The automotive community has known for a long time that the naming of a vehicle can make or break it in the public’s eye and heart. After seeing the Acura LEGEND and Suzuki VOLUSIA get renamed to numbers, I read now that KIA is going that route. Does this mean that motor companies are now dominated by marketing grads who know nothing about history, love or passion? At least VW got it right naming their new bug NEW BEETLE, and got immediate recognition of the car worldwide as a result.
And who has not heard of a P T CRUISER?
“Does this mean that motor companies are now dominated by marketing grads who know nothing about history, love or passion?”
They know more about those things than engineering. It would appear that they have a different view of the situation than you do. Recall that the Ford 500 was a dud until renamed the Taurus. It was initially named the 500 as homage to the Galaxie 500 and Fairlane 500 of the 60s. That bit of nostalgia didn’t work.
Oldsmobile did quite well in the days when we had the 66,68,76,78,88 and 98 right after WW II. The second digit of the number designated the number of cylinders–the 76 had 6 cylinder, the 78 had 8 cylinders for example–in these earlier days. When Oldsmobiles became Aleros, etc they lost out. Everyone knew the size of the 88.
Sorry, When Olds became Chevys they lost out. Olds 88 and 98 were popular names because it sounds cool to say eighty eight or ninety eight. Or deuce and a quarter for a big bad Buick.
When a Ford was a Fairlane 500 it was cool, but a Ford 500 just doesn’t have a ring to it. I like to say Z Car, but Datsun Z just doesn’t do it for me. Datsun 240Z sounds good though. But Suzuki C50 just does not roll off the tougue.
Suzuki VOLUSIA …this was named for the county in which it was made, a Suz dealer told me Volisia Florida
Numbers and letters have been used throughout automotive history. In addition to those already mentioned, do you recognize the MG-TC, the Chrysler 300 (the one that used to be as well as the current one), the Porsche 912 or 911, the Camaro Z28, the Olds 4-2-4, or the Mustang GT? The list could go on and on.
Whether the name works really depends on the car itself. While the Jeep Cherokee and the Potiac Aztek were both named after indian tribes, the Cherokee has become a standard while the Aztek has become synonomous with “ugly”.
I’m of the belief that a great car can make a name successful, but a great name cannot make a poor car successful.