One of the first decisions to make when customizing a car is whether not to keep its badging. By removing nameplates and other emblems, lettering, or script badging, the car takes on a clean look. In the heyday of hot rods, street racers would remove the engine markers, like “427.” That would keep competitors guessing about how many (or few) horses were under the hood. Today, eliminating badges—an easy customization—gives any car an extra mystique.
Debadging is not limited to rear and hood insignias. For example, Corvette owners achieve a sleek appearance by removing the side moldings on the door panels.
Manufacturers have long placed brand logos and other chrome embellishments to differentiate their models. (See “The Fine Art of Automotive Hood Ornaments.”) Detroit carmakers place block letters or a line of script to highlight key features. Some dealerships get into the marketing action by adding their trunk-badge plate to every vehicle they sell.
Removing the Bling
In the 1940s and 1950s, these pieces of metal had clips that were inserted into retainers or holes in the sheet metal pieces. Therefore, customizers wanting to remove offensive bling have to fill in the holes and paint over the area.
Modern cars often use adhesives to hold the badges, so there are no holes or clips to consider. Besides, most trims pieces are now made of plastic to reduce weight. A quick web search will usually reveal how a specific emblem is attached.
To remove the nameplate on a modern car, begin by leaving the car in the sun—or warm up the chrome piece with a hair dryer or heat gun. This will soften the adhesive. Of course, be careful to not to overheat and damage paint.
Then use a piece of fishing line (or dental floss) to grab the badge with both hands. Gently slide the line behind the plate, and with a gentle sawing motion, pull the line across the length of the badge. As the adhesive separates from the sheet metal, it will be easier to pull it completely away from the body.
After the badge is removed, any remaining adhesive residue can be taken off with WD-40 or 3M’s adhesive cleaner. There might be a slight shadow from faded paint, but car polish applied to the area should bring it back to life.
Store the emblems flat, in a safe place. If you change your mind, you can always re-glue the item back into place. Or you might want to substitute another custom piece on your ride—including a personalized nameplate with your car’s nickname.