The auto industry is full of instances where cars design, share (or copy) parts, and even entire powertrains. Most obvious are the blatant counterfeits of a more successful car, usually from other countries. While they can mimic the look, they can’t quite match what’s under the hood. Manufacturers will also often share parts between their more expensive models and their affordable offerings.
However, auto twins are something completely different. They include rebadged models and cars co-developed by two or more brands and then sold in separate markets and with slightly varying powertrains and features. The nice thing about car twins is that many drivers are not even aware that some cars have twins that are sold in different markets or under a different name/brand. And indeed, while some auto twins are famous, others are rather obscure.
In this list, we focus on 10 of the coolest and most iconic cases of auto twins in the automotive industry, showing their similarities and also identifying their key differences. How many of these do you already know?
10 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Marauder
For years, the Ford Crown Victoria was the standard model for police forces around the world. It made sense, from the lean frame to the powerful engine and great drivetrain, and was also used as a base for taxis. Although it appeared to have a mirror in the Mercury Grand Marquis, the Marauder is a better twin for it.
The 2004 revival of the nameplate included a 4.6-liter V8 engine that sent 302 horsepower and 318 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission. It also boasted the same skinny and mean look and while it didn’t become a sales success, the Marauder did offer a good revival of the Crown Vic’s spirit as a ride worthy of law enforcement.
9 Mitsubishi Starion and Chrysler Conquest
They may not have been the prettiest cars of the 80s, but the Mitsubishi Starion and Chrysler Conquest had a decent appeal. The Starion was introduced in 1983 as a replacement for the Sapporo, utilizing then luxury ideas such as plush leather seats, climate control and great suspension.
It was never a strong car (the best it got was 188 horsepower), but it drove like a dream. The Conquest was designed for North America, a little weaker in the 2.6L G54B engine, but still decent handling. The boxy shape and pop-up headlights added to the appeal of making both versions a cult car of the decade.
8 Subaru Impreza and Saab 9-2X
This was a nice rebadge that slipped under the radar for some customers. The Subaru Impreza has been one of the company’s biggest successes with shifts from the WRX to the STI and is a pretty good buy. But Saab offered their own take on the 9-2X.
It was virtually identical to the WRX, from the 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four rated at 227 horsepower to the styling. It also had a bit of a sporty feel and a fun ride thanks to the same four-wheel drive and even good mileage. So if an Impreza was a little pricey, the 9-2X was a more than worthy addition for much the same experience.
7 Saturn Sky and Opel GT
Saturn may be long gone, but the Sky was a good roadster. The base version got a good 2.4-litre inline-4 with an improved straight-4 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection engine producing 260 hp. It was not a strong seller and only lasted two years as Saturn was on its way, but it was reworked into the 2007 Opel GT.
It had a slightly weaker four-cylinder, but the styling was on point and made the GT look like a real sports car. Unfortunately, neither model lasted long.
6 Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird
Amazing, both the Dodge Charger Dayton and Plymouth Superbird were considered ugly cars when they hit the market in 1969. Today, they are both seen as classics as the winged wonders tore it apart at the Talladega 500 and other races.
They are very similar with their long sharp noses and huge wings, although there are some minor differences in the styling. Both were incredibly powerful for their time, but the Daytona came out ahead. It featured a 485-hp 6.4-liter V8 that outperformed the Superbird’s 425-hp Hemi V8. Today, each of these classics will make a fortune in the used car market and both remain timeless reminders of the golden age of muscle cars.
5 Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86
It has become commonplace for automakers to collaborate, and few prove it more than the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86. The cars are two of the most famous twins on the market, identical in their powertrains and chassis, with minor tweaks to the exterior and interior designs and suspensions.
The twins remained identical for the 2022 model year, both received the same 2.4-liter boxer engine with 228 horsepower. Buyers still need to educate themselves about the minor differences in ride quality, suspensions, shocks and interiors to choose the right model to buy. But other than that, the “twins” fully deserve their nickname.
4 Mitsubishi 3000GT and Dodge Stealth
It’s a bit complicated how Dodge ended up selling a reverse-badged version of the Mitsubishi, but it worked out well for both parties. The exterior differences are notable, with the Stealth having a more “American” feel in the design to look stronger and bolder, while the 3000GT has a sharper look.
Mechanically they are almost identical, with the 3000GT having a slightly better engine. Also, the 3000GT has a convertible option that the Stealth lacks. However, they both offer a streamlined ride and some of the best performance of a ’90s sports car.
3 Opel Insignia GS and Buick Regal GS
This is one of the cases where a name change works out well for a different market. Admittedly, it was bad in the beginning, because the Buick Regal replaced the strong 325 hp strong 2.8-liter turbo V6 of the Opel Insignia with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 255 hp.
Fortunately, that was corrected in later models, with the 2018 Regal sporting a 310-hp V6 and much better handling. It also had the same good looks that made it worthy of its sporty sedan performance.
2 Holden Monaro and Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO is a great American muscle car, so it’s surprising that a modern version of it is Australian. The GTO was a standout in the early muscle car era before fading into the background and being discontinued in 1974. In 1968 a version was made in Australia, called the Holden Monaro, which had the same style, strong engine and actually lasted longer than the American version.
In 2001 it was revived, now a modern sports coupe with a bit of muscle. It was felt that it would sell better in the US under the Pontiac name to reuse the GTO label and the powerful 350 horsepower V8. The styling also fits to make this a nice revival of a classic label.
1 Ford Turin and Mercury Cyclone
Two muscle cars are so similar, but somehow small differences make them all stand out. The Ford Torino was originally a luxury version of the Fairlane that was adapted to a strong muscle car with a four-door sedan look or a two-door hardtop and a variety of powerful V8 engines.
The Cyclone preceded it, a two-door coupe or convertible with its own playful style and great V8 engine. This made the two cars a great drive and still makes them some of the coolest affordable muscle cars on the used car market.
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