With so many huge companies possessing a multitude of car brands under their respective umbrellas, rebadging a car as something else - sometimes humorously referred to as badge engineering - is a common thing. And it’s not a bad idea, particularly if you can sell one car under a brand that’s more recognisable in a particular country.
Sometimes, though, the outcome isn’t so good. Just check out these rebadged abominations that should never have been made.
For most of us, Subaru is about all-wheel drive workhorses and - when it comes to cars like the WRX STI - be-winged rally weapons built for the road. A rebadged front-wheel drive Vauxhall/Opel Zafira MPV with a dubious bodykit doesn’t quite fit into that image. Sadly, that’s exactly what the Subaru Traviq was when it was sold in Japan from 2001-2004. Perhaps Subaru Tragic would have been more appropriate.
Think of Triumph cars, and you’ll imagine a bevy of beautiful (albeit often unreliable) motors built by British Layland; cars like the TR4, TR6, and Stag. But probably not this thing. This utterly dreary front-wheel drive saloon is actually a Honda Ballade, and was the first Japanese car to be built in the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the EU. Its existence is particularly heinous, as the Triumph Acclaim replaced the oh-so pretty Dolomite, and was also the last car to wear a Triumph badge, giving the brand a particularly depressing end.
Aston Martin touted the Cygnet as ‘a tender to a luxury yacht.’ Others saw it as a sacrilegious attempt to make a quick buck, and/or a cynical way to lower the company’s average CO2 emissions. Either way, taking a £10,000 Toyota IQ, slapping an Aston Martin face on it and adding a bit of leather was an awful, awful thing to do. When Aston pulled the plug last year after selling just 150 Cygnets, no one shed a tear.
The car above isn’t really a Rover, it’s actually a Tata. More specifically, an Indica, which Rover gave a makeover and promptly sold for twice the price of the original. The car was horribly dated, with a noisy engine and a dreadful interior. The whole project was a desperate move from the ailing company, which went bust not long after the car went on sale.
One can only assume that Cadillac itself was embarrassed by this car, as initially, it was sold as ‘Cimarron by Cadillac.’ The Cimarron was a badly-disguised Chevrolet Cavalier - a car sold in the UK as a Vauxhall - and it couldn’t hide its humble origins. That was bit of a problem considering the insulting mark-up General Motors decided to charge over the Chevy version. It didn’t sell in anything like the numbers GM had hoped, and is considered by many to be a car that almost killed the Cadillac brand off entirely.
We’re maybe cheating a little by including this car, as it never actually went into production, but if the concept is anything to go by, we’re glad it didn’t. The 9-6X is a Subaru Tribeca SUV given a decidedly goofy Saab makeover. But after Toyota bought out GM’s 20 per cent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries - the same stake responsible for joint-ventures like the Saab 9-2X and the Subaru Traviq - the project was canned before being put into production.
The Pontiac brand arguably suffered the most at the hands of General Motors’ prolific badge-engineering, but the G3 represented one final indignity for the once-great name before it disappeared for good. The G3 was originally the bargain-basement Daewoo Kalos, a car given a dizzying array of identities throughout the world when badged as anything from a Holden to a Chevrolet and even a Suzuki. The G3 met its end when GM killed off the Pontiac brand in 2010.
Hear the name ‘Chevy Nova,’ and you’ll probably have in mind the third-generation model produced from 1968-1974, which was available as the hot ‘SS’ version with a 5.7-litre V8. The fifth-gen model is a little different. Yep, this one, produced from 1985–1988, is nothing more than a rebadged front-wheel drive Toyota Corolla.
The Ford Orion is not a good car. In fact, some motoring journalists have gone so far as to call it one of the worst cars of all time. But that didn’t stop VW from glueing its badge - something which usually stands for quality - on the front of the Orion’s Brazilian cousin, the Verona. It was sold in Brazil from 1989-1992.