I’ve always been strangely fascinated by badge-engineered cars. Badge engineering can undeniably dilute a brand’s image, but in certain cases it also leads to obscure cars that only the geekiest car enthusiasts still remember. The Kia Elan that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago is a good example of that, so is the Honda Crossroad, the Volkswagen Taro and the Alfa Romeo A15n. Did you know the Mercedes G was sold as a Panhard?
We’ve veered a little off topic because the VPS isn’t a classic by any means, it was introduced a decade ago. What do you think is the oddest, most off-beat badge-engineered classic car and/or truck?
One that future generations will write about is the Lancia Thema that was phased out recently. The heritage-laced nameplate doesn’t fool anyone, the Thema is a re-badged Chrysler 300. However, the 300 rides on the LX platform that uses a number of Mercedes w211- and w220-sourced components because it was developed in the Daimler-Chrysler era.