What does a badge say about a car? I’m not talking about the four rings on an Audi or the bow-tie on a Chevy, but the way the model name is written on the back. If it’s in block letters, is it going to be a serious and uptight car? If it’s in erratic-looking script, is it an erratic-looking car?
In the latest chapter of obsessing over seemingly minor details like window controls and squircles, I caught myself staring at the back of a third-generation Taurus the other day. You know, the really ovoid version that did so much to harm Ford’s reputation in the midsize sedan class that it took them until now to gain the ground back.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons (yes, the first one is from an Australian Taurus)
Some of it had to do with the styling, for sure, which remains laughable to this day. At the time, Ford probably thought it was fun and futuristic, perhaps why the “Taurus” badge on the back was written in exuberant script on the trunk lid. Compare it to the Taurus that followed, which was by far more restrained to look at and the letters on the back were much more upright.
Photo: Flickr/Duncan Creamer
Maybe it’s a mid-1990s thing. Every time I think of more flamboyant script on a car badge I assume it’s a late-model Plymouth. Desperate to inject some life into the moribund lineup, Chrysler Co. slapped some Expresso badges on the side of the last Plymouths. Did it make a Neon, Breeze or Voyager any more lively? In hindsight, absolutely not. Now all that "Expresso" reminds me of is a battered Plymouth Breeze abandoned on the side of the highway.
Fortunately, some things like the 911 letters haven’t changed too much over the years. Things may have changed from block letters to curves in the '80s and then got all chromed later, but the placement and theme have evolved – like the 911 – carefully. Sure, now message on the back is much longer, but otherwise it's tasteful yet not boring and it fits the car it's glued to.
Photo: General Motors
Going back to that Fiesta badge at the top: I don't think I could see it being styled many other ways. The name Fiesta blatantly implies fun and the car must have some sense of it in the details. Compare this to another car that carries a lively name, the Chevy Spark, and notice the difference. The Spark's badge on the back looks a lot like the letters used to make Sonic, Cruze, Malibu and Impala. While those grown-up characters are very fitting of the more expensive and traditional sedans in the lineup, I'd appreciate more creativity on what is otherwise a characterfully styled car.
Sure, it's a detail that's just a few inches long. But it's an example of how little things count.