By on April 16, 2020

Emotional response. That’s the end goal of marketing — well, the second-to-end goal, and words and images are what a savvy marketing pro uses to plant that seed in the human brain. Rapidly germinating, the seed quickly grows into a desire to consume. To own. To bolster one’s identity with a product that says something about them, and which makes them feel good in a strange, hard-to-define way.

We’ve all been lured in by slick advertising, product placements, and the like, but products don’t always need a third-party ad agency to boost their image. The manufacturer gets first crack at that.

Which is where naming come in.

We’ve talked up the best automotive nameplates of the past, waxing poetic about lusty monikers like Thunderbird, Firebird, Jetfire, Ramcharger, and Rebel. You can add a contemporary one to the roster: Blackwing — Cadillac’s new name for the upper tier of its V-badged performance sedans.

Named after a short-lived engine few consumers know or care about, the decision marks a departure from the brand’s Johann de Nysschen days, when bland alphanumeric soup found its way to trunklids throughout the Caddy lineup. Not much stirring of the soul. But with Blackwing, a defunct engine has given life to a sub-brand of a sub-brand.

And it’s a good name. Hearing or reading the word “Blackwing” immediately, at least for this writer, conjures up images of Batman, or someone a lot like Batman. A mysterious individual with powerful connections and powerful hardware. That’s sexy stuff, so why wouldn’t Cadillac want to see it bestowed on a brace of high-performance, rear-drive sedans?

Clearly, you don’t have to dredge up ancient history to find a great new name to affix to a car (too bad Cadillac didn’t realize this works for EVs, too.) Is there a viable — and thus far unused — name you’ve always wanted to see adorn the latest and greatest new car? If so, what is it? Use your words.

[Image: General Motors]

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51 Comments on “QOTD: Triggered by a Word?...”

  • avatar

    Blackwing reminds you of Batman which reminds me of bats which = virus


  • avatar

    Eh, not really at least in terms of nameplates. certain trim/perf packages maybe. “Mach 1” will probably always be welcome on the Mustang, though I was really hoping they would have followed through and called the BEV that so I could sit back and watch the Boomer snowflakes melt down :D

    A lot of the old nameplates are just too frumpy and dated. I don’t think anyone is clamoring for the return of the Dodge St. Regis.

    Although I always used to get a chuckle out of Car and Driver’s annual “New Cars” issue where they’d- without fail- note that yet again that year Mercury had failed to offer a “de Sade” package on the Grand Marquis, and that the Turnpike Cruiser was still dead.

    • 0 avatar

      Remember when they put leather straps and metal buckles on the trunk of the Thunderbird? It was immediately dubbed “Bondagebird”

      • 0 avatar

        I do not, but wouldn’t metal buckles against paint be a bad idea??

        • 0 avatar

          Lol, no one said it was a GOOD idea

          Behold the “Bondagebird”

          • 0 avatar

            what passed for “style” in the ’70s.

            PSA: do not google “Bondagebird.” at least not if you have SafeSearch off.

          • 0 avatar

            Actually, that “Bondagebird” style was a throwback to the classic 1920s and ’30s luxury cars, whose ‘boot’ was held closed by leather straps with metal buckles. And hoods, in some cases:

            • (Check the photos farther down the page)

          • 0 avatar

            Oh wow, that is hilarious!

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, but the people who remembered the luxury cars of the 1920s and 1930s are mostly dead.

          The 1970s were 40 years ago.

          When I saw the ad, my first thought was that the people standing around the long-obsolete airplane were steampunk cosplayers… It’s probably not the association they’d like to evoke.

          Not that there’s anything wrong with steampunk cosplay… I’m just not into it enough to, you know, actually engage in it.

          • 0 avatar

            googles “steampunk cosplay…”

            Ok, a kind of Jules Verne version of hipsters. Looks complicated

      • 0 avatar

        It must have been before they invented bungee cords. In my crystal ball I can see an electric CUV with factory-installed decorative (non-functional) bungee cords attached to the roof.

    • 0 avatar

      Off topic, but, the Olds Turnpike Cruiser was on the mechanical level, a fascinating concept. Lots out there on the ‘net about it.

  • avatar

    The “Finale” would probably be appropriate for some of these companies (and their employees.)

  • avatar

    The name Blackwing will forever conjure memories of the time GM designed an exclusive engine for Cadillac that didn’t fit into any of Cadillac’s vehicles.

  • avatar

    What embodies mobility better than the name YouGo?

  • avatar

    I think Cadhack should come out with a small CUV called the Cinnamon? It sounds like a failure, would be a failure, but it was a spice that they’ve never exploited.

    Blackwing sounds like Cadihack is trying to be a motorcycle or to give a hint of black tie to the cars that look like used jeans.

    • 0 avatar

      “I think Cadhack should come out with a small CUV called the Cinnamon?”

      Nooooo!!! I knew a woman at work that bought a Cimarron and she thought she had *arrived*. She took me to lunch to show it off and asked what I thought. I tried hard to praise it to not hurt her feelings. Probably the most unconvincing lie I ever told to a woman. But I wasn’t looking to “get some” so it didn’t really matter.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The successor to the Hellcat-Demon line should be called “Banshee”.

  • avatar

    A charging network named:


  • avatar

    The “Belchfire 6000 SUX” sounds like cool name

    • 0 avatar

      I test drove one of those in February, except they called it a Durango R/T.

      In it’s defense, it is designed for exactly my use-cases (suburban dad who likes to tow stuff).

      But, yeah, the Belchfire 6000 SUX would be a fitting name. It was red. I’d rather be seen in a minivan.

  • avatar

    Oh, I don’t know…when I look at some of these currently misshapen lumps, for some reason the name “Bulgemobile” comes to mind, LOL!!

  • avatar

    The Ford Flex should have been named “Fairlane.” It’s an excellent name for a family vehicle.

  • avatar

    Personally, that car looks more like aHonda than a Caddy.

    • 0 avatar

      Except that a Honda will last longer and run better…

      60k on the clock for my wife’s Civic, and it’s still basically new. I keep trying to convince my wife to trade it for a Tesla, but she keeps telling me she’s happy with what she has. So, I’m biding my time and saving…! We both win, really.

  • avatar

    Mercedes is starting to trigger be because of their god-awful extended play commercials that keep popping up in my YouTube mix while I’m listening to music at my desk. MB bought 4 min of airtime to extol the virtues of their tiniest cars.

  • avatar

    In the 70’s padded vinyl roofed, opera windowed, deep soft seats resembling furniture genre, I always thought that Bordello would have been an apt model or trim level moniker.

  • avatar

    Desirable car names are very chicken-and-egg.

    There was a time when Thunderbirds were actually desirable. Therefore the name evokes that sort of image and power. If Ford had held off on using “Thunderbird” until they gave the name to the Pinto, no one would think Thunderbird was a worthwhile, powerful name.

    If “Firebird” had been applied to the T-1000 instead of the F-body, Firebird would have the same connotation as “Cimarron”.

    A good name needs a good car. Blackwing has one of those two going for it. It’ll be unknown in five years.

  • avatar

    Animals, winds, metals, forces of nature and invented words have already been used. Hyundai/Kia gave up on those, and started using city names.
    In the spirit of H/K, here are a few car naming suggestions:
    Mobile (for anything that moves)
    Streator (can’t miss with this one)
    Gallup (competition for the Mustang)
    Davenport (would have been big in the ’70s)
    Chevy Chase (How has GM not used this one yet??!!)
    Shamokin (A FIAT with a 10,000 mile oil change interval)
    Anchorage (for a BMW after 65,000 miles)
    Seward (for Cadillac’s next odoriferous faux pas)
    Buffalo (for buyers who are complete pushovers for the salesman and the F&I office)
    Fond Du Lac (comes with an extra large trunk, marketed to Mafia hit men)
    Flagstaff (a 4X4 pickup truck that makes overcompensation even more obvious)
    Climax (Colorado dared to use this as a town name. Perfect for something red, overpriced, overpowered, convertible and likely to get wrecked in the first week of ownership)
    Boca Raton (a chromed-up Special Edition of a large pickup, available only in New Jersey, bought by those who never bothered to look up what it means)
    Macon (available only to law enforcement)
    Champaign (luxury transportation for the millions who have great difficulty with grammar and spelling)
    Puyallup (Comes with a winch as standard equipment for rescuing people from quicksand)
    Des Plaines (Only available in white, with no options. Popular among Mennonites.)
    Starkville (Wagon version of the Des Plaines)
    Ashland (would lose any Buy/Drive/Burn contests)
    Ruston (For any car without TruCoat)
    Hancock (for the sap who realizes too late that his car isn’t actually a chick magnet)
    Aiken (badge-engineered version of the Hancock)
    Greenwood (badge-engineered version of the Aiken)
    LaCrosse (Canadian version of the Hancock, sold in Quebec)
    Anaconda (no punch line here. Would make a great supercar name.)
    Goldfield (gaudy luxury for grayhairs hoping to pick up a gold digger)
    Deadwood (what Goldfields get traded in on)
    Carlsbad (marketed to wimpy guys named Carl)
    Raton (for illegal aliens with thin, wiry mustaches)
    Queens (So Subaru can market to the other half of the demographic)
    Painesville (De Sade version available at a sight extra cost)
    Beaverton (a flashy sports car that actually works as a chick magnet)
    Tanaqua (Made by Mitsubishi, because Sha’niqua deserves a car, too)
    Dayton (what Ta’Naqua does for a living)
    Florence (for divorced mothers of three and washed-up actresses)
    Sturgis (features a slightly raspy muffler, and is marketed to dentists)
    Cleveland (for GM’s next flop, a real Steamer)
    El Paso (for Mexicans who want to pretend that they are racing)

  • avatar

    I’d love to see a Toyota Corona to make a comeback to complete its “crown” series: Crown, Camry, Corona, and Corolla.

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