Behind every great car is a great car name- at least in theory.
‘The names suggested power, muscle and speed, all rolled into one famous handle.’
Let’s have a look at some of the best blasts from the past.
One name that fights its way to the front of the line is Mercury Marauder. The name suggested that Conan the Barbarian would have been a good fit behind the wheel of a Marauder. Ford delivered the Marauder as a 1963 1/2 model in a sleek fastback model.
It lasted only two years in its original form, although the Marauder engine package lived past the original model of Mercury. It was revived a few times over the years, but its final run was 2003-4. The death of Mercury as a Ford brand suggests that Marauder has gone to the big wrecker in the sky. Permanently.
One of the legendary car labels came from Buick with its famous Roadmaster model that had an initial run from 1936-58. It was a great name for a car and a car culture that grew tremendously during its 22 year run. A 1991-96 revival of the name started with a station wagon and added a four door sedan, but the raw magic of the original Roadmaster was not found in the second-gen edition.
The Plymouth Fury began life as a 1956 two-door hardtop that was designed to add a little sportiness to the Plymouth brand. Chrysler wanted to grab a piece of the younger driver market where you lose two doors and add a V8 into the mix.
The ’58 Fury name grew in notoriety with the Christine book and movie.
The Fury name would hang around for several decades as one of Plymouth’s higher end models, but it was all about attitude in 1956 when the name first decorated a fender.
The Chevrolet Impala was born in 1958 as a newer and faster post- vertical fin Chevy from the tri-five era. A 348 truck engine and a lively 283 engine were designed to add a lot of speed to a car named after a very fast African antelope.
The name has survived (with a couple of production year gaps) to this day and ranks as the most popular American sedan brand in automotive history based upon sales.
The Mercury Turnpike Cruiser was a short-lived model from the Blue Oval boys. It was produced for the 1957-58 Mercury stable and had a famous inverted rear window that rolled down to let in fresh air from all of those newly paved freeways.
The name was reflective of a mobile society that spent a lot of time on the road as commuters from newly-built suburbs to work; or as nuclear families on vacation. Either way, a Turnpike Cruiser could loaf along any freeway in the world at 70 mph or better.
The Pontiac division of GM hit a home run with a Firebird label on its 1967 sports car. It was the middle of the 60s muscle car era and a fire-breathing name fit the bill to a tee. The 400 cubic inch engine only added to the fiery mystique of an early model Firebird.
We have merely scratched the surface on famous car names from the past. Look for more of the same in future articles as we duke it out to add some of our favorites to the mix.
Jerry might disagree with some of these picks but there’s nothing like a good twin fight to settle this argument.
JERRY SUTHERLAND:“Twin fight? it won’t be a knock down brawl like when we were kids but honestly…I only like the Fury and Marauder as attitude car name plates.
DENNIS:“Yup, we’ve sure lost the ‘style’ haven’t we. Car names used to mean something. There are some ‘left-overs’ from the days of speed, like Charger and Impala but for the most part, the creativity is gone. The “Politically Correct” have won. You wouldn’t want to ‘offend’ by calling a car “Fury” or “Marauder” or (perish the thought, “Muzlim Muncher”) cause we all have to get along. I don’t know how Ford “Fusion” slipped past the anti-Nuke crowd? Now we have stuff like “Eco” or “Bio”, or “Aveo” (got to be bi-lingual) or “Prius” (what the heck is a “Prius”?), or names to remind us that gasoline is ‘evil’ like the Chevy “Volt”.
Sometimes, I’m glad I’m old. The age of the good ol automobile as a symbol of “rapid transit”, (rather than the “Mach 1 cattle cars” of high speed rail), seems to be slippin“.
ROBERT:”The VIPER now that’s a good car name. Cyclone, GALAXY 500 XL, I know it’s a tiny British car but the Spitfire is definitely a cool name.
GORDIE:“Great olden days cars – Love ’em!”