As I was driving my daughter to school last week, we pulled up behind a late 1990’s white Toyota Land Cruiser, basically the same as the one we used to have except for the color. However, as I looked at its rear, I was thinking how unfortunate it was that this one was afflicted with a “Gold Package”, i.e. all of the badges and emblems were golden in color. As a younger man in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, my peers and I thought that these were in horrible taste and not something any of us would ever entertain having on a car. That has pretty much stuck with me and no car of mine has every featured one.
As I was pondering these thoughts in silence, my 14-year-old daughter says: “Ooh, Dad, I like those gold badges on that car, that’s really cool!”. As I turned to her in horror thinking about what a poor excuse for a parent I must be, the light unfortunately changed before I had a chance to get my phone out to take a picture of it, hence this black base-model Toyota Camry CE is serving as a stand-in.
Now, I’ve noticed that the younger generation seems to like golden hues again and realize that gold is making a bit of a comeback in interior design and some jewelry and accessories as fashions tend to do. As of yet, it doesn’t seem to be making a big splash on automotive badging again but is definitely still (again?) available on the aftermarket and from some dealerships.
Gold Packages were generally sold as a dealer add-on and retailed for at least several hundred dollars, if not more. Growing up in Southern California they were definitely “a thing”. Some manufacturers really got into it and offered them as an option or a factory accessory, in fact some such as Toyota offered other variations as well.
Our Land Cruiser happened to have an off-shoot named the “Black Pearl Package” which is the same concept but all of the badging became a pearly black color. The blue Land Cruiser pictured (poorly, sorry) above was ours, I didn’t mind those badges at all but doubt I would have paid any extra for them if I had bought it new.
My belief is that Gold Packages were more popular on the coasts, I saw several older cars with them in Seattle a couple of weeks ago and still see them in California when we visit, however I almost never see them here in Colorado and would wager that the majority of the ones I do see (such as the Land Cruiser that was the impetus for this post) are actually transplants and not from here originally.
The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera that was featured a few days ago (picture sample above) was definitely overkill in the Gold Package spectrum of offerings (perhaps that one had the “Classy Package” instead) but the original idea mainly involved any badging that was Chrome to begin with, i.e. the manufacturer logo as well as the model name and other ancillary badging.
I suppose on an expensive car it made it stand out a bit more but once it started getting applied to run of the mill Camrys and Sentras (and Cieras!) it completely jumped the shark (in my own opinion of course).
Of course there were several vehicles that featured a lot of gold highlights from the factory, such as the first generation Grand Cherokee Limited as well as some early Subaru Outbacks, the concept being a bit different in my opinion but almost certainly rooted in the popularity of the add-ons of the era.
On the same general topic, I know some here besides myself are not enamored with the gold/brass Chevy bowtie logo and I have commented that I’m happy that a black logo is a factory or dealer-installed option except for the obscene price of $185. However, I am noticing a definite upswing in black Chevy bowties around here these days, mainly on the larger, more expensive trucks and SUV’s. That trend is growing stronger, but I suppose $185 is a tougher nut on an $18k Cruze than on a $50k Silverado.
Anyway, in the end I completely realize a Gold Package is a harmless affectation, people like to accessorize their rides, be it with a different set of wheels and tires, a set of pinstripes, or gold badging. To each their own and all that.
But what’s your opinion? Are Gold Packages cool and desirable or to be avoided? Is it a generational thing, i.e. do/did the older generation(s) like them in general, are the young’uns getting enamored with them again or is it something that should never have happened and a pox on the human race? If I bought a car with them I’d be removing them and would probably use their presence as a tool to try to get the price lowered. But what do I know, I’m certainly not the hippest Dad in town according to my kids…sometimes I even wear socks with my Birkenstocks.
As far as I’m concerned, a gold package is absolutely worthless because the gold coating fades and disappears in a few short years, but I do admit it looks sharp when new. The color of the car also determines if adding the gold package compliments the color or not. You really don’t see it anymore.
We had the gold package on our 1993 Dodge Spirit. The car was green. Sure didn’t help that car any, as it was a lemon when we bought it used and should never have looked at it.
For all my cars, just give me chrome and pinstripes!
I had a 1994 teal metallic Corolla with regular badges, though I think it would look awesome with the gold package.
No, they are not desirable to me. I’m 26, and still associate them with the 1990s Camry, Corolla, and Avalon, and lots of tacky 1980s GM “luxury” products.
That said, the Land Cruiser is cool enough in its own right that a gold package doesn’t ruin it. I’ve always wanted one, even though I have absolutely no use for a massive SUV right now.
I was never a big fan of the gold emblems, but I have to say I’m even less of a fan of the move to blacken everything nowadays. Black wheels, black trim, black emblems, blacked out taillights, and on and on. And of course with all that black, you have to tint the windows to match…it makes the vehicle look like a big black lump, that somebody went crazy with a can of Krylon spray paint on. It’s totally indistinguishable and to my eyes, looks really cheap. As for that black bow tie offered on newer Chevys, our salesman kept trying to get us to order them when we placed our order for our 18 Colorado pickup. I told him he was nuts. Why would I pay an extra $200 for what I could do for $3.00 myself, and again, it looks cheap. I can’t say the gold bow ties are my favorite, I must be old school because to me, a Chevy bow tie should be one color…blue!
A blacked out car can look cool in a sinister and menacing kind of way if it’s a muscle car. I once saw a blacked out Prius and couldn’t stop laughing.
There is a rattle can blacked out Prius at one of those sketchy used car lots in my town. It looks like it should be on the set of the next mad max movie. I think it was an ex taxi but I didn’t stop to take a good look. To each their own I guess. As for the gold trim unless it is a late 1980’s Mercedes coupe trying to pull off the coke dealer look I will take a pass.
Max Rockatansky wandered onto Auntie’s lot, unsure as to why he was there. Perhaps the numerous battles he’d fought for just a few Imperial gallons of guzzoline were getting to him, and he couldn’t find supercharger belts for his 800 hp 351 now, which needed one badly.
Perhaps a VW baja, with strategic cut outs for optimum shotgun usage? It was cheap, only a few gallons of fallout-free water and a fertile goat would have made it his. But there were suspicious noises from the transaxle and it didn’t feel solid enough or carry enough to be useful.
A crapped out ’63 Ranchero, with the straight six seductively beckoned. Even now, the Six would be reliable and it would run on anything liquid if he played with the timing and carb jet. The promised 20 mpg was three times what his ’73 XB delivered when it was running from The Wez and his pet, Golden Youth. But the promised mileage didn’t offset the fact that it was bog-slow and that his rotting remains would be the buffet du jour for whatever wildlife wandered across him after the Humungus was done, which would certainly happen if he had to run with a whopping 100 horsepower – or whatever horsepower it had left..
Then he saw it…a Prius. Enough power to run at 100+ mph and he could wander 25 miles on battery alone. With the go juice he’d cached, him and Gyro could get to the coast and find some sheilas to breed. He could tow the gyrocopter with the Prius and get a lot of warning to dodge the wasteland baddies…and it had heated seats
“Who do I have to kill to get this car?”
It could be a a great sequel probably better than the last instalment which I refer to as mad Maxine, and I like the gyro copter reference.
A blacked-out Prius. Isn’t that an oxymoron?
My wife had me black out her black Toyota 4Runner. I removed all the badges and thought it looked better with no badges but she wanted them on the car but I first had to paint them black. It took a little work because I didn’t want to just spray paint them and have them looking cheap. I sanded them, primed them, hit them with 2 coats of black, and then a clear coat. They look like they came from the factory that way. Then I painted her wheels black, and it already had tinted windows. Then I tinted the brake lights and put in super bright bulbs so the light shines through even better than untinted. Now the only thing that’s bothering me is the chrome headlights. I found a set that has gloss black instead of chrome and I want to get them. So to each his or her own, I may not have done all that if it was my car, but she likes it and it does look kind of mean.
All black everything is a factory option for the 2018 Honda Fit. It’s been done to death.
I’d prefer the Chevy bowtie to be silver for grayscale colors and a brighter yellow to contrast with body colors that are actual colors.
The Chevy bowtie must be returned to the blue color.
My problem with the blacked out look is the lack of any individualism. Since the end result is all black, your blacked out ride looks just like the other blacked out ride beside it. To me, I would rather have a color that nobody else has, or some type of treatment that makes it different, not more of the same. To each their own.
I personally find gold in any form tacky and tasteless. Emblems, watches, jewelry, musical instruments, bricks, doesn’t matter, don’t like.
I’ll take everyone’s gold bricks. PM me.
I am laughing out loud at this post – my Dad bought the exact color deVille Spring Edition in 1990 and it had the gold emblems – which he made the dealership remove and change to silver! He HATED the gold package and refused to buy the car unless they replaced them with silver ones!
I still remember my mother being jazzed about getting a “champagne” colored Camry with the gold package in the mid-90s. When she switched to an Avalon in the late-90s, she was disappointed she couldn’t get the gold package.
As for me, I remember being vaguely embarrassed by the whole thing. I thought it was tacky and didn’t look good. But to each his own.
I’m amazed the dealer wouldn’t accommodate her wish on the Avalon. Even today there are aftermarket vendors around with the equipment to spray gold emblems.
I think it was a matter of her selecting from what was on the lot. She would have preferred the gold package, but wasn’t going to special order it.
Sometimes from the factory…1959 &1960 Lincoln Continentals:
I’m remembering from my childhood a whole lot of ’56 Cadillacs with gold labeling, even a gold-tone grille. And our ’52 Cadillac had a gold-tone V on the trunk; I think 1952 was Cadillac’s golden anniversary.
I remember seeing a ton of Honda Accords here in the Midwest with the gold package. They weren’t in style very long. I think they’re incredibly tacky. Btw, I absolutely HATE black wheels. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, if you had black wheels, it meant that somebody stole your hubcaps! I can’t wait until that fad peters out. Badges should be chrome, and wheels should be silver or chrome like God intended.
Same here, Brad. Black wheels make a car look [to me] poorly maintained, bottom line or missing hubcaps. Or all three. A terrible trend.
And I was over the monochromatic look years ago: body colored, painted wheels, grille, trim.
No it doesn’t make one’s car look like an AMG Mercedes.
You must be older like me, if you remember missing hubcaps! I hate black wheels so much, IMO, it completely ruins whatever car they’re on. I won’t even take a second look.
I hope hubcaps make a comeback w1
All Go on the hubcaps —
Among the popular wheelcovers of the customized cars of the early 60’s were the standard 1957 Caddilac wheelcovers ……. with either wide or narrow white walls.
Gold was popular in the mid to late ’50’s with gold paint, mylar and engine naming like “Golden Commando”.
I think it depends on both the vehicle they are on and the colour. My 97 Cherokee Limited had it. It was a discreet silver color and I liked the look. I noticed ones that were a darker color it looked much more tacked on and ugly.
Same with the type of vehicle. The Cutlass Cierra shown a few posts back looked stupid. I had two Cierras of the same vintage, one white and one dark blue. I guarantee you that if either had had the gold trim they would have been spray canned the first day of ownership!
Nine-eight times out of one hundred it looks tacky. There are the bold exceptions such as the Jeep. Of course, the one shown is green, so the gold compliments it. If that Jeep was red, the gold would look really tacky, chintzy, and cheap – like on the red Honda directly below it.
It’s rather like asking if there is such a thing as a natural looking toupee. There are a few examples, but most of the time it’s a resounding no.
I remember the gold badging on 60’s Chrysler New Yorkers being very distinctive. Early 50’s Chrysler Imperials had real gold plated emblems if I’m not mistaken. I just don’t think it works on modern cars.
Simple: Gold = Cheeze
I personally equate most ‘gold’ accent packages on cars as tacky/gaudy. I thought the gold-plated Delorean was especially hideous. 🙂
I just threw up a little in my mouth. Deloreans are crap in the first place, but I’ve never seen anything like this abortion.
In so many ways that car makes me think of this
Gold is a good shield from the radiation encountered during time travel; it’s totally functional.
I agree: the gold package is nearly always tacky. It also signals to everyone that the owner is an easy mark – who else should spend hundreds of dollars on something of so little value?
I do think the Gold badging can look cheesy, but I do not put much thought into them. The Gold badges look alright on my Camry, at least the ones that have not fallen off.
Gold packages are / were somewhat common here in central Ohio, but I’m not overly bothered by them. I always assumed that the badging was part of a larger (and more functional) option package.
Goes to show how naive I am, sometimes.
And – Add my vote for blue bowties!
A fellow I worked with bought a new Avalon around 1996. He was really proud of the gold package.
Gold/brass-style trim gets hot once every decade or two. It looks good early in the fad when it tends to be done tastefully, but then it works it’s way down to the cheap used car lots and makes everything with it seem very dated.
If I bought a primo black LS400 with the gold I wouldn’t hate it. If I bought a primo Cutlass Ciera with it, I would.
Great QOTD topic Jim!
I can’t confidently say whether the appeal of gold badging and the “gold packages” especially so popular with ’90s cars, particularly Japanese, is a generational thing or not. Born in 1993, I’m currently 24 and though I can’t say that gold badging and emblems look good on virtually any current car, on many cars from the 1990s and early 2000s, in the right color combination, call me a fan.
I guess I always just associated the gold badging and trim with giving the car a slightly higher level of status and glitz. On many cars of that era, in the right color combination, it did look rather good. Toyota and Honda in particular, seemed to like it, especially with their Lexus and Acura products. My uncle owned a first-year Acura MDX in Deep Mahogany Pearl (Burgundy) with the gold badging that looked really good, to me at least.
On that note, the gold emblems and badging were in most cases more likely port-installed accessories rather than dealer-installed. Most dealers’ service departments wouldn’t waste time installing new badging on unsold cars – trust me, I know from experience!
The one my co-worker got in the 90s was installed at the dealer by an outside contractor who traveled from dealer to dealer doing them for multiple brands throughout our area. My friend had to take the car back after purchase to have the gold done on a day when the “gold guy” would be back. He was told that it was an actual thin coating of gold that was somehow manually applied and electroplated onto the existing chrome finish. I have no idea if that part is true or not.
I’m not sure of the science behind it, but the process your friend described is what I saw aftermarket vendors doing to scores of Malibus and Monte Carlos right on the showroom floor of the Chevy dealer I worked at in the late 90s. The gold coating was either brushed on, or sprayed with a small airbrush.
I was specifically wondering what your opinion was as you’re a good example I was thinking of in regard to age group and location, so thanks! A fair number of Infiniti’s also seemed to feature it as well (J30 especially, a lot of I30’s, some G20’s and a few Q45’s). Sometimes you saw it on BMW’s, but more often on Mercedes and almost never on Audi for some reason.
In my area it seemed to be something that often the dealers would swap out (usually on the little supplemental “sticker” along with the pinstriping and TruCoat…).
I suppose you are correct in that it doesn’t necessarily look awful in EVERY application, some colors do work a lot better than others. (Black, maroon, emerald green, dark blue). It works less well for me on pearl white and especially silver. And of course it’s always a juxtaposition on something like the lead vehicle picture where the CE model is literally the entry level model and likely has manual windows and locks. But it’s got the bling!
“On that note, the gold emblems and badging were in most cases more likely port-installed accessories rather than dealer-installed. Most dealers’ service departments wouldn’t waste time installing new badging on unsold cars – trust me, I know from experience!”
No one was installing new badges at the port or at the dealer. How this was done was electroplating the badges on the vehicle by 3 party vendors. When this was all the rage there were lots of companies that dealt in appearance items that were pitching the equipment and supplies to the guys that come to dealers to do PDR, fix the windshield, dye worn spots in the leather, add interior wood kits, ect. The ads were all over pretty much any industry publication.
At the time the average car would take a dollar or less of consumables and less than an hour per car. It was the most profitable item on the menu for those traveling appearance vendors. Easy way to make over $100 per hour. The dealers loved it too as they could sell the gold package for $300 all day long.
There were many dealers who would do it to every single vehicle on the lot. The place where I bought my Mountaineer did that, so of course I had them buy a vehicle from another dealer even though we bought a black one a color that actually works with it. Or as JPC noted they would add it to any car if they could sell it and then you had to come back on the day of the week the vendor stopped by that dealer. Many of course preferred to do it after the sale because they could possibly sell it for $500 or more or use it as the freebee to seal the deal.
All three Avalons I have owned had the gold package. A 1995 (sold new in WV), a 1996 (sold new in PA) and now a 1999, sold new in NC with the added bonus of Southeast Toyota Distributors’ full-boat add-on group. Forty five hundred 1999-era dollars got someone gold emblems and scripts, a spoiler with additional LED third brake light, a sunroof wind deflector, second-gen Lexus ES300 wheels with a special “A” emblem stuck on blank center caps (which doesn’t match any other Toyota or Lexus fonts), non-stock leather seat skins that replaced the OE cloth, a Viper alarm that was the subject of the only 2 safety recalls ever issued for the 99 Avalon, the world’s worst stick-on wood trim kit (applied haphazardly to the base Avalon’s all plastic interior trim), a gold pinstripe that has faded from both sides except under the door mirrors, VIN etching in all 9 pieces of glass, and factory undercoating (described on the sticker addendum as rustproofing and sound-deadening). The car was built as a base Avalon with a sunroof, console shifter, and power passenger seat. Bringing the total for the car to over $31,000, which is about $2000 more than a loaded 99 XLS with every factory option would have cost.
I like the car because of its ownership history, 16 year first life in the South away from road salt, and overall good condition. The first buyer got taken, and I wish the spoiler, alarm, wheels and wind deflector were not added. SE Toyota Dist is famous for this kind of junk. As close as a 99 Avalon can come to a “factory” brougham package.
I scavenged a few junkyard Avalon XLSs for factory interior trim parts, so all the stick on wood has been trashed. And I am currently on the lookout for a whole set of replacement factory leather seats because the cheap aftermarket leather is dissolving, unlike factory 90s Toyota pleather.
I also plan to ditch the hideous 3 spoke wheels for stock second gen Avalon 16s when the tires need replaced.
And the undercoating that happened on a particularly well rustproofed car when new, combined with its long southern life, means that I own possibly the most rust-free 1990s model car in PA.
I wonder if the original buyer actually paid anywhere near sticker for that kit, though. I remember dealers used to love to inflate the price of the mods for conversion vans and then dramatically advertise huge savings off sticker. It wouldn’t shock me if they did the same for cars with gold kits and the like too.
My ’56 Sedan De Ville came with the gold package. Most of the trim was chrome or stainless steel. The badge surrounds, lettering, and wheel centers were gold colored. looked okay on a turquoise car with a white top. I would never have paid extra for them. They are as bad as Vogue tire, mayo and mustard side walls. Yuch, but I like regular wide whites.
In addition to the gold badging on Cadillacs, many cars used the gold mylar trim like the 57 Ford Fairlane 500 and the 57 Golden Hawk. Even the 57 Bel Air used gold on those three little ornaments on the front fenders to the side of the headlights.
Some cars did come with gold color badges stock back then that I didn’t really think about when writing this, for example some/many early Porsche’s definitely did in regard to the name/model on the decklid and I suppose only look “correct” with it.
Of course the Porsche crest is gold as well! So my car for example has it on the hood and the steering wheel but the “Carrera” script on the decklid is black.
I believe that it was Cadillac who kicked the whole gold trim thing with the 1952 models, For that year it was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cadillac, But like anything else, if it sells they’ll keep it up. It does look OK with certain colors as a 50s “thing”.
And then there were the special alloy wheels of the Eldorado.
Here’s a shot of those Vogues. Digging on the wires though!
You are correct sir; especially on any Toyota, gold is not needed, not wanted. Just had a thought though- trim with something dark and metallic might be nice; dignified and low-key.
EDIT- MY 2000 Corolla LE was similarly afflicted. The plastic door trim retained water and salt and caused rust; the window tinting peeled off; the aluminum wheels wobbled and leaked. More appreciated were the cloth seats, sunroof and power door locks and windows. It did have silver trim, though.
Some random related thoughts:
Funny you mention the black Chevrolet badge in relation to the Cruze, as several Cruzes are the only cars I have seen with this. I assumed it was aftermarket.
GM dipped heavily into gold badging in the 80s and 90s as a factory option. It seems like the majority of Olds Intrigues and both generations of Aurora were saddled with this. Thankfully not my mom’s silver Aurora. It would look out of place.
