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You'd be hard-pressed to tell that they didn't base it on any real life vehicle.note 

Vanoss: It's a McLaren.
Wildcat: It's not a McLaren, they can't say it's that for copyright reasons... it's a McLarry!

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 attempt to acquire a licence for said vehicle. Ferrari is particularly notorious for disallowing companies, or even owners themselves, from putting their cars in a potentially negative or unflattering light; case in point, Ferrari sent a cease-and-desist letter to deadmau5 for violating their trademark with "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 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 frivolous 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, like a Transformers character in the form of a Corolla sedan or something along those lines. (In some countries such as South Korea, however, at least some film and TV studios go through the effort of censoring out car badges likely to sidestep concerns about product placement or royalties.)

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 and iPhony for firearms and Apple hardware lookalikes, respectively.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ai Yori Aoshi Miyabi's car is a BMW Z3, only the BMW logo is red instead of blue.
  • Digimon has a family car being a Volkswagen New Beetle with a different badge.
  • Durarara!!: The second episode has a billboard for "Yahaha" motorcycles.
  • Excel♡Saga has Nabeshin driving a "Mitsubibi Lancer."
  • Initial D: 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. For example, the Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE-86 had "Toreno" badges in many scenes of the first season.

    Comic Books 
  • Ghost Rider: Robbie Reyes is referenced in an in-universe newspaper article as driving a "Dotch Charter."
  • Robin (1993): Tim Drake's second Redbird is quite blatantly based on a Porsche even if some of the styling prevents it from being distinctly labeled as a specific model.

    Films — Animated 
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the novella Black Trip there's a whole city full of cars that look like any regular car of the '60s or '70s, but on closer inspection they aren't. In some cases it's details, like a vehicle that in Real Life had rectangular headlights has round headlights, some two door only models have an extra set of doors and so on. In more pronounced cases cars will just look faintly similar to something, like the Dodge/Buick thing that Mack takes for his own for a time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 9-1-1 seems to be establishing a fictional make called Vero in its universe.
    • One episode has one of Maddie's coworkers get run down by a criminal when she spots him doing something suspicious. The car can be identified as a Saturn Ion, but is called a Vero Galaxy on the show. Likely changed because potential sponsor GM wouldn't want its vehicles associated with this kind of behavior.
    • A later episode has a woman trying to evade a suspected stalker. She identifies her car as a Vero Starfire, but it seems to actually be a Hyundai Genesis with slight remodeling.
  • American Auto takes place at the fictional Payne Motors. Whenever we see Payne's vehicles, they appear to be modified Chrysler products:
    • The Ponderosa sedan seen in the first episode is a modified Chrysler 300. The Palermo seen in "The $10,000 Car" is also based on the 300.
    • The Magellan minivan seen in the second episode is a modified Dodge Grand Caravan.
    • The Pika seems to be the first car on the show not based on a Chrysler product. Instead, it's based on the Honda Fit.

  • Transformers toys, outside of specific toylines such as the live-action movies, the mid-'00s Alternators line, and the high-end Masterpiece line, often lean into this area. For instance, Transformers: Cybertron Crosswise is obviously a barely tweaked Bugatti Veyron. One common practice is to have a vehicle based on a specific model of car with some parts based on another — for instance, Universe Sunstreaker is a Lamborghini Gallardo with parts such as the headlights and rear modified.

