Few things in the development of a new car are more crucial than the name.…
The untold scoop on 4 half-baked car names of the past, present, and future
The annals of automotive history are paved with fantastic car names (Plymouth ’Cuda, Lamborghini Miura, Chevrolet Corvette, Rolls-Royce Wraith, Porsche 911, Ford Mustang, Pontiac, or Ferrari GTO, and many more). Those same annals are littered with awful names (Ford WindStar, many 2000s-era Lincolns, Toyota RAV4; the Ferrari La Ferrari…). Which brings us to the names that just weren’t fully baked, for various reasons.
1980 Dodge Ram
Mopar bigwigs had already uncorked the champagne in the Truck Department conference room that one Friday they all agreed on “Ram.” Huzzahs all around! But that also happened to be the day marketing intern Carl Fremont was home with a stomach bug, and the next Monday at the water cooler, Carl couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I’m just here for credit,” he said “but you’re either dodging something or ramming it. You can’t do both.” Carl’s protestations went unheard, his internship ended, and his stomach bug turned out to be appendicitis.
2007 Ford Ford
Alan Mulally’s first order of business when he took the helm at the Blue Oval was to revive an old Ford of Norway all-terrain project, which called for a 4×4 full-size van with a V-8 mounted in a central position atop the roof. Coupled with 33-inch tires, the setup rendered a snorkel—long the stylist’s bane—unnecessary. Officially the Ford Fjord, the name was Americanized for the U.S. market, but testers in both Oslo and Detroit had the same complaint: driveshafts angling down through the passenger area and through the floor, spinning at several thousand revolutions, tended to catch on long hair, scarves, and carelessly waved hands. The project was sunk.
1962 Lotus POTUS
Colin Chapman and John F. Kennedy were, famously, buddies. No, best buddies, actually. So when JFK approached ol’ Chap at a party and complained about the lack of lightness in his bulletproof Lincoln, Chapman told the handsome leader of the free world that he could build him a car with some lightness. The result was a 700-pound all-aluminum town car with a multi-tube space frame and an audacious eight-liter Climax four-cylinder. Chapman had dreams of getting into the “heads of state limousine business,” but when Kennedy debuted the POTUS at a parade in Iowa, ball-joint failure in a 4-mph corner at State and Main pretty much made the car a presidential—and Lotus lore— footnote.
2021 Porsche False Gharial
Porsche has gotten plenty of mileage from its 900-series cars, with machines like the 911, 912, 924, 928, 944, 959 and 968 carrying the crest across generations. More recently, the German automaker has turned to spices, crocodiles, and made-up words derived form defunct Mexican road races. Currently in the cards is a three-row version of the Cayenne, internally designated Cardamom, as well as a small sporting pickup, the Dill Weed.
More significantly is the 718 Cayman’s planned replacement, the False Gharial, which, as you know, is a small crocodile native to the Karau River region of Southern Borneo. Porsche ad men are already at work on the slogan: “False Gharial, True Performance.” Finally, plans are afoot for a successor to the Panamera, but because there’s only ever been the one race, and because Carrera has been done to death, a suitable moniker has been tough to pin down. Leaked documents suggest “Tijuana Late Night Drags” and “Rio Grande Prix” are possible follow-up sedans.