The apocalypse is nigh.; I say that not because of global warming, rising fuel costs, insane resale values for Geo Metros, or anything touted by cable news’ various talking heads.
I say this because I purchased brand new Toyota emblems from a General Motors dealership.
No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you.; What you see are, in fact, two Toyota emblems sealed within polystyrene, with each bag reading “Genuine GM Parts.”; And yes, those do happen to be valid GM part numbers to boot.
Before the brand-loyal fanatics on either side of the aisle jump up in protest, let me play Mr. Spock and insist to you that there’s a logical reason for these parts.; And no, it doesn’t involve Bizzaro World.
In 1996, Japanese Toyota dealers began stocking the Toyota Cavalier, a badge-engineered version of the Chevrolet Cavalier.; Although Toyota executives saw it as a means to expand GM’s presence in Japan, dealers weren’t enthused.
And why would they be?; Although Japanese consumers inexplicably revered the Chevrolet Astro, customers found fault with the Cavalier’s buzzy engine, dismal interior, and expensive price tag (all criticisms of the car in its domestic market, by the way).; There was no way the J-body could compete against Toyota’s superior offerings, especially when they were sold within the same showroom.
Initial hopes were to sell 20,000 units annually in Japan, but by July of ’96, Toyota moved only 6700 Cavaliers.; A number of mild changes (including a TRD-tuned model) tried to increase consumer interest, but by 2000, Toyota simply gave up.
GM’s Service Parts Operations, however, hasn’t.; Like most eight-year old GM vehicles, plenty of the parts specific to the Toyota Cavalier, including airbag covers, rear seatbacks, taillamps, and, of course, emblems, are stocked by GM’s parts warehouse in Lansing, Michigan.; And, like any other eight-year old GM component, each of these JDM-specific parts carry GM unique part numbers.
In theory, ordering the Toyota parts is as easy as walking to your parts counter and handing them the specific parts numbers – although there is a catch.; Many dealers quickly note that these are export parts, and fitting such parts – especially when it comes to emissions or lighting parts – would render a customer’s vehicle non-compliant with federal standards.; As a result, if they’ll even let you order the parts, a manager will soon call back to let you know the order’s been nixed.
However, some parts counters realize the Japanese emblems don’t modify the Cavalier’s DOT compliance any more than adding a Z24 badge would.; These folks, apparently few and far between, will actively work around the red tape.; Such was the case with the third dealer I called, who even (somehow) managed to fulfill the order within four days time.
Sure, they’re just emblems, but it makes for a great party trick – especially when you note that Toyota dealers sell a similar logo for nearly $2-10 more than what GM asks.