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Car names - are all the good ones taken?
Vauxhall has just announced that its new "premium urban car" is going to be called Adam. In light of that revelation, this must be a good moment to address one of the key questions looming over the modern automotive industry. Namely, are all the good car names taken?
In its embryonic stages as a design study then a concept car, Vauxhall's new city runabout was known as Junior. As car names go that's not too bad. It's even reasonably appropriate given the cute, compact model it is.
They could have stuck with it but like an expectant mother awaiting the arrival of her bundle of joy, Vauxhall's tired and emotional state must have got the better of it. Junior has been rechristened Adam just in time for the big delivery.
Couldn't Vauxhall have done better?
Now the world has to contend with a city car that could have been named after the bloke who played Batman in the camp 1960s TV series (West), the star of Happy Gilmore and other less effective schmaltzy American comedy movies (Sandler) or a 1980s new-romantic with a highwayman fixation (Ant). Couldn't Vauxhall have done better?
The worrying thing is that maybe Vauxhall couldn't. Look a little deeper and even the original Junior name would have been problematic, not least because Alfa Romeo used it in the mid-1960s for a typically sexy Italian two-door, the GT Junior. This is the dilemma facing many car brands today. A lot of different cars have been produced since the automobile first gained popularity and all of them had a name. That's a lot of car names, good and bad, off the market as far as modern manufacturers with a new model to flog are concerned.
The worst car names
The people who name cars are being forced to look longer and harder for something that fits. They don't just have to avoid stuff that's been used before but also potential car names that have already been registered as trademarks by rival brands, just in case the right car comes along.
In a situation that could be building into a global car name crisis of epic proportions, this tactic amounts to squirrelling away good names in a jerry can in the garage, just in case things get really bad.
What's in a nomenclature?
Of course, some manufacturers are immune to car name strife. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi all employ cunning alphanumerical nomenclature policies with the potential to keep their new models in bland but familiar titles for millennia. Porsche is another German brand that rises above the fray, as it's been churning out cars named 911 since the 1960s. It shows no sign of ditching decades of glorious sporting heritage and naming its next rear-engined coupé after a snarling Spanish fighting bull à la Lamborghini.
We can live with the Enzo from Ferrari or the Giullietta from Alfa Romeo but Adam?
The brands potentially looking more squarely down the naming double barrel are the likes of Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Skoda. Car names like Golf, Focus, Corsa and Fabia could theoretically be used forever but it only takes a couple of dodgy generations in a model line for a name to get tarnished with mediocrity. When that happens, the idea of a fresh start under a new name inevitably begins to find favour in the minds of product planners. Then the perilous search for a new title must begin.
Even if we are still buying cars, or anti-gravity flying machines, called Volkswagen Golf in the year 3000, names will still be needed for all the new niche models that VW slots into its existing range over time. What will the revoloutionary all-wheel-drive six-wheel convertible MPV be called in 2025? Geoff?
Crazy car names are nothing new?
The pressure on the dwindling stockpile of decent and available car names is reflected in some of the weird and wonderful choices we've seen of late. Kia was reduced to using esoteric punctuation to mark its cee'd and pro_cee'd family hatchbacks while Ford turned to the world of intrusive medical examinations to name its thrusting Probe coupé. Then there's always the classic misnomer of the deathly dull Mitsubishi Carisma and Mazda's often quoted lost-in-translation camper van - the Bongo Friendee.
Can human names work for cars?
It just shows that in the hunt for a viable car name, anything is possible, place names, emotions, made-up words, even Adam. Vauxhall's choice will not even go down as a great example of a human name being imposed on a car. We can live with the Enzo from Ferrari or the Giulietta from Alfa Romeo but Adam just doesn't seem exotic, alluring, trendy or exciting enough (sorry to all you Adams out there).
Anything is possible, place names, emotions, made-up words
The name just conjures up an image of the Vauxhall management team burning the midnight oil huddled around a meeting table, every one of them at a dead loss as to what to call their new city car. They're just about to go with their best idea to date, the Vauxhall Aubergine, when suddenly a guy called Adam pops in to fix the photocopier. Eureka!
What do you think of Adam as a car name? What are your best and worst car names of all time? Are we in the midst of a car naming crisis? We'd love to know your thoughts so tell us in the comments section below...
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Well seeing as city cars are actually quite good cars these days,what with Fiat's 500 Abarth,or just the regular 500,the V.W Lupo blue motion,and of course the Smart car in all it's carnations,and the newer breeds,with the Toyota Yaris,and the new Suzuki Swift.City cars have come a long way since the 3 wheeled plp50,don't quote me on that,i may have spelt it wrong maybe it was called the Peel p50.Anyway people reading will know the car i refer to,it was made famous on Top Gear a few years back. .
Now,in the hectic world of the 21st century their is a huge market,and a need.for city cars.But i certainley don't for 1 second believe that car companies are running out of ideas for naming them.But Adam is just plain lazy,and very dull,.it would suggest that it was the first city car,a'la Adam and Eve.It needs a rethink,for sure.I'd have to know more about the technical side of the car before suggesting a serious name.Human names don't work unless it's a really funky looking,cheeky looking car,then i suppose Loki,could be acceptable.Alfa Romeo have got it bang on the money with the Giulietta.Why not bring old names back,and call it the Vauxhall Viva.Or a modern spin on some old car names,like the city Nova.Or better still something completly new for a completly new car to the line up.I know Ford had good success with the the Transit spin-off the Transit connect,they're two very popular vans in their own rights.No resemblence at all,but a name share,it's an idea that works,and makes up the bulk of Fords commercial sales.Now with that in mind,why don't Vauxhall go down the same route,then no ones getting alienated,and their current customer base are happy,as they'll have a name they can relate to.But what is it to be the "City-Insignia" or the "City-Astra.Or like i said before a new name to the line up,maybe call it"the Vauxhall Dave"Ha,joke.Now for a serious attempt."The Vauxhall Transition". .
Dear old Vauxhall tried to market the No Va in Spain & were puzzled why the otherwise identical Opel Corsa sold well & their offering didn't. Anyone who speaks Spanish knows why.
Rolls Royce wisely decided to swap the potentially embarrassing (in German) Silver Mist for Silver Shadow before selling. But almost any car name is either taken, subject to lawsuits (e.g. Renault's Zoe wasn't liked by Zoe Renault), or embarrassing in some language.
Personally I think of cars as girls & vans as boys, so for me at least Eve might have been better than Adam.
One name I'm surprised hasn't yet gone for a small van is Mester. Not the big Renault van but the small high quality cutlers of Sheffield. Or would Renault claim it on the "moron in a hurry" grounds that lead the Daily/Morning Star newspapers to court? Sadly there are too many morons in a hurry in motoring, but that's another issue.
No the good names are not all taken, in truth there are many many advantages to a good name.
I have for many years tried to get involved with advertising, slogans and anything that could benefit from a view from "imagineers" but it is a closed shop. Those that are in, keep the door closed and so imaginative ideas out. They do not want submissions full stop, the answer is usually such as we are skilled professionals who have taken years to learn our craft and so your ideas will be worthless. Thank you and go away.
Anyway soapbox stint over ...
The names of cars are probably going down the road of non words...
To explain I wouldnt call it ADAM I would call it "ADMA" or something similar if I was restricted to the letters in Adam.
If unrestricted I would use something like "MUUD" pronounced "MOOD" Yes there is the jokey MUD appearance (could be used to be positive ) also we must think forward to advertising
Put yourself in a good Muud today! What sort of Muud would you like to be in ?
The word MUUD looks strange now but if used would soon look natural.
The other aspect of the visual of advertising would also work well the UU in MUUD would transform well into wheels in an animation.....
thanks for listening
steve at slapface dot co dot uk
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