By on August 19, 2011

Any Nineties-era German car fanatic worth his “D” sticker knows how to remove badging from the back of a car. Here’s a helpful link in case you don’t remember. A few minutes of one’s time can turn a BMW 323i or Mercedes S430 into a mysterious Autobahn machine of unknown potential puissance. Most of the time, it’s a visual improvement. There’s something nice about tidying-up one’s rear end. Ask Jessica Gottlieb if you don’t believe me.

It’s possible that the photograph above does not reflect what the Porsche “991” will actually look like in production. It could be Photoshop. It could be a guy in marketing having a laugh. It could have been a minor glitch in the prototype-production line that caused some machine to simply vomit a pound of chromey-plastic letters onto that car’s ass, and it could be pure chance that the aforementioned pound of garbage just happens to spell out “P O R S C H E 911 Carrera S”.

Don’t bet on it. Porsche clearly wants their letter-vomiting machine to spray every new 911 with a fine-mist alpha-numeric jumble, and I’ll tell you why.

Here’s a trivia question you can spring on your friends: Name a car with no visible model designation inside or out. We aren’t counting EPA/DOT stickers or individual parts labels, of course. One sure answer to that question is the Porsche 911. A few “anniversary cars” a few years back had chromed “911” badges on the decklid, but the last regular-production 911 to feature an actual 911 badge was the 1983 Porsche 911SC. That was twenty-eight years ago, just in case you were allowed to bring a calculator to the SAT or something.

The 911’s lack of badging was a subtle demonstration of both Porsche’s taste and the almost inestimably iconic power of F.A. “Butzi” Porsche’s original design. It sent a message that was both snobbish — if you don’t know what this car is, we do not care to inform you — and friendly — come on, it’s a 911, you know that, we won’t waste your time by putting a label on the thing. It was also a tacit reflection of the fact that the 911 was the core Porsche. The 944 and Boxster/Cayman have always carried specific badging, as have the Cayenne and Panamera. They may be Porsches, but the 911 is Porsche.

No longer, alas. The horrifying Panamera is Porsche’s core car now, offending environmentalists, aesthetes, and air-cooled owners in equal measure as its hippo-assed, Roadmaster-wide, fish-faced, trucky-rooted platform crawls with Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue traffic. The Panamera is such a Ipecacian* icthyosaur that Porsche had to reach all the way into its retro bag of tricks and slather pre-1973 chrome-letter “P O R S C H E” letters on its distended rear in the hopes that one out of every fifty buyers will be, not a bond trader or California real estate agent, but an actual former owner of a short-wheelbase 911 who is feeling both hopelessly nostaglic for his old car and too painfully gout-ridden to drive any vehicle that doesn’t share a hip point with the Volkswagen Touraeg. I’ll admit, even I find myself occasionally watching some repugnant double-handshaker weaving down the center lane in one and thinking, “You know, it isn’t that bad, IT HAS CHROME LETTERS LIKE A SIXTY-EIGHT.” The only safe way out of this delusionary trance is to either drive my 993 or, if said 993 is not available due to travel, driveway blockage, or inter-galactically expensive servicing, heat up some Mobil 1 in the microwave and sniff it a bit.

Porsche’s decision to reverse thirty-eight years of tradition and badge the 911 has to be a response to the success of its non-sporting vehicles. (Yes, I’ve driven a Panamera Turbo on a racetrack. Yes, it’s fast. So is a Southwest Airlines 737. What’s your point?) Demeaning the decklid with those three sacred numbers accomplishes a few things:

  • It reminds customers that the 911 actually exists. In an era where the Leipzig sewers discharge Panameras at a rate of something like six or seven to one 911, that’s probably necessary.
  • It plainly informs the blind, the stupid, and the tragically car-unconscious that one is not driving a Panamera. Imagine, for example, falling in love with a female friend of a friend, and having the girl ask your friend what you drive. “I think it’s a Porsche, don’t know what kind.” One upon a time, the worst association this could conjure up would be with an automatic-transmission 924, but it is now possible, in this situation, that you could be thought to be a Panamera 4 V-6 owner. If your entire body twitched upon completing the last sentence, you have an idea of why you might want a “911” badge on the back of your car. In fact, I may have to buy one myself in the aftermarket.
  • It provides a visual point of differentiation between the 997 and 991, if that’s necessary, and for some people it may be.

I’m sure the company has other reasons, and only time will tell if they are good reasons, like the reason for getting rid of the magnesium 2.7, or bad reasons, like the reason for putting fruit-fly-lifespan engines in nearly every sports car they made from 1998 to 2008. Regardless, there’s only one decent thing to do. The order form for your new Nine Eleven will, if it follows the practice Porsche has adopted for over a decade, have a box labeled “Badge Delete”. It’s a no-cost option, because not even Porsche can bring itself to charge you money not to put a badge on.

Check that box.

* From “Ipecac”, the famous syrup. An invention of the author.

