“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

As I walked through the rows of cars Saturday morning at Cars&Coffee, it dawned on me that regardless of the makes or models present, each and every car to one degree or another possessed an often overlooked detail; vehicle graphics, be it dimensional manufacturers badges or applied decal/vinyl graphics. And in addition to these basic badges, a large percentage of these cars also displayed secondary ID in the form of car club badges, installed on either vehicle grills or on badge bars (i.e. driving light bars), typically mounted at the front of the car.

If one takes a historical look back at the creation of the automobile, the coachbuilders and subsequent manufacturers soon recognized the value of marking their cars to identify their origins and over time used these emblems or badges as a tool to differentiate between brands and models. Manufacturers also shifted their design focus over to the creation of vehicle radiator caps and hood emblems; starting out as a functional component and over time evolving into visual brand markers.

Vintage Bentley radiator cap and badge_ Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Contemporary Bentley hood emblem_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Contemporary Bentley trunk emblem_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

With the arrival of the automobile, and as public interests grew, these new passions translated into the creation of car clubs. These interests in turn created a need for member identification, thus the creation of car club badges. These became a means for the identification of specific regional club members, and provided the opportunity to commemorate specific events (club tours, driving competitions, concours events, etc). And with each new event, owners had the opportunity to add additional car club badges to their vehicles. For many of the european makes, these club badges were proudly displayed on the front grills of the cars, or if the car was equipped with driving or fog lights, the badges were secured onto the unused portions of the horizontal lighting support brackets, common to so many of the cars of the day.

Vintage Jaguar touring sedan_grill detail & badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Vintage Jaguar touring sedan_driving light detail & club badge reflections_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

It also became apparent that most vehicle manufacturers utilize a two tiered system regarding vehicle identification; a primary graphic ID (hood of front grill brand ID), along with a secondary graphic( usually found at the back of the car), and used to identify the specific models.

The following photos recount a few of the observations I’ve made on this topic…

Blue vintage Ferrari_front hood badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Yellow Ferrari_rear trunk badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Silver BMW 3.0CSI_ c- pillar BMW badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Silver BMW 3.0CSI_ rear trunk model ID_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Green Jaguar XK 150_hood emblem and grill badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Green Jaguar XK 150_rear trunk badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Silver BMW Isetta _with front badge bar_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Green Land Rover_front grill badge bar and badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Black Ford mustang_Shelby GT 500 rear badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Yellow Dino Ferrari_ rear badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Dove Blue VW type II transporter_front view_OCTO fest_2011

Burgundy Jaguar XK 150_badge and shadow_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Mercedes Benz_ grill and hood emblem_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Ivory Mercedes Benz 300SL_rear trunk lid badging_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Vintage Mercedes Benz cabriolet_grill and badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Mercedes Benz cabriolet_grill / badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Red 1980's Audi Quattro_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

White Porsche GT3 _carbon fiber hood & badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

White 1972 Porsche 911_ rear grill and badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Blue Porsche 356 SC cabriolet_rear badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Orange Porsche 914-6_rear european badging_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Dark Green Porsche 356 A_rear view grill detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Silver Porsche 356 A coupe_rear grill event badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Red Porsche 356 cabriolet_rear grill badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Black Porsche 356 coupe_rear grill badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

1973 Porsche 911T_rear grill badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Red 1964 corvette stingray coupe_rear view_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Matt black Cadillac CTS/V_rear deck badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Metallic green 1948 Chevrolet pick up truck_front grill detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

1923 Ford model T  hot rod_brass grill & radiator cap_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Primer gray 1932 Ford highboy_rear club badge & license plate_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Blue 1957 Ford thunderbird_front hood emblem_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Ivory white Volvo P1800_c pillar badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Black and red Bugatti Veyron_front grill_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Pearl white McLaren MP4-12C_rear view_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

2007 viper green Porsche GT3RS_3/4 front view_Cars&Coffee-5/28/12

Black 2012 Porsche type 991_rear view_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

And as seen above, Porsches new 2012 type 991 with its new branding design layout, reintroducing the PORSCHE copy as a dimensional element in concert with the model ID.  However, for those within the Porsche community, the concerns being voiced seem to be over branding; how much is too much? What do you think?

(All photos by the author)

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7 thoughts on ““Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

  1. Some cars like the BMW I like when owners remove the ID model leaving nothing on the back. But Porsches think it’s just more stylish model identification. There’s nothing like seeing the number 911 in the car in front of you.

  2. Excellent article, well written and insightful. Ifind that a lot of my customers either want to remove their logos, badges or emblems or completely black them out using either a matte black or carbon fiber film. Still, most of my customers are driving Hondas. Mazdas and VWs so the whole status symbol element is not at play. Thanks again for the great read and good pics.

  3. Thanks for including a pic of my RS, Chris. I totally agree, however, about the new 991 branding… it’s just too much. If they are going to use the PORSCHE copy then the model designation doesn’t need to be included. There are 18 characters on the back of that black car. 18!

    • Hi Matt,
      Thanks for the feedback, and I’m glad that you liked the shot of your car.
      In regards to the 991, I wonder if Porsche has an option delete line item for the badging?
      If so, I wonder if they are tracking the number of people that choose to remove the copy? I think that could be very telling for Porsche, if consumers decide to eliminate the excessive badging on the back of their cars… Just a thought.
      Regards,
      Chris

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