Weirdest Automotive Collaborations
Ford and Eddie Bauer
Let’s start with a classic. For 16 years (1984-2010), Ford teamed up with outdoor clothing brand Eddie Bauer. Naturally, the first model to benefit from the partnership was the 1984 Ford Bronco. Its improvements were purely cosmetic, featuring a two-tone exterior and outdoorsy interior.
From then on, Eddie Bauer Edition Fords mostly featured unique paint jobs, unique wheels, and improved seats. The last Eddie Bauer models were the 2010 Explorer and Expedition.
Mercury and Nautica (1993-98)
It doesn’t exactly inspire visions of the mighty sea. But, the Mercury Villager Nautica Edition doesn’t look so bad. Consisted of unique blue and white paintwork with matching white wheels. Buyers also got second-row captain’s chairs and a Nautica bag.
Warner Brothers Chevy Venture (2000-03)
A collaboration between Chevrolet and Warner Brothers might sound a little strange, but it actually makes a lot of sense. They took their already kid-friendly minivan, the Chevrolet Venture, and added a DVD player (pretty impressive for the time), leather seats, and safety seat hooks. Strangely, the Warner Bros. Venture also came with a bunch of accessories including Looney Tunes DVDs, children’s pyjamas, a beach blanket, and a cooler.
Joseph Abboud+Buick Regal (2001-04)
Before writing this, I was certain Joseph Abboud was a fictional character made up by Moore’s Clothing for Men in the way Grimace and the Hamburglar were invented by McDonald’s. However, it appears he is indeed real and he created a pretty deluxe looking Buick Regal which is more impressive than merely existing. The short-lived model included plush, two-tone leather seats and steering wheel; 16” aluminum wheels, and some Abboud badging.
The Levi’s Gremlin X
This is my favourite collaboration by far. After paying deference to the Divine Muse, AMC struck up an inspired partnership with Levi’s denim and create an all blue Gremlin X, billing it in earnest! as “The economy car that wears the pants.” However, while the exterior was eye-catching, the interior made the partnership an exemplar of taste and automotive daring that will be held up against anything created by Giorgetto Giugiaro or Malcolm Sayer. The Gremlin X Levi’s Edition’s greatest attributes were its denim seats, complete with stitching, buttons, and the orange tab.
The idea was so good Volkswagen copied it in 2015.
Call of Duty Jeep Wrangler (2012-13)
If that’s my favourite collaboration, then this is my least favourite. Maybe you’ve seen a 2012 or 2013 Call of Duty Jeep Wrangler covered in monster energy stickers and spewing black smoke, or parked in the handicapped space in front of your local 7-11. It would be pretty hard to mistake it for something else. To its credit, the Call of Duty Wrangler actually included some useful stuff like 32-inch tires and a two-speed transfer case. These improvements, however, were mostly overshadowed by gratuitous (is there another variety?) skull logos.
Volkswagen Golf Harlequin (1996)
Okay, the 1996 Volkswagen Golf Harlequin is bizarre. Instead of featuring one or two tasteful colours, each one is comprised of panels in Tornado Red, Ginster Yellow, Chagall Blue, and Pistachio Green. Volkswagen took standard, monochrome Golfs and then swapped the panels manually. Despite the arduous process, the option cost only $150 extra for customers. Volkswagen made between 264 and 275 examples and sold them exclusively in North America.
So, what’s your favourite automotive collaboration? Should Ford bring back its Eddie Bauer trim level?