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40 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Car That Dare Not Badge Its Name Edition...”


  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Knock on wood that the world still has cars for serious driving enthusiasts that can afford one and the expensive maintenance. Locally, most of them are driven on congested roads that have not kept up with the population growth.

  • avatar

    “Name a car with no visible model designation inside or out.”

    Only current car I can think of that doesn’t have the manufacturer’s badge/name on it is the Evoque. Yes it has Range Rover badges on it, but it’s still technically a Land Rover.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Since Porsche’s new ad campaign makes the case that their cars are perfectly suited for trips to Home Depot or as a daily commuter for taking your kid to school, having lots of chrome Porsche badges lets the world know that you paid six figures for a sports car that you use like a Honda CRV.

    As the 60 year old fathers of 10 year olds sit out front of the elementary school waiting for their kid they can think “well, at least I finally got my Porsche.”

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    Perhaps it’s my perception, but the only cars I see with the badge deleted in my neck of the woods are base model European marques. There seems to be shame in buying the smallest engine size, and its noticeable because those models tend to have different wheels, sills, tires, etc.

    Porsche is just catching up with the Japanese and Americans with their V6 XLE AWD On-Star Cartier Edition Eco Synergy Jacuzzi Turbos.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My 4Runner has the pretty perfect amount of badges. T on the nose and tailgate, 4Runner on the tailgate (on the plate that contains the tag lights and backup camera, centered), and SR5 on the C pillar. The dealer did put their horrible badge on it, but a hairdryer, some fishing line, and some goo-gone took care of that. My GTI was pretty clean, too. VW on the nose and tailgate (integrated into the handle, in fact… very clean) and GTI offset on the tailgate and grille.

      I liked the P O R S C H E across the back of the old 911s, but this looks ridiculous with 911 Carrera S below it.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i’m gonna enjoy jack baruth’s reaction to the upcoming 2 door Panamera

  • avatar
    Mathias

    “[..] heat up some Mobil 1 in the microwave and sniff it a bit.”
    You can’t heat oil in the microwave.
    What were _you_ allowed to bring to the SAT?

  • avatar

    How’d the lap times of the 737 compare to those of the Panamera?

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    My 1992 911 just has “Carrera 2” on the rear. When did Porsche stop using the Carrera name?

    I agree with Jack in lamenting the metamorphosis of Porsche from sports car builder to purveyor of bloated sedans and SUVs. But they’re selling everyone they can make.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The Panamera and Cayenne both have the same problem now, which is that they say both P O R S C H E and the full model name. This just looks terrible. One or the other would be fine, but not both. When I first saw “911” spelled out on the decklid of the Sport Classic, I thought, “Uh oh. The disease is spreading.”

  • avatar

    I can understand the hate for the Cayenne, but what’s so awful about the Panamera?

    To me, it’s just a Porsche for people who want a back seat, and you’re talking as though it is some kind of moral failing.

    Why?

    This review makes me think it’s a pretty darn nice car. And to me seeing it in the flesh was considerably more attractive than the photos.

    D

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    David,

    I can only give you my personal opinion, which is different from that of Mr. Karesh. We are evaluating the vehicle from different perspectives. My perspective is that of someone who has owned multiple Porsches and who drove D-class German sedans and coupes for a decade including the D2 S8, the D3 A8 4.2, the Mercedes W215, and two Phaetons.

    I don’t believe the Panamera can match any of the proper D-classers for refinement, noise, features, or relaxed driving. It substitutes, instead, vicious forward thrust (in the Turbo) and big brakes. It is neither hot (sporting) nor cold (luxurious) so I spit it out of my mouth, as the Bible says.

    • 0 avatar

      As Jack notes, perspective makes a big difference in any review.

      My own review notes that the ride isn’t as smooth or as quiet as that of other large luxury sedans. But I found the handling much more like that of a sports car, with a relatively low seating position and taut, agile handling. I thought this a major achievement given the size of the car, and figured that if someone wants agile handling with ample space for four adults in a single car, then the Panamera is their only real option. If they’re expecting the comfort of a conventional large luxury sedan or a driving experience just like that in a Cayman, though, they’ll be disappointed.

      Some people, including Jack, strongly favor getting multiple specialized cars for different purposes, as any car that tries to do two disparate things is going to involve compromises. Jack also does much more long-distance driving than I do, and perhaps for this reason seems to prioritize a relaxed ride in his large sedans. (Exhibit A: his current ride.)

      As the father of three children, though, I’m well aware that some people rarely have the ability to drive a two-seater. So I’m open to compromises if they manage to gain more in one area than they give up in another. For me, the Panamera gains more in handling than it gives up in ride quality.

      This said, I’d like a smaller car along the same lines better.

      • 0 avatar
        ccd2

        That, apart from price, is my major reservation. The Panamera is just too big and too heavy. It’s like Porsche went from one extreme (the joke back seats of the 911) to the other extreme.

      • 0 avatar

        Jack, Michael,

        Where would the Jaguars fit in?

      • 0 avatar
        mopar4wd

        This winter while working at a local body shop they had two customers with Panameras one 4s and one Turbo. Both owners also owned 911’s The younger owner with the 4S owned a Late 90’s 911 Turbo and used the Panamera as a DD and driving the kids to school. The other was a Pensioner (as they would say on top gear) and also used his as a DD his 911 was a race prepped late 80’s model used for local auto cross events.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    “Name a car with no visible model designation inside or out.”

    Two:
    Ford Mustang
    VW Beetle

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      You mean other than the ton of Mustang silhouttes on them, and now the “5.0” emblems on the sides of those equipped with said engine?

      • 0 avatar
        KitaIkki

        Yes. But no MUSTANG text anywhere on the stock car. (The optional side stripe sticker and door kick plate don’t count)

        The Mustang GT 5.0 doesn’t even have many horse emblems. They are mostly replaced by “GT” badges. The base GT has the Ford blue oval on the wheel center cap.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    While I enjoy many of your turns of phrase (such as “fruit-fly-lifespan” as a compound modifier), there is a problem with “ipecacian” in that it’s unclear how you intend it to be pronounced. If you intend “ip-a-khaki-an” (rather than “ip-a-cay-tion”), you might consider adding a “k” after the “ipecac”; there’s no shame in it – the same is done when changing (for example) “mimic” to “mimicked.”

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    There is a guy who lives in my building who has a BMW with an M badge on it. Kinda misplaced too. And he left the “316i” badge on it as well. I chuckle every time I see it.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    A visit to the Porsche dealer, or even the Web site, will remind you that Porsche has always been quite capable of producing look-at-me cars festooned with spoilers, stripes, carbon-fiber valve caps, etc.

  • avatar
    Mark_MB750M

    Perhaps they want to distinguish between the 911 and the Cayman/Boxster? The hardtops, to me, are very similar looking.

    Regarding the badge delete, when we were ordering our company car in Sweden, I asked who would bother removing the model designation from their Volvo. The answer I got was not to make others think they didn’t get the base model – Swedes don’t want their neighbors to know that they could afford the top model (hence deleting the T5/T6/R badge). Lagom, and all that.

    I don’t recall if the badge delete also removed ‘Volvo’ and ‘V70’ as well.

  • avatar
    JessicaGottlieb

    Thanks for the shoutout Jack. This post leaves me embarrassed to admit that I came ThisClose to buying the Panamera because I liked the idea of getting all the soccer and Little League gear in the trunk.

    Now I’ve just got to send a waxer over to Germany so they can get all the hair off their ass.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Your constant refusal to accept my explicit SMS messages means this is the only method I have of reaching you. As John Mayer says, “Please don’t hang up this time.”

      Yours truly,

      The Guy You Had The Nerve To File A Restraining Order Against.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      It worked – I looked at your site and learnt stuff I had never even thought about. Will let my wife know of your site.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    If you were REALLY in the know in the 90’s, you were ADDING badges to your car. God forbid someone assumed your M-car was anything but.

    Also, I added the Cossie mark to my 190e – not that anyone outside of this forum would know the difference/ what it means…

  • avatar
    bags

    ok – here’s my theory –

    a while ago, someone suggested (here, I think, but my attention span is short) that Porsche needs to distinguish between the “entry level” core 911 and the oh-my-god-they-want-how-much-to-make-it-a-special-edition? 911s. How ’bout the actually call one model the 911 and the premium versions Carrera.

    Just wingin’ it out there . . .

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I had the “D” sticker on both my 1980 Fiesta and my 1989 VW Cab, but there was little point in pulling the badging off because 1) it left all those nasty push-nut holes in the class-A, and 2) with those cars there is really no point in trying to fool anybody!

  • avatar
    Samir

    Great write-up, Jack.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Debadging is cooler when you can get creative with it, like removing the “TO” and “TA” from the tailgate of your Toyota pickup. Altho that became lame once it was overdone.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I’m thinking this might have something to do with Porsche’s desire to get its growth from emerging countries where people might have heard of Porsches (and that they’re awesome and expensive cars), but have no idea what they’re actually looked like. Thus owners will not gain the prestige and status they yearn from owning such an awesome and expensive car without the badges. People like Mr. Baruth who I assume bought the porsche because of its handling qualities and feel and presumably despite its status and prestige and cost of ownership, of course will not be pleased.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I think it is somewhat of a good thing that Porsches are known for more than 911s. The Panamera/Cayenne are abominations, but they enable all the 911 variations that should have been Caymen/Boxsters.

    Plus let’s be honest, Porsches, like any expensive sports cars, have attracted their fair share of douchebags… they are in the business of making money… so why not cash in on the stupidity of people willing to buy double priced Touaregs to have a Porsche badge without the “hassles” of driving a sports car?

    I don’t blame them one bit.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    So double-handshaker is reference to paddle-shifters?

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