By on July 17, 2008

Name has no power of its own, nor can it go on of its own impulse, either to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement. Form also is without power and cannot go on of its own impulse. It has no desire to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement. But Form goes on when supported by Name, and Name when supported by Form. When Name has a desire to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement, then Form eats, drinks, utters sounds, makes a movement.In the ancient Buddhist text Visuddhi-Magga, "name" and "form" are described as powerless in their respective isolation. But when they propitiously combine and mutually support one another, they attain power and "spring up and go forth." GM's announcement that the 2010 Chevy Cruze would [eventually] replace the Cobalt marks a dubious milestone in its continuing struggle to establish a lasting presence in the all-important compact car market. The Cruze will be the recipient of the eightieth name that GM has used on one of its mid-sized or smaller sedans since 1968.

Why 1968? It's the year Toyota introduced the Corolla. We could have started with 1973 (Civic), 1976 (Accord) or 1982 (Camry). But you get my drift: consistency and the lack thereof.

A recent QOTD posed the question "Why are the Japanese so smart (successful)?" Smartness may have little to do with it. Try "tenacious" or "one-pointed." The last Japanese soldiers in the Philippine jungle didn't surrendered until 1974, and then only after their [former] commanding officers were flown-in with written proof that the war was over. The soldiers' rifles and ammo were still in perfect condition. I suspect strongly that my (possible) grandchildren will still be cross-shopping Corollas.

When GM's obituary is written, it will be long and complicated. But this line alone would be adequate: "they failed to execute a consistent program of small car development and refinement." Yes, there were random moments of transcendence: Corvair, Opel 1900, and… your nominations, please. Lots of these vehicles had one, sometimes even two uplifting features. The Vega, for example, was button-cute and handled really well.

But GM's utter lack of a consistent effort to cultivate any continuity, build name and, thereby, brand equity, is distinctly unenlightened. Even with its competitive Japanese captive imports (GEO), GM displayed ignorance. The current version of the Metro, Suzuki's Swift, is a highly regarded sub-compact. It would likely beat the pants off the Daewoo-sourced Chevy BEAT. Oh, right, we're not actually getting that cute hatch, despite almost one million votes cast in favor of the BEAT on Chevy's web site. Another GM exercise in mental masturbation.

Despite GM's claims to have learned from their mistakes, their (re)naming mania continues. The Cruze will supplant/replace the Cobalt. Is this a tacit admission that the Cobalt failed to live up to its makers' grand ambitions when it replaced the Cavalier? While not exactly a class-leader, the Cobalt's not quite the class dunce (you know who you are). It was a substantial improvement over the decrepit Cavalier in every way; it just needed more TLC. Given that the Cobalt and Astra share the competent Delta platform, the requisite interior parts and chassis calibrations are just a Saturn dealer away.

Instead, GM stumbles blindly down the same road of ignorance it has traveled so many times before. When the Cruze arrives in 2010, the Cobalt will continue as the low MSRP/fleet queen special. In GM's high-priest Bob Lutz's own words of prophesy, "the Cobalt is nowhere near the end of its life-cycle." Great; think immortal Buick Century and Chevy Malibu. Classic fleet-mobiles. Not only is GM living in delusion about building name equity, it has become the Shiva of car names.

Ironically, GM religiously guards the one exception, the longest-lived continuous name plate in the whole industry: Corvette. Need I say more? The Corvette is the perfect antithesis to everything that has ailed GM in its passenger car programs. The 'Vette offers its devotees– and they are legion– fifty-five years of focus and improvement, if not always in a perfectly straight line.

I'm not implying that name continuity guarantees success. But it tends to be emblematic of the pride and perseverance that a successful automaker commits to its cars. Think BMW 3-series. Mercedes S-Class. And it sure helps with top of mind name recognition: When a supplicant asks the auto-guru for a recommendation for a good compact car, he can always say "Civic" in an eye-blink without ever having to stretch the brain cells trying to remember what GM's current offerings are called.

For what it's worth, Toyota's only name-and-form stumble corresponded with relatively weak sales. The all-new Yaris (European Car of the Year 2000) was inexplicably called Echo for North America, as well as suffering from an ugly trunk and mug. It ended a long streak of popular sub-compact Tercels. Anyway, Toyota's eleven small and mid-size car names in forty years (Crown, Cressida, Matrix, Tercel, Echo, Yaris, Corona, Mark II, Carina, Camry and Corolla) seem downright profligate compared to Honda.

Civic and Accord. Name and form. The two best selling cars in the land have "sprung up and gone forth" for over thirty years. Automotive immortality attained. Note to GM: endless reincarnation is not a goal worthy of aspiration. Bad karma.

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60 Comments on “General Motors Death Watch 189: Name and Form...”


  • avatar
    Pch101

    The domestics use the same strategy as the Witness Protection Program: change their names, slightly alter their appearance and hope that they don’t get killed.

    Call me crazy, but the criminal justice system is probably not a good business model for the car industry.

    The name changing routine is awful, not only because of the failure to use the nameplates for brand building, but also because it allows Detroit to avoid any accountability from within.

    If every small Chevy had to be called a Vega, for example, there might be more pressure within the company to improve it and compete. The embarrassment and shame that should have been produced by the first model would have to be confronted with every redesign. There would be two benchmarks — beating the competition’s next car, and never sliding back to the bad old days when the original was garbage.

    They keep changing the names because they know that the cars aren’t particularly good. If they had confidence in the products, the renaming would be totally unnecessary. The next time that you hear the claims that Detroit is competing effectively, ask yourself why they’d kill off their name recognition if they took pride in their work.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    It seems appropriate to remind GM that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. The fact that they didn’t learn this lesson decades past has earned them the death certificate that’s in the mail.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I had no idea they’ve used 80 different names. That makes no sense to me. Of course, I’m not a GM executive that gets paid eleventy billion dollars a year to do nothing.

    GM needs to learn about evolution, not revolution. Honda is a great example, and VW is also another good example of using the same model name for a long time. Stick with the same names, and incrementally improve (or screwup, depending on one’s point of view) the cars with each generation.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Since you asked (or didn’t), here they are (111” wheelbase or less sedans):

    CHEVROLET: Corvair, Vega, Monza, Chevette, Citation, Citation II, Sprint, Cavalier, Corsica, Baretta, Covalt Aveo, ChevyII, Nova, Celebrity, Chevelle, Malibu, Classic, Impala; GEO: Prizm, Storm, Metro, Spectrum SATURN: 300, ION, Aura, Astra PONTIAC: Astre, Sunbird, LeMans, Ventura, Phoenix, T-1000, J-2000, 1000, 2000, Grand Am, Sunfire, Vibe, G-5, Tempest, Ventura, Ventura II, 6000, STI, G-6, Grand Prix, OLDS: Omega, Starfire, Firenza, Achieva, Alero, F-85, Cutlass, Cutlass Ciera, Ciera, Cutlass Supreme, Intrigue, BUICK: Kadett, 1900, Manta, Skyhawk, Somerset Regal, Somerset, Special, Skylark, Apollo, Century, Regal, LaCrosse, CADILAC: Cimarron, Catera, SAAB: 900, 9000, 9-3, 9-5, 9-2, HUMMER: H-1 (Just kidding)

    Did I miss something?

  • avatar
    hltguy

    Mr. Niedermeyer: The only name you missed on your list: Crap.

  • avatar
    geeber

    In all fairness then, Alan Mullaly’s decision to revive the Taurus moniker for the revamped Five Hundred, and keep it for the next-generation model, deserves praise, along with the decision to keep the Focus nameplate for the upcoming new model.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    What about Suburban? 1936 to present.

    But it has been killing me to death that Ford chose the nondescript Flex moniker instead of calling it Fairlane. That would have been a beautiful and appropriate name.

    Speaking of Chevrolet, they have several good names from the past they could pick up:

    Biscayne
    Brookwood
    Bel Air
    Nomad
    Apache
    Beauville
    Bonanza
    Greenbrier
    Kingswood
    Montana
    Parkwood
    Townsman

    Imagine their would-be Smart-killer named Townsman. The name says it all.

  • avatar
    86er

    This policy wasn’t only followed with small cars, Robert. The Impala, for all intents and purposes, disappeared in 1987 only to be revived in 2000. How could GM do such a stupid thing as that? Yes, the Caprice took over, but then that too went away in 1996.

    At least the Silverado soldiers on, since its inception as the top-trim line in 1975.

    Of course, it could also be said that the Cutlass of its final year, 1997, was not the Cutlass of its heyday, so indeed a continuity of model name has to be backed up with a similar focus on improvement.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    I remember in a previous post mentioning that the Corvette, and the performance-car segment, are really the only things where GM does a Toyota, and Toyota does a GM. Toyota has cranked out good performance cars several times in the past twenty years, just to waffle and then can it when sales didn’t meet expectations – leaving cars like the excellent mid-nineties Supra to be just flashes in the pan. The Celica and Supra are good examples of that, and now the only legitimate “performance” cars Toyota sells for the enthusiast are the Lexus SC430 and the Scion TC. Neither of these automobiles are particularly desirable compared to peers in the marketplace, and neither of them are sold even as a Toyota. Neither one of those cars is based on some model idenitity that you can trace back before the current generation of the cars, either. It’s quite GM-ish of Toyota to do that.

    Meanwhile GM has been building ‘Vettes for a long time, has a rabid following for the car and a very definite brand identity from not just a “lifestyle” point of view, but even from a technical point of view. The current Corvette is bang-for-buck the highest performing sports-car you can buy (fully assembled, anyway) and engineered well enough to also sip gas and be a daily driver. You put it next to it’s competition in a line-up and it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb for the wrong reasons, either. I am amazed GM hasn’t killed the Corvette, or applied the name to a SUV, or made the Corvette a Caddy…something stupid like that. Its like there’s some Schindler’s List type operation going on under the radar while it is chaos and misery by fiat everywhere else in the Evil Empire.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I mean, what the fuck does these name mean:

    Aveo
    Captiva
    Cobalt
    Lumina
    Nubira
    Optra

    Sounds like they have been named by the brand naming company Blandor. They sound nondescript, they have no meaning, they doesn’t say anything to anybody. Kudos to Chrysler for actually naming their sportscar “Crossfire”, straight from development and up. I can’t for my life understand how that name could survive, but it is fun anyway.

    And what celebrity would even touch a Chevrolet Celebrity with a ten foot pole?

  • avatar

    Excellent editorial. Unfortunately, the truth is this obvious: “they failed to execute a consistent program of small car development and refinement”.

    And Psch101 – comparing the naming policy of the Big -2.8 to the Witness Protection Program is sheer genius!

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Wow. And D2.8 Fan Boyz wonder why the American public has a perception problem. The products are so bad that they change the name because they have so thoroughly contaminated the old one. I guess they think if they use a new name, people won’t remember that it is still GM behind the name. Or they won’t remember how terrible it was dealing with the same dealership sales and service department.

  • avatar
    NickR

    86er raises a good point. When they do retain a name, they often end up despoiling it. The Cutlass is a good example, and the Regal, and others. To be fair, Chrysler is expert at this also.

    In Canada to this list can be added the Asuna models Sunfire and SE/GT. I guess you could add the Sunrunner and it’s GEO sibling Tracker. Let’s face it, the latter two competed with small cars, not trucks.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    What GM (and Ford & Chrysler) never tell you when they roll out their new name product, is that it leaves an orphan behind. This is the official description of a car no longer made. The orphan now will not become a classic (maybe in 50 years) it will rather become a bomb on the used car market. There are reasons the Japanese and Germans hold that magical 50% or better resale 3-4 years down the road. One of those reasons are spelled out in the blog, 80 some orphans dumped on unsuspecting customers. Customers who had every reasonable expectation to see their model go on and have good resale down the road. This is why the new malibu (even if it’s better than Camry, Accord) will not outsell it and certainly will not have the same resale value.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    UHHMN, it kinda flys in the face of your argument,but the Chevy Suburban has been around since 1935. Plese don’t take this to mean anything pro SUV or GM. I too think Psch101 nailed it. When a car gets a rep for being a turkey, just change the name. What a marketing concept. Mebbe bring it back when the statute of limitations runs out as Chrysler did with Aspen

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    PN, you missed the Saturn SL/SL1/SL2 in that list.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    seoultrain: PN, you missed the Saturn SL/SL1/SL2 in that list.

    I agonized (briefly) on whether to consider them names or model designations. I gave GM the benefit of the doubt (trimlevel designations).

    I just rmembered one more: Chevy Concourse (sp?), a Nova based model in the mid seventies.

  • avatar
    jpc0067

    Ingvar: My God that’s funny, because I once worked for Blandor.

    Any made up car/brand name sounds stupid until the car is known for excellence or at least long term competence in its segment. 25 years ago I’m sure I thought “Tercel, Corolla, Camry” all sounded dumb compared to “Mustang.” Although I sure knew what a Celica was.

    Who knows, Focus might yet get there.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Ingvar, yes, Optra does need to go on that list and now that you mention it, so must the other Suzuki badge-engineered for Canada, the Epica. I guess the Fiero doesn’t count because it was ‘sporty’? And weren’t there some imported gems, such as the Vauxhall Viva to name one, that fall into this category? I am sure we can easily hit 90, if not 100.

  • avatar
    kken71

    I think Aveo is a beauty cream.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    I loved our Chevrolet Monte Python.

  • avatar
    DPerkins

    “Ingvar Says: I mean, what the f__ does these name mean:

    Aveo
    Captiva
    Cobalt
    Lumina
    Nubira
    Optra”

    I fully concur with this editorial, best take on GM’s naming problems I’ve seen (the list of eighty might – might – even give GM’s marketing mavens pause).

    HOWEVER, do you really consider Yaris, Corolla, Camry, Tercel, Cressida, etc. inspired? Crap names aren’t the exclusive province of GM or the D3.

    The difference is how the names, good or bad, were supported by good products and product evolution.

  • avatar
    CarmaoKid

    I think they should call the new Cobalt replacement… The…

    Oldsmobile Cutlass

    That would make as much sense as what they are going.

  • avatar
    Philip Lane

    Paul,

    You did miss a couple. First, your list does not include the Chevrolet Lumina. How could you forget the Lumina? It was practically the poster-child for automotive blandness.

    Second, you left out a number of cars that are not generally thought of as mid-sized but did in fact have wheelbases of 111″ or less. The Buick Electra/Park Avenue had a 110.8″ wheelbase from 1985-96. The LeSabre shared those measurements from 1986-99. The Cadillac Seville qualified between 1986 and 1997. The same is true of the Fleetwood and DeVille from 1985-88. The Oldsmobile 98 and 88 (and their derivitives) match the numbers of the Electra/Park Avenue and the LeSabre, respectively. Finally, the Pontiac Bonneville was moved to the G-body in 1982, and retained a wheelbase under 111″ until 1999. Again, I grant that these vehicles were neither thought of nor marketed as mid-size cars, but they all fit your specifications.

  • avatar
    tulsa_97sr5

    As good as Honda has been in this regard, Acura has been just as bad as GM, if not worse. Dropping car names that had positive connotations seems insane. Especially in the case of the integra.

  • avatar
    Gregzilla

    GM’s naming system reminds me of NOAA’s policy with retiring the names of hugely destructive hurricanes……On the other hand I am positive Ford would never resurrect the name Edsel

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Philip Lane, Yes, we could probably hit 100 with the “mid-sized-full-sized” GM family cars. I had the Lumina, but it didn’t make the post. The more the merrier.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “HOWEVER, do you really consider Yaris, Corolla, Camry, Tercel, Cressida, etc. inspired? Crap names aren’t the exclusive province of GM or the D3.”

    No, they are not inspired. But at least they are consistent.

    A rose by any other name…

    We could go on talking for days about good or bad car names. I, for one, prefer actual names before nondescript acronyms like WRX, CLS, SRX, BLS (bullshit, anyone?) and so on.

    And instead of that Blandor bullshit and that Acronym bullshit, perhaps GM could dig deep into its history and pick up those names that were actually good, and that actually meant something to someone? Here’s another list of names GM doesn’t currently use:

    Cadillac:
    Eldorado
    Fleetwood
    Sixty Special

    Buick:
    Centurion
    Electra
    Invicta
    Riviera
    Wildcat
    Roadmaster (My special favourite. I mean, who wouldn’t wanna be the Master of the Road?)

    Pontiac:
    Chieftain
    Pathfinder
    Laurentian
    Strato-Chief
    Streamliner
    Tempest
    Rageous (concept)

    A sidenote: Many of the good Pontiac names seems to be from the Canadian side. Does anybody know the history of that? An inspiring naming consultant? Or didn’t they just give a shit?

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Well how many car names are really inspiring?

    There’s only so many symbols of virility/naval ship types/military terms to go around.

  • avatar

    Scrapping names and introducing new ones that nobody knows (or cares about) and that the brands are not renowned for has always been a huge problem American automakers have had IMO.

    What is Buick without the Regal, Park Avenue, LeSabre, Riviera, Wildcat, Gran Sport and other names? It isn’t Buick. Buick today looks nothing like the successful Buick of yesteryear. They gutted the brand.

    What is Pontiac without the Firebird? It’s dead.

    What is Chevrolet without the Camaro? It’s Chevrolet lacking a huge amount of it’s good brand identity and equity.

    Imagine if they had killed the Corvette too. It wouldn’t be Chevrolet anymore. The Impala is a classic and iconic name, but it’s affixed to a car that is hoplessly bland, FWD, rental quality and thoroughly unAmerican in styling. So is the highly-hyped new Malibu. It looks Japanese, it doesn’t look like a proper Malibu. At least Chrysler has done the Charger and 300 right.

    These are just a few examples but you get the idea. Each American automaker has a vast and rich brand name and styling heritage they should be drawing on to create new products that spur conversation, create buzz, give the design time inspiration to create something worth coveting, and hopefully draw people.

    Instead they simply try to copy the Asians as cheaply as possible and name their cars whatever they feel would be least offensive. That strategy has never, ever worked.

  • avatar
    kericf

    I’m waiting for the Superion.

    Just say it, it sounds intimidating and it exudes class and dominance over all.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Pch101 – Excellent post.

    I was thinking that since the Malibu is a pretty good car, maybe they could change the grill and Pontiac dealers could sell it as a Tempest, then with another grill Buick dealers could offer it as a skylark, and….. Oh, now I see why they’ve gone through so many names.

  • avatar
    cozycars1

    Just yesterday I was reminding a co-worker that around ’86-’87 the geniuses at the General decided that it would be great to use the Cutlass name on no less than 5 different vehicles:

    Cutlass Calais (N-body)
    Cutlass Supreme (W-body)
    Cutlass Ciera (A-body)
    Cutlass Classic (G-body, the REAL cutlass)
    Cutlass Cruiser Wagon (extended G-body?)

    Gee…no wonder Olds lost customers, they all went insane trying to keep track!

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Dose anyone know when GM’s next quarterly statement is due?

  • avatar
    Samir

    Paul: You missed the Pontiac Fiero and all the bonus Canadian names (Pontiac Acadian, Pontiac Pursuit, Chevrolet Optra, Chevrolet Epica, Buick Allure, Suzuki Swift+ etc.)

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Samir, I was limiting it to sedans, but I’m ready to say the total is closer to a hundred.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    GM’s naming system reminds me of NOAA’s policy with retiring the names of hugely destructive hurricanes……On the other hand I am positive Ford would never resurrect the name Edsel

    Or why no ships have been named Titanic since 1912.

  • avatar
    240d

    You got the clones, but don’t forget the Cimarron or Catera, the one that Zigged!

    I’m on the side that feels a good car, nurtured over time, can overcome even a not-so-great name. If the Nubria was decently made, got good gas mileage, had excellent support and retained some value, we’d all say “Dumb name, good car. I’ll take one.”

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    What the heck was that picture? It just confused me. :)

    Okay, the article made a good point. But it’s all part of the same thing. Bad management bordering on the fraudulent.

  • avatar
    T2

    Did we miss the TransAm ?

    There’s only so many symbols of virility/naval ship types/military terms to go around.

    Alrighty then ! Howabout DREADNOUGHT

    Advertising copy to go something like

    ” Get the girl of your dreams with a DREADNOUGHT ”

    The most politically incorrect IMPALA could be pronounced IMPALER.
    Definitely Not pedestrian friendly

    Then there’s Celica which sounds like ‘Silly Car’ or is that just me ?
    T2

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Ah Paul, you are good. I think I finally thought of one you missed, and it was hard to come up with.

    How about the late 1970s “Opel by Isuzu” which was sold at Buick dealers. I don’t think it had a model name, but NADA shows a model “Y69″ for the 4-door and “T77″ for the two door. In other markets Isuzu sold them as the Gemini.

    Speaking of which, since GM owned 1/2 of Isuzu for a long time and largely controlled them, just about all of Isuzu’s offerings also count. GM counts 100% of it’s joint venture unit sales in China, so why not? GM also provides most of Suzuki’s current US offerings from the ex-Daewoo factory. Yikes, what a branding mess!

    Edit: Just thought of another one. The Oldsmobile Calais from 1985, which became the Cutlass Calais in 1988. More confusing is the fact that from 1965 through 1976, Calais was the name of Cadillac’s lowest level car.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Name each car after its owner.

    Dealers can have a device that would spit out plasticized appliques to be glued to the vehicle’s sheetmetal.

    The Ford Fred!!!!

    Chevy Carl or Christie or Jerome.

