NAM­ING RIGHTS

A good name can make a car a clas­sic; a bad one can con­demn it, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Title Fight -

MUS­TANG. Land Cruiser. Enzo. These are three of the great­est names in the his­tory of mo­tor­ing. A Mus­tang is a wild brumby in the US but also one of the all-time best mus­cle cars; the Land Cruiser does just what the name says, even if the land is the worst of the Aus­tralian Out­back; and the Enzo is a trib­ute to the man who founded the world’s best-known su­per car com­pany, Fer­rari.

But the name game can go badly wrong.

The Nis­san Cedric was never go­ing to be a hit in Aus­tralia with a name that cre­ates a pic­ture of an ag­ing un­cle Arthur in a cardi­gan, Tau­rus is tough in the US but was al­ways go­ing to flop against the Fal­con, and the Skoda Room­ster has just been dumped af­ter fail­ing to fi nd a home down un­der.

Holden was care­ful to avoid the VD in its Com­modore line, but why did it start with the VB and not the VA? And what about the States­man, which went well as the WB but was never up­dated into the WC? Just this week I was fol­low­ing a Citroen Jumpy de­liv­ery van in Por­tu­gal, and won­der­ing if the name was a re­flec­tion of the driver’s be­hav­iour or the way it runs on the road.

The crazi­ness goes on and on, like the Citroen Pi­casso peo­ple mover which is any­thing but an oil paint­ing.

To­day’s show­rooms also have cars whose names have more num­bers and letters than a cryp­tic cross­word, with just as much mean­ing.

Who re­ally knows the dif­fer­ence be­tween an A7 and a C350? But head back in his­tory and there are some ab­so­lute clangers.

Henry Ford named the 1950s Ed­sel af­ter his son, but is now recorded as one of the biggest flops in blue-oval his­tory.

Ja­pan has given us ev­ery­thing from the Dai­hatsu Rocky and Rug­ger to the Honda As­cot and Acty Crawler and on through the Isuzu Big Horn to the Subaru Justy.

Nis­san cre­ated the Ti­ida name from noth­ing, even though it claims it has some­thing to do with waves break­ing on a beach, and Lexus is even a madeup brand name, in con­trast to Mercedes

“The Nis­san Cedric was never go­ing to be a hit in Aus­tralia with a name that cre­ates a pic­ture of an ag­ing un­cle Arthur in a cardi­ganw”

which was named af­ter an early Daim­ler cus­tomer’s daugh­ter.

Over in Amer­ica, the AMC Grem­lin was a flop, the Dodge Neon never went up in lights, Ply­mouth Re­liant never lived up to its prom­ise, and the Lin­coln Town Car was so big it needed its own post­code.

Even some of the names which have worked cre­ate more ques­tions than an­swers about their cre­ation.

The Kia Men­tor is more likely to need one, the Honda Jazz is not much of a mu­sic ma­chine and the Suzuki Cap­pu­cino was too frothy to sell in Aus­tralia. Some names also paint a pic­ture be­cause of their his­tory. Men­tion Cel­ica and lots of peo­ple in Aus­tralia think hair­dresser.

Ask about the Nis­san GT-R and you’ll hear about Godzilla.

Camry is short for fridge-on-wheels, Kingswood is clas­sic six­ties kitsch, and then there is the Gog­gomo­bil.

So, what’s caus­ing a Rukus to­day? The Toy­ota Rukus, for a start. We could also get the Nis­san Cube, which is as boxy as its name, al­though Nis­san Aus­tralia is also push­ing for a re­turn of the Pul­sar badge which worked so well be­fore the silly switch to Ti­ida.

Right now we have the Skoda Su­perb in Aus­tralian show­rooms. If that’s not a name which cre­ates a se­ri­ous ex­pec­ta­tion then we don’t know our Fal­codores.

Fam­ily ties: Henry Ford’s biggest flop was the Ed­sel,

named af­ter his son.

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