Nameplate From the Past Returns in Trademark Filings

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nameplate from the past returns in trademark filings

Model names usually remain the property of their original owner. The trademark gets renewed again and again, long after the vehicle bearing the name shuffles into retirement, lest it fall into someone else’s hands.

In this case, three automakers have placed the name somewhere on a vehicle.

That name is Hornet, and recent U.S., Canadian, and Mexican trademark applications show that Fiat Chrysler — and especially the Dodge brand — wants to keep it secure. But why?

The trademarks, first reported by Motor Trend, are for both the Hornet nameplate and the Dodge Hornet designation. A rich history follows the Hornet name around. First affixed to the revolutionary Hudson Hornet, with its step-down body and inverted bathtub shape, the name eventually found its way to the American Motors lineup. The AMC Hornet was hardly a Javelin, but it wasn’t a Renault, either.

After AMC’s late-’80s acquisition by Chrysler Corp., the name entered the Pentastar fold.

The last time anyone heard or saw “Hornet” was in 2006, on a concept car that never reached production. The Dodge Hornet compact hatch bore a face reminiscent of the Dodge Nitro. Now, FCA wants to ensure that name stays fresh.

While the flurry of applications is not confirmation of an upcoming Dodge Hornet, the timing suggests exactly that. After so many years of status quo, the Dodge brand is in flux. Grand Caravan production ends in a couple of months. The Journey is believed to be in its final model year. Durango? Its long-term future is unknown. Consolidation could lie in store for some models.

The only thing that’s certain at this point is that “Hornet” will not find a home on a new sedan or coupe. There’s safe money in betting on a crossover vehicle, though what size we could expect is uncertain. FCA’s obviously staying mum on the whole thing, so stay tuned for breaking Dodge news — which happens to be among the rarest kind of news.

[Image: Bark M./The Truth About Cars]

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  • Uncle Mellow Uncle Mellow on Mar 13, 2020

    The Wolseley Hornet dates back to 1930, it was a small car with a straight-six motor. Not sure if the Wolseley brand is now owned by BMW or by the Chinese.

    • TR4 TR4 on Mar 13, 2020

      That one was before my time, but I remember seeing the '60s Wolseley Hornet which was an upscale version of the Mini.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Mar 13, 2020

    To me Hornet associates with Boeing Super Hornet which is definition of super cool. I do not remember that Dodge ever had Hornet model. I know though about Hudson Hornet because it was kind of legend and I am interested in classic cars. So I do not think regular folks associate Hornet with old Dodge or AMC model. Well may be very old folks.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Mar 15, 2020

      Well, Dodge is supposed to be the sporty nameplate, so a tie-in to the F/A-18 Hornet would be a natural. The thing is, Navy pilots compare the plane to a Honda Accord: it's reliable, predictable, and does everything fairly well, but does nothing truly exceptional. It's also problematic to be tying into Boeing with its current reputation.

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