Why do so many people not want others to know what they drive? So often it’s bloody obvious. A common practice is de-badging which removes everything including the makers marks, the Vauxhall, Ford or Peugeot badges etc. I’ve often wondered if some of them have watched TV police shows where they say “you’re looking for a dark blue Ford Fiesta” and they’ve thought, I can get one over on them, I’ll take all the badges off so they won’t know what kind of car it is at all. Generally though car customisers say it’s about individuality, about not caring about such superficial frippery as brands and badges. Okay. It’s definitely not about not wanting people to know they actually drive an everyday branded car, of course, which brings me onto the additions…
Image does matter to some people though to the extent that they add badges that weren’t there when the car left the factory. I’ve seen many old BMWs in particular which are clearly not M3s or M5s (the details are all wrong, I’m a car geek and make no apologies) and yet the badge on the back says 325i (petrol) when the car’s clearly a Diesel and there are M3 badges on the side, usually applied in the wrong place and at some kind of jaunty angle too – if you’re going to make out that you’ve got a higher spec car than you actually have then at least settle on one model rather than mixing two together and then find out where they’re meant to go and use some masking tape to mark out their location first – there’s this magical thing called the internet that has lots of instructions and even pictures, Google Image Search is your friend. A quick search on Ebay reveals thousands of badges that can magically transform a humble hatchback into Type R – not even just a Civic Type R but a Fiesta Type R, a Polo Type R, a C3 Type R… (glances outside at the silver car in the car park).
The best fakery I’ve seen (by which I mean the most unbelievable) was a brand-swap. It is common for people who own Smart cars to apply the badges of Smart’s parent Mercedes Benz to their cars but the association on this one was, as far as I know, non-existent. I saw a Ssangyong SUV parked and I noticed after a few moments that the badges looked odd, the owner had glued AMG badges over the Ssangyong ones, not replacing but stuck on top of the originals. I looked at the back as he drove away and the same was true at the back but then the piece de resistance… “Turbo” badges which were clearly from a Porsche, I could tell by the distinctive style of the lettering. There was another equally preposterous badge on the rear but it escapes me what it was – something like AMG’s Black Edition or something similar. Lastly I did see a 2004 Volvo V50 sporting Ferrari badges.
Finally there are the attempts to make an older car look newer – now this can have merit, it’s been done on Wheeler Dealers on TV many times including a Land Rover, a Range Rover and a Merc G-Wagen and it can even add to the resale value but another example that takes the biscuit was an Audi A3 which had the split-grille that preceded the current single, large trapezoidal one they use across the range now. In an attempt to look newer the owner had painted the silver bit of the bumper between the two grilles black, painted or removed the top chrome trim of the bottom grille and the bottom of the top grille and added stick-on silver trim at the edge of the bit he’d painted. Five stars for the idea, one star for the execution.