI treatment inside and out, with authentic STI body bits that were trimmed and spliced to fit. (Naturally, they had to look to the aftermarket for a suitable spoiler).

    • 0 avatar
      dancote

      Lincoln Northstar? Now there’s some serious rebadging.

      • 0 avatar
        mklrivpwner

        Lol. Sorry. Should read Lincoln 32V Intech. Don’t know what I was thinking.
        …or if I was thinking.
        And yes, wmba, from what I heard, it did have head gasket issues.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Did the Lincoln Northstar have the same head gasket issues as Cadillac’s?

      I’m about to JB weld an STI logo onto my Legacy GT’s grille, in an aerodynamically advantageous spot of course. One’ll do, because having another one on the trunklid, well, that’d be overdoing it.

  • avatar

    Back in 87 I bought a base Camaro(manual,V-6) new in Florida.
    Stuck on the dash was an RS badge. Always wondered what was the thinking behind putting that one random badge on the car. Certainly wasn’t done by the dealership-if they’d noticed it they would have tried to squeeze an extra $100-or five-out of the it!

  • avatar
    glwillia

    Here in Singapore, pretty much all Mercedes (and there are quite a few) have AMG badges on them, so I see plenty of S350 AMGs and E200 AMGs. Surprisingly, the BMWs are for the most part completely devoid of M badges.

  • avatar
    Marko

    My favorite was an early W220 S500 with a Brabus badge and RUST all over the rocker panels, trunklid, fenders, and whatnot. Completely stock, mind you. “Never mind the crappy condition of my car, it’s a freaking BRABUS!”

  • avatar
    econobiker

    Small 3″ long x 1″tall “Powered by Mercedes Benz” oem badges intended for Freightliner heavy trucks ended up on the left/right front quarter panels inront of the front wheels of my ex-wife’s 2001 Dodge Durango along with one badge to the extreme right within the oval inset on the rear hatch door. This was my protest to Daimler buying Chrysler plus I worked in the OEM heavy truck industry at that time and was given the badges at a truck parts industry trade show.

    I once stripped the chrome script badges off a 1976 slant six equipped Dodg Charger and applied “Charger” and “3.7 Liter” as the engine capacity in black vinyl applied letters to the trunk’s rearward facing corners. It looked like crap but it was the 1980s…

  • avatar
    George B

    Base model Mustangs, Camaros, etc. get rebuilt with a V8 engine instead of the factory I6. Unfortunately, lots of fake “Cobra” and “Super Sport” models get built.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’ve never cared for USDM Acuras rebadged as Hondas. Look, if the steering wheel is on the left, it ain’t JDM.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    Not debadging per se, but semi-related.

    Living on the west coast, I see a lot of cars from non-coastal states with dealer logos painted onto the cars. Is that fairly common practice? Even after they move here and get the local license plate, you can still see that they got their car from Idaho or Iowa or wherever.

    And it’s not limited to just lower rung cars either – I’ve seen several 3-series with the logos painted onto the cars. Do dealers give a discount for doing this or something?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      It’s usually vinyl rather than paint, unless it’s a sticky-sided plastic logo. But yes, lots of dealers do that, and no, they don’t discount for it.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      They should give a discount right? Maybe you can negotiate with them:

      “So I figure this should be about a $10 CPM. About 1000 people see the back of my car every day, so that’s $10/day, and there are about 30 days in a month, so you should pay me $300/month to put your dealer logo on my car. Oh hey, look at that!”

      I’ve seen dealers who do this with screwed-on logos, which is even more of a non-starter.

      Other dealers do something less intrusive, e.g. put their license plate frame on your car. First thing I did after bringing the car in for its first service was to take off the frame.

      • 0 avatar

        Whenever I’ve bought a brand-new car I’ve told the dealer people not to put any stickers on my car. The last two, on delivery, the stickers were there. I refused to take the car until they got the stinking stickers off.

        In Brazil, when you go to the dealers for service. They always stick a sticker on the car. I always warn them before that I’ll not tolerate that. Seems a least like the Renault people had a note next to my name not to do that, ’cause after the first 2 times I took it in for regular service, they stopped doing it. Probably had to do with me not taking the car back until they had removed the stickers and goo.

        Sadly, now private mechanics are starting to do the same. Also, car washes do it a lot. I never had a problem with that, as I wash my car myself or have people on the street do it (read about it tomorrow or Sunday). But going to a car wash and letting them stick a sticker on your car? A car wash? People don’t complain?

        Oh and I don’t debadge or upbadge. I keep the original badges. Sometimes, when the badges wear out I buy new badges. And that’s it.

  • avatar
    chimichanga

    I’d like to ask a different kind of question. Is that a radar detector over the dashboard? I for a long time have thought of getting one, but have zero experience regarding what’s out there, how much they cost, how they differ in features, whether they’re any good in the cities versus the highway, laser vs. radar, where to best mount them…. how do I ask for an article squarely on radar detectors?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      radartest.com has very good info, tests, etc. Yes they sell products, but they do not have a bias, they will give you straight honest advice even about products they do not sell or used to sell. You can even just call them up, Craig was very helpful to my wife when she got me my detector for Xmas, and me when I called to ask about it before she pulled the trigger on which one.

      I can save you some time though… Valentine 1 is overrated, Escort is the best, BEL is electronically identical but a little cheaper due to missing features, get one with GPS as it is amazing, mount them up high or spend the money on a built-in model, and without a good radar jammer you are still likely to be ticketed as laser is very prevalent these days.

  • avatar
    MZ3AUTOXR

    Back in the mid-90’s when “-r” was being used by manufacturers in Japan to designate Hi-po versions of their cars a friend of my stuck one in the correct font and size next the the DX on his 2nd gen CRX.

    Now this was a car was autocrossed, so technically, the ‘r;’ made sense.

    But the funniest thing was at 1994 SCCA Solo Nationals. A well known competitor, who is still known as a Civic/CRX expert, saw the badge and proceeded to inspect the car, wondering what the car actually was. The badge was THAT good.

  • avatar
    Spencercat

    Misbadging has wonderful possibilities, like the ’86 Camry liftback I saw locally that someone had rebadged a “TOYCAT MARY”, or the guy who put Lexus badges on his Kia Sorrento…

  • avatar

    Here in Brazil it’s pretty common. See lots of Fiats with Ferrari decals, VWs turned into Audis and Chevies get their badges changed to Opel (I wonder if on the new Chevies eople will put Daewoo?). Oh well, at least they get the companies straight.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Persian Conversion? Usually in LA that means upsizing your house to the maximum allowed on the lot with some marble columns and marble statues with tacky gold trim in various places.

    But for a car, sometimes adding an AMG sticker, even non-ironically on an old SL320. Mercedes drivers are the biggest offender of this and seem to be insecure, despite having their image-car. I’ve probably only once seen a fake M badge on a BMW.

    The other day I saw my first fake F badge – a poseur young lady with a fake F badge on her IS250. Hilarious.

    I like the re-badge to JDM though — e.g. Infiniti G35/37 to Nissan Skyline GT350/370. I also saw a Honda Integra. My buddy calls it “changing it back to the original badge.” I’d have respect for a Pontiac rebadged to Holden or another GM rebadged to Opel/Vauxhall.

    I also like a European-style de-badge, so the enthusiasts are the ones who know whether you have an M5 or a more pedestrian 520d/523i.

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    I always wanted to get a Saturn Astra and rebadge it a Vauxhall, just to have something a little different not to elevate my social status.

    A few years ago, I had a 1999 Roush Mustang Cobra. In 1999, Roush didn’t start with Cobras for their conversions, just GTs, but dealerships would sometimes ship them a Cobra for them to Roush-ify. The engine and interior were left bone stock, basically all it got was the side-exit exhaust, body kit, Roush floor mats, some Roush badging and the most important thing… a Roush serial number. Man I had a heck of a time selling that thing! Nobody believed it was a true Roush. The so-called “experts” pointed to the fact that Roush never modified Cobras, and that the seats weren’t embroidered with the Roush logo like the newer ones. I had to mail off for official documentation from Roush that it was real, which they were kind enough to provide.

    I don’t know why I’m telling you this, I guess when I started to type it it seemed relevant. Oh well, I’m clicking ‘submit’ anyway. :)

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      You probably found out that a car is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. If I were in the market for a performance car, I would pay less for a modified car than I would a bone-stock model. If you’re lucky enough where demand exceeds supply (I call it the greater-fools theory of marketing if the substitution effect isn’t available), you can charge whatever you want.

      At least the shoppers were serious enough to have researched Roush beforehand.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Virgil – I like the article because of I’m one of “those people” who pull this kind of thing, but the link to Murliee’s junkyard find is incorrect, it should read “1988” not 1998. Last year of the Coupe de Ville was ’93, a fact I have been saddened with for quite some time.

    Also

    +1000 to the Benz S1000

  • avatar
    raded

    I still kind of want to get an “Axela” badge to put on my Mazda3.

    JDM, bro.

    • 0 avatar
      StaysCrunchy

      We had the wife’s Miata painted a few years ago, and I thought about getting the “Roadster” badge, but we just went badgeless (except for the “Mazda” script, only because there were locator holes for it. Strangely enough not for the other one though)

  • avatar
    segfault

    I used to regularly see a “Daimler Dakota,” a Dodge Dakota with giant, obnoxious three pointed stars on both the hood and tailgate and the word “Daimler” on the tailgate.

