Badge engineering is, for some reason, one of the most absurdly satisfying things about the auto business. It’s often shameless and absurd, sure, but some painfully pedantic part of me always likes knowing that, say, a Volkswagen Taro is really a Toyota Hilux. Same car, different names, and somewhere out there is the most insane dichotomy of names for one given car.
I started thinking about this because I was thinking about the Reliant Kitten, the four-wheeled Robin that was later sold in India as the Sipani Dolphin.
It’s hard to think of two animals more different than a kitten and a dolphin – one loves fish and speaks in squeaks, one loves fish, speaks in squeaks, and keeps peeing on my goddamn rug under my desk. This difference is way more dramatic than, say, the Ford Mustang and Mercury Cougar. Both of those animals are at least roughly similar in scale, presence, and coolness when it comes to being turned into a chrome badge.
But, as I thought about other badge-engineered cars, I realized there’s even more wild divergences: take the fourth-gen GM X-body cars: you could have a Chevy Nova, a Buick Skylark, an Olds Omega, a Pontiac Phoenix, or a Buick Apollo, to name most of the almost-identical variants.
That’s a list of names for the same basic car that range from a lovely, harmless bird, to the last Greek letter, to a mythical bird of fire, to an exploding star, to a fucking god. Bird to god is a hell of a range.
I’m sure there’s plenty others, so, what the hell, it’s Friday, let’s see what we can come up with. This’ll be mildly fun, I promise!