Hooniverse Asks: Car Swag—Brah! or Blah?

Back when he was staring in Smokey and the Bandit we all thought Burt Reynolds was the coolest of the cool. Today, even the coolest can’t make that screaming chicken Bandit windbreaker look like anything other than what it really is: cheesy.
In fact, there are very few car-brand items of clothing or accessories that don’t look a little ridiculous. Does wearing a t-shirt with Ferrari on the front really show your sincere support for the venerated Italian brand as you climb into your grimy Hyundai Excel? What about seeing someone with a Lamborghini laptop? What kind of person do you perceive that to be?
Car swag has a long history, but the question for today is, should it? Do we need to have our clothes and accessories match our choice-or worse our aspirations—in cars? What do you think about car swag, do you give it a brah! or a blah?
Image: Road & Track

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44 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Car Swag—Brah! or Blah?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    Hats are OK, pins, and most T-shirts too. It can easily be overdone and venture into cheesy. I have a few Corvette Racing Hats and T-shirts that I wear. I try not to wear the hat and t-shirt at the same time.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Oh man, that Bandit jacket! When I was in first grade, one of my best friends not only had a Bandit jacket, but he had a silver Corvette jacket too. Soooooooooooo jealous.
    I see nothing wrong with swag, but then again, I still need the MiSSus to help me dress when we go out in public, so maybe I shouldn’t be giving fashion advice.

  3. Bob Chinn Avatar
    Bob Chinn

    I see it like going to see a band. Never wear the t-shirt of the band you are seeing. Same with cars, never wear swag of the car you are driving.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      What about a t-shirt for the factory race team of the car you are driving? I wouldn’t wear a Corvette t-shirt (actually don’t think I ever had one) when driving a Corvette, but Corvette Racing gear seemed to be OK. Ferrari drivers that this way too far though.

    2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    3. JayP Avatar

      Unless it’s Maiden.
      That’s the only band who can wear their own f’n shirts.

  4. Sjalabais Avatar

    I had a couple of Volvo t-shirts as a kid, and earned a lot of weird eyes and comments for it. At age 14 I decided to not do free advertisement for anyone anymore and wore exclusively white shirts and black jeans for the following 3,5 years. Much to the annoyance of my entire family, even though I envy the simplicity of doing the laundry when I look at our mess of Princess Elsa and Lightning McQueen stuff etc.
    So, yeah, I think I’d be fine with kid’s car swag, and for grown-ups, car shows should be a fitting venue.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      I’m honestly thankful to Disney that they made light blue and dark mint green the colors du jour after decades of Mattel pink.

  5. Alff Avatar

    Each to his or her own. At present I own no car swag. The closest I come is a SnapOn Carhart-style coat. The wife hates it but it is very warm.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      You know, I suspected at the time the magnets were a little too nice to be factory items.

  6. 0A5599 Avatar

    If a dealer gave it to you as a thank you for displaying your car at their event, it’s cool.
    If you bought it from a dealer because you’re​ a fanboy, meh.
    If you bought it from a mall or Walmart, don’t even bother.
    I think my favorite swag is a Direct Connection fender cover I can no longer use for its intended purpose. The backing is disintegrating from age and leaves residue everywhere.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      What if, hypothetically speaking, someone were to commission the items himself because none otherwise existed? I’m asking for a friend.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        Yes, the same friend who gave me one.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Quiet! Otherwise everybody will want one.
          As I keep saying.

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

            What? We’re just speaking hypothetically here.

          2. mdharrell Avatar

            Believe me, when it comes to demand for the patches I figured that out a while ago.

      2. Lokki Avatar

        If that were the only indication of psychological problems I’d be okay with it- however if your friend combined this with a series of other symptoms…. well…
        What symptoms, you ask?
        Say, for example, knowing the name of this car

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          No idea. I’ve never been anywhere near one of those Vel– I mean, vehicles, and you can’t prove that I have. Unless there’s photographic evidence to the contrary.

