QOTD: The Gold Package – Is All That Glitters Gold Or Not?

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.