  • avatar
    MeaCulpa

    Shaq did not invent the 1000merc, that badging has a far cooler story that a guy with an “impressive” four inches of air under his shoes when he goes for the dunk.
    It started with the 1000 SEL, I quote the excellent (if you share my passion for genuine 80’s tack) site http://www.1000sel.com

    “So where does the name 1000SEL come from? Well, it is rumoured somewhere in the early 1980s a Middle-East customer from Styling Garage ordered himself a heavily modified Mercedes 500SEL. When he received the keys he told the owner of the company, Chris Hahn, that his car was twice as good as a regular 500SEL and he’d like to have a different badge on the car. Well there you have it: 500SEL x 2 = 1000SEL. It should be mentioned that most of the 1000SEL conversions were sold to customers in the Middle-East.”

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    People probably think that I screwed around with the badging on my BMW, but it really did come from the factory as a “328!”, and I have the delivery pictures from Germany to prove it.

    If it weren’t for that factory oopsie, I probably would have de-badged it. I HATE waxing around individually applied letters and numbers. But it is just too cool to change it.

  • avatar
    kjb911

    I’ve mostly only ever subtracted emblems such as with my focus i got rid of the SE since it looks like an afterthought,

    My 02 Jeep Grand Cherokee I got rid of the rear emblems because the back looked cleaner

    My Fiero I get rid of the stupid 2M4 monicker since it seemed redundant

    The only exception was my Tiburon which I deced to replace the Hyundai badges with the European Tuscani badges as I felt the car was too interesting to be a hyundai

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I’ve seen a Ford Focus V12 Special Edition, and an Aveo SS V8. Best one, though, was a Mazda3 with .141592653589793… carried all the way across the trunklid.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    My dad was a hotrodder in the later 1950s and early 1960s.

    He told me that he debadged his cars because the labeling didn’t describe the car anymore.

    He told me this while we were removing the badges from an early 1990s Honda Accord coupe that had about 120k miles on the clock at the time. One of the badges had fallen off a thousand miles ago, so he removed the other to make it symmetrical while we were doing the next oil change. He used body filler and touch up paint to make the alignment holes disappear, too.

    He was an engineer during most of his career, and probably somewhere on the mild end of the autism spectrum. Taught me a lot about driving, building, fixing, and tinkering, much less about social skills. He still looks at his shoes while he talks to most people, even me. Not quite stereotype of the cool car guy, but I have no doubt that he won his share of races. He certainly was laying his share of rubber in to his 50s!

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    As a joke, i put BMW badges on my Pinto and painted it silver– the screams could be heard across the county lines!

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Just this past weekend I saw a Prius with Ferrari badges on the front and rear stuck in traffic on La Cienega right in front of the Beverly Center in LA. It was so ridiculous I saw a girl in HER Prius snapping pictures of it.

    There’s also a tech at Penske Cadillac in Torrance that has some sort of old early ’90s beat Civic hatch with EVERY specialty emblem you can think of on the fender — V, M, AMG, F, etc. I need to get a pic next time I’m in for service.

  • avatar
    detlump

    Back in the day, my father used to de-badge his cars, and in those days, the badges all had holes – no adhesive, so his friend who had a body shop would fill the holes and repaint the panels!

    He explained that since he washed and waxed his cars, he didn’t like the badges which always gathered dirt and were hard to clean around. Also, he liked the panels uninterrupted look without the badges. It was not to show off or be a sleeper.

    Fast forward to 1986, and we bought a Topaz. He removed one badge on the decklid and there 2 holes! Crap! We happened to go to a swap meet and ran across a vendor with all kinds of badges. We found a “turbocharged” badge that covered the holes completely. Not sure what it was from. I don’t know how many times we were in the car, and people would walk by and comment – oh, that’s one of the new turbo models! It was cheap entertainment.

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    I’m pretty sure the title picture was taken in Las Vegas, not SoCal. Isn’t that the Stratosphere off in the distance (at left)?

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    Here in Seattle, I’ve seen more than one Mercedes-Benz diesel with “bio” added in front of the word “diesel” on the trunk lid. Somewhere, the owners managed to find letters in the right typeface and size to match the ones already on their car.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    I saw an old Nissan pickup with BMW kidney grills on it a few weeks ago. They had to be off of an E30 or something else of that era. I did a double take because they almost looked legit. I got a good laugh out of it.

    When I was in high school I knew a guy who had a Toyota Tercel hatchback vintage 1985 who stuck a Porsche crest on the hood. As ridiculous as it was, it didn’t actually look that bad!

  • avatar
    Bob

    My neighbor crashed his Grand Am and repaired it with junk yard parts from an Oldsmobile Alero so now it’s Oldsmobile in the front and Pontiac in the rear.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    A friend of mine has Toyota Previa that he discovered perfectly fit a BMW grill he had kicking around. He swapped the badges as well and has convinced more than one person it’s a rare BMW minivan prototype. (The Previa is old enough that nobody remembers it.)


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