    Video Games 
  • As a general note, IGCD is a database that identifies which cars appear in video games. In those games using fictional vehicles, the car is set to the closest car(s) in real-life.
  • Crossing over with Suspiciously Similar Substitute, brands that either rebadge or manufacture designs based on Porsche platforms were this until recent years — the most common stand-in for Porsche cars in non-Electronic Arts racing titles were RUFs.note  This is because EA signed a licence exclusivity deal with Porsche in 2000 when they made Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. This meant that Porsche vehicles could only appear in EA's racing games, although some non-EA franchises, like Forza and the first GRiD, were lucky enough to acquire Porsche sub-licences for their games. The contract ended in late 2016, which resulted in Porsches appearing in a wide variety of racing games... and Cyberpunk 2077.
  • The retraux racer '80s Overdrive has a lineup of 80s sports cars lookalikes including the Penetrator GT (Lamborghini Countach QV), Testosterando (Lotus Esprit, though the name is a pun on Testarossa), Intruder Turbo (Ferrari 288 GTO), Aggressor (Porsche 959), De Loan (DeLorean DMC 12), and Tensor V12 (Vector W8). The traffic vehicles include Fiat 500, Dodge Omni, Chevrolet Caprice, and Jeep Wrangler stand-ins.
  • The Ace Combat series is weird about this, in terms of planes. Like, really weird. Apart from creator-designed Super Prototype aircraft, all the planes used are real-life aircraft, but the companies that manufacture them do not exist in Strangereal. Instead, the aircraft are created by fictional companies (Such as "North Osea Grunder Industries), but are still referred to by their real-life classification. This leads to some strange moments where you have American F-14's being apparently manufactured alongside Russian MiG-29's under the same company, and still being referred to by their official classification, despite neither country nor their respective manufacturing companies existing in the Ace Combat universe. It's easier to just Hand Wave this rather weird aspect of the franchise's lore.
  • 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.
  • Burnout is made of this. It's very much doubtful that a car manufacturer would be willing to hand over licenses to Criterion when the vehicles in the series are subjected to so much (deliberate) abuse.
  • California Speed, by the creators of Cruisn' and San Francisco Rush, also follows this tradition: Baja and Mt. Dew = Chevy C/K-series off-road truck, Convertible = '59 Cadillac Eldorado, Sled = '49 Mercury coupe, Sportster = BMW Z3, Muscle = '68 Chevy Camaro, Mercado = 90's Honda Civic hatchback, Fairchild = Lotus 7, 486 SE = Ferrari 512 TR, Ol' Truck = '55 Chevy Stepside, Predator = Lamborghini Diablo, etc.
  • Interestingly, Car Mechanic Simulator zig-zags this with Downloadable Content, including both knock-off cars AND their real life inspirations as DLC. In fact, rather humorously, in the in-game list of cars, a 2013 Dodge Viper stand-in (the Echos Cobra) is quite literally next to an actual Dodge Viper GTS (albeit as DLC).
  • The Arcade Game series Cruis'n 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 "Kamikaze AWD" which riffed on the Toyota Supra Mark IV save for the split rear window. It wasn't until the original arcade version of Cruis'n Exotica and 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.
  • MS-DOS racer Death Rally features the Vagabond, which is clearly a Volkswagen Beetle; the Shrieker, which looks like the Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am (as made famous by Smokey and the Bandit); and the Wraith, which looks like a Porsche 911. There's also the Deliverator, which is not based off a real car, but instead the Mach 5 from Speed Racer, The two remaining cars, the Dervish and Sentinel, are a generic pickup truck and sedan respectively.
  • 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 AW3 (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.
  • Driveclub inverts this: All cars are licensed save for one, the Wombat Typhoon buggy from Motorstorm. (Both games were developed by Evolution Studios, hence the crossover/self-promotion.)
  • The Driver series had none of its cars named until Parallel Lines, which uses fictional names. The last game of the series, Driver: San Francisco, almost completely averted this trope with the use of real cars, but car bombs or cars being shot during several plot points use the fictional "ASYM Desanne" cars instead. Heavier cars such as buses and trucks are also fictional brands as well.
  • NPC cars in Euro and American Truck Simulator are very obviously real life cars with a slightly modified logo to make them legally not an IRL car according to European law. The German squad car, for example, is obviously a 2012 Volkswagen Passat, but the logo is two inverted V's, and the Renault Clio A.I. car has instead of the diamond a large capital O — despite having actual Renault trucks in the lineup, possibly because the license didn't cover personal vehicles. American Truck Simulator also features what is very obviously a Ford F-150 Raptor, but with the large "Ford" badge replaced with "Frog".
  • Fallout: Red Racer (Radio Flyer) tricycles and Chryslus (after Chrysler) Corvega (portmanteau of Corvair and Vega, two of Chevrolet's worst cars). Unlike other example, this was used mainly for lore building an Alternate History.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Cloud is forced to hijack a motorcycle in order to escape from Shinra HQ. It's a Hardy Daytona (Harley Davidson).
  • Most of the car roster in the Vehicular Combat game Full Auto is based on real vehicles with the serial numbers filled off. For instance, the Guardian is blatantly a Chrysler 300.
  • The Getaway:
    • Averted, as all of the cars are actual licensed 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 (considering how console games at the time had no facilities for game and fimware patches and any glaring bugs or issues would cause the game to be recalled).
  • All of the cars in Ghost Recon Wildlands and Breakpoint are given fictional marque and model names.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • The series does this for the same reason as Burnout. Most especially given the controversially violent and hedonistic nature of GTA, the likes of Ferrari would be in for a shock if they see their cars being treated as expendable props and murder weapons instead of stylish transportation. However, in an interview with former Rockstar staffer Jaime King, he states that it had more to do with licensing; they looked at licensing any and all vehicles to be used as expensive and complicated. Even if they did somehow got their hands on a licence they'd be burdened by long-term distribution (as what has happened when a legacy GTA game is re-released and/or updated with radio tracks omitted) or restrictions in the case of certain manufacturers like Ferrari.
    • Rockstar Games wasn't beyond combining this with the occasional Precision F-Strike and Punny Name. The Ford Capri look-alike from London 1969 is called the Crapi, the Suzuki brand of motorcycles and boat engines is parodied as Shitzu (complete with a logo that looks like a turd), and the parody of Nissan is called Annis, complete with a car (based on the Nissan Silvia) called the Remus in case the reference to anal sex wasn't obvious enough.
    • Starting with Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, in-universe car designs started to be recycled in games with the same engine, or redesigned to match the era where a game takes place: the Infernus in III and Liberty City Stories looks like a Jaguar XJ220, in Vice City and Vice City Stories it looks like a Lamborghini Countach, in San Andreas it looks like a Honda NSX, and in IV and V it looks like a hybrid between a Lamborghini MurciĆ©lago and a Pagani Zonda.
    • Starting from Grand Theft Auto IV, car makers besides Grotti, (a pastiche of Ferrari first seen on a dealership sign in San Andreas) Maibatsu, (which often had radio advertisements for their cars), and Imponte (who had an ad for the Insurrection in Vice City Stories) are introduced, introducing makers that correspond with real-life makers. For instance, Dewbauchee is Aston Martin, Vapid is Ford, Coil is Tesla, and Pfister is Porsche, among many others, though said companies aren't necessarily depicted to be direct parodies of real-world marques they were largely based on. Some GTA car brands represent multiple car brands, Karin stands in for Toyota, Subaru, and Mitsubishi (which is how you get a "Corolla", a "WRX", and a "Lancer Evo" made by the same fake brand), Annis is Nissan and Mazda, and Lampadati is Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Possibly justified due to Alternate Universe.
    • Most Game Mods for the series avert this, replacing the series' fake cars with their real-world counterparts or other real-world cars in general, a large number of them comprising of conversions sequestered from other racing games. Starting with the release of the PC port of V, there's been more of an interest in "lore-friendly" vehicle mods that are meant to fit with the brands Rockstar has made for the games and how they stylize their fake cars to be different from their real-world counterparts. The most notable of these mods can be found in Vanillaworks' vehicle packs: The titular Vanillaworks Extended, the emergency vehicle-focused Dispatchworks Pack, and the IVPack which focuses on cars that can be found in IV but not V.
    • This became enforced in larger FiveM servers due to trademark complaints from automakers who did not take kindly to their marques being used without their permission.note  As such, tutorials exist for those who want to have their vehicles genericised for legal use on a FiveM server.
  • As a throwback to old-school SNES-era racing games, Horizon Chase features many cars based on real-life ones, with some even doubling as Shout-Outs to other franchises such as Back to the Future, Batman and Initial D.
  • Interstate '76 features fictional makes that correspond with real 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).
  • Averted with L.A. Noire, produced by the same person, 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.
  • Midnight Club uses fictional cars in the first two games, most of them being real-life cars with some details altered. The third game ditched this trope in favor of real-life marques and models.
  • Motorstorm:
    • Motorstorm is another franchise that makes heavy use of this, being an off-road racing game with a heavy emphasis on destruction, though they tend to group all vehicles of a certain category into one manufacturer, with examples including "Patriot" representing American cars and trucks (the Big Three in particular); "Italia" having a lot of Italian sports cars; "Wulff", "Monarch" and "Mirage" doing the same for German, British and French cars; "Castro" being older heavy American vehicles; "Atlas" being a counterpart to makers of diesel trucks, as well as Hummer; and finally "Lunar-Tec" (almost) exclusively building custom vehicles.
    • R.C. has a Scion iQ, so far the only licensed car in the entire franchise.
  • My Summer Car: Almost every vehicle is based on a real life counterpart. Being a game set in Finland in 1995, most of the vehicles are limited to what was common over there at that time. The titular car is based on a '70s Datsun.
  • Need for Speed:
    • Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit and Need for Speed: High Stakes are interesting cases: All vehicles with real-life counterparts are licensed, but in the cases of the two Ferraris only under the condition that they can only be used in races, not in police chases. Thus, in Hot Pursuit mode, the Ferraris are unavailable. The same applies to the Mercedes-Benz vehicles in High Stakes. In comparison, Lamborghini and Porsche had no problems with their cars being used in chases, but keep in mind that there are also police Lamborghini Diablos and police Porsche 911s.
    • There are countless fan-made cars for both games, but they were all modified from in-game cars even if they got entirely new bodies, textures, and specs. These cars inherited the Hot Pursuit limits from their base vehicles. Some car builders were smart enough not to base their Ferraris on in-game Ferraris, thereby creating Ferraris that are available in the Hot Pursuit mode.
  • The OutRun franchise is another 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 license 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 and the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch ports released after Sega lost the Ferrari license. OutRun 2 and its derivatives have fully licensed cars; the Xbox version even includes the original game as an unlockable, with the prancing horse intact. Unfortunately, OutRun Online Arcade (a digital Updated Re-release of OutRun 2) was delisted in 2010 due to Sega not renewing its contract with Ferrari, which also means it's unlikely for any of the OutRun 2 series to be re-released anytime soon.
  • Ridge Racer uses fictional makes and models presumably so that Namco would avoid having to pay royalties to car manufacturers, with further games in the series being set in a Constructed World (the fourth game did mention real countries and featured ads for other Namco games, but everything else is all fictional). The fifth game is implied to be on Strangereal, with Neucom and General Resources's logos figuring on the in-game scenery alongside Fictional Counterparts of real life cars that may or may not being tied to Ace Combat in terms of universe (although Ace Combat primarily features real life airplanes except for the third game, and most fictional planes outside of the third game are Super Prototypes).
  • While real-world aftermarket auto parts manufacturers do appear in RPM Tuning, the cars themselves are fictitious if not for the body design being heavily based off actual vehicles. The "Sport 322 Csi" for one is by and large a BMW M3 E46 clone, save for badges and a few minor details.
  • San Francisco Rush: Most of the cars in the series are knockoffs of real ones, although a few are completely made up. The Compact is an Acura Integra R, the Muscle Car is a Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, the Bruiser is a Plymouth Hemi Cuda, the Exotic and Super GT are based on the Vector M12, the Mobster is a Chevy Fleetline, the Sportster is a Dodge Viper (RT-10 roof, but with GTS competition stripes), the 4x4 is a Ford Explorer, the Prototype is a Ford GT90 concept car, the Euro LX is a BMW Z9, the Venom is a Lamborghini Diablo, the Concept is a BMW Nazca C2, and the Panther is a McLaren F1. The gas stations are also generic imitations of Shell, with the word "Fuel" and a smiley face in place of the shell logo.
  • SnowRunner plays this straight or averts this depending on the vehicle. The general rule seems to be that American (or Canadian or Czech in the case of Pacific or Tatra) civilian trucks are licensed while Russian trucks and military vehicles are given pseudonyms.
  • Split/Second (2010): The car manufacturers are pastiches of real companies named after '80s Hollywood Action Heroes except for one. 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 Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer, and the name sounds like Mazda or Honda.
  • A rare Formula One-derived example is in classic Sega racer Super Monaco GP. McLaren would be Madonna, and Williams would be Millions, etc.
  • 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).
  • Early installments of the Tokyo Xtreme Racer series did not have licensed cars, instead using near-identical replicas that the game called "TYPE-____", with the blank space filled in with the corresponding car's chassis code — or, missing that, an acronym. There are small enough differences in emblems, headlights and bodywork to make them legally distinct. Starting with the first Drift game, developers Genki would obtain proper licensing for all subsequent entries.
  • Top Gear had four vehicles clearly based on real sports cars, hidden behind generic names: Cannibal (red, Ferrari Testarossa), Razor (purple, Honda NSX), Sidewinder (white, Ferrari 288 GTO) and Weasel (teal, Porsche 959).
  • True Crime: Streets of LA 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 C5R, Elan Swift TT = Lotus Esprit GT1, Ram Venom GTR = Dodge Viper GTSR, EXR Mystic = TVR Speed 12.
  • Wangan Midnight, following a similar principle as with RUF, made the Blackbird a Gemballa; like RUF, Gemballa's cars use Porsche bodies but the machinery and interior is all made by Gemballa, which is why they are considered a separate manufaturer.
  • Wreckfest uses this trope, presumably for the same reasons as Burnout and Grand Theft Auto. They're still readily identifiable to car nerds (Rocket is the first-generation Ford Mustang, Hammerhead is the Volvo 240, etc.).

    Real Life 
  • In real life, this is known as rebadging.