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Emblem Installation
By Mike Bumbeck/
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyModerate
Estimated Time240 minutes
240 minutes
While the glory days of the American muscle car have come and gone, the legend will live on forever thanks to those who preserve it through the restoration and preservation of classic performance rides. The basic formula of the American muscle car is simple: Stuff the largest possible displacement engine into the smallest possible car, factor in putting the gas pedal to the floor, and add it up for tire smoking fun.
Emblem Installation
Brand Names
Sheer displacement and horsepower were indeed large parts of the muscle car era, but there was another crucial component to the legend. Since a good lot of the muscle was added to somewhat bland, existing platforms, some flash was required to set the rides apart from the rest of the pack. This flash ranged from the functional—like an under-dash activated ram air hood scoop complete with shark teeth graphics—to the not so performance oriented but fun nonetheless—like the horn on the Plymouth Road Runner, which mimicked the speedy cartoon bird with a "meep-meep" instead of a honk.

While all of these things tell the hapless driver in the other lane that you've got muscle, none of them say it better than the set of fender emblems that literally spell out what is under the hood. Numbers such as 426, 350, 302, 351, 383 and 502 signify much more than mere integers to muscle car fans, and an SS badge says the small block 350 can lay down the law before the gavel, or as the throttle, comes down.

Time, however, is often not kind to the pot metal and chrome these monograms are made of, and sometimes in the process of restoration one might want to improve on the factory numbers. Within the muscle car world of the present there are those who strive to restore their rides down to the last NOS windshield knob and push them into a climate-controlled, hermetically-sealed environment never to be driven again. Then there are those who build muscle cars for their intended purpose—to be driven as if they were just stolen. The latter crowd tends to get a bit creative in their engine and transmission combination choices, often adding options where Detroit never dreamed.

Label Maker
So what happens if you want to make a 383 small block, first-generation convertible Camaro, but still want the fender emblems to tell the tale? No problem thanks to a little badge creativity and to the large variety of reproduction muscle car emblems. In the case of this particular ride, Chevy never made a convertible SS 383, so a little revisionist manufacturing was required to bring the right look to the freshly painted fenders. "Measure it twice, cut it once," definitely applies here, and extra care should be taken not to scratch any surfaces. Long mask painters tape, careful measuring, sharp drill bits, along with lots of patience are the key tools in the arsenal when it comes to laying down emblems on off-car bodywork. Thanks to the reproduction and restoration industry for bringing a little bit of the past into the present. Flying with original or custom emblems is now easier than ever.
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