There's an Amazing Way to Badge Cars the Whole Industry Forgot About

Photo: Kristen Lee (Jalopnik)

Car badges are kind of like name tags. They both declare the name of the car and you can buy them and stick them to your car, thus spreading falsehoods if you so choose. And that’s fine. But I find myself thinking about a different kind of badging that automakers seem to have largely forgotten these days. I’m talking about debossing and stamping.

The immediate example that comes to mind is the Ferrari F40. The car’s name is stamped into the right side of its iconic, boxy-shaped wing, no doubt in order to save even more weight. And like a true class act, it’s only on this one side. The other side is blank. I’m all about asymmetrical details like this.


Debossing is such a great aesthetic. It doesn’t get that cruddy shit around it because you can’t clean in between the letters, and instead of using silver badge lettering, it uses light and shadows to form the letters and numbers. Ferrari didn’t even fill in the car’s name, so from far away you might not even see it. This is understated naming at its best.

Photo: Ford

These days, I’m fairly certain the Ford Ranger is one of the only cars that has its named debossed into the body. In this case, it’s in the tailgate. It’s a nice subtle touch as opposed to the screaming, silver logos that the rest of Ford’s truck use. It is pretty big, though. You could probably read “R A N G E R” from at least a quarter mile away.

There was definitely more stamping and debossing in the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s. The Ford Mustang SVT Cobra had “Cobra” pressed into its rear bumper. And look at how small those badges are! I’d never thought I’d say this, but this was a Mustang that knew how to show some restraint.

Photo: Ford

Also, the Porsche 928. Look at that class. There’s none of that silver script that Porsche currently uses here.

Photo: Porsche

And, of course, DeLorean did it, too. Here you can see the high-contrast stamping, placed cheekily on the left-hand side of the bumper. In particular, I’d like to call out the use of lower-case typeface. It’s easy to write things out in screaming all-caps, but the stylized lower-case letters perfectly capture the ‘80s aesthetic here.

Photo: DeLorean

Debossing a car admittedly does make it hard to debadge, but it also means that some yahoo can’t just order the letters off eBay and glue them to their own car. It’s tasteful and isn’t readily used, so more automakers should do it. Be different. Deboss your car.

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About the author

Kristen Lee

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.