Car Names Gone Bad
Here are ten
good car names gone bad ruined forever, through no fault
of their own:
This name summons
images of gallant horsemen protecting their monarch though
its not likely many owners of the odious and obsolescent
GM economy car that bore this name ever felt like a king.
The Cavalier was the Cheese Whiz of cheap cars mass produced
and tasteless. You didnt drive one because you wanted to.
You drove one because you had to. Someone (Mom & Dad) either
gave it to you or it was all you could afford. And in your
turn, you got rid of it as soon as you could.
This name kind
of has a nice ring to it and might have worked out had it
not been affixed to one of the final death rattles of Chrysler Corp.
before it went bankrupt (Mark I) and from there into to K-Car rehab.
The shovel-nosed, fastback 1980-83 Mirada offered poorly fitted,
leaky T-tops and rear-wheel-drive when both were going out of fashion
and under its hood lurked one of the weakest V-8s ever constructed,
a 318 cubic-inch embarrassment belting out a dismal 130 hp. (See
also: Chrysler Imperial and St. Regis.)
tough, like the relentless robotic assassin in the Terminator
movies but this sad-sack on wheels was just a rouged-up Chevy
Chevette sold under the Pontiac nameplate. GMs idea was that
buyers would actually pay extra for a Chevette with a more masculine
name. The tragedy is, many did. It was cars like this that dug Pontiac
into a hole so deep that not even great cars like the G8
one of the very last new Pontiacs ever built before GM pulled the
plug had a prayer of turning things around.
Porsche name commands respect and admiration. With this one exception.
Packing a 76 hp VW-sourced flat-four only slightly hotter than what
youd have found squatting behind the rear decklid of a slow-pokey
Super Beetle, this car almost singlehandedly ruined Porsches
reputation. It was conceived as part of a joint Porsche-VW project
in the late 1960s that was intended to to accomplish two goals.
One was to give Porsche a new model; the other was to give VW a
replacement for the Karmann Ghia. The Porsche variant originally
came with a suitably Porsche flat-six, not the 1.7 liter (and Beetle-based)
flat-four used with the VW version. But early 70s cost-cutting
led to cancellation of the six in the 914, which beginning with
the 73 models lost the six and came instead with a much less
powerful flat-four sourced from VW. This most un-Porsche engine
was also used in the wretched 912 series.
Turbo Trans Am
Built for just
two short years (1980-81) the final iteration of Pontiacs
second-generation (1970-81) F-car was the apotheosis of the Disco
Machine a gimpy ersatz muscle car that could barely heave
itself through the quarter-mile traps in under 17 seconds despite
the wild graphics, air dams and turbo decals plastered
all over the thing. Like Brando, there was all kinds of potential;
it coulda been a contender but turned out a sloppy
palooka that embarrassed itself wherever it showed up.
Fw190 was a superb WWII fighter and that association alone might
have been sufficient to give any car to bear the same name a decent
head start. Too bad Benz decided to go K-mart with it by christening
its first downmarket model with the same once-proud designation.
Though later examples got better, the stain on the carpet left by
the initial batch of 190s can never be scrubbed away.
it sounds pretty cool (especially if its James Earl Jones
saying it). Too bad the car itself a K-car based, front-drive
pretender was so lacking in the powers of The Force. Even
worse was the way this car expropriated and sullied the legacy of
the old V-8 Daytonas of the late 60s. See also: Chrysler
Louis XVI would
surely prefer another trip to the chopping block than having to
endure the association of his fabulous palace with a pretentious,
double-priced Ford Granada. An example of Detroit badge-engineered,
bait-and-switching at its most consumer contemptuous the
Versailles showed the world that some people will pay Lincoln money
for a Ford with a fake vinyl roof and knock-off wire wheel covers.
car name forever tainted by the freakish, over-digitized atrocity
that bore it, circa 1976-1990. Aston Martin has produced some gorgeous
and memorable machinery; but the Lagonda with its oddly choppy
body and cheesy, early Atari-style interior isnt one
of them. The electronics were so unreliable that the cars were often
undriveable until the ECU and other components were gutted and replaced
with something more viable. On the other hand, the bizarrely futuristic
shape of the car eventually made it useful as a background prop
in low-budget sci-fi flicks.
Before he helped
midwife the Yugo in the 80s, Malcolm Bricklin had a brain
fart of his own back in the mid 70s. The SV1 safety
car was supposed to be ahead of its time, a car of the
future. And in some ways such as its energy-absorbing,
body-colored bumpers and tubular steel chassis it was. But
due to lack of money, the SV1 was more of a cobbled-together kit
car than a future car built with leftovers from Ford and
AMC. It had the look and feel of a teenagers hot rod project
put together in the backyard with a Sawzall and some RTV. If a Nuremburg-style
tribunal is ever held for designers of automotive atrocities, Malcolm
Bricklin will surely find himself in the docks to answer for his
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
Best of Eric Peters