Here in the good ol’ US of A, we like to brag.
We want our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and random strangers to know what we’re packin’. We arrogantly flaunt whatever it is we have… whether it’s a new $600 Arc’teryx jacket or the V8 version of a 4Runner.
Status symbols are huge on this side of the Atlantic… especially when it comes to cars. The bigger the engine we have, the more money someone might think we have. It’s not even uncommon in these parts to see AMG badges on Mercedes vehicles that aren’t. Or M logos on a standard BMW 3 Series. It’s sickening, actually, and must be embarrassing for the owner when challenged at a stop light by the real thing.
That’s why I was intrigued to read this New York Times article about the exact opposite happening in Europe. It seems a sizable minority of car buyers check the badge-delete option box on luxury cars, making a $90,000 Mercedes-Benz S550 and a $200,000 S65 AMG visually indistinguishable, at least to the (really) untrained eye.
So why would a guy in Germany want the V12 badge taken off his car when someone might think he bought the less-expensive and less-powerful version?
Christian Bokich, a spokesman for Audi of America, told the Times:
If a director of a medium-sized company purchases a V-12, he doesn’t want to show it to his colleagues and have people judge him incorrectly.
Bokich goes on to say that it’s a very German thing to hide your wealth. I for one think Americans could learn a lesson from those Germans. While the badge-delete option isn’t offered by Audi, Mercedes-Benz, or BMW in America, dealers can remove badges if requested.
Frankly, I don’t think America is far from seeing gold-plated cars, like this one in Russia, pop up as a way to show off ultimate wealth.
If I see that, I’ll probably try to drop-kick the driver all the way to Dubai.
So let me ask you: If you’re buying a top-shelf luxury car, do you want the badging or not? Conversely, if you get a base model, would you want the badge telling the world you didn’t pony up for the bigger engine?