25 Badge-Engineered Cars Way Sicker Than The Original

Badge engineering has become one of the most common practices in the automotive industry, saving the automakers money on research, design costs and in allowing the companies to spread the vehicles across a larger span of brands. The bigger picture, when it comes to automotive manufacturers, is finding brands and products that consumers will want to buy, sometimes even just off of the allure of brand loyalty. General Motors and Chrysler corporation are two of the largest competitors when it comes to badge engineering. During the '90s, these two automakers were well known for badge engineering various vehicles. Badge engineering is a great way to get an awesome car that might have some stellar performance and luxury features for half the price.

There have been several badge engineered cars that have become iconic after all of these years and the most notable is the Pontiac Firebird, which was based on the Chevrolet Camaro. There have been other successful models such as the Ford Ranger and Mazda pickup truck clones as well as the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra clones; both batches sold for decades under their respective nameplates. The art of badge engineering is no secret, but many consumers just aren’t aware of it or care. We're going to look at some of the most popular badge engineered cars to hit the market in the last few decades and what makes these cars some of the most innovative models that have come around.

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25 Chevrolet SS

Via: Bing

During the final years of the Pontiac division, the brand released the Pontiac G8, a V8 powered sedan that had a serious level of performance. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn at the time and the lack of interest in the division, the G8 was short lived and many consumers don’t even know that this car existed. The Chevy SS was also a short-lived badge-engineered version of the G8, and although the vehicle didn’t live on very long the SS managed to build up a solid following of enthusiasts. (Motor Week)

24 Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ

Via: Bing

The Subaru twins—which have become known as the Scion FRS and the Subaru BRZ—are currently the sports cars of the Toyota world and a new venture for Subaru respectively. The FRS was basically the last sports car to enter the brand in the short time before it was disbanded, and now you can buy the car as the Toyota 86 or the Subaru BRZ. The Subaru is a sheer example of how badge engineering can be done right, with a one of a kind style that infused new sports car life into the Subaru brand. (Motor Week)

23 Shelby Cobra

Via: Bing

When it comes to iconic badge engineered cars, there probably isn't one more iconic than the Shelby Cobra, a car that needs no introduction. While it's not the fastest car on the road, this one of a kind iconic classic has a style that is not comparable to anything else on the road and this has made the Shelby Cobra a collector's item. The Shelby Cobra has been badge-engineered over and over again, and in fact, there is even a market for these cars to be sold as kit cars which enables you to get your own Shelby for thousands less. (Motor Week)

22 Eagle Premier

Via: Bing

The cab-forward design that Chrysler was utilizing during the '90s for their sedans was a one of a kind style that many passenger cars couldn’t follow, and the Eagle division got one of the best variations of this body in the Eagle Premier. This was just one of the many unique cars that Chrysler spun off into the newly developed Eagle division, and although the cars were fun to drive and extremely well appointed, the brand just never managed to maintain a stronghold on the domestic market. (Motor Trend)

21 Dodge Stealth

Via: Bing

The corporate clone of the 3000GT—and perhaps the only other car around that can tackle a Turbo Supra head-on—the Dodge Stealth is one heck of a car. Upon first glance, you’ll notice that this car is almost identical to the 3000GT in style, and the performance also follows. The unique selling point here was the smooth lines and the fact that this beast of a car had a Dodge badge on it, which gave Mopar boys a viable alternative to the Camaro of the time all wrapped up in a sleek and sporty package. (Motor Trend)

20 Saab 9-2X

Via: Bing

Perhaps one of the more unique cars to come out of the last decade, the Saab 9-2X was a rather unique vehicle that came out of the last-ditch partnership between GM and Subaru. The Saab 9-2X was an attempt to try and grow the lackluster brand one last time, and the car is a stellar version of the Subaru Impreza that it's based on. Coupling a smooth exterior design with the unique Saab interior that you would expect, and everything combined to make a one of a kind car that a lot of people don’t know about. (Motor Trend)

19 Dodge Sprinter

Via: Bing

When the new decades came upon us after the '90s, the market for large gas guzzling cargo vans was diminishing, and thus, the guys at Chrysler tapped Mercedes-Benz for the usage of their stellar Sprinter Cargo vehicle. The Dodge Sprinter offered a bevy of new features and one of the things that business loved the most was the high roofline that the vehicle offered, which gave it a notable appearance that was hard to compare to other vehicles on the road other than a traditional Sprinter. (Motor Trend)

18 Opel GT

Via: Bing

This one of a kind sports car, that came out of GM during the last decade, was none other than the Opel GT. Based on the Pontiac Solstice, this beautiful looking roadster is a very rare car indeed, which makes it both hard to find and hold its value. This is perhaps one of the best-designed badge engineered roadsters on the market, and the car managed to shed its Pontiac identity for a more sedate one which gives you a one of a kind sports car that is both smooth to drive and very in-tune with the road. (Motor Trend)

17 Kia Elan

Via: Bing

Kia has been pushing the envelope for decades, especially when the brand was first trying to become established as a serious automaker. Thus, the Kia Elan was introduced to the market and this one of a kind sports car was actually a Lotus. This one of a kind badge engineered sports car is something that most people don’t even know existed, and even more unique was the fact that it was a Lotus of all things. The Kia Elan will definitely go down in history as one of the coolest badge engineered cars to come across the scene. (Motor Trend)

16 Chrysler Conquest

Via: Bing

During the early 1980s Mitsubishi was just beginning to become established in the states, and with such a small presence, the automaker needed to team up with a domestic company and they did just that with Chrysler. The Chrysler Conquest was a rebadged version of the Mitsubishi Starion and it featured a bevy of unique items that made the car a breeze to drive, the first of which was a fully digital dashboard. The Chrysler Conquest is fun to drive and very rare two-door that might even surprise the most discerning driver. (Motor Trend)

15 Honda Accord/Acura TSX

Via: Bing

When Honda brought their Acura brand into the new millennium the cars were becoming very aged and Acura needed something that was cool, fun to drive and quick. Thus, the TSX was born. Coming from the humble beginnings of a Honda Accord the TSX was a blast to drive and an even better-looking sedan to own. The model has remained a staple in the Acura lineup for a decade now and the brand looks to be improving the model consistently as time goes on adding new and unique features. (Motor Trend)

14 Suzuki Cara/Autozam AZ-1

Via: Bing

Everyone has seen the Autozam AZ-1 at least once in their life, in one form or another. The unique little sports car has featured in countless video games, tv shows and more. This unique and compact sized car has made quite the name for itself, even being owned by celebrities such as Jay Leno. The Autozam AZ-1 was known for its very compact size, which gave the car a unique look that hasn’t been matched to this day. (Motor Trend)

13 Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird

Via: Bing

Perhaps one of the most famous trios of badge engineered vehicles is the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird twins. Known for their unique looks and one of a kind engines these two cars sparked the muscle car wars with the Mustang that live true to this day. The Pontiac Firebird had its own unique set of features, such as an all-red dashboard and a more cultivated design than the Camaro. This is why the Pontiac version has always had its own fair share of fans who are loyal to the car. (Motor Trend)

12 Lotus Elise/Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220/Daewoo Speedster

Via: Bing

Daewoo is an automaker that has had its fair share of ups and downs, especially domestically, where the brand just couldn’t compete with Kia and Hyundai. The Daewoo Speedster was sold as quite a few different models during its time and is a prime example of badge engineering was done right, offering a unique combination of style and speed that you don’t usually see on such a small and affordable car model. The Daewoo Speedster is also quite rare these days, so if you manage to find one you will be in for a treat. (Motor Trend)

11 The Mitsubishi/Mopar Coupes

Via: Bing

These two-doors from the '90s needs no introduction, as they were known for their affordable combination of speed and performance. The DSM partnership, which was known as Diamond Star Motors, birthed the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Plymouth Laser and the Eagle Talon. These cars were all known for their stellar performance and one of a kind interiors and really showcased what a good case of badge engineering could bring to the table. All three cars are still stellar finds on the used car market, and enjoyable to drive. (Motor Week)

10 Mercury Capri

Via: Bing

Yes, there was a time when the Mercury brand had it's own Mustang 5.0, and it was known as the Mercury Capri. This unique sports car took most of the winning attributes of the Fox Body Mustang and combined them into a lightweight and fairly attractive package, creating a car that is still a popular choice to this day. The Mercury Capri 5.0 is highly coveted because of its unique hatchback design and the addition of the legendary 5.0 engine which is one of the best to have ever been in a Mustang. (Motor Week)

9 Pontiac G3

Via: Bing

The compact Pontiac was one of the final models to wear the legendary brand name before GM quietly retired it in 2008, and the G3 was an exciting version of the Aveo. The G3 was sold in Canada as the Wave for years and before that, it was known as the Firefly and the car always managed to bring some style to the boring compact lineup. The final years for the Pontiac G3 were tough due to a bad economy but the car is a one of a kind find that will bring a smile to your face every time you put the key in. (Motor Trend)

8 Pontiac G5

Via: Bing

Another unique offering is the Pontiac G5, which is known as the sporty version of the Chevy Cobalt. The final years were rough for this model as well because Pontiac was in disarray but there were a few special editions which gave the car some flavor and it was one of the best appointed compact cars for its time. The Pontiac G5 will go down as a valiant effort and an attempt to bring buyers back into the Pontiac showrooms one last time with a car that was unique and fun to drive. (Motor Trend)

7 Lincoln Navigator

Via: Bing

When Ford introduced the Lincoln Navigator during the latter portion of the '90s, the vehicle sold like wildfire, and every superstar, rapper and—just about anyone who wanted to be someone—had to have one. This is the car that sparked GM to slap a Cadillac crest on the Tahoe and call it an Escalade because dealerships couldn’t keep the Navigator on their showroom floors. The Lincoln Navigator is generally credited with saving the Lincoln brand, which at the time only sold a few over-sized and outdated models. (Motor Trend)

6 Cadillac XLR

Via: Bing

During the late 2000s, there was a bad economy and recession, which pulled consumers away from purchasing large SUVs, and thus GM decided to bring the Cadillac XLR to the market. This car was basically a Corvette, and with a beautifully unique body and a lightning fast engine the XLR probably could have sold better then it did if there hadn't been a recession happening at this time. The Cadillac XLR is a one of a kind vehicle in every sense of the word, and these are becoming rarer by the day. (Motor Trend)

5 Chrysler Aspen

Via: Bing

Another great vehicle that was released at the wrong time, the Chrysler Aspen took the otherwise boring Dodge Durango and added some class and comfort to it. The color combinations were also some of the best to have been seen on an SUV, and the overall vehicle was a pleasure to look at. Unfortunately, the big Chrysler was released at the wrong time and no one really knew what to think of it. These days you can find an Aspen sparsely depending on where you look, and the vehicle holds its value. (Motor Trend)

4 Chrysler Crossfire

Via: Bing

Perhaps known as one of the biggest flops of the decade, the Chrysler Crossfire was born out of a partnership between Daimler Benz and Chrysler Corporation. The Chrysler Crossfire is basically a Mercedes Benz SLK320, and the car had a number of unique features that made it stand out but a lot of consumers couldn’t get over the egg-shaped design. There was also a rare SRT version which was sold in very low numbers, but if you can manage to find one this is a very rewarding sports car that will provide years of fun. (Motor Trend)

3 Lexus SC400

Via: Bing

What happens when you take a Toyota Supra and cram a V8 into it? Well, you get the Lexus SC400. This is perhaps one of the greatest cars to come out of the nineties, and it was known for its buttery smooth ride and one of a kind performance that only a V8 can deliver. The Lexus SC400 still remains a popular choice on the used car market today, and the car has managed to hold its value incredibly well. The Lexus SC400 is known for going beyond 400k on the odometer and still running smooth. (Motor Trend)

2 Eagle Vision

Via: Bing

Another product of the Chrysler cab-forward design trio during the '90s, the Eagle Vision was the sports sedan of the future, and it offered a lot of unique features that made it a better car than the Dodge Intrepid. Offering a luxurious interior and interesting styling cues the Eagle Vision was its own car in every aspect, and these vehicles managed to sell in respectable numbers keeping the brand alive until the 1997 model year. The Eagle Vision is perhaps one of the most remarkable sedans to come out of the nineties. (Motor Trend)

1 Hummer H2

Via: Bing

Ever seen a Chevy Tahoe on steroids? Well, that was the Hummer H2. This obscene and large SUV was known as one of the hallmarks of the early 2000s, being featured in hundreds of music videos and just about everywhere that you could see one. Although the brand didn’t survive the economic downturn the Hummer H2 is still a hot commodity that will set you back quite a bit of money to get one. The Hummer H2 was based on an enhanced version of the Chevy Tahoe platform, and most of what's in the vehicle are shared with the Tahoe. (Motor Week)

Sources: Motor Trend, Motor Week

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