By on November 18, 2019

Ford dropped the Mustang Mach-E (don’t forget the hyphen or you’ll get a personal visit from Jim Hackett himself) in L.A. last night, marking another chapter in what can only be called Adventures in Branding.

It isn’t the first time a company has tried to mine the credibility of an established name when introducing a new car. This new EV from the Blue Oval certainly ranks in the top 10 examples of this practice. There are plenty more, of course. What one sticks out in your mind?

Using a name from a brand’s heritage isn’t always a bad idea. Putting the Dart badge on Dodge’s then-new econobox a few years ago made some sense, given it was a entry-ish model back in the day. Plus, it sounded good, as alliteration often does.

When Chevy put the Nova name on a rebadged economy car, though, that was a different story. Simply appending “II” onto an existing name has always struck me as odd; I guess “Bronco Junior” didn’t play well in focus groups.

Will the Mustang Mach-E fall in the former or latter group? Only time will tell. Until then, sound off in the comments about your most loved or most reviled nameplate redux.

[Image: Ford]

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57 Comments on “QOTD: What’s in a Name?...”

  • avatar

    Blazer… BOOOOOOOO!

    • 0 avatar

      Seriously? I can think of 100 other examples of stupid GM naming tricks, starting with 2 mentioned already below; the Cutlass name propagating through Oldsmobile’s lineup and the SS, and the first one that gets play is the Blazer.

      Blazer, Malibu and Impala are all names that are associated with old BOF rear-drive classic cars (that were mostly shit after the 60s, I owned a ’73 and ’75 Chevy) and therefor should only be used on exactly those kind of vehicles? And exactly how many BOF RWD cars are made in 2019, outside of trucks?

      Personally I think GM should dump the Impala and Malibu names completely, if the models themselves don’t go extinct. Almost no one remembers the actual glory days of those cars, and mostly associate them with old people and rental fleets.

  • avatar

    I expect this comment section to be filled with negative examples, of which there are many, but I’ll give a shoutout to GM for calling the hopped up 94-96 Caprice the Impala SS instead of something boring or meaningless like the Holden “SS”.

    That was a vehicle worthy of bringing the hallowed name back for.

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. Take one of the best cheap 1990’s era coupes, and slap the name on a beyond generic crossover.

    Chevy bringing back the Malibu and Impala names on bland, FWD sedans.

    While it has been a success, remember the hand-wringing when Dodge slapped the Charger name on a sedan.

    And while it wasn’t an exact name swap, Honda asking everyone to remember the hallowed CRX badge on an underpowered hybrid thing called the CR-Z failed badly.

  • avatar

    It should have been named LTD. Much like “Cutlass”, it’s a name Ford used for an entire line of different body styles.

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to say “Cutlass” Once Oldsmobile realized they had a hit on their hands they decided to name all their mid-sizers “Cutlass”

    • 0 avatar

      eh, it wasn’t really a “full line.” up ’til the mid ’70s, Ford used a bunch of different names for the same car. The Custom, Custom 500, Galaxie, Galaxie 500, XL, and LTD were all just trim levels on the same basic car. By the late ’70s they dropped all that nonsense, the LTD was the big car and the LTD II was a horrendously uglified Torino.

      • 0 avatar

        @Jim Z, that was the bread and butter for most of the American makes for many years. Different trim levels of the same basic body shell. It was their argument against small cars.

        “Why would anyone buy a GM made Beetle equivalent when we can sell them a Chevy 210 coupe for almost the same price?”

  • avatar

    Mach-E is fine. It’s meant to lend the car performance credentials, which it will certainly possess. Also, Ford doesn’t have any other brand names they could apply.
    Fairlane? What’s that?
    Falcon? No, I don’t think so.
    It was Mustang or something new. Attaching the Mustang name creates automatic expectations and that’s what they needed.

  • avatar

    The Daewoo-built Pontiac Le Mans.

  • avatar

    A huge chuck of Tesla’s success has been marketing themselves as the sexy new brand. Ford need something to combat that and Mustang is really the only thing they’ve got.

    I understand why they did it but I think from what they’ve shown so far the vehicle could’ve stood on it’s own as just the Mach E.

  • avatar

    It’s a trick. In a year or 2 they will rename it

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    I didn’t mind the ’80s Nova/Corolla. Although the SS Novas were performance cars, the Nova’s heart was as an economy car. I think it was pretty fitting – also, would anyone have argued with an AE86 based SS?

    Like Duke above, I think the biggest abomination in the Daewoo LeMans. The LeMans was always a mid-size.

    I loved it when GM uses the full-size names. The most recent Impala is a great looking car. Also loved the Bonnevilles as they came out.