    Easily done!!!!!

    Heck, any name could be used (likely have to follow some censoring)

    I’d love driving a Buick Battleship!!!!!

    For the emo crowd how about a Chrysler Crypt?

    A Saturn Slow-as-a-Slug?

    The options are endless!!!!

  • avatar
    James2

    All car companies, to one degree or another, botch things up. Besides GM, the Sith Lord of screw-ups, I particularly want to diss Acura and Mercedes-Benz. :-)

    Acura had some great, memorable names –Legend, Integra. But, no, some Marketeer decides that upscale quasi-luxury cars simply cannot have names just because the Europeans (the Germans in particular) don’t use ‘em.

    Acura goes alphanumeric and, worse, botches it royally. IQ test–what doesn’t belong here: RL, CNN, TL, ESPN, TSX, DVD, RSX, MDX, MP3, RDX, ABC, CBS, NBC. Acura’s rhyme has no reason, either: an RL should be ‘alphabetically’ above a TL, but it isn’t. If the model has three letters does that imply it’s better than a two-letter Acura?

    Then there’s M-B, which suffers from Acura-itis. A CL is a high-end car, but there’s the CLK, which is low-end. SL > SLK. What’s a GL and how does it compare to the ML? WTF? The CLS is actually a chopped-down E-Class… what happened to EK or EL? Probably even the Germans won’t touch ELK with a ten-foot pole? I forgot the SLR, which was a total flop, and is an abbreviation better left to a camera. Dr.Z won’t do it, but Mercedes really needs to cleanup its lineup.

    I understand that finding a good name that already hasn’t been trademarked or means something obscene or comical in a foreign language is tough, but jeez it’s getting ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    John H, Yes, the Opel by Isuzu is agood one. I had Calais in my hand-written list, but I guess my eyes glazed over when I was transcribing them.

  • avatar
    Ronin317

    Pch101: The domestics use the same strategy as the Witness Protection Program: change their names, slightly alter their appearance and hope that they don’t get killed. Call me crazy, but the criminal justice system is probably not a good business model for the car industry.

    I almost spit coffee on my monitor on that one…well played, sir.

    Oh, and I have to add, I’ve actually seen little kids named Tercel. Yeah…

  • avatar
    Morea

    The Chevy Wagoner

  • avatar
    windswords

    cozycars1:

    “Just yesterday I was reminding a co-worker that around ’86-’87 the geniuses at the General decided that it would be great to use the Cutlass name on no less than 5 different vehicles:

    Cutlass Calais (N-body)
    Cutlass Supreme (W-body)
    Cutlass Ciera (A-body)
    Cutlass Classic (G-body, the REAL cutlass)
    Cutlass Cruiser Wagon (extended G-body?)”

    How about Chrysler in the same time period with their multiple LeBarons?

    LeBaron sedan (K-body)
    LeBaron coupe & convertible (J-body)
    LeBaron Town & Country (K-body wagon)
    LeBaron GTS (H-body)

    These were not produced in exactly the same model years like the Cutlass’s but they there was some overlap or they were made one after the other that the avereage car buyer must have been confused.

    James2:

    “Dr.Z won’t do it, but Mercedes really needs to cleanup its lineup.”

    Maybe they can think up a name and tie it in to it’s letter designation, which could be it’s class or body type. Remember, the Aries and Reliant were changed to Aries-K and Reliant-K. So you could have the Aspiring-C and the Almost-There-E and finally I-Have-It-Made-S. Maybe throw in the Mid-Life-Crisis-SL.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Pch101,
    I also had a good laugh at that one. Funny, and right on the mark.

    When it comes to monday morning quarterbacking, I try to restrain myself from thinking I could do better than the folks who have years of experience and education, but may not have come up with the optimal solution. Especially when I have the advantage of hindsight.

    In this case, I can see the failure coming years away. I have ZERO reservations that I could not do a better job. It should be more fun to armchair these guys, but it’s not. Their complete and continued incompetence somehow saps all the fun out of second guessing them. It’s just sad.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    IME, no one is immune from weird naming practices.

    To wit:

    Corolla Wagon
    Corolla FX16
    Corolla Matrix
    Talk about naming mistakes, Corolla being a type of cigar…

    Camry
    Camry Solara

    Nice way to inflate model counts…

    Originally when the Nissan Altima was released, it was the Sentra Altima, the Sentra part in very small letters next to the Altima letters. I guess they were REAL confident about releasing that one in to the wild. Or not.