I would never buy a new car with gold badges. They are tacky and stupid. But since most of the (used, older) cars I have shopped heavily when looking for wheels seemed to have been heavily graced with them, I have owned several.
I think Toyota, Honda, Lexus, and Acura dealers/distributors mined this more heavily than most during the 90s because people were still paying premium money for those nameplates at the time and it allowed an extra few hundred dollars of easy profit on each unit without the threat of losing a sale. GM added them mostly at the factory, though GMs mostly sold for well under MSRP by that time and any true monetary gain was largely nonexistent.
I don’t believe that GM did the gold packages from the factory, or if they did none of the dealers around here ordered it from the factory to be stuck with a 30-40% margin when they could have it done, either by one of the 3rd parties or in house, and make a 50-95% margin.
A gold package is a triumph of money over taste.
Ethnic Chinese have a “thing” about gold, which explains why the gold packages were frequently seen where there were population clusters of them in the upscale suburbs around San Francisco.
Some of my own relatives had a fascination with gold. One bought two gold-painted cars in a row.
Gold packages, to me, are tacky. Meant to convey wealth, the gold package tells me the opposite.
I would think truly wise and intelligent wealthy (old wealth?) people want to be more discreet with their wealth lest family members become targets for ransom or being carjacked or whatever. In this day and age with people shamelessly revealing their envy of the wealthy and doing irrational things to extract money from the rich is all to real and possible.
Homes are one thing with being flashy, but they can be outfitted with more effective and “economical” security. The hoops one would have to go through with entourages of well paid staff, vehicle fortifications and whatnot to have the same for a car would indicate who the really wealthy are.
The secure rich are content with their stock premium vehicles to be sure. They don’t need to advertise with glitz and glam.
A lot of comments here reference 1980s GM products and 1990s Toyotas and Hondas. This seems to be an unusual case of a fad originating with traditional American luxury buyers and then migrating to mainstream Japanese car buyers. But I guess the fake convertible roofs didn’t make the cut nearly as much.
I lived in Philadelphia in the late 1980s, and it was unusual to see a newer Cadillac WITHOUT gold and/or fake convertible top. The Cadillac dealers routinely put them on their cars there. In 1990 I moved to North Carolina, and the rate of gold badges on Cadillacs seemed to have dropped by about 75%.
The Delorean was a little weird, gold wrapped BMW’s are as tacky as it gets.
While not gold, the copper accents available on two upcoming cars—the Range Rover Velar and the Lynk & Co 001—are attractive to me.
As for the gold packages themselves, I find them distasteful. Gulf States Toyota, which is responsible for the sale and distribution of Toyota vehicles here in the south-central US, had a field day with these gold packages. A friend of mine had an earlier Lexus GX470 with it.
PS I have always greatly disliked (staying away from hate these days) that fake “gold” trim. Can’t imagine why anyone would have it, especially when mismatched with remaining silver items. (Propose an exception for 50s cars, when it providing the finishing touch to Caddys, 57 BelAir, and a number of special Chryslers and De Sotos!)
I could understand where the surviving artifacts of the Great Gold-Badge Fad of the ’90s would be appealing in a “cool old car” way to someone born since those cars were built – as tacky as they were back in the day, I’m coming around to thinking of them as period touches like the vinyl tops of the malaise era or fake wood on station wagons.
But I wouldn’t have bought them on a new car, and I feel the same way about blacked-out wheels.
I never cared for the gold accent packages; as with aftermarket padded fake convertible roofs they screamed “old, retired guy” or “realtor trying to look successful.” That said, in the years when our four kids were needing rides in high school and college, I bought a 1999 Infiniti I30 that a business partner was going to trade in. Yes, it had a gold package. How did I get past that styling faux pas, you might ask? Easy… it was a great deal on a lightly used and well cared-for solid, reliable car. Otherwise: bleeaaaahhh!
I was aware of this being a fad on mostly GM cars in the 1950’s. The gold package really bothered me in the mid to late ’90s when it appeared on an endless array of Toyotas and ‘implied luxury’ GM products. I don’t really notice it now – guess I’ve blocked my dislike of seeing gold.
The father of one of my friends drove an Olds LSS in the late ’90s which had gold trim. The amount of trim on that model was so small, and the car was otherwise black, that it actually looked quite good. Certainly better than gold-trimmed Lexus ES’s of the same vintage, which are the main gold-trimmed cars I remember from back then.
I had 1992 Lexus SC400, and IMO it would have looked wrong without the gold badge package. They almost all had them.
For a while here in Australia Honda offered a gold badge package, about ten-fifteen years ago IIRC. I’ve seen it on Civics and Accords of that era. If I’d been in the market for one, it would have been a deal-breaker. IMHO gold badges belong on late-fifties luxo-barges, not average mass-market cars.
I remember customizing the chromed bow tie on my 1982 ‘Vette (Chevette) 2 dr hatchback grille with Testor’s PLA # TESR2111 Blue brush on paint some year’s ago. Still have some paint left in the bottle. Unfortunately, the ‘Vette (A.K.A.) J.B. Weld Special is gone. Medium blue is the only proper color for a Chevrolet bow tie in my opinion. Car looked great in gray metallic with factory 3 shade gray tape stripe, Goodrich white walls and chromed J. C. Whitney rectangular halogen fog lamps.
I owned a 200 Mazda 626 that was green and had the gold badges. I think it looked better than chrome would have and I never experienced any peeling or fading on them.
I can’t recall ever seeing a car with golden badges here in Germany, much less it being a factory or dealer option. Interior wood never took off to quite the same extent as in the US either. Europeans seem to prefer different ways of displaying (real or fake) wealth, if at all.
I would ‘t call it a display of wealth so much as a display of very poor taste, and I commend your German brethren for having enough good taste and reasonability to reject such affectations as feeling a gold kit or carriage/vinyl roof covering makes the car or owner look better. I didn’t like them when they first became a fad, and they look even more tasteless these days.
On high line series Mercedes of the early 50’s through the early 70’s I refinished the dash and window trim wood on a lot of them, at my restoration shop, usually their gold was limited to a few emblems. Main thing in Germany, if they had wood, it was real.
Unless it’s a very blocky car in green like a Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer or the Grand Cherokee Laredo pictured it rarely looks good to have all the trim in gold. Quite a few 1980s cars can pull off having very small amounts be gold, but it’s entirely dependent on how much is on the car and what colour it is. A black or white A60 Celica can pass if it’s got the machined rims that have gold on the openings but not the spokes. Same with an E30 325i where the BBS rims have gold spokes. But with something like a Dodge Diplomat there’s no way it can pull it off because there’s a lot of trim on the car.
Love those old Camrys. I had a 1993 that I drove for 300,000 miles. It was one of the best built cars I ever owned. They’re such well made cars that I still see a number of old Camrys on the road.
In general, I’d tick the “tacky” box for most of these packages, although I have seen a few that exercised restraint and were on a good base color that I liked.
Personally, I prefer my tractors with the gold package!
Pic didn’t take, so take two:
I know it will be considered “sacrilege” by some, but on a related note, I NEVER REALLY CARED FOR THE BLACK AND GOLD Trans Am package (Smokey & The Bandit be damned!)There, I’ve said it! I also thought that applying gold to chrome trim was a MISTAKE!! 🙂
That’s about the last color combo I’d want on a second generation Trans Am, I enjoy the movie but it could have been any other color than it was, in fact I preferred the red Trans Am in the underrated Hooper. My Dad’s 78 was blue with the blue bird, which happens to be my favorite.
After a some thought, this is my only exception. I think I may prefer gold paint like this to shiny gold.
Every era in automobile history has had elements of bad taste. The 70’s, 80’s and 90’s domestics were some of the worst.
The worst “fashionable” blemish on today’s cars are oversized black rims. But all in all the vast majority of cars manufactured today look better than they ever did.
The oldest vehicles with factory gold I know of were the Lincoln Continentals of the 40’s, all the dash trim and knobs were real gold, as well as some outer trim, The Imperials had some gold trim in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, that was actually taxed as jewelry by the govt. There probably were earlier cars with it. Probably the most outragious gold trimmed car built was Lady Nora Docker’s 1955-56 Daimler “Golden Zebra” coupe. She had gold trim on other Daimlers but ALL chrome, bumpers, wheelcovers, side trim, door handles, every piece of trim was 24 kt gold on a pearlesent white car with total real zebra skin interior. The sheer size of these Daimlers made my ’66 Imperial look small.
