Photo by Salt Water New England

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Car Stickers/Decals

Photos, Examples and Counter-Examples, by Salt Water New England

Stickers add personalization and even a bit of functionality to a car.

On a primary car, the norm is often to show one or two low-key stickers, ideally in one of the back windows (without obscuring vision), plus any necessary parking/beach pass stickers.  Typically these stickers include prep schools and colleges (which also prevent you getting towed while you are visiting), towns, clubs/yacht club burgees, flags, and favorite conservation groups.  

For some people, stickers provide their perfect overlap of bragging and utility.   They need their OSV (Oversand Permit) or Town of Nantucket Beach Permit, after all, and they just haven't gotten around to scraping off the last few years of them.   

Some stickers are often preferable to none.  They are surprisingly useful for striking up conversations, and also identifying your car.  They make parking lots more interesting.  I enjoy recognizing some stickers on other cars as I walk by.  

When traveling, one soon realizes that the density of certain stickers, such as from one's alma mater, conveys how close or far one is from the institution, both geographically and culturally.  A single sighting a thousand miles away is always fun, while a dozen or more on I-95 during homecoming or graduation weekends is to be expected. Of couErse when visiting the campus the pings come as quickly as a Geiger counter at Maine Yankee (kidding).  

Five can be the upper limit no matter how many tuitions and dues you are paying. 

Clothing brands, monograms (except for code flags), and dog and cat breeds might best be avoided.  And of course bumper stickers are very tricky to do well.     

And tangentially, when getting a new car, a good habit is to get the dealer to remove any of their advertising.  This request is received much more graciously than the same request made at Ralph Lauren.    

As cars age, the number of stickers increases.  





56 comments:

  1. I cannot imagine my old Land Rovers, and my old MG's, without their few "badges" of honour stickers. Most from beloved mechanics garages, or some very prestigious auto shows! Cheers!

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  2. I had both my prep school and college window stickers on my car when I was much closer in time to my attendance. Until I’m fortunate enough to foot the bill for the next round of learning, I prefer to fly under the radar.

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    1. I wish we could “like” comments here!

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  3. Ive always , thought it was tacky . .What next a hey look at me Rolex sticker on the back window .

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  4. My favorite is "Bitte ein Bit." Cryptic enough to make people wonder about it but hopefully inoffensive. I don't have one (haven't found one for free) but I've seen a one or two.

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  5. Our children lobbied against window stickers, but they were ok with magnets that adhere to the trunk/hatchback or rear fender.

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  6. I just remembered that I sometimes see a vehicle with the back covered in stickers, mostly telling all what they believe (or don't believe). My thought is always that they mainly believe in bumper stickers.

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  7. For my Land Cruiser I have been searching in vain for a sticker of Calvin doing what he does on a Range Rover

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    1. ROBERT REICHARDTMay 13, 2022 at 9:41 AM

      Yes, silent Cal. Is he still in office? Anyway, couldn't be any worse.

      Delete
  8. Our daughter worked hard to get into the college of her choice. She asked the school decal be affixed to the back window. Why say no? When she got into a PhD program, that school‘s decal went on also. Though she insisted it be placed below her undergrad decal. There are decals now where there were none.
    I noticed they didn’t detract from the rear view. So, I added one, The Single Chair.

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  9. That Volvo could be a logo for SWNE at its very best. Sturdy, reliable, New England institutionalism. And as for the nay sayers above, I consider these tribal markings helpful and modest good fun. If you see a Rolex when you look at a St Larry, Conn College or Colby sticker on a late model King of the Road 240, then you’re probably missing the point. No doubt that car is just used to get to the dock these days, but the owner is certain it could make up Mt Washington. What a great way to start the day - thanks!

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  10. I've got stickers all over my windows. Very tasteless according to Muffy but I have fun with it.

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  11. I only have one sticker on my car - it's a banner proclaiming "Save All the Old Houses!"

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  12. I have to disagree. Dog stickers are allowed, if not encouraged. They tell a lot more about someone than what school they went to!

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  13. Rear window plastered-ego stroking absurdities. Displays no taste & discretion.

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    Replies
    1. Hear! Hear! Taste, discretion, and understatement used to be a New England value.

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  14. I rather like the license plate frames, but I haven't seen one for Oxford University.

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    Replies
    1. As an Oxford graduate, I hope you never do.

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    2. Unfortunately, they do exist:
      https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/41sn0QRN7pL._AC_SX466_.jpg

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  15. In the South we have an expression " Putting on the dog. " Enuff said.

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  16. Our local dealer (unnamed because his daughter is my neighbor) can not get their oval dealer badge on straight. It makes me crazy. We had to tell them not to put them on the last 2 vehicles we got there. Yes, I realize how this makes me sound.

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  17. My wife and I will only have our car for another month or so, as we're giving it up when we move to NYC from the Boston suburbs. We have alumni stickers for Georgetown (hers) and Northwestern (mine) in the lower corners of the back window. I got an MV oval magnet for the car, but the exterior turned out not to be magnetic, so it's on the harder-to-see side of our range hood in the kitchen.

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  18. Stickers (actually decals, I believe) on cars are like logos on clothing.

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    1. No, they're not. The clothing logo advertises the designer/manufacturer - so that would be like putting a "VOLVO" sticker on a Volvo. The car stickers, decals, and/or magnets we're discussing here express affiliations and interests apart from the car's make

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    2. The clothing logo actually advertises the wearer saying "Look at me wearing this expensive/fashionable/luxury brand".

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  19. Frederick J JohnsonMay 11, 2022 at 11:56 AM

    No. Period

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    1. Oh, come on, Mr. Johnson -- you wouldn't be even slightly amused by the life-size color decal of Queen Elizabeth II waving at you from my right rear passenger window?