  • avatar
    A Scientist

    1978 Dodge “Challenger”. Kill it with fire

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi Eclipse.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    The problem with the Mustang that they don’t have with a lot of the other examples is that the “real” mustang is still being built. It probably would have been considered sacrilege anyway, but most of the other products mentioned has a few years between the last “real” one and the crappy reused name.

  • avatar

    All names are better than alphanumeric soup.

    If your alphanumeric soup has an easily identifiable rhyme or reason I give you a pass… But if it is indecipherable or it started out with a clear structure and became gobbledygook then I want to kill your company with fire.

    (I’m looking at you Infiniti.)

  • avatar

    T H U N D E R B I R D

    would have been perfect for this one…

  • avatar

    The Mustang was named for a plane.

    Ford should have stuck with that convention and named it the F35 Mach-E.

  • avatar

    The AMC Hornet revived one of the great names from AMC’s corporate past. I’m surprised Chrysler/FCA has still not gotten around to putting this name on a Dodge.

    Zephyr was the perfect name for Lincoln’s Fusion clone, recalling the ’36-’42 Lincoln-Zephyr marque. The name was a bit tarnished by its previous use by Mercury but it was infinitely better than MKZ.

  • avatar

    I wasn’t around for the original, but I imagine applying the name Malibu to a garden variety mass market car was an issue. If what I’ve read is accurate Malibu was once the top trim, or close to it, of a Chevelle.

  • avatar

    I have a hard time conjuring strong feelings one way or the other. When the average buyer wouldn’t be able to tell you the basics of what their car is; V6 or 4 cylinder; front, rear, or all wheel drive I highly doubt it matters. They’ll say I want the mid-sized or small XYZ and move on.

    I was helping a friend buy a vehicle over the weekend. When the dealer asked the trim level, engine size, driven wheel of her trade, my friend deferred to me. It’s just not that important to her tonrember these things. Names of vehicles are similar in my guestimation.

    If this were a Lincoln it could very easily have been the MKE.

  • avatar

    Did you hear about the special edition they’re planning with Starbucks? It’s going to be a creamy light brown: the caramel Mach-E auto.

  • avatar

    The problem with using the Mustang name on a totally different vehicle is that the general public gets confused. I listened in horror this morning as the SiriusXM Morning Mashup hosts totally butchered the explanation of the Mach E, giving the listener little idea that it was an EV, and even suggesting that the Mach E was the new Mustang. Couldn’t have been a worse explanation of the vehicle. Most other media writers and hosts aren’t much better.

  • avatar

    Acura isn’t rehashing historic names, but they do suggest in a commercial that the RDX traces it’s lineage back to the original NSX and to the Integra Type R, which couldn’t be further from reality.

  • avatar

    The local Motown news tonight pointed out the Mach-E does not have a Ford or blue oval badge on it, only Mustang badges.

    Occurs to me that Ford might be trying to shift Mustang to a stand alone line of GT coups/sedans/SUVs to compete with Jag and Alfa, without being devalued by the Ford brand, so they can jack up the price.

    Of course, Ford used to own the real deal, Jag. How did that turn out?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I maintain this is happening. The New Mach-E…available at your Mustang/Bronco dealership. The blue oval will adorn pickups only when this shakes out. The Trucky SUV’s will be Broncos, the softer ones will be Mustangs and pickups will be “Built Ford Tough”. and any cars Ford happens to build that aren’t Mustangs will be Lincolns.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Ford could decide to build an EV van and call it the Mach E Velli Van.

  • avatar

    I do think there’s a tendency to lionize only a very specific itineration of a heritage nameplate and conveniently overlook what the typical version might have been. Like, the FWD Impala irritated enthusiasts when it first came out because it wasn’t an SS396, nevermind that most were used to schlep around working class types, or how by the end of its life, the Blazer was an escapist office drone appliance rather than something that some rugged type out of a ’70s cigarette ad would drive. More importantly, pretty much no matter what, someone’s going to find some automotive purity test it won’t pass (see: Supra, new).

    I mostly just want to know if it’s something I’d buy, regardless of the name.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      They should run a drag race of the Mach-E with the best selling trim from each prior generation. Fun to see those 3.8 SN-95’s, 2.3 Foxes and PintoStangs…awesome machines

  • avatar

    They couldn’t just be completely honest about it, and call it the
    “Ford Model 3ish Electric Car”.

  • avatar

    Here’s the thing about the Chevy II which I think is kind of clever but its significance gets lost in our preconceptions of a “full line” automaker.

    Prior to that car’s development, AMC/Rambler was the only major domestic player in the small-car space. Postwar Chevrolet had only done full-size cars. This name writes its own marketing copy: “It’s a small car, and it’s a Chevy, too!”

  • avatar

    I personally can’t wait for the E-Escort. Thinking small, sporty, urban e-runabout. How long do they have to wait to resuscitate a name? E-Probe? E-Tempo?

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