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Thread: Good Car Names Gone Wrong...

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Good Car Names Gone Wrong...

    The good thing about a bad car name is you've got no expectations; nothing to live up to - and so, little to disappoint you. But wasting a good name on a bad car is almost a moral crime.

    Like "Dancing With the Stars."

    Here are ten good car names gone bad - ruined forever, through no fault of their own:

    * Chevy Cavalier -

    This name summons images of gallant horsemen protecting their monarch - though it's not likely many owners of the prematurely obsolescent, shoddily constructed, recall-prone economy car that bore this name ever felt like a king. The Cavalier was like Cheese Whiz - mass produced and mediocre. It was infamous for perpetually failing head gaskets, a bouncy clown car ride and the lowest grade plastics this side of a Mattel action figure. You didn't drive one because you wanted to, you drove one because you had to. Someone either gave it to you - or the dealership was giving them away.

    And in turn, you got rid of it as soon as you could.

    * Dodge Mirada -

    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 (the first time) in the early 1980s - and from there to K-Car rehab. The shovel-nosed, fastback 1980-'83 Mirada offered, among other treats, leaky T-tops and rear-wheel-drive when both were going out of fashion - and 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.) If only they'd put a 360 (or better yet, a 440 big block) into this one, it would have escaped this list.

    * Pontiac T1000 -

    It sounds tough, like the relentless robotic assassin in "The Terminator" movies - but it was just a rouged-up (and marked-up) Chevy Chevette sold under the Pontiac nameplate. GM's idea was that buyers would actually pay extra for a Chevette with a more masculine name.

    The hilarious thing is, many did.

    Like the Chevette, it was a piece of crap. Only it was a slightly more expensive piece of crap.

    * Porsche 914 -

    Normally, the Porsche name commands respect and admiration. With this exception. Packing an 80-hp VW-derived flat-four not much different from what you'd have found in a same year Super Beetle, this car almost singlehandedly ruined Porsche's reputation. It was mocked as the "Poorsche" by afficionados - and routinely humiliated on the streets by cars costing half as much. Later 914/6 variants were an improvement - but the damage was done.

    * Pontiac Turbo Trans Am -

    The V-8 versions of the early 1980s (1980-'81), not to be confused with the V-6 turbo Trans-Am that came a few years later.

    Built for just two short years, the final iteration of Pontiac's second-generation (1970-'81) F-car was the ultimate Disco Machine: a completely toothless tiger 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 punch drunk palooka that embarrassed itself wherever it showed up.

    * Acura Legend -

    Truly a cruel irony that this otherwise unobjectionable car name was given to perhaps the most blandly styled, forgettable sedan Acura ever made. Solid? Well-built? Great value? Absolutely. But it's as much a travesty of language to describe this car as "legendary" as it would be to call Ellen Degeneres a "hottie."

    * Mercedes-Benz 190E -

    The Focke-Wulf 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 by christening its first downmarket model - replete with weak four-cylinder engine and iffy build quality - 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.

    * Dodge Daytona Turbo Z -

    Just saying it sounds pretty cool (especially if you're James Earl Jones, who did the voice overs for the commercials). 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 Laser.)

    * Lincoln Versailles -

    Louis