19 Rebadged Cars That People Won't Even Recognize

One of the more interesting areas when it comes to car design is a shared commonality. This is when manufacturers effectively cooperate to create a car that has common parts shared with its counterpart, which lowers costs and helps manufacturers produce cars quicker and perhaps more effectively too. This is a highly interesting area of car design, something that has been done quite a lot over the years, and of course, it doesn't mean that both cars are identical. They can be quite different, at least on the outside.

But that's not always the case. There's a cruder way of doing this, simply known as rebadging. It does exactly what it says on the tin: it's taking a car and slapping another badge on the front. For example, you could drive a car with the Ford badge on the front, while there's also a car basically identical to yours driving around with the Skoda badge on. Your Ford could simply be that Skoda with a different badge on it. It's crude, and, in some ways, a bit of a cheat, but they can also be successful.

It can also present a few surprises. What's listed here are a few of the various cars that have gotten rebadged over the years, many of which may be a surprise to you.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

19 Pontiac GTO/Holden Monaro

via Wikimedia

The Pontiac GTO is a much more commonplace car than that of the Carlton; therefore, you're more likely to see one wandering around on the streets. For a long time, the GTO has been one of the best muscle cars available in the United States, being a staple of the scene.

When you take a look at the newest edition of the car, however, you will find strong similarities with the Holden Monaro. In fact, the cars are so similar, the only real differences are the badges. Even the interior is virtually identical to that of the Monaro, which is quite staggering.

18 Kia Elan/Lotus Elan

via Ran When Parked

The similarities between these two cars are so much they're basically identical twins and both very attractive. The only difference between these two cars is simply the first name, but the model name remained the same. The car never made it to the U.S. but was an attempt by Kia to reach another audience by rebadging the little Lotus Elan to become the Kia Elan. The Elan was a well-thought-out sports car from the U.K., and its unique boxy shape proved popular with a large number of users.

17 Chevrolet SS/Holden Commodore

via Loomis Motorsports

The Chevrolet SS is one of the most popular cars in the Chevrolet lineup, and it was launched by the American company back in 2015. Designed to be a sportier alternative for those who wanted something along the lines of the popular Chevrolet Malibu, the car actually wasn't much of a Chevrolet at all. It's actually more akin to a Holden, specifically a Holden Commodore. Similarly to how the Pontiac GTO was rebadged, the Commodore was sold in the U.S. as the Chevrolet SS, although it's still popular despite this fact.

16 Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird

via Mecum

You may not have seen this coming; a Camaro is probably one of the most recognizable names in the U.S. muscle car scene. It's also one of the most popular as well. While it's one of the best all-around muscle cars out there, earlier generations actually featured an awful lot of rebadging. For example, the Pontiac Firebird actually shared a lot with the Camaro. For one, the chassis was the same, but of course, the badges being different from one another. Luckily, both iterations of the car proved to be very good, and the Camaro still remains popular.

15 Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86

via CNet

This is one of the more modern cars on the list, and it's funny because both cars are both very attractive and popular. The Subaru BRZ is a mean, aggressive machine, and actually shares certain qualities with a few cars, though it most closely resembles the Toyota GT86. Most of the major components are that of the GT86, including the chassis design itself. It's also surprising that the Subaru 2.0-liter boxer engine is also on the GT86, making it a cross over between the two. It's bizarre having a Subaru boxer engine in a Toyota.

14 Opel GT/1st Gen Chevrolet Corvette

via Haggerty

When you look at the Opel GT, you might get some muscle car vibes from it, even if it's toned down and more European. If you're getting those vibes, there's a reason. The Opel GT is actually the sister of the 1st generation Chevrolet Corvette, both cars being quite similar, except for the styling, which is different enough to easily tell these two cars apart. Neither one really came close to one another, although they're iconic. However, the Opel GT turned out to be a better machine than its American counterpart.

13 Honda Passport/Isuzu Rodeo

via Wikipedia

Honda wanted more ground in the United States and turned to the SUV market to help get their sales figures up. To catapult their sales figures, they create an SUV: the Honda Passport. The Passport isn't really a Honda at all though. The car was just a rebadged Isuzu Rodeo, at least in the early years, and the Rodeo sold well for Isuzu. This led to Honda joining in on the "Rodeo bandwagon," and they jumped on the opportunity to capitalize on Isuzu's success.

12 Eagle Premier/Dodge Monaco

via Barn Finds

I have only ever looked at one Eagle car before—and that was the Eagle Talon—so it's interesting to look at another one of their products: the Eagle Premier. It’s a car that, perhaps for good reason, not many can remember. It came out in a time when Dodge worked closely with the company to produce cars that shared various features. The Eagle is one of those cars. What is it really? Well, it's little more than a rebadged Dodge Monaco, and the differences between the two are there for all to see. Namely the badge, and that's pretty much it.

11 Dodge Stealth/Mitsubishi 3000GT

via Bring a Trailer

The 1990s saw a huge boom. Car companies around the globe tried their utmost to make the best sportscars they could, and some companies went above and beyond to achieve this. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of commonalities shared between companies in order to save time and cut costs. The Dodge Stealth is an example of this. The Stealth was, in reality, simply a rebadged Mitsubishi 3000GT. It had the same twin-turbo all-drive setup that the Japanese car also featured. Luckily for Dodge, the 3000GT was a great car they were able to exploit, making the Stealth a rather good car as well.

10 Saab 9-2X/Subaru WRX Wagon

via YouTube

Saab is one of the world's most loved and mourned car brands, having died out just a few years ago. The company still makes jet fighters despite going under. Saab wasn’t huge in the U.S., thus it would be odd to see a Saab 9-2X running around in New York. What's even weirder is finding out that the 9-2X isn’t really a Saab at all. The 9-2X is really a rebadged version of the Subaru WRX Wagon; it even uses the boxer turbo engine that's from the Subaru. They copied the styling too, although it's not 100 percent, as there are visible differences between the two.

9 Chrysler Conquest/Mitsubishi Starion

via Autotrader

Fans of Japanese supercars might recognize the unique styling that's featured on the Chrysler Conquest. A sporty, front engine and rear-wheel-drive car born in the early 1990s, the Conquest shared many similarities with the fabled Mitsubishi Starion. Looking at the two side by side, it's hard to tell them apart with their badges removed; these two cars look closely alike. The Starion was a great car and is still loved to this day, but nobody really spoke about the Conquest in the same vane, and that's still true to this day.

8 Audi A80/VW Passat

via eBay

This is an interesting car. Even though Audi has been around for over a century, they haven't been immune to sharing a platform with another company. One of the company's biggest counterparts was that of Volkswagen; in the 1960s and 1970s, the Audi A80 was shared out to its rival company. The result? The VW Passat. Audi put their own flair into the A80, which at least made it unique in the looks department. The chassis and engine were actually products of VW, and what initially featured in the Passat.

7 Honda/Acura TSX

via Autopark Honda

This is not as much of a drastic rebadging as other cars on the list, and it probably isn’t hard to figure out why. Why is that the case? Well, Honda and Acura are essentially the same. Therefore, the Acura TSX is not too different from what's effectively its forefather: the Honda Accord. The Accord has been a best seller in the U.S. for many years. Both it and the TSX actually share the same chassis. The TSX features a more polished and refined interior over the Accord. After all, it's the more luxurious division of the brand, but that's where the differences end.

6 Cadillac XLR/Chevrolet Corvette

via Edmunds

There's something intriguing about the Cadillac XLR's looks. It's certainly striking. The longer you look though, the more you start to see a familiar shape. Well, the XLR actually shares an awful lot with one of the best-known cars not just in America, but the entire world: the Chevrolet Corvette. The body panels are different between the two, which helps explain the Corvette's more refined and aggressive look. Underneath the cosmetics though, the two cars are very similar. The XLR is every bit a rebadged Corvette, right down to the engine.

5 Acura SLX/Isuzu Trooper

via cargurus

Now, it's fair to say that no matter what brand this is, the styling is certainly not going to win any beauty concepts. As Honda tried to boost sales with the Passport, Acura meanwhile partnered with Isuzu in an attempt to boost its own divisional sales and bring it more in line with the main Honda body. Thus, the SLX was born--except that isn’t what it is. It's actually an Isuzu Trooper, another Isuzu SUV that sold rather well, and something Acura wanted to join in on by getting on the Isuzu bandwagon. Acura just gave it a more up-to-date, luxurious feel.

4 Volkswagen Up!/Skoda Citigo

via Car Magazine

The Volkswagen Up has become one of the most popular little cars on the market, mainly for its safety, reliability and for being affordable too. Its shape is similar to other cars, however, and that's because it's a shared platform. One of those platforms it has been shared with is Skoda. Skoda used the Up as the basis for their own small and affordable car, the Citigo. Neither car is really much different from each other; the Up is probably the slightly superior vehicle over it’s Skoda counterpart.

3 Aston Martin Cygnet/Toyota or Scion IQ

via AutoExpress

There's no denying it, this duo of cars are two of the biggest mistakes out there. Aston Martin decided that, instead of making another luxurious GT or supercar, it would try and jump into the small car market. Thus, the Cygnet was born. It looked awful and wasn’t particularly special. Yet Toyota, or Scion, decided it was good and thus, the IQ variant of the car was born. Other than a couple of different brands plonked on the front and back, there was no real difference between the two, making them equally gross.

2 Chrysler Crossfire/Mercedes-Benz SLK

via Autocar

Introduced by the American company in the mid-2000s, the Chrysler Crossfire brought a very different concept to the brand. Despite a different style, the Crossfire didn’t sell well at all. Who knows if it's due to it sharing a lot of its design with the Mercedes-Benz SLK? The two designs share nearly every major component, which makes the Crossfire more European despite being designed with the U.S. market in mind. The SLK has also remained a much more popular car over the rather weak Crossfire.

1 Renault Trafic/Vauxhall Vivaro

via Bristol Street Motors

The van market sees a lot of similarities, and whilst this is a pair of vans that have not made a mark in the United States, it's still worth looking at the pair to see how different vans can be. The Renault Trafic is excellent, featuring a great interior, a car-like driving experience and very efficient diesel engines. They shared the Trafic's platform with other companies including Vauxhall, who created the Vivaro with the Trafic baseline. Both are excellent vehicles, so regardless of which badge is on the front, there's no way you could go wrong with either. The same goes for the Nissan NV300 and Fiat Talento, which are both on the Renault Trafic platform.

Sources: Arnold Clark, YouTube, Wikipedia, Bring a Trailer, Whatcar, Honest John, Autocar, Bristol Street Motors

More in Motor Zone