In the Thursday May 30, 2013 edition of Globe and Mail, a wonderful article by Peter Cheney outlines his position on vehicle names. He chooses what he views as the best and worst vehicle names of all time.
Now, let’s see if we can take this a step further.
The Chevrolet Corvette was named for the high-powered Navy gun boat. What if other nautical vessels passed their names on to the car manufacturers? The Buick Roadmaster wagon could have been the Buick Dreadnought. Large and boat-like, the Dreadnought could be regarded as a vehicle you dock, rather than park. A great name for an enormous vehicle. Like its namesake, the Roadmaster/Dreadnought is no longer in service. The Chevy Clipper has a nice ring to it. How about the Plymouth Laser? It was a re-badged Mitsubishi Eclipse. I have heard a Cadillac referred to as a “luxo-barge”, all in keeping with our nautical theme (not counting the Mercury Villager minivan with its Nautica kitted model).
The Ford Mustang is a terrific name. An unbroken horse, running wild and free fits with this vehicle’s styling and image. Hyundai had its Pony and Ford had the Pinto (the less said about either of these two vehicles, the better). You’re not likely to see a Ford Zebra or a Hyundai Gelding. ‘Stallion’ has potential. ‘Quarter horse’ might fit a pickup truck, but with the race for more power in pickups, a quarter horse might not fit the image. The Dodge Draught might be frowned on by our men and women in blue, with the connotation that driving shouldn’t involve a draught of any kind.
The Chrysler New Yorker conjures up images of door men, upscale living and the sophistication of Manhattan. You’ll not likely see the Lincoln Palm Springs or the Ford Miami. Can you imagine the Buick Schenectady? Pontiac did have the Phoenix, but both the car and the brand are long gone. Nothing will rise from the ashes of this vehicle.
The Ford Probe. Propriety prevents me from weighing in on this name.
Chevrolet had the Lumina. They also had the Nova, another ‘enlightening’ name. Other names from General Motors that end in ‘A’: Buick Reatta, Riviera and Terraza, Chevrolet Captiva, Corsica, Epica, Impala, Monza, Optra, and Vega. With the exception of the Impala, all of these models are no longer made. Perhaps GM should stay away from names ending in ‘A’.
The Pontiac Aztek was, to put it kindly, an ugly duckling. A well-equipped, compact sport utility, it suffered from too much unpainted plastic on the nose and tail, and the front fascia was ungainly. Would the Pontiac Maya or Pontiac Inca have sold in increased numbers? Sometimes a name can’t overcome a vehicle. This is Mr. Cheney’s conclusion on the Edsel, almost unanimously regarded as the least attractive vehicle of all time.
For me, the best name on Mr. Cheney’s list is the Aston Martin Vanquish. Aston, from the name of the village where Lionel Martin made his historic hill climb in 1914. Vanquish, from the 565 brake horsepower V12 engine. Vanquish: defeat thoroughly. 565 horsepower ought to do it.