You'd be hard-pressed to tell that they didn't base it on any real life vehicle.note
So you wanted an exotic supercar in that Wide Open Sandbox Murder Simulator
you're developing, but there's this negative reaction from car manufacturers if you decide to acquire a licence for said vehicle. Ferrari is particularly notorious for that, disallowing companies or even owners themselves from putting their cars in a potentially negative or unflattering right, case in point deadmau5
whom Ferrrari sent a cease-and-desist letter for violating their trademarks with the "Purrari" badges. What are you going to do then? Simple, make a car that's similar to the real life vehicle in some way, but is still distinct from the car in question. In theory this can save developers the trouble of having to pay for either royalties or lawsuits over the use of a licenced vehicle, though it is understandable that some may be put off with the lack of vehicles from actual manufacturers.
This practice of debadging
tends to be applied in works of fiction in general, especially if paying royalties to car companies for the vehicles to be used is a concern. Commercials or films may elect to debadge a car either to dodge royalties, to avoid implying that the producers are endorsing a particular automobile brand unless they are paid to do so
, or to keep the car manufacturer from being portrayed in a negative light. This is largely avoided however, due to the de minimis
rule in that depictions of trademarked objects like cars are considered to be incidental unless the particular car model is the subject of the work, e.g. it would be frivulous for Toyota to sue a production company merely for its use of a Corolla as an incidental object used by the characters in a show, but that would be a different story if the Corolla nameplate itself is the subject, e.g. a Transformers
character in the form of a Corolla sedan or something along those lines. Another benefit as far as royalties and licensing are concerned is the fact that video game developers or film studios are free to distribute their work for as long as they see fit without worrying over paying an automotive manufacturer the rights to use the vehicles. This is why some racing games end up getting discontinued or do not see a re-release, which can be avoided with faux cars.
Keep in mind that this applies to fictional vehicles bearing a heavy or at least significant resemblance to cars or trucks in the real world, and as such may not apply to ones that are completely made up.
A subtrope of Bland-Name Product
, in this case specific to automobiles and other forms of transport. Compare with Shoddy Knockoff Product
, for vehicles in Real Life
that look suspiciously like a well-known car, e.g. the Chery QQ
being an analogue of Chevrolet's Spark down to its dimensions note
. Also compare with Product Displacement
. Contrast with Product Placement
, if real vehicles are used in a work. See also A.K.A.-47
for firearms and Apple hardware lookalikes, respectively.
Anime and Manga
- Beam NG.drive is built around crashing incredibly familiar-looking vehicles with minor design differences from their real counterparts. As an example, the German brand "ETK" produces cars with a very distinctive grill.
- The Arcade Game series Cruisn initially started off with lookalikes of brand-name vehicles coupled with nameplates that are either gaudy or playing on national stereotypes, like for example the Toyota Supra Expy "Kamikaze AWD". It wasn't until the rebadged Wii port of the Fast and the Furious arcade game, simply titled Cruis'n, that actual licenced cars were used as opposed to lookalikes.
- The Arcade Game Drift Out minced the names of its car models: Masda Familio (Mazda Familia), Lancha Deleta (Lancia Delta), Toyata Celca (Toyota Celica), Fard Siara (Ford Sierra), Mitsuboshi Galent (Mitsubishi Galant), BWM AW 3 (BMW AWD) and Subaro Legagy (Subaru Legacy). These and other ill-disguised brand names such as Michlin and Shall can also be glimpsed on in-game billboards. The sequels avert this.
- Fallout: Red Racer (Radio Flyer) tricycles and Chryslus (after Chrysler) Corvega (portmanteau of Corvair and Vega, two of Chevrolet's worst cars).
- Final Fantasy VII: Cloud is forced to hijack a motorcycle in order to escape from Shinra HQ. It's a Hardy Daytona (Harley Davidson).
- Grand Theft Auto is made of this. Given the violent and hedonistic nature of the games, and the fact that cars are, suffice it to say, expendable, it's basically unlikely for any manufacturer, especially Ferrari as mentioned above, to hand over licences to Rockstar.
- Averted with The Getaway as all of the cars are actual licenced vehicles, largely to add to the verisimilitude already present with the inclusion of a GPS-street accurate map of London.
- British Telecommunications however took umbrage to a mission involving a van bearing their livery, where a driver has to be killed and the van used to assassinate a police officer; as the company was worried that the use of their vehicles in an organised crime game "might incite attacks on [its] engineers," this was later amended on subsequent pressings, though the initial release wasn't recalled.
- Interstate76 goes the extra mile by also featuring fictional makes that correspond with real life ones. For example, Courcheval is Chevrolet, Dover is Dodge, and Phaedra is Ford. More specific examples include the ABX Leprechaun (AMC Gremlin), Dover Lightning (Dodge Challenger), and Jefferson Sovereign (Lincoln Continental).
- Also averted with L.A. Noire, produced by the same Brendan McNamara who headed development of The Getaway. Which is excusable as the player assumes the role of a police detective, and the vehicles in question are already over seventy years old at the very least (and some of the marques featured are either defunct or merged with other manufacturers), though they are still subject to the same rigors a typical Wide Open Sandbox car is subjected to - you can pretty much wreck or disable almost any vehicle in the game, but since you play as a police officer you'd end up getting penalised for causing collateral damage.
- The Mafia series tends to lean more on the Bland-Name Product approach, with vehicles heavily resembling their real life counterparts aside from a few details altered here and there, and a Punny Name alluding to what the car is supposed to be based on, e.g. "Jefferson Provincial" for the Lincoln Continental or "Potomac Indian" for the Pontiac Chieftain.
- The OutRun franchise is an interesting case. The original arcade game and its various home console and computer releases has the player drive what appears to be a Ferrari Testarossa, complete with the iconic "prancing horse" emblem displayed prominently at the back. Sega didn't have the Ferrari licence at the time, and as such the car was changed to a similar yet generic Ferrari expy in re-releases, notably on the Dreamcast version which came as a minigame in Shenmue II. Later games in the series are now Ferrari licenced products, starting with Out Run 2.
- Ridge Racer series: Devil = Lamborghini Diablo, Age Erisso = Fiat 500, Age Abeille = Renault 5 Turbo, Age Pegase = Lotus 7, Lizard Bayonet = Corvette, Assoluto Istante = Vector W8, Assoluto Gephardo = Porsche 952 LM, etc. The cars in R4 and later were mostly completely made up, although some had bits and pieces from real cars. The car on ther RR 7 cover resembles a Saleen S7.
- San Francisco Rush: Most of the cars in the series are knockoffs of real ones, although a few are completely made up. Compact=Acura Integra R, Muscle Car=Corvette Sting Ray, Bruiser=Plymouth Hemi Cuda, Exotic & Super GT=Vector M12, Mobster=Chevy Fleetline, Sportster=Dodge Viper (RT-10 roof, but with GTS competition stripes), 4x4=Ford Explorer, Protoype=Ford GT 90 concept car, Euro LX=BMW Z9, Venom=Lamborghini Diablo, Concept=BMW Nazca C2?, Panther=Mc Laren F1. The gas stations are also generic imitations of Shell, with the word "Fuel" and a smiley face in place of the shell logo.
- Split Second: The car manufacturers are pastiches of real companies. Ryback cars look like modern versions of classic American muscle cars such as the Camaro, Mustang, and Dodge Challenger. Cobretti look like Italian speedsters and the name sounds like Ferrari or Lamborghini. Hanzo has cars that resemble the Impreza and Lancer, and the name sounds like Mazda or Honda.
- Thrash Rally, a top-down Neo Geo rally racing game, had -among others- Toyot GT-Four/Land Crusher (Toyota Celica GT-Four), Parsche 911/OD 6000X (Porsche 911), or Mitsuboshi/Thunderjet (Mitsubishi Pajero).
- Tokyo Extreme Racer lacks licensed cars, instead using replicas of them, each named "TYPE-_____." If you get up close to a car and look at its emblem, you'll notice that it looks almost like a real brand name, but altered slightly; for example, Isuzu-like trucks have the emblem spelling out "USUZU."
- True Crime: Streets of L.A. and its sequel True Crime: New York City also had their vehicles modeled closely after brand-name cars and/or bikes, but are given generic names indicating their engine displacement and configuration and also their body style, e.g. "2.6 I6 Coupe" as a Nissan Skyline R34 stand-in. Though in some cars such as the latter, Punny Name decals like "Skylime" can be seen.
- Nintendo 64 racing game World Driver Championship had, among others: Ellipse Stallion=Ford Mustang Cobra R, Rage 512 EVO=Porsche 911 GT 1 EVO, Reeds R12 Manta=Chevy Corvette C 5 R, Elan Swift TT=Lotus Esprit GT 1, Ram Venom GTR = Dodge Viper GTSR, EXR Mystic=TVR Speed 12.
- An interesting case would be Initial D where real-world cars are used, but the badges are obfuscated presumably for trademark reasons. The models are clearly shown and mentioned, yet any logos would be mangled up in some way.
- In Ai Yori Aoshi Miyabi's car is a BMW Z3, only the BMW logo is red instead of blue.
- Durarara!!: The second episode has a billboard for "Yahaha" motorcycles.
- Excel Saga has Nabeshin driving a "Mitsubibi Lancer."
Films — Animated
- Robbie Reyes, Marvel's latest iteration of the Ghost Rider, is referenced in an in-universe newspaper article as driving a "Dotch Charter."
Films — Live Action
- In Toy Story, the Pizza Planet delivery truck is modeled after a Toyota, though most of the letter decals on the tailgate had been removed, just leaving "YO". (At the time, it wasn't too uncommon for Real Life Toyota owners to do that deliberately.) The truck reappears in Toy Story 2, and the instruction manual reveals it's actually a Gyoza.
- The producers behind Slumdog Millionaire had to remove the badges off the Mercedes-Benz cars used in the film, as Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz's parent company, felt that putting their (luxury) vehicles in a slum setting would tarnish their image, effectively making the cars more or less generic if not for the familiar body design.
- The movie Gung Ho has an American factory building cars for the fictional Assan Motors. The cars themselves are Fiat Ritmos.
- The movie It Takes Two involves the road trip of a man to Denver in order to purchase a Lamborghini Diablo copy-cat called a "Trovare". The situation goes From Bad to Worse for him when it turns out the brand is a Honest John's Dealership and he was swindled into buying a nice-looking lemon (that falls apart after driving it a couple of miles).