MARCH 6, 2012: IT IS TIME TO ADJUST OUR RANGE OF CAR NAME STEREOTYPES

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Certain powerful images can get attached to a simple name.

 

This notion also holds true for car names-except that our images of car brands has been forced to evolve as the manufacturers have changed the game.

 

Take the Cadillac name for example.

 

For decades the Cadillac brand was associated with a large car that catered to an older buyer who wanted to own a massive land barge that was hard to dock, great on a highway cruise and had the optional signal light package that stayed permanently on blink.

 

The only Cadillac performance angle was found when 50s hot-rodders yanked the V-8 engines out of wrecked Caddies and shoe-horned them into stripped-down Depression-era cars.

 

These days the Cadillac Escalade is still a very big vehicle but it also happens to be a truck for all intents and purposes.

 

The big Caddie is one of the largest sport utility vehicles on the road and it offers even more creature comforts to its buyers. It typically has a younger more affluent owner, but one can assume that older buyers would feel even more secure behind the wheel of these giant sport-utes.

 

The Lincoln brand has headed in the same direction with its Navigator model sport utility truck. Gone are the days when a large front Lincoln grille was all that you could see in your rear view mirror if you dared to enter the fast lane.

 

The 70s-era Mark model Lincolns offered big block powered two door coupes that were long in the hood and short in the deck. Their owners were long on the gas pedal and short on patience, a trait that translates well to the new breed of Navigators which are bigger and faster Lincolns.

 

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When you think about a Porsche you do not think about a practical vehicle for a soccer mom, but these days a Porsche also offers a sport utility model-sport utility is code for vehicles that are essentially a mini-van version of a comb-over for soccer moms. A comb-over for men and a sport utility for housewives do not disguise very much of the obvious in either case.

 

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Decades of nimble sports cars from Porsche are a tough act to follow with a vehicle that belongs in a supermarket parking lot, so we have voted the Porsche sport-ute as the most jarring departure from its original roots.

 

James Dean would likely not have been literally caught dead in a new Porsche wagon.

 

Jim Sutherland

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