This article is classified "Real"
I have decided that they have gone mad. The folks in the marketing divisions have finally lost it. I have no idea who they are or how they do it, but the folks who decide the names of cars have flipped. They have put their foot to the floor and ploughed headlong into the brick wall of utter, utter lunacy. What has brought me to this conclusion? The Ford "Probe." What were they thinking of? How could this be a good thing to call a car? It is not a strong name. It does not evoke images of glamour, safety, power or sexual prowess. I can only conclude that it is the result of a bunch of twits taking a simple idea far, far further than they should have. For decades motor cars have been phallic (Or at least so we have been told). The thrusting, powerful red sportscar is a supposed to symbolize a latent sexual potential, or at least to indicate that the owner has a pretty impressive drive shaft. Now some fool at Ford has taken hold of this notion, completely failed to grasp it properly (a common problem), and named the latest model after a gynecological instrument. As they say, "close, but no cigar." What are we to expect next? The Ford "Speculum"? It was not this incident alone that caused me to despair of the sanity of the car christeners. It has been a cumulative process. Car names used to be simple, easy to understand. Subtlety was not a factor. Predatory animals were big. "Jaguar," "Falcon;" names to impress. Not only could this vehicle move the family about at speed, it could eat the neighbours. Try keeping up now, Mr. Jones. Another popular one was the names of European towns. "Cortina," "Capri," "Calais." No doubt these are supposed to sound glamorous, and possibly to subconsciously invoke the word "Ferrari," and its concomitant associations. "Eldorado" got a run too (though not a European town), with its obvious overtones of opulence. Unfortunately this now seems to have degenerated into nothing more than an industry-wide belief that, where possible, car names should end with a vowel sound. Now we have "Camira," "Camry," "Cressida," "Barina," "Lantra," and "Verada." I mean one sounds like an insect, another like an ice-creams flavour, and the last one sounds very much like a dry biscuit. Can you imagine the marketing gurus sitting around the table deciding on these? How do they choose? "Verruca? ... No," "Extruda? ... No. Sounds like crap," "Polenta? ... Yes! Nice ring to it! The "Mazda Polenta." I like it! ... Oh, No. It's some sort of food.," "How about Verada? ... Isn't that something around a house? No? Great! ..." The mind boggles. I would like now to draw your attention to the Mitsubishi stable, and I use the word advisedly. A few years ago Mitsubishi released a small car called the "Colt." Nothing wrong with that. A cute name for a small car, suggestive of latent strength and potential even. Just recently a much larger Mitsubishi model hit the market -- the "Lancer." Now that's really cute! A theme of names running through the models. That's right, "Lancer" is the name of a really big horse (big enough to carry a knight in armour, and his lance). Those clever fellows at Mitsubishi! It even sounds like a car name (echoes of "Charger"), and has a hint of penetration which, as we have seen, is always good. Unfortunately, it did not all go well for those well-meaning marketing folk in Japan. What is the name of their middle-sized model? The "Starion." Think about it. Those sirry, sirry buggers. There is one recently released model that I think sums this entire trend up very nicely indeed. The Daihatsu "Charade." I mean really. I guess it sort of has the right sound for a car name, but did they give the slightest thought to what the word means? What next? The Toyota "Facade"? The Nissan "Farce"? Probably. (c) Copyright David Squire, 1994. Permission is given for this article to be distributed as part of the Project Galactic Guide archives. It may NOT be distributed in any other form, or published in any newspaper, book, or magazine anywhere without the express permission of the author.