In this installment of Building a Better Bantam, I am giving an update on a project introduced this past December. The project was a reproduction effort to recreate the hood side Bantam badges used on Series 65 and 66 cars. The reasoning behind this effort was that these badges seemed to be generally unobtainable and originals, when found, were expensive and were even more costly to properly recondition. Rather than just emulate the original, I wanted to go a few steps further and make them better than the originals while visually identical. Why would I want to improve on the originals? Take a look at this pair of photos:
After posting about reproducing 1940 Bantam hood side badges, there was a large outpouring of interest in the potential reproductions which has nearly accounted for the entire intended first run. Interestingly, also after that post, rumors began to surface about there being a large cache of NOS badges someplace that were last seen at a meet decades ago. Back then, they were under $10 each and came in their original paper wrappings. While one of our endeavors in the past was temporarily thwarted by the existence of a large collection of similar NOS units in existence, this cache of emblems remained unaccounted for.
The month following the announcement here, an ad ran in one of the club magazines announcing that NOS emblems would be available from another supplier. Alas, the collection emerged. The ad indicated that they were available in creme, black, and red; some needing to be repainted. Then, at the meet in Georgia, another collection of NOS badges appeared. Both sellers were apparently asking around $45-50 per piece.
The debut of these parts appeared to obviate the need for my reproductions. However, I was able to get some photos of one of these NOS badges which was still wrapped up in the original tissue paper from the factory.
Mummified for over a half century, I was very eager to see what was inside. The anticipation was eating at me. I couldn’t believe how many times the paper was wrapped around the badge.
The threads on the rear pins looked fantastic. I was very eager to see what beauty was lurking inside the yellowed paper. So, I unfurled the paper the final turn and the face of the badge emerged.
What happened? The chrome was cloudy and appeared to have rust coming through the surface. Surely it was some sort of protective coating. So I polished and attempted to clean it.
After those efforts, this is what I was left with. A decent coat of creme paint, an unbent stamping, but mediocre chrome. Surely this is great for someone who doesn’t have any badges or someone who has one similar to the lead images in this post. However, to make this worth of being on the type of car you’re restoring, you would need to strip it entirely, rechrome it, and apply a fresh coat of paint. While doing that, you’d need to be very careful of its ancient fragile structure. This motivated me to keep progress moving on my effort. About a month ago, a box arrived with my samples. They were all too thin and needed to be re-engineered. They looked great, but they weren’t correct.
This morning, this box came:
Eagerly, I dug in to see what this round of samples looked like.
That’s pretty snazzy looking in my mind. It’s not an original or NOS part, but I was impressed with the finished product which the factory sent me. This could look great on the side of our Sportsman project or the shop Hollywood. You may be asking, how will this compare to an original.
The coat of red is very close to the original Bantam shade. From the front, they are identical. At the reverse, you can see what really sets the new badges apart from the originals. These emblems are cast from a zinc alloy, allowing them to be rugged. You should be able to bend them when installing them or dent them if you accidentally drop them. They won’t crush if something gets pressed against them. They also wont cut into the surface of your freshly applied coat of paint. These are, in my mind, part of building a better Bantam.
For comparison sake, here is the creme sample at the bottom and far left of a line up with the smashed original, an original in need of chrome, an NOS unit. I have a few tests I am looking to conduct on the samples before the final order is placed and the final pricing is announced. I will be testing another chrome process and the addition of threads to the studs. However, I will say the pricing will be very competitive with used and NOS units. To make matters better, besides being available in creme, black, and red, they will also be available in bare chrome so you can paint them to match your car (as the factory intended).
If you’re interested in pre-ordering any badges to make sure you can have your order fulfilled in the first run, please use the contact form here: