ITALIAN OR ENGLISH?


Finding evocative naming schemes can be a totally different process for automotive marketing teams – depending on the national language and history. This is why Ford can make it cool to build a Mustang designed for Hertz and use a simple “H” with the Shelby title.

Your local BMW/Mini dealership will soon showcase the Clubman. Are you a clubman? Goest thou thither to the pub, man? Taken on its own, the name “Clubman” means nothing to you. Yet, strangely, because of Mini’s history, Clubman is both cool and, wait for it…. spacious.

Nissan can afford to drop the letters behind its upcoming supercar. GT-R is thought to be no longer necessary in light of the wealth in Skyline. I remember driving to Houston, from San Antonio, when I was just a young immigrant kid from Canada. The skyline blew me away. At that time, cars and skylines had forged no connection in my mind. Even so, my Skyline excitement is growing.

That covers America, Britain, and Japan. Every time an Italian car needs naming, the marketing execs just open the dictionary and pluck out a word. Team. Four-door. Five Hundred (worked no better for Ford than Taurus). Multiple. Point. Sixteen. Muse.

That is so not cool. And yet those are the names of a bunch of Italian cars. Kind of. Ferrari F430 Scuderia. Maserati Quattroporte. Fiat Cinquecento. Fiat Multipla. Fiat Grande Punto. Fiat Sedici. Lancia Musa. Everything changes.

The Chevrolet Team would be oh-so-unevocative. Jaguar Four-door? Laughed out of the showroom. Ford Five Hundred – not exactly a huge seller even when it did have such a name.

“There’s the new Pontiac Multiple – wow!”, he shouts. Sorry, it didn’t work.

“2009 marks the debut of the Dodge Point,” says the (fake) press release. That’s awful.

Granted, the Cadillac Sixteen carried some sway, but you can put that down to the design. Hummer Muse? Clearly the buyer didn’t think long and hard enough, eh?

Il Buono Macchina Tipo. How I wish I was.