As we reported in the middle of the night, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will show two new Ram special edition pickup trucks at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show this week.
One truck brings the 1500 Night package to the 2500 Heavy Duty. The other is the Ram’s 1500 Copper Sport.
Or is it?
Hours after the embargo lifted and Matthew Guy’s story went live on TTAC, we received a press release from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada’s PR department. Our eagle-eyed managing editor, Mark Stevenson, noticed something peculiar.
“New Limited Edition 2017 Ram 1500 Copperhead Sport Launched,” FCA Canada announced.
And why won’t the Copperhead Sport be the Copperhead Sport in the United States?
Don’t blame Steve Earle. Blame ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons.
After Mr. Stevenson noted the seemingly unnecessary four-letter addition to the Copper Sport’s Canadian name, TTAC’s newest historian-in-chief, Steph Willems, recalled Dodge’s use of the Copperhead nameplate in the past.
At Detroit’s 1997 North American International Auto Show, during the DaimlerChrysler era, the Copperhead Concept “was conceived as a sort of Viper lite, a convertible two-seater offering the handling and open-air fun of Dodge’s brutish V10 sports car, but with a V6 engine and a practical price,” according to Dodge’s official blog.
The Copperhead Concept was never brought to production, although Motor Trend quite optimistically thought the Copperhead, “might feel considerably like the new Jaguar XK8.”
In fact, the Copperhead name died, as well, and the Copperhead Concept became the self-explanatory Dodge Concept Vehicle. Not exactly Giulia Quadrifoglio levels of allure, but whatever.
Two decades later, there are individuals at the former Chrysler Group who are evidently still in love with the Copperhead name. (It’s been used as a paint name on the 2005 Viper, 2012 Avenger, 2012 Grand Caravan, and 2013 Charger, if not more often.) Forget the sub-Viper sports car — the Viper’s dead, too. Why not stick the Copperhead name on a truck?
Except Ram can’t, at least not in the United States Of Freedom To Do Almost Whatever.
But when America knocks a designation down, label lovers head north, to the land of the Buick Allure and the Pontiac Wave and the Hyundai Santa Fe XL.
FCA Canada spokesperson Daniel Labre provided TTAC with confirmation this morning. “There is no Copperhead trademark registration in Canada, which is why FCA Canada is able to use the name in our market.”
But why does FCA Canada want to add head to copper? “”There really isn’t anything more to say [other] than we chose that name,” Labre told TTAC. “It’s a buzz model/special package so the Copperhead name will not be on the vehicle anywhere.”
Maybe a 62-year-old folk singer can explain why FCA Canada’s nomenclature administrators feel it’s necessary or desirable to use the full title when their U.S. counterparts must do without.