The 12 Most Crazy Rebadged Cars.
Most everyone is familiar with rebadged cars: a car manufacturer has extra capacity to make one of its vehicles and another doesn't have a car in that category, so manufacturer A slaps a new badge on its car and sells it to manufacturer B to sell through its dealer network. Some of these are naturals, like the new Scion xA is a rebadged Mazda2 sedan (we don't see the Mazda2 sedan here in the US). Others are a little strange, and some are outright crazy.
1. Buick Opel GT
What could be less suited for the staid, semi-luxury Buick brand? Try a mini-compact two-seater sports car from Europe. With a 67 horsepower four-cylinder engine or an optional 102 horsepower engine (later strangled down by emissions control to 83 horsepower), this was not a Corvette performer as much as it was penned to look like a 1968 Stingray. To add the final insult, General Motors didn't even change the name. It started as an Opel GT in Europe and was sold as a Buick Opel GT. Sold from 1968 to 1973.
2. Saab 9-7X
What could be less Saab-like than a body-on-frame large sport utility? How about an optional pushrod V8 engine? The Saab 9-7X started out as a Chevrolet Trailblazer sport utility. Base models had a GM inline six cylinder all the way up to Aero models which got a Corvette-sourced 6.0 liter V8 with 390 horsepower. All 9-7X models had standard all-wheel-drive, otherwise this anti-Saab also would have featured rear-wheel-drive, something no Saab ever had. Of course it wasn't made in Sweden, but came from the same factory as its brother Buicks, Oldsmobiles, GMCs and Chevrolets. It was also the only seven-passenger vehicle Saab ever
made sold. Sold from 2005 to 2009 in the United States and various other markets, including Bulgaria, Chile, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Netherlands, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.
3. Toyota Cavalier
What? Yes, GM and Toyota conspired to badge engineer a lowly Chevrolet Cavalier and sell it as a Toyota. "But, why have I never seen one?" you ask? That's because Toyota and GM actually had the audacity to sell this weird rebadging in Japan. Both two-door and four-door models were sold only with the 2.4-liter four cylinder engine that was the highest option back in the States. The Toyota Cavalier was equipped with right hand drive for the Japanese market as well as a few other tweaks. Sold in Japan from 1995 - 2000.
4. Cadillac Cimarron
Speaking of Cavaliers, is it more conceivable that one was rebadged as a Toyota or a Cadillac? Unlike most tragic badge-engineering jobs, the Cadillac Cimarron was planned from the beginning as a sibling to the new 1981 Chevrolet Cavalier. It was supposed to wait until it was fully baked but it was decided to rush it into production for the 1982 model year. It initially came with a four-cylinder engine, and a V6 wasn't offered until the 1985 model year. The sad failure that was the Cimarron ended with the 1988 model year. Fun fact: the Cimarron was the first Cadillac to offer a manual transmission in a Cadillac since 1953, and the last one until the CTS-V hot rod came out in 2004. Cimarron was the first Cadillac 4-cylinder since 1914 and would be the last until the 2013 ATS.
5. Pontiac LeMans
Pontiac LeMans, a car from a performance division of General Motors named after a famous race track. The LeMans everyone remembers was a corporate twin to the Chevrolet Chevelle and the basis for the GTO, the first muscle car. This LeMans is a Korean subcompact from Daewoo Motors, a company that GM would later buy when it was in financial trouble. Its largest engine, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder it shared with the Pontiac Sunbird, only made 96 horsepower. Sold in the U.S. from 1988 until 1993 when poor quality killed it.
