When a car company takes another car and slaps their own emblem on it instead of making their own design, that's badge engineering. It's often shit. But here are ten exceptions to prove the rule.
America needed a classic V8 sedan and all it needed to do was call up Australia to ship 'em over. It worked so well (sarcasm) with the Pontiac G8, they did it again with the Chevy Lumina, they did it again with the Chevy Caprice and then again again with the current Chevy SS. And this is all after they ran the Holden Monaro as the Vauxhall Monaro as the Pontiac GTO as the Chevrolet Lumina Coupe, which they sold in the Middle East.
Suggested By: willkinton247 and Jarod Rose, Photo Credit: Chevrolet
How is it that we get to have a light, fun-to-drive Toyota coupe these days? Because Toyota split the development costs with their little cousin Subaru. And thus, the Toyota GT 86, the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S.
Suggested By: LWMartin, Photo Credit: Toyota
The good part is that we Americans got one of the best-looking, best-driving sedans on the market when Honda rebadged the Euro Accord as the Acura TSX (not unlike the old Nissan Primera/Infiniti G20 twins). The bad part is that it was the best Acura on sale.
Suggested By: Chairman Kaga, Photo Credit: Honda
Ever wonder how Mazda designed and built a gullwinged midengine microcar out of nowhere in the late '80s? They didn't! They got Suzuki to do it for them.
Suggested By: skphoto, Photo Credit: Suzuki
Pontiac, GM's BMW of the '60s, was straight-up pissed that they'd been clamoring for a sporty two-door all through the decade and then Chevrolet got to have one of their own. So they got to rebadge the Camaro as a Firebird, which developed into one of GM's most successful cars of the 1970s, not to mention surviving through to the 2000s.
Suggested By: Maxyenko, Photo Credit: Pontiac
This stretches the term 'badge engineering' a bit into something closer to 'platform engineering.' GM paid Lotus to develop their Mk1 Elise into a sports car for their Opel and Vauxhall brands, money which let Lotus develop the Mk2 Elise. The Lotus/Opel pair have different engines, body panels, and wheels, but are basically the same under the skin.
A similar pair to this is the VW Phaeton/Bentley Flying Spur twins.
Suggested By: DSC Off, Photo Credit: Vauxhall
Ok, let's take a deep breath before we go into all of the '80s to '90s Mitsubishis that lived on as "domestic imports" in the American Mopar brands. Mopar had been doing this since the sixties with the Colt, so it's a long relationship. Alright, here goes: Mitsubishi Starion/Chrysler Conquest, Mitsubishi Eclipse/Plymouth Laser/Eagle Talon, Mitsubishi 3000GT/Dodge Stealth. Honorable Mention goes to the Mitsubishi Celeste/Plymouth Fire Arrow.
Suggested By: MrTheEngineer and feather throttle not hair, Photo Credit: Mitsubishi via VAGDave
Ok, now we're getting into badge engineering that wasn't just cool, but actually improved the cars themselves. Brazil got what was in Germany a staid middle-class coupe and turned it into a hot rod, albeit one with a straight six. Awesome.
Suggested By: Hoccy, Photo Credit: Old Car Manuals
ChryslerCo just rebadged their Mistubishis. Malaysia's Proton made them better, as our very own SatriaFanboy explains.
This was Proton's heyday. Badge engineered from a Mitsubishi Colt. This car was powered by a Mitsubishi 4G93 N/A engine which produced 141BHP. It was tuned by Lotus and it was the most powerful car Proton ever made. Even Richard Hammond kinda liked it, lol.
Suggested By: SatriaFanboy
This is surely the greatest badge engineering of all time - it saved an entire car company, now the world's third biggest, in fact.
All through the '60s and '70s, Volkswagen was staring at its navel, trundling on with the aging rear-engine, rear-drive Beetle while its competition made great advances in front-engine, front-drive compacts. Just when it seemed like VW was entering into a downward spiral, they developed the little Audi 80 into the first VW Passat.
VW had bought Audi from Mercedes a few years earlier, and Audi had been working on front-engine, front-drive compacts for decades, all the way back to their days as DKW before the Second World War.
The Passat brought VW up to date, and paved the way for VW to develop the smaller Audi 50 hatchback into their modern bread-and-butter, the VW Golf. You can read more about this whole RR to FF switch right here on Curbside Classics. For once, badge engineering saved a company rather than doomed it to bankruptcy.
Suggested By: gzdesign, Photo Credit: Old Car Manuals
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