Identity Crisis – Rebadged Cars

Rebadged or badge engineered cars have been common place on public roads for decades, with manufacturers and in some cases governments searching for ways to efficiently manage automotive production. In this article we take a look at four examples of rebadging that have been relevant to the Australian automotive landscape over recent years.

VF Holden Commodore SS – Chevrolet SS

Back in 2013 at Daytona Speedweek , a VF Commodore sporting Chevy badges was unveiled to the US public to a mostly positive reception. It’s wasn’t the first Commodore to be exported and rebadged oversees, however it will be the last. Since the late 90s, Commodores have been exported overseas in various guises. From the Chevrolet Lumina in the Middle East and South Africa, to the Omega in Brazil as well as Vauxhall and Pontiac variants in the UK and US respectively, the Commodore has been rebadged significantly over the years. The Chevrolet SS in question struggled sales-wise in the US, with the lack of a manual option drawing much criticism amongst the very automotive enthusiasts the car was intended to target. A shame really, that the Americans never truly had the chance to appreciate one of Australia’s most loved cars.

Nissan The Ute – Ford Falcon XF

The Ute was one of the simplest rebadge’s you are ever likely to see, with everything from the indicator stalk mounted horn to the grill and steering unmistakably Ford. Even under the Nissan logo on the front grill was a Ford oval shaped space. The Nissan Ute was sold as a result of the model sharing scheme known as the Button plan in the mid-late 80’s. The idea of the plan was to rationalise the Australian automotive industry by inducing car manufacturers into sharing the platforms of key cars.

Toyota Lexcen – VN Holden Commodore

Another rebadged model as a result of the Button plan was the Toyota Lexcen, which was named after Ben Lexcen, the designer of the American Cup winning ‘Australia II’ and its innovative keel design. Kind of ironic that a rebadged car, with little innovative design features, was named after a man who designed one of the most iconic innovations in Australian sporting history, isn’t it? Anyhow, the Lexcen was better received by the Australian public when compared to the Nissan/Ford of above and the Holden/Toyota model sharing scheme would last until 1997. Differences were mostly limited to the grill, badges and some minor interior changes.

 

Toyota 86 – Subaru BR-Z – Scion FR-S

Sold in Australia as the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BR-Z, and in the US at one point as the Scion FR-S, this rear-wheel drive bundle of fun is one of the more popular modern day badge swaps. Featuring design work and product planning from Toyota and engineering and production from Subaru, the 86 was Toyotas attempt at re-entering the ‘drivers car’ market, whilst the BR-Z was Subaru’s attempt at creating a rear-wheel drive to complement its felt of all wheel drive options. With a four-cylinder engine that whilst zippy won’t set the world on fire, the ‘Toyobaru’ has become a favourite amongst sports car enthusiasts looking for a solid ‘bang for your buck’ option.

 

Do you own one of these rebadged cars? Or maybe you own another rebadged ‘classic’. Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below

Back To The Future

In 30, 40, 50 years’ time, will the nostalgia and passion for classic cars remain? Rare Spares Directors Les McVeigh and Lance Corby got together with Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe to share their opinions and insights into where classic cars will fit into our future. 

In a world of rapidly advancing automotive technology, will true classics eventually die out? or will modern cars of the 80s and 90’s take their place? At what point might Australians stop restoring the cars they grew up with? Will there come a time when it becomes too technically difficult for the average car enthusiast to restore modern cars with high levels of electronics?

“I think there’ll always be an interest in classic cars, always. Where it stops, in my opinion would be when they start to get very complicated,” said John Bowe.

“Nowadays I think there is more interest in classic cars than there ever has been.”

Looking only 30-40 years ahead, Lance Corby envisions a future where classic cars remain, some from the 90’s, but many older vehicles as well. 

 “In 40 years’ time, there will still be people with classic cars on the road. Regardless of what future cars become, there will always be a percentage of people wanting something unique.”

How old does a car need to be before it holds nostalgic memories for certain owners? In 2050, will people born in the 90’s be fondly remembering the cars we’re driving today? Which models will be remembered fondly and which will be discarded?

“The rarer ones will still be the most valuable, because rarity is what drives the prices,” said John.

“Certainly I think cars of the 80’s and possibly the 90’s will become classics for years to come. I’m thinking the EB, EL, EF Falcons and similar type Commodores.”

Les believes that the VR Commodore will be one of the last models to ever be considered a classic as well as the HSV models. Two cars the Directors could both could agree on were the Holden Monaro V2, VZ 2001-2005 and Ford GT Falcon, FPV GT (produced by Ford Performance Vehicles).

“I don’t see many newer Fords that fit the profile for classic cars, but we’re still going to have the older Ford GT’s and Holden Monaros that will never be in production here again. For anyone wanting a classic Australian vehicle that will retain its value, they’ll probably be the two most popular models,” said Les. 

“The demise of Australian built Holdens and Fords will make those cars a lot more desirable, while the later model Ford and Holden imports won’t be as collectable.”

“I think we’re a nation that’s quite proud of our motoring heritage and there’s always going to be a market for the original Australian classics,” said John.

Beyond the 90’s, automotive technology has continued to advance, with hybrid technology and the move towards electric cars and vehicles that can park themselves.

If the cars of today and tomorrow were to one day become classics, aftermarket suppliers like Rare Spares would have a hard task at hand, replicating the advanced technology.

“Once they get into the new millennium, say the 2000’s on, cars become more and more complicated,” John said.

When asked if Rare Spares will adapt and eventually be producing electronic car parts, Lance said, “I don’t think so. We may, but there’s already a lot of aftermarket electronics for cars available. I don’t think we would ever be in the game of manufacturing that type of technology.”

On the future role of mechanics being likened to software engineers, he added “It’s certainly going to become a big part of their industry, but the skill set of your basic mechanic will always be needed; An engine’s still an engine. A long way down the track when you’ve got your electric cars and so on - that will change a lot of things, but our current cars still have almost all of the same components that the cars of yesterday had.”

“I don’t think that modern technology will ever stop the average Joe Blow from restoring a car in his backyard.”

Tell us what you think will be considered a classic in the future by emailing Amy at adixon@rarespares.net.au