6. Mitsubishi Raider
A car is usually rebadged for another entity because the manufacturer has extra capacity and the seller has a hole in their lineup. In the case of the Mitsubishi Raider, Dodge had a lot of extra capacity for the Dakota and Mitsubishi had no small pickup after its Mighty Max was no longer able to be imported due to high truck import taxes and its inability to meet newer U.S. crash regulations after 1996. Sadly for both, the Dakota had extra capacity available because DaimlerChrysler had turned it into a bloated, heavy fuel hog with no extra useable space than the original light, perfectly sized original. Sold from 2005 to 2009, this model sold very poorly (2935 sold in all of 2008). The overall history of the Raider is so convoluted it is easily one of the craziest rebadges in history: From 1979 to 1994 Dodge sold a truck made by Mitsubishi, called the D50. This was a rebadged Mitsubishi Triton/Mighty Max compact pickup. From 1987 to 1989 Dodge sold a small two-door sport utility called the Dodge Raider. This was a rebadged Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero. Finally the Mitsubishi Raider comes in 2005, a rebadged Dodge pickup with the name of a rebadged Mitsubishi spot utility sold as a Dodge, a company that once rebadged a Mitsubishi pickup as a Dodge. (whew!)
7. Acura SLX
What Acura had in 1996 was a reputation for sterling (who gets this pun?) quality and reliability. What they did not have was a sport utility. So, they traded one for the other by rebadging an Isuzu Trooper and calling it the Acura SLX. Sold from model year 1996 until 1999. Besides poor reliability, they were rated "Not Acceptable" by Consumer Reports, who accused them of rolling over easily.
8. Honda Passport
Soichiro Honda didn't like trucks. Honda's founder got started into business making piston rings for Toyota. After the war he began manufacturing motorcycles. It is interesting to note that Honda waited until after Yoichiro died to start badging Isuzu Rodeo compact sport utilities as Honda Passports. Like the Acura SLX, the Passport was the least reliable vehicle to wear a Honda badge at the time.
9. Infiniti Q30/QX30
Nissan and Mercedes are now sharing stuff. Okay. This sporty compact hatchback is really a Mercedes GLA, itself based on the CLA, itself based on the A-Class which is only sold in the United States with an all-electric powertrain. Nissan completely supplied the sheet metal and most of the interior. The stalks for turn signals, cruise control and wipers are all pure MB. What's weirder than Infiniti borrowing a Mercedes model? It's front-wheel-drive.
10. GMC Caballero/Sprint
Okay, this one is just here because Caballero is a ridiculous name. I can just see that meeting: "GMC dealer council demands a version of the Chevy El Camino! It's a truck and we want it!" "What shall we call it?" "Don't care, just send it over!" Of course the El Camino was the first crossover. It was based on a car chassis, the Chevelle/Malibu and later the Caprice; they even shared the same grille, making a GMC version even more ridiculous. Its previous name, "Sprint," wasn't much better.
11. Lincoln Blackwood
The Blackwood was just plain ridiculous: a luxury truck with a bed lined in carpet and stainless steel that would scratch or stain if you put anything in it. Unlike the Cadillac Escalade EXT it competed with it didn't offer all-wheel-drive, making it worthless in Northern climates. Its 41 cubic foot bed was so tiny it was smaller than a Dodge Dakota long bed. It could only carry four passengers with its front and rear captains chairs. And of course, a Ford F-150 was thousands of dollars less. It was only offered in the United States for the 2002 model year.
12. Dodge Monaco
No, not this one. This one. A horrible remnant forced on Chrysler by a contract between AMC and Renault before Chrysler bought the former required this joint venture to be built in Canada. Using a Peugeot, Renault, Volvo V6 engine which none of those three companies wanted, this ungainly, unreliable, unattractive car was sold as an Eagle Premier through previous AMC dealerships, but realizing they would never sell enough to fulfill their contract, Chrysler rebadged them as Dodges, giving them one of the brands most venerable nameplates: Monaco. At one point Dodge dealerships were offered $6000 in incentives to put these in unsuspecting people's driveways. Sold for the 1990 - 1992 model years. Interesting note: the first generation LH cars (Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, Eagle Vision) inherited this cars unusual longitudinal front-wheel-drive powertrain and its hood release on the driver's side floor to save money in retooling the Canadian factory that they inherited from AMC.