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    2. I saw Her Majesty at Supercuts last week.

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  20. I am an Oxford graduate and would no more put an Oxford sticker on my car than I would wear a T-shirt emblazoned with my IQ or stand up in a restaurant and announce my net worth.

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    1. ROBERT REICHARDTMay 11, 2022 at 5:30 PM

      Agreed about not announcing one's net worth in a restaurant. Poor taste.

      But whenever I dine out, I always make sure I quietly distribute Xerox copies of my financial statements to the other diners - something they can enjoy reading during their meal.

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    2. Robert, I am working on something similar, but I want them to be able to read it on their phones.

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    3. What’s the real reason you won’t wear a t-shirt emblazoned with your IQ?

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    4. ROBERT REICHARDTMay 14, 2022 at 6:00 PM

      Too many big numbers to fit across the front.

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    5. How many IQ’s are you juggling? Curious to know...

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    6. ROBERT REICHARDTMay 15, 2022 at 9:30 PM

      Curious?

      Well, as the people of New England are so fond of saying - Aloha.

      Delete
  21. Most of my decals and stickers are placed on the Thule box only used for trips to the mountains. Single religious affiliation sticker on back window of the Subaru. It makes it easier to spot in a sea of Subarus.
    -JM, VA

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  22. I have a small ECUSA shield in the lower corner of my Mini's back window, but since my top is invariably down, most people do not know that. I had a Beat Army sticker on the bumper of my Triumph.

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  23. During jury selection for a power company lawsuit a few years ago, I was one of the few people remaining before the last 12 were selected.

    Then the power company lawyer asked me if I had a bumper sticker on my car. I did.

    “Please tell us what it says,” he continued. I paused for a minute and then told him. He immediately dismissed me.

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  24. When I attended college out-of-state I had my university sticker (a public state university in the Midwest) on my car, partly to show that I wasn't just some lost out-of-towner with my out-of-state license plates. And now a few decadces later and living on a different continent and I want to get my university's sticker for my car even though no one here really knows the place, because it was an important time in my life and a piece of me and my personality and where I come from.

    What I dislike are the license plate holders that advertise the dealer name!

    --EM

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  25. The historian Paul Fussell -- in his analysis of American norms called "Class" -- says that you could drive all over Europe and never once see a car decal saying "CHRIST CHURCH OXFORD" or "SORBONNE."

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    1. That's true! I don't mind if it's part of American culture but personally never had any sticker on my cars, I simply don't like it. There was a kind of rap song about it in Israel good few years ago, the guy was just rapping all the possible slogans, names and logos from the cars stickers...

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  26. I have a couple that are simple symbols and coat of arms for my college house, crew, club(s) and boarding school. Some who know what the symbols signify have stopped to chat. They're a conversation starter and also remind me to be polite on the roads and not some kind of jerk like we see so many of.

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  27. I saw one that actually made me laugh: "Your College Sucks"

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  28. Well, here's a little story I've probably told before. It isn't really about stickers, but rather about badges, and anyway, I don't have any new stories these days.

    I used to own a Rover sedan, an uncommon car even when they were being sold here. I was living in Alexandria, Virginia, at the time and frequently passed by another Rover parked on the street. I happened to notice that it displayed the regimental badge of the Black Watch on the back. Being interested in such things, and the Rover being something different, I decided to find the owner. After knocking on a couple of doors, I did, and the owner graciously invited me in for a chat. Turns out I had actually seen him before in Washington, D.C., at a sort of folk dance (Scottish Country Dancing), and he even used to belong to the same church in D.C. His wife actually ran a dance group there in Alexandria and naturally they invited me to join their group, which incidentally meant no longer attending a different group that met the same night. In a few years I married someone I met at their group, and he was my best man.

    I don't think he actually had any stickers on his car, which he later traded for a Ford.

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  29. When you're in college, perhaps where you went to school is worth noting...when you're in your twenties, perhaps where you went to college is worth noting. By the time you're thirty, your educational level should be conveyed via what you do or how you conduct yourself. If you need to do otherwise, namely let the person behind you at a red light know something, that's a statement in itself.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely. My attitude is that it's not important for other people to know where I went; it's important that I know.

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    2. Spot on ! However, I hope you don’t need a sticker to remind you.

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  30. Just last week I was parked behind a Jeep, one of those big, off-road types with an upside down sticker that said "If you can read this help me turn my Jeep back over".
    And then many years ago in NYC, there was a Gothic style sticker saying "Rikers Island", on a beat up old car.
    Two of the best I've ever seen.

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  31. Do you think the family whose child attended Northeastern are ashamed?

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  32. I enjoy seeing the stickers on other cars but am too self-conscious to do the same. Poor marks for participation, I suppose.

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  33. I see stickers and decals as a balanced way to share. I appreciate and enjoy those which pertain to school affiliations or regionally functional use. It is an indirect way to communicate; outside of alumni, some may not be interested to directly hear your personal history. As for other varieties, I don't care for stickers about professional teams, political views or those which use insults or puns.

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  34. I've never wished to have any stickers on my car that convey anything personal, because I prefer my privacy and I enjoy having full control over the degree of anonymity I maintain in public. I consider it to be freeing to know that I can blend way, way in if I want. I wouldn't have as much of the option if I started out by giving things away.

    I did have a "Made in Trollhattan by Trolls" window cling on a previous SAAB back when that was a nod to other SAAB fans (in my case, it was a lie, as most of the cabrios were actually made in Finland). I also had a prancing moose cling on a Volvo wagon (again pretty under-the-radar unless you like Swedish cars), but both of those cars are gone and I am now sticker-free.

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