The Most Useless Car Badges Show How Out Of Touch Carmakers Once Were

Photo: Ebay

Car badges are often meaningless bullshit decorations designed to dazzle buyers and impress onlookers with things that are mostly pretty normal. Some offenders are worse than others, however. Here are some of the ones that really grind my gears.


I’m going to go with the displacement badge on the early fifth-generation Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with displacement badges on some vehicles, especially if they’re on sports cars or serve a distinct purpose. Sometimes it’s nice to brag that your 1966 Mustang has a 289 V8 under the hood instead of the weak-sauce 200 cubic-inch inline-six.

But on a minivan? Seriously, nobody cares. Especially not the owners of these things, who are almost certainly not saying “Hey honey, it looks like the swept volume of the six pistons in this minivan is 4.0-liters! Wow, that’s a lot. We should show the world.”

In reality, most minivan owners (and car owners in general, if we’re honest) have no clue what the heck that number means.


What’s worse is when there’s a displacement badge on a car with a severely under-powered engine, and only a single engine option anyway—like that Jeep Liberty above.

First off, you shouldn’t be bragging about that boat anchor 3.7-liter, and second off—unlike in that 289 Mustang example I gave above— there’s no other engine option! You’re not trying to tell the world “hey, I got the bigger motor.” Instead, all you’re basically just saying “Hey, this car has an engine. THE engine.”



This Ford Taurus Badge says “24 DOHC”

Then there’s the fourth generation Ford Taurus wagon, which has a nice, prominent “24V DOHC” badge on the left front fender. What?

What kind of wagon buyer wants to tell the world how many valves there are in the cylinder head that allow the timely intake of a fuel/air mixture, and the timely expulsion of hot exhaust gases?


And “DOHC?” I mean, who cares how many lobe-adorned cylindrical shafts there are in the engine, much less that they’re positioned above the cylinder head?

On a sports car with really advanced technology, I could see why you’d want to boast about technical wizardry with a badge. But 24 valves was nothing to brag about in the early 2000s, and neither were “dual overhead cams.” Plus, nobody cared. I mean, Ford might as well have put “5W-20" or “P215/60/R16” badges on the car. Luckily, bragging about overhead cams and fuel injection largely went out of style 20 years ago.


Because ultimately, to the customers who buy these cars—the only people who matter—these badges are utterly useless. And the fact that automakers didn’t think that way just goes to show how out of touch they were.

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About the author

David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio