Flash your badge


When you’re driving a Mustang with this badge on it, no one needs to ask if the thing goes fast.

Badges are a car’s subtle way of sending the message that its trim level – and the experience that comes with it – is something special (‘Sport’), something really special (AMG, SHO), or something perfect for a rental lot (LS, LT).

In the case of the Mustang, that badge signifies that an awful lot of muscle lies dormant under the hood, just waiting to impress. Never was that badge more significant than in the 80s, when having anything other than this symbol on your fender meant you were the proud owner of 88 Fairmont-worthy horses.

Unfortunately, the enduring tradition of automotive badges has given rise to an unusual phenomenon that is inexplicable, confusing, and incredibly lame.

I’m talking about badges that don’t match the car.

"Yeah, it's the Echo TRD - it goes faster than a regular Echo. Don't act like you're not impressed."

“Yeah, it’s the Echo TRD – it goes faster than a regular Echo. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.”

The rolling lie seen above is a perfect example. With the simple addition of a Toyota Racing Department badge pried off a much more capable vehicle, this driver is deceitfully declaring to the world that his vehicle is something more than a numb, 108-horsepower sub-compact.

Anyone with a basic knowledge of cars knows that this claim is a complete crock, so why go through with it? Why does the owner of any Pontiac Sunfire GTO or Ford Focus 5.0 mystery car do what they do?

Then again, how can we explain the explosive fad of Spoilers On Everything that plagued the automotive landscape around the turn of the century – an era that also saw hubcaps and sideview mirrors on Camrys and Accords painted yellow, because yellow = speed (?!)

Both phenomena are identical in theory – dress up an underperforming car to give the illusion of hidden performance. A 3 dressed up as a 9, if you will.

Sure, badge swapping is more subtle than mounting a sky-high wing on a ’97 Crown Vic LX, but it’s no less lame. If your car can’t cash the cheque your new badge writes, you’re just a moron.

And your friends aren’t impressed.