    These were the quick ones I could think of. The earlier posts about the mid-80′s Olds are exactly what the Japanese car companies have been doing. The various models of Corolla just muddy up the whole picture.

    What’s in a name? Hard to say. When I buy a new car, I want a new car. What I really dislike(d) was when Pontiac renamed the old J-2000 to Sunbird, or more recently with VW doing the same to the Golf to Rabbit…

    Cruze vs. Cobalt? Cruze has a new chassis, different motors, different styling… How is this related to the Cobalt? Why should it carry that name?

  • avatar
    TokyoEnthusiast

    I guess this is just FYI, but the Crown still exists in Japan and in some Arab markets (or so I was told), and I could have sworn I saw an ad for a Toyota Corona here in Tokyo – maybe I was dreaming it though.

  • avatar
    zenith

    Suggestions for the current G-8:

    1. Offer it with the current dull black interior and call it Catalina. Take away some of the frills to get the base price down to Impala level.

    2.The original GTO was a plain Jane car stuffed full of engine. Make a stripped-out bad-ass big V-8, 6-speed stick version with little more than comfortable seats, a radio with the now-mandatory MP3 port,manual everything, rubber instead of carpet on the floor, etc., and call this car GTO.

    3. Give it a rich, sumptuous interior color-keyed to the exterior body color ,fill it full of “toys” and call it Bonneville.

  • avatar
    86er

    zenith:
    Suggestions for the current G-8:

    1. Offer it with the current dull black interior and call it Catalina. Take away some of the frills to get the base price down to Impala level.

    2.The original GTO was a plain Jane car stuffed full of engine. Make a a stripped-out bad-ass big V-8, 6-speed stick version with little more than comfortable seats, a radio with the now-mandatory MP3 port,manual everything, rubber instead of carpet on the floor, etc., and call this car GTO.

    3. Give it a rich, sumptuous interior color-keyed to the exterior body color ,fill it full of “toys” and call it Bonneville.

    Hear hear!

    Although another commentator strenuously disagreed that a modern RWD full-size car can be built for less than US$35,000, so I’m second-guessing myself.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    In the interest of fairness . . .

    What about the Toyota Scion and Lexus models? Shouldn’t at least some of them be included?

  • avatar
    ex-gm

    Another interesting GM practice is the international badging madness.

    Take the Astra. They try to build name recognition for “Astra” – but how can you build a strong car brand when you badge the poor car five different ways?

    Opel Astra (EU etc)
    Vauxhall Astra (UK)
    Holden Astra (AU)
    Chevrolet Astra (BR etc)
    Saturn Astra (US)

    In all of these places Toyota Corolla is… er… Toyota Corolla.

  • avatar
    DragDog

    Take the Astra. They try to build name recognition for “Astra” – but how can you build a strong car brand when you badge the poor car five different ways?

    Opel Astra (EU etc)
    Vauxhall Astra (UK)
    Holden Astra (AU)
    Chevrolet Astra (BR etc)
    Saturn Astra (US)

    Actually I think GM should expand on this strategy rather than messing with its ex-US brands. Develop one mainstream product line, and sell it using whichever brand is best established in a given market:

    US – Chevy
    UK – Vauxhall
    AU – Holden
    Europe – Opel
    China – Buick

    I think this would work a lot better than replacing all those brands with Chevrolet.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Good point. It’s not a surprise that Honda, the car maker with the least number of model names, is thriving in the current market. It won’t be long, before Honda NA car sales exceed that of GM.

  • avatar
    tech98

    Pontiac Rageous (concept)

    At the typically overhyped launch event for the Pontiac concept car called the Rageous, Automobile columnist Paul Lienert said quite loudly, “You should’ve called it the Diculous.”

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    tech98 Says:

    At the typically overhyped launch event for the Pontiac concept car called the Rageous, Automobile columnist Paul Lienert said quite loudly, “You should’ve called it the Diculous.”

    Now THAT is funny!

  • avatar
    morbo

    I can’t believe no one’s pointed out this sort of naming nonsense was one of AM’s first ‘fixes’ at Ford, following future forsaking of forever affixing F’s for the first letter for fullsize Fords.

    Long live the Taurus. Bring back to Galaxy. Let the Crown Vic die a quick and painless death.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @ex-gm
    In all of these places Toyota Corolla is… er… Toyota Corolla.

    In Europe, the Corolla has been renamed the Auris.


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