When I was a kid all of the cars had dealer nameplates on them, branding the car so to speak. The more elegant cars had embossed nameplates; the cheaper ones had stickers. But either way, the car could fall to pieces before those little emblems fell off.

The idea was one of advertising. As long as that car was on the road people would know where it came from. Of course that was when cars were built to last. People don’t seem to keep their cars as long these days, or they just don’t last as long. And the sword cuts both ways; if the car is a piece of junk people will know who sold it to you.

These days dealer nameplates more often take the form of rear license plate holders, which are much eaier to remove. These days I guess we prefer to wear our brands on our clothes.

In automobile industry jargon, a nameplate is the name given to a vehicle by its manufacturer. As of May 27, 2004, there were 267 distinct nameplates, or automobile names, in the United States alone. And that doesn’t count different body styles.

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