What are these metal badges I've been seeing on vehicles?

Lately I’ve noticed a number of vehicles with a magnetic or stick-on metal “badge” (like a Jesus or Darwin fish) on the back that I can’t figure out the significance of.

One of the badges I’ve seen is an R in a circle, like a Radio Shack logo, although I doubt that’s what it is. The other one I’ve seen looks like the Superman emblem, but with a Z inside instead of an S.

I don’t believe either of these is make or model related - I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them on a variety of cars, minivans and SUVs. Can a fellow Doper clue me in?

Oval Euro country stickers?

If it was around here, I would suspect a local coffee shop, tavern, or cafe. Promotional items?

Here’s the Superman Z:

I’ve seen a number of different zombie related decals on cars lately. They often have a Z as a feature in the graphics. Maybe there’s a local club?
Here’s a couple examples:


I’ve got these on my Jeep: mighty boosh monkey head - Bing images

Circle R might refer to Registered Trademark, the Redskins, or a number of things sold by a number of companies called “Circle R.”

jnglmassiv, your first link is the “Z” design I was talking about, in a metal or chrome emblem like this, which I found by googling “superman auto decals”. Unfortunately googling for “zombie superman” or “zombieman” auto decals doesn’t get me what I’m looking for.

Googling “radio shack logo” I see that it is an “R” offset to the left in a circle. However, the auto emblems I’ve seen were offset to the right IIRC, and maybe down a little. Sticking with the comic book characters idea, I thought maybe it was a “Robin” logo, but I’m not sure that’s it either.

I guess next time I see either one of these, I should try to get a picture and post it. Or else follow the person until they park and ask them what the heck it is.

Nissan use Z in a circle for their Z series ( and the Z series had it before they were Nissan… )

VW use R in a circle for their racing versions… eg Polo GTI with an R.

Of course to the owner of the car, it may just be someones initial or their joke.

Bumping this thread because I have finally found out what these are.

My wife and I were taking a walk today on the trail in our neighborhood park, and I saw a truck in the parking lot at the park with one of the “Z” emblems on the front license plate and the metal badge on the back. I stopped and asked the guy what it was. He said it’s the logo for the car dealership in Topeka where he got the truck. When I mentioned that I had also seen similar badges with an R in a circle he said he thought that was one of the car dealers in Kansas City.

So… mystery solved! This is just regional car dealership branding.

And it was the Fairlady Z (for Zed) before that. Gah. I guess that sounds better in Japanese.

(I was watching a rally on TV one time, and the British announcer said, “And here comes Team Nissan in their Zed cars…” and even though I completely understand the zee/zed thing it just did Not Sound Right…)

May the elder ones bless poor benighted California for outlawing dealer markings. Every time I saw an out-of-state car with a chrome FRED’S CHEVROLET & GMC plate I could only flinch. It really should be illegal everywhere.

Do you know when California did that? I grew up there, was a motor head there, briefly operated a hop-up shop there, and moved away in 1981 with only periodic short visits since.

Dealer markings certainly weren’t illegal way back then. I haven’t been back in a few months now but as of that last visit I can’t say I remember noticing, or noticing the absence of, any dealer markings.

Or are we perhaps talking about different things? In years gone by I’ve seen badges, decals, and adhesive plasti-chrome writing attached to deck lids, lift gates, bumpers, etc.

All I know is that in 50 years, I never saw a California dealer mark on a car (other than license plate frames, removable) and was told by a DMV information person that it was prohibited there.

Seems like it’s universal in the middle of the country, not so common here on the East Coast. And Just Not Done in the biggest car state of all.

Why? Bumper stickers aren’t. Why should dealer stickers be the only prohibited ones?

As I recall, in the “Good Old Days” some dealers used to drill holes to screw on their dealer logos in chrome (On the opposite side of the rear trunk from the model, also in chrome). Of course, the result would be an extra point for the rust to start. It kind of faded when manufacturers started predrilling (punching?) auto bodies and then dip-painting them in anti-rust paint during manufacturing. Sounds like some California assembly type were on the “there oughta be a law” bandwagon back then.

I beg to differ, at least from the late 60s through the early 80s.

My Dad even refused delivery of a new 1972 car he’d custom-ordered from the factory because the dealership had attached their name decal to the trunk lid and clear-coated over it. Dad didn’t want a new trunk lid either since the paint wouldn’t have matched exactly. Dealer was pissed, but Dad was willing to wait for the factory to make a new one. So they did.

You’re right they weren’t as universal then as they seem to be today in the Northeast or Midwest. But there weren’t zero of them.

If I might venture a theory, it might simply be because in California the license plates stay with the car a lot longer than in other states.

From a dealer’s perspective, the plate brackets are better because they don’t piss people like LSLGuy’s dad off, but the problem is that most people are going to throw them away the first time they have to change plates. In some states, they make you get new plates every few years and plus any time the car changes ownership, so that approach yields significantly less free advertising than a permanent sticker. In California, though, as I understand it so long as the car is continuously registered in the state and the plate is in good condition it stays with the car.

That was certainly the case when I lived there. And still is as far as I know from friends and relatives who still do live there. License plate frames with the dealer’s name were all but universal on new or used cars sold through a dealer.

Because they are often not desired by the car owner and can be difficult to remove without damaging the finish (they’re designed to stay on indefinitely). For a more extreme illustration of the point, imagine buying a house that “Fred’s Home Construction Co.” built into the outside front wall in raised brick. When people pay thousands of dollars for something they don’t want it to be hijacked into some company’s advertisement.

Bumper stickers are a whole different animal, generally being chosen and installed by the car owner as well as being removable without causing damage.

Agree completely. Now if only we could get a blanket prohibition against logos on clothing.