QOTD: The Name Game

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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qotd the name game

My favorite car name of all time is the Honda Life Dunk. But I can fully appreciate pistonheads whose taste in automotive monikers runs more towards the aggressive (Mercury Marauder, Plymouth Fury, Aston Martin Vaquish), animistic (Dodge Viper, Pontiac Firebird, Ford Mustang, Reliant Kitten) or snoberific (Buick Regal, Dodge St. Regis, Buick Park Avenue, Chrysler LeBaron). As Chris Paukert noted in a previous TTAC editorial, automakers have submerged the [formerly] mission-critical name game into a watery alphanumeric soup. The inanity of this approach is exemplified by Ford's decision to rename the Lincoln Zephyr the Lincoln MKX, and instruct its dealers (as of today) that the vehicle is not to be called a "Mark X" but an "em kay ex." Are car names inherently better than simple numerical designations? What's your favorite and least favorite car name? Would a Ferrari F430 or Jaguar XK120 by any other other name be any more or less memorable or desirable?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Mbslk350 Mbslk350 on Jul 25, 2006

    I love the name of my scooter - Aprilia Scarabeo. It's soooo Italian.

  • Silentnoise713 Silentnoise713 on Jul 25, 2006

    I believe the reason why the nomenclature naming conventions works for BMW is b/c they essentially use NUBERS! Yes they add an "i" or "x" every now and then but nonetheless they are recognized as 3 series or 5 series. Think about, there are only ten numbers to identify whereas there are 26 letters to identify. Numbering is easier to remember b/c as we all know and have heard one point in time in our childhood, if you ever need to learn one thing learn numbers b/c it is more universal and easily accepted in the world than the alphabet. I also recall reading (a while back, just a little after the internet boom) market research showing that people identify 2-3 letter or number schemas best (people can't remember or don't like to remember full names) hence most new car naming and websites use 3 letter identifiers. The problem with cars is that people (men) first and foremost identify a cars displacement as the essence of the car; hence BMW's naming works so well. But I am pretty sure BMW already bought the rights to pretty much all available numbering within reason. So, manufacturers jumping on the alphanumeric band wagon have to resort to letters, which does not work out so well with cars. Nothing alphabetic identifies with cars, as does numbers with displacement (fill in sound bit from Tim the tool man taylor grunt -US folks). The alphabet more associated with words, which can and does trigger emotion which I believe works best with a name. Also, words have meaning and have certain sounds when pronounced that just sounds better and triggers a response (culture dependant obviously). I would pick a good name over some alphanumeric acronym any day, but vice versa if the name is corny or does not have the means to back up the name.

  • Chadillac Chadillac on Jul 26, 2006

    oboylepr: "Names like Z28 or IROC Z28 come and go but ???Camero??? lives forever!" Umm, dude, its CAMARO. :-) So it lives on pretty close...

  • Aaronmc Aaronmc on Jul 26, 2006

    I didn't even know the Life Dunk was a car. But it sure as hell wins my vote, now. Best name ever. Worst name? Ford Excursion. Excursion? Excursion?! To where?! The blasted thing weighed more than the dinosaurs it was burning for fuel. You couldn't take that beast anywhere! And even if you could you'd run out of gas before you ever got there. Stupid, stupid name.