Auto manufacturers have used a number of things to signify where each model falls within their hierarchy. These could be special names, limited numbers, and so on, but king among these signifiers is decals. Certain models of cars built with better features, a bigger motor, or just a fancier look, will often be denoted by special stick-on decals from the factory. Racing stripes, the most commonly recognized car decal, was the the first to be widely used on cars, trucks, and motorcycles with the exception of racing numbers. It’s been a long while since the simple two stripe days, and designs have become exponentially more complex and intricate. But, within this massive sea of customizations, only a small handful have made a vehicle objectively better in every way:
#5 Dodge Super Bee
With it’s debut in 1968, the Super Bee paved the way for Dodge’s line of budget muscle. The Super Bee got its name from the MOPAR’s “B” body designation, which basically covered any rear-wheel drive, mid-sized sedan. The base model Bee came with a 383 cubic-inch motor that made 335 horsepower and went for around $3,000 — an extra $1,000 got you the Hemi option that made a tire-roasting 425 horsepower. That’s all fine and well, but thats not why it’s on this list. The bumble-bee stripe and decal on the back end looks like something off of a homemade concert poster for Strawberry Alarm Clock. Its such a groovy decal with its bubble font and cartoon bee. Manufacturers at this time really allowed themselves to drop their shoulders and produce cars that were as fun to look at as they were to drive.
#4 Renault 5 Turbo
This little french shoebox is adorably legendary. The Renault 5 Turbo was built to compete in the World Rally Championship, which has always been one of the gnarliest corners of motorsport. The Group B designation was the gnarliest. Group B cars were so powerful and dangerous that the whole division was abolished in 1986, only four years after it started. Still, the Renault 5 Turbo snagged four victories while in production. However, the badass-ness of the little turbo isn’t really why it’s hon this list —- the giant decal saying “TURBO” running the length of the car is. Its absurd. The style of the ’80s was in full force here. This decal makes me smile every time I see it.
#3 Plymouth Road Runner
This entire list could just be MOPAR if I’m being real, but in efforts to make it a little more fun, I cut it to two. That said, the Road Runner is a serious muscle car. So serious in fact, that its big brother, the Super Bird, was also a major player in NASCAR. The folks at Plymouth really let their hair down for this one. It’s named after the cartoon adorning its side stripe, and even utilizes the classic Road Runner *Beep Beep* for the horn in one of the most inspired moments in all of American car design. Roll Damn Tide.
#2 Jeep CJ-5 & CJ-7 Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle. Simply of the best things to ever be made by human-kind. Jeep has a long history in this country. Starting with Willy’s as the main vehicle for American forces in WWII and then morphing into the CJ (Civilian Jeep) after the war. The CJ-5s were really the first model that started to feel like what we think of as a modern Jeep, although they were still much closer to go-karts than SUVs. The CJ-5 and CJ-7 had a number of special editions that were all super cool, Renegade, Laredo, Scrambler, and the list goes on. None of these special editions ever brought the heat quite like the Golden Eagle, though. I mean… it’s so over the top and so 70s. They came with Levi’s tan vinyl interior, Golden wheels, and other such special bits, but the giant golden eagle and gold striping around the doors and wheel wells makes this not only the coolest Jeep ever, but one of the coolest trucks, period.
#1 1976 Trans-Am Firebird (Bandit)
Numbers 2-5 are all up for debate to an extent, but #1 is the correct answer. This 1976 Trans-Am Smokey and the Bandit Edition, is THE car decal. It’s loud, it’s gold, and it was driven by Burt Reynolds. To be honest, the Trans Am isn’t even a good car. They weren’t overly reliable, they weren’t fast, and they were pretty expensive. This car became an icon despite all that. That is the mark of true decal greatness. Bow down to the chicken.