By on December 4, 2015
Persian Conversian

A Photoshop vision of the future.

The practice of removing a car’s emblems, or upgrading the emblems to a higher-line model, probably dates back to all the 1960s Mustangs sporting “289 High Performance” fender tags despite having lesser powerplants under their hoods.

Los Angeles-area high-line dealers were the first to nickname the current generation of rebadged and debadged vehicles as “Persian Conversions,” although the trend is not limited to any one specific demographic. We covered this phenomenon in these pages a couple of years ago.

Amazingly, it look likes we now have the first factory-backed badge-removal option.
To presumably save their owners the floss-and-hair dryer hassle of doing the job themselves, Mercedes-Benz USA will now allow you to order a no-cost “Badge Deletion” option on the 2016 C63 sedan, GLA 45 CUV and AMG GT. Specifically, these cars will have their model name and “AMG” tag deleted from the trunk  — only the three-pointed star symbol will remain — and the C63 will also have the “AMG” emblems removed from its fenders.

(Error Message to MBUSA: On the C63 page on your website, the option description says “Let your AMG C450’s performance do the talking with the discreet deletion of its rear decklid model emblems.” No such option is shown on the AMG C450 page.)

Give Mercedes-Benz credit for reacting to a trend before any of its competitors. They obviously do not endorse any rebadge-engineering by customers, but since it happens anyway, why not charge $100 for the deletion option on the entry models like the C300 and charge them $250 for a C63 emblem through the dealers’ parts departments instead of the current $25?

325i to M3 Conversion Courtesy

Classic BMW rebadge engineering: look close to see the shadow of the old 325i emblem.

You have to wonder about the motivation of these posers, like the owner of the above Bimmer. Do they not realize that 99 percent of the population (OK, maybe 90 percent in LA) do not know or care about the price and prestige difference between a 325i and an M3? Upgrading emblems may be, um, emblematic of some sort of personal shortcoming.

Perhaps some customers are annoyed by the fact that a lot of hi-po German hot rods already look nearly identical to the entry-level variants, so why not debadge simply for a cleaner look? A few years back, some high-end Audi owners in Germany were removing their emblems in order to disguise their wealth. I doubt that is the case here in America, and again most observers would have not know the difference.

In Southern California, debadging and rebadging is so widespread that we must conclude that the reason is nothing more than some drivers just wanting to be like the cool kids.

I say let’s end all this madness and bring back the dealer-installed gold-plated emblems from 1980s-era Honda Accords!

We can’t wait to hear about the first AMG enthusiast to order this option and wait eight weeks for the car to arrive, only to discover that the dealer’s make ready department had bolted a metal “XYZ Mercedes-Benz” emblem in the space where a deleted tag once stood.

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74 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz Offering ‘Persian Conversion’ Option...”

  • avatar

    BMW and Porsche have been offering factory badge deletes for at least the last 15 years. First time I saw it on the option sheet was when I was ordering my new E39 M5. Nothing new here, other than the racial stereotyping.

  • avatar

    Here is the source article from the New York Times:

    It’s not just Audi it’s all high end manufactures in Europe.

  • avatar
    B Buckner

    My father was a Mercedes Benz mechanic from the ’60s through the ’80s. Customers came in all the time to “upgrade” their badges. He thought it was funny, I think it is a bit pathetic.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree 100%. I wouldnt dare put SHO, SVT, SVO, ST or any other badges that do not apply to my car on it.

      The trend of “upgrading badges” is quite pathetic. There is only one reason to do it, and its idiotic. Honda “tuners” are some of the worst. Type R or Si badges on their 4 door Civic LX with an automatic. So stupid. V-8/5.0, GT or other add ons to Mustangs are equally as stupid.

      Doing a REAL upgrade is fine, like me putting black LX leather interior in my Taurus GL. When its painted and ready for new side molding badges, it wont say LX. It wont say GL either, itll just be a “TAURUS” script with no trim designation on both front doors. So, I guess that’ll qualify as debadging, except the only part missing would be the trim.