Chrysler in the mid fifties had some gold trim on each of it’s series. On my ’56 DeSoto the Fireflire and forward look emblems on the dash are gold plated and still look new, the instruments are gold trimmed and even the lighting has a golden hue. Outside the V on the grille and DeS in the center of the hubcaps are gold, but it tended to wear off. One of my best friends did the gold work on dealers cars, and for my birthday nearly 40 years ago he replated the hubcap centers and V on my car, they were done about ten layers deep and still look new, he did them in 20 kt gold. The Adventurer has a anodized gold grille and hubcaps, with more gold trim around the car, which thankfully was all good. At Ford in the 50s Lincoln still had gold for some lettering and the knights head on the rear emblem and shield on the front were gold. I still have the original Mark III emblems from the front fenders of my ’58 Continental convertible, I was able to order new ones when I had the car. I still also have the gold New Yorker script from my ’60 and ’62 New Yorkers as well as other gold trim. At GM Cadillac seemed the most gold, with V’s (actually brass on most, I polished many of them over the years) with gold grilles (actually anodized on the Cad as well as the optional grille on the ’57 Chevy. The Sabre wheels were available polished aluminum or anodized gold. Chrysler was heavy on white and gold painted cars as well, and some like the Plymouths had a wide swath of anodized gold down the side. One member of the Imperial Club used real gold to do a Lady Docker, he did all chrome on his ’66 Imperial in gold plate, it is stunning if a bit overpowering. How well the dealer trim held up was dependent on the ones doing it. My friend always did multi layers and I still see cars he did years ago looking new. After he moved, the new guys did one coat and the gold will come off buffing the paint. I dislike fake convertible tops, if it looks like it, the top should go down. I hate the look of the newer black rims, although some may remember it was a hot rod thing back in the 40’s-50’s to have polished black rims with wide whitewalls on custom or hot cars. with the whitewalls it dosn’t look like you couldn’t afford hubcaps, as on newer cars.
I was never a big fan of them, but to me, gold badges worked best on dark green cars, like the early Grand Cherokee, the Lexus ES300 and the Lincoln Mk VIII. They looked tacky when applied to down-market everyday cars. I don’t think they’d work on newer cars, though, and I am not a big fan of the black chrome badges available as an option on Land Rovers and other upmarket cars these days either; like the gold badges back in the 1990s, they kinda symbolize a triumph of money over good taste.
Buy a car off a dealer’s lot with gold badges? No fricking way. But, buy a used car that has them? Why not. My 96 Miata has the gold badges, but since there is minimal badging on it to begin with, it really does not matter. Plus, it is black and tan, which is probably why the original owner popped for the gold trim. It (somewhat) works, but the silver/chrome would have been fine.
My feeling always has been, if the Three Ps (Packard, Peerless and Pierce-Arrow) thought something was too tasteless to adorn their automobiles – not to mention their worthy, earnest competitors such as Imperial and Lincoln – then it wasn’t worth having on any car. I’d trust their judgment. Even if all of THEM had done so – if Deusenberg thought it was low-rent, that’s good enough for me.
It doesn’t surprise me that Cadillac offered that garish, tasteless bit of wretched excess. They always were the paragons of shameless, gaudy ornamentation. At least their best years (1964-’70, and again in 2000-’04 or so) when their designs were understated and classy, avoided such kitsch.
It’s funny, because I myself grew up and live in Colorado, and I used to see these packages often at the height of their popularity. When the Gen 3 Camry was new stuff, my friend from school’s mother had a 1994 V6 LE in metallic red with the gold package and tan interior. I thought the whole thing looked great. When they were new I didn’t think they looked bad, but they can get tacky as the years wear on and they get tarnished from the elements. I had them on my 1999 Black XLE V6, which actually with the exception of the antenna’s and window tint, looked exactly like the Camry pictured. I think the gold looks good on certain hues more than others, but I was never vehemently opposed to them. My Avalon that I have now has plain chrome which looks good too.