        2. JayP Avatar

          You were at ABCDE?

          1. Lokki Avatar

            Yup…. with my car too. I always enjoy ABCDE… and this year I was especially blown away

          2. JayP Avatar

            Cool. We weren’t prepared for that weather though!!

          3. Lokki Avatar

            That’s what I meant about being blown away. Still any show with a dozen Morgans and a Bugatti is pretty impressive.

      3. jeepjeff Avatar

        Totally excellent.

      4. 0A5599 Avatar

        Did this friend pay the appropriate fee to the owners of the rights to the logos?

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Provided the key word is “appropriate” I believe the answer is yes.

  7. JayP Avatar

    Try being an Audi guy in the 80’s.
    Good luck finding anything Audi related back then.

  8. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Depending on the marque and the specific piece, the maximum is one article.

  9. Hillman_Hunter Avatar

    I had a Ferrari t-shirt when I was ten. If I had kids I’d let my ten year-old wear car swag.

  10. Turbobrick Avatar

    Outside of T-shirts, only if you got it for free. I do have a prancing moose T-shirt but I feel that’s okay because it’s far enough removed.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      I got a very nice billet Scion keychain for free in 2006. Now that Scion is gone, another two or three years and it will cool enough to use.

    1. JayP Avatar

      In college I had a t-shirt printed with a similar exploded view… made it handy when I went to the local Brit parts shop. All I needed to do was point at my belly, “I need this part”

  11. jeepjeff Avatar

    Well, I think you should own or have some significant experience with brand of the branded schwag to justify it. For instance, despite being mostly an AMC/MOPAR guy, I have a Ford Performance Racing School shirt. I spent a lot of time proudly wearing it at Sears Pointless back in March. Again, I’ve been through their program, and I was racing a Ford that weekend. The valve cover even said “Powered By Ford” on the the engine. Magnificent.
    I have a big exception to this: dead marques. If the brand no longer exists, go for it. It is still better to own a related vehicle, but I think you could rock an Eagle hat without having any of their fine vehicles. Likewise for Studebaker and Oldsmobile. Still good if you commission it yourself.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      For a while I had a Plymouth t-shirt. Neither I, nor anyone in my family, has ever owned a Plymouth. But I have always really loved that font.

      1. fede Avatar

        off I go to search for that in a vector format…

        1. caltemus Avatar

          try vectormagic, its amazing for things like this. Or i can send you the output if you want

          1. fede Avatar

            thanks for the tip!
            it seems to work great, but I’m not sure the subscription is worth it just for one use
            just as I was writing this I read that you’d offered to send the results. I definitely need to pay more attention!
            if you could send me the result it’d be awesome, thanks!

          2. caltemus Avatar

            lemme know if that works, its an .eps file

          3. fede Avatar

            it did work great, thanks again!

      2. Vairship Avatar

        I’ve always loved the Studebaker logo in a whole variety of forms, despite never having owned a Studebaker http://assets.catawiki.nl/assets/2014/11/20/9/a/e/9aedb46c-70d2-11e4-8f21-dbf7c0f395dd.jpg

  12. caltemus Avatar

    I usually go for small pins that I wear on a ball cap. In addition I do have a bunch of hats that are racing teams; for example I’ve got a jenson button MclarenHonda hat, with a 2005 honda motorcycle demo pin on one side, and a bruce mclaren racing pin on the other. Found a small mazda pin of their old logo at Lime Rock last year that’s on my Hamilton Malaysian hat

  13. Bob Kuykendall Avatar
    Bob Kuykendall

    I cherish the Humber patch a team member sewed onto my racing suit. Right next to the IOE patch.

  14. sunbeammadd Avatar

    I own a LOT of Hillman Imp-themed t- and polo shirts, but I try to only wear them one at a time.
    I used to have a Sunbeam cap I wore a lot but the wife made it disappear.

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