      Id was thinking of getting some “3.0L” badges from a base model Windstar to put on the front fenders of my Taurus. I also plan to get a vanity plate that will say “3L AX4N” lol. Laugh if you must, but I think itll be great. I had “TEMPOLX” on my 92 Tempo LX V-6. Still have the plate, but I regret not having kept the car. Cant believe I was so stupid to get rid of it. Oh well, nothing can be done now, except to appreciate and be thankful for my Taurus.

      I want to order ZEPHYR badges from an 06 Lincoln to put on my next Mercury Zephyr. I want them on the belt line of the front door, similar to how first and second gem Taurus has it, along with the actual 06 Lincoln Zephyr the badges were designed for.

      It irritates me to see badges missing, not real or are covered up. If its a car I really like, I’d want MORE badges, not less.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Remember when gold plated badges, hood ornaments and grilles were the rage? At least that ship has sailed.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey I liked those…

    • 0 avatar

      You speak for yourself. They look great on some cars!

      That being said, I don’t recall many 80’s Accords with gold badges, ever. Cadillac offered the Gold Package through at least 1999 or early 00’s. Those were real 24K plated badges on there.

      • 0 avatar

        Gold packages (whether 24K or 0K) were awful at the time and remain so. Even on Broughamtastic rides, but especially on Lexi and Acuras where they seemed to be most common here on the far coast.

        • 0 avatar

          Young man, you won’t get far in life with that negative-Brougham attitude!

        • 0 avatar

          Agreed 100% dal.

          Real or not, its pretentious and worthless IMO. Especially idiotic on a base Camry (or similar) with freakin steelies and poverty caps. What is the point? Id rather have alloy wheels, a tasteful little spoiler on the decklid, vent visors for the door windows or something like that because it’d be a REAL upgrade, not a fake one designed only to pretend the thing is something more luxurious that what it is.

        • 0 avatar

          I see “Gold Packages” on late model Nissans around here quite a bit. Perhaps one of the local dealers is still using that as a way to fleece customers?

      • 0 avatar

        So if you have a 90s Cadillac with gold emblems they’re legit gold? Neat!

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Looks like I just stepped deep in Brougham. Sorry, folks.

    • 0 avatar

      HAHA. My 1991 LS400 has the gold emblem option. I never cared for them, but also never hated them — the plating has actually held up amazingly well over the years.

      I was stopped at a light the other day and a little kid in the crosswalk walked by staring with the little ‘wow’ face and pointing out to gold ‘L’ badge to her mom. Made me laugh because the rest of the car is basically at the Cars for Kidneys stage of its life.

      I thought they looked good on some cars. There used to be a burgundy 560SEL with all gold emblems that I always saw around, I thought they looked good on that.

  • avatar

    It was probably most notable on 1st gen Cayennes. No need to advertise that your truck had the weak-sauce V-6.

    Also, a gold badge revival would be fantastic. I always thought Acura Legends looked pretty good with them.

  • avatar

    “You have to wonder about the motivation of these posers, like the owner of the above Bimmer.”

    I put a TRD badge above the 4wd emblem on my Highlander but it was purely tongue in cheek. It seems that in my area 75% of the Tacomas were sold with the “TRD package” and I didn’t want to feel left out of the craze. :-P

  • avatar

    The worst example of wrong-badge I’ve ever seen was a gen 1 Avalon with Lexus badges and ES300 on the back. But still had Avalon wheels.

    I’m not surprised someone from Indiana did that (and poorly) along with the Altezza Pep Boys lights. This happens frequently there, as do bro dozer trucks.

    Yesterday I saw a regular 328, which someone had replaced the trunk lid (?) to get to look like something special. It had a built in ducktail spoiler. Looked like a WTF to me.

    Some cars truly look good with gold badges. The new Avalon is one of them, especially with that purple paint color.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “Some cars truly look good with gold badges.”

      I still secretly lust for a metallic green or candy apple red Lexus SC400, or bright red Acura Legend coupe, with gold badges.

    • 0 avatar

      I took my car in for a new mufflah yesterday and the car in front of mine was an F30 BMW 328i; just like the photo above, the “328i” badge had been removed and replaced with an M3 badge, only they couldn’t even bother to stick it over where the old one was, much less get it level.

      Bitch, please.

  • avatar

    If I paid for an AMG Merc or an M3 I’d have the darn thing plastered with badges… and stickers too! However I understand why many like the idea of flying under the radar.

    The VeeDub crowd has been doing the badge delete thing for awhile too, mostly because those that got the 2.slow were so upset at their decision. Several people also do the black out thing, were they turn the chrome badges into flat, matte black so they are not so bling-y. What is really great is the Acura guys that put the red JDM Honda badges back on. I’ve seen some of the Z guys remove the 350Z and replace it with Z33 which is the car’s Nissan code.

    At PepBoys you can buy any letter and number combination you want. I’ve seen several people with their name as a badge, like BMW made a “Fred” model – Really? So silly, especially since they are almost all put on badly, like the wrong angle or improper spacing (kerning).

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Growing up in Ireland in the eighties, people would buy four cylinder 316s and order badge delete hoping that people thought they had the “real” six cylinder 320s. The single vs. double tailpipe was the giveaway.
    Later, I had a restaurant supplier friend who ran a fleet of tinny, delicate Renault vans. He wanted to switch to MB but was concerned that his customers would think he was making too much money with his fancy vans!

  • avatar

    sad but no surprise and as for the gold revival no thanks never saw one emblem look better in gold than silver and I have passed on cars with them, those cars seem to always have cheap tires on them, were they sold as a package deal?

  • avatar

    My TDI is debadged, I’d like to put Skoda or Seat Emblems on the front and back, but that takes a little more than Badge Engineering. I remember when folks would put Vento or Bora emblems on Jettas for the truly geeky.

  • avatar

    In the 80s, there was a BMW 5 series predecessor badged as a Bavaria in the US. The Germans had to buy the badge themselves as it wasn’t available on DM cars. Meanwhile, at least one was advertised in the used car ads as a BMW Bulgaria. 3D printing might make that badge substitute possible today.

  • avatar

    I had no idea this was a “thing”, but it explains something that was kind of bugging me. Yesterday, I was driving behind a BMW “M7Li” for about 5 minutes in city traffic, so I had a good amount of time to check it out. First, I thought “Huh, I didn’t know BMW made an M7”. There’s the B7, but this wasn’t that. Then I noticed that there was extra chrome all over the body, enough that if it hadn’t been the late afternoon, I would have been blinded by all the reflections. So I figured someone had done some work on it, which, OK, sure, chrome isn’t my thing, but whatever makes you happy. *Then* I noticed that the M7Li badge was crooked–noticeably higher on the left than on the right, which made me think that whatever shop they used didn’t exactly pay the most attention to detail. But no, it was probably just some guy who decided to pull his badge and create an entirely new model of BMW. If you’re going to fake something, you should at least take the time and make the effort to fake it well.

  • avatar

    Mercedes offered some sort of AMG “Sport” dealer package on plain jane Yuppie-lease C300s, my friend dated a girl with one at Cornell. She was from Long Island, it was all painfully stereotypical. From what I could tell the package amounted to a sticker and… not much else? Audi has their “S-line” badges that hint at the car being an “S” series vehicle but at least that package includes some suspension/wheel/seat tweaks.

    I remember now, and it’s even more obnoxious. I guess she just had a regular “sport” edition, but the dealership, Rallye Motorsports in Roslyn, affixed a pseudo dealer badge on the back that had “AMG” and a much smaller “Rallye” written underneath. Cringeworthy or genius move by the dealer, I can’t even say.

  • avatar

    Whenever I see a “debadged” car I just assume that the owners ashamed of whatever car they have. I mostly see this on older beat up cars (Honda in paticular).

    I never thought that so many Mercedes owners would actually be ashamed of having a Benz.

    • 0 avatar

      No, sometimes the badge is a distraction to the lines of the car. I removed the silly stingray fish of the side of my car and it is all the better for it. Look at the last gen Camry, with the lettering on an angle following the crease in the trunklid. Looks terrible.

  • avatar
    Christian Gulliksen

    I had a neighbor in Europe who added V12 badges to his S-Class without removing the 300 SD from his trunk lid. I always thought that was sort of charming.

    My motivation in de-badging a car — and that’s exactly what I’d do if I could afford an E63 wagon — would be to lessen attention from law enforcement.

  • avatar

    Search for “Porsche M498” … that’s the badge delete option number for cars in the 1980s. While Porsche is infamous for exorbitantly expensive options, I think this one is actually free!

    My Cayman S has the dual tailpipes, but I think you could order it with the single tailpipe from the non-S if you so chose.

  • avatar

    I’ve considered badge alteration at times.

    The Camry V6LE would have been much more appropriate as the Camry VOLE, considering the timid drivers who chose a Camry as the safest car to drive around at half the posted speed limit while randomly hitting the brakes in case something should be about to happen.

    And that new Mercedes Benz GLC is just begging for a badge from an old Mazda…

  • avatar

    Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!

  • avatar

    I can almost understand advertising your engine size, but who the hell cares if you car drives 2 wheels or 4? (Ie. “4MATIC”)

  • avatar

    My work blocks this page, but it used to contain some great examples of rebadging gone wrong, like vtec stickers on a Toyota:

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, I know it’s friday and my brain may be fried, but isn’t this the exact opposite of badge posing?

    The cars they listed are top of the line AMG models. How is debadging an AMG GT posing?

    • 0 avatar

      Debadging like this is a kind of reverse prestige, an inside nod to other’cognoscenti’ would recognize the product.

      A while back I saw an article where people debadged Rolex watches, to display, I guess, that they had no interest in impressing the prols.

  • avatar

    Can you get an AMG badge to fit on your M3?

  • avatar

    There’s a Camry in my neighborhood with a Turbo badge on the deck lid.

  • avatar

    I put a Mercedes “Diesel” emblem on the trunk lid of the street/strip Mustang I used to own. Looked factory.

  • avatar

    When Sprinter vans were sold at Freightliner dealers, lots of those miraculously got MB grilles with the 3 pointed star. There’s a funeral home in Cincinnati that has a couple of Chrysler Town & Country vans converted into mini-hearses, with Mercedes grilles…cheesy, but their “urban” clientele doesn’t seem to care.

  • avatar

    I’m semi-guilty of this. A few years ago I had bought a new Sierra Denali. I also had a pretty beat up Nissan Hardbody pickup that I drove to work, because I worked next to a shipyard and didn’t want overspray on my new truck.

    So I did the only logical thing I could think of, put Denali badges on the old beat up Hardbody.

  • avatar

    I much prefer the look of a debadged German car with the automaker’s logo sitting square in the middle with no junk to the side.

  • avatar

    I’m a fan of removing trim level badges, I think they just look stupid. My b-body wagons I debadged completely, they looked much better without them. Badges these days aren’t as bad which each letter being applied separately as opposed to it being all one ugly piece.

    I’ll add an exception to sports cars where the trim level is part of the vehicle’s identity. For example SS is important to Camaro, but LTZ is not to an Impala; its just a bit of showing off that you bought the most expensive one. SS badges stays, LTZ badges go.

    I really despise German cars and their serial number names. Its like if Samsung called the Galaxy S6 a SM-G920F. Those would come off instantly. AMD and M badging can stay.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not just badges, Americans add other stuff to make their cars look like something they’re not. I’ll never forget the Plymouth Horizon with the kidney grille of an old BMW 2002 expertly grafted on it. The kid who did it wasn’t fooling anybody, except maybe the girl he was dating.

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