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Tips on Debadging a Vintage Car


A few times a year something comes along that is a treasure and in detailing that treasure to me was preping two cars for Pebble Beach and Quail Lodge this year.

The 1955 Porsche 356 Pre A GS Carrera Speedster I believe the owner told me its 1:14 in the world.  It will be attending Mille Miglia in 2012

The Ferrari is a 288 GTO that had the honor of sitting on the 18th hole of Pebble beach as one of the cars for Ferrari USA.

I didn’t have a ton of time with these cars because the transporter was arriving in just a few days, so I had to prioritize what I could get done with what needed to be done.  One of the things that shows like a bird turd on a car is the areas around the badges of the car.  These cars needed some polishing, but the areas around the badges were in rough shape.  Now with these cars the badges are pegged into the panel, and the peg or foot of the badge is held into place on the inside with specialized clips.  You would think just pop off the clip and remove the badge……….never is it as simple as it seems.  Most modern badges on daily drivers are stuck in place by adhesive foam tape, removal of these is different…….maybe for another article.

Using the Meguiars D300 and MF finishing pad, yes a finishing pad………a bit less haze created on this paint with a finishing pad.

This Ferrari 288 GTO was reacting a bit differently than the Porsche.  I used Meguiars D300 primed pad with 3 pea size dots of Meguiars 105 on a MF Cutting pad.  This combo gave me the cut and finish I was looking for.  I followed up with Ultrafina……

The trick to debadging a car is to have what you need ahead of time (clips), don’t rush the job, and pretend the badges cost $1000 each.  I also cleaned with q-tips in between the letters, old dried waxes and grit removal.  This Ferrari badge you will notice the letters are held in place by a super thin support, IT BENDS SUPER EASY!  With these hand crafted cars the badges are fit to certain spots on the car, in my experience, so keep track of what part of the car each comes from……….this will save much time and weeping as you search for the right combo of hole and badge!

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Greg Nichols Reflections Detailing
Greg Nichols
Reflections Detailing
Logan, Utah

22 comments on Tips on Debadging a Vintage Car

  1. Tim Buxton says:

    Great article Greg. The properly executed debadge during a detail really takes it to the next level. Can’t wait to read your article for modern day cars.

    • greg nichols says:


      Thanks for stopping by and taking a read. You yourself are turning out some amazing results, keep it up!


  2. Barry Theal says:

    Great article Greg! No hype or non sense just good ole experianced craftsmenship. Enjoyed it.

    • greg nichols says:


      Thanks for the reply, and coming for a visit here on DI. I try to apply the KISS method (keep it simple stupid) give the correct basics and allow the user to modify as they use the correct basics.


  3. Tim says:


    Thanks for the great article. Do you have any tips on how to make a template so you can put those adhesive backed emblems in the right place. This is a very timely article for me.

  4. Chad M. says:

    Great article thanks for the insight.

    • greg nichols says:


      thanks for the kudos, its great to know people value my efforts in creating these articles!


  5. James says:

    Nice write up and thank you for sharing.

    • greg nichols says:


      Thank you also.


      • Mike Williamson says:

        I do a lot of body work and paint and have to remove the badging. At times it can be a real pain and no matter how careful I am will still break the badging sometimes. Then the real trouble starts especially when it is something old or rare and badging is not readily available. I have used nylon fishing line to help cut the adhesive behind the badges but when there is a pin and clip that is when the trouble starts.

  6. Great article Greg!

    Handling that delicate Ferrari emblem must have been a lot like playing a game of Operation! 🙂


  7. mike says:

    Hey Greg,

    I may have missed something but what do you use to actually remove the badge from the car? I have a 2011 GTI and want to remove the GTI emblem from the trunk. It is held on by a very sticky adhesive. Thanks.

  8. Mike Cardenas says:

    I always wished Mercedes-Benz had emblems that could be easily removed. I’ve always considered them one of the toughest emblems to work with. Great article Greg!

    • greg nichols says:


      The nice thing about MD emblems is that you can clean them better than others. I use a steamer to clean emblems a lot. As far as polishing them, its a finger, MF cloth, and polish job and I agree with being tough to keep nice.


  9. MarkyMark says:

    I didn’t think that article was very helpful at all and I doubt anyone really learned anything from reading it. I am impressed with the type of cars in the pics and the attention to detail by removing the emblems but I think that is all your article is designed for. The only real tip was to be careful, and that kind of goes without saying. There was no mention of how the emblems were removed, no list of tools or materials, and no pics of the clips or removing them.
    Because those cars are so rare and this article is supposed to help people, I think it would have been more beneficial to do a quick write up on adhesive backed emblems on modern cars. You could show the removal, some of the methods used (fishing line, dental floss, plastic trim tool), and even cleaning the left over adhesive off the panel with an eraser wheel. As a BONUS, at the end of the article you could have thrown in some words about vintage cars and the peg/clip differences.
    I hope you don’t mind my constructive criticism, but I think that would have helped a lot more people whereas your article doesn’t really do much for anyone. I am used to reading good write ups from you and this time I was a little bit disappointed.

  10. Mark,

    I think the “tip” Greg was referring too was the difference that the “fine details” like this can make on a job, especially with cars of this caliber. That’s how I took it anyway, but I can see how one could take it more as a how to article given the title. 😉

  11. Blackthorn One says:

    Great article! Too bad Ferrari drilled the holes for the badge too far apart on that GTO. The “I” is bent because of it. It would need to be properly measured, redrilled, the extra area of the then slotted hole filled and repainted to fix it.

    • greg nichols says:

      The “I” was only slightly off, and I think it was due to it self being bent. The owner made the call NOT to adjust any of the emblems as the cars were leaving the next day!


      • blackthorn one says:

        Indeed. The “I” had to be bent in order to get the pin that is molded into the bottom of the “I” into the hole, because the holes in the deck lid were drilled further apart than the pins on the bottom of the “F” and the “I” are. The F doesn’t bend because it is too rigid, so the “I” must do all the bending to compensate, because the “I” only has a thin strip of metal connecting it to the rest of the word, thus allowing it to be the most easily bent. There is no other reason why the “I” would be bent since the badge fits on the car, ie the pins fit into the holes on the deck lid, proving that the person who drilled the holes drilled them too wide, and then the person putting the badge on bent the “I” so that the badge would fit. He MADE it fit, when it otherwise would not.

        Interesting you mention debadging. I heard a story about a Ferrari owner who kept the cowl tag in the inside of his jacket pocket when it was being vintage raced, while he watched. He said that that metal tag is what is worth all of the money, so long as you have this, you can rebuild a whole new car from scratch and it will still be a Ferrari.

  12. greg nichols says:

    I’ve seen learned the “debadging” means to change the registration of the entire car in many countries. So it likely a better term for this is emblem removal and cleaning. I posted this article on a European listing and they all thought I changed the paperwork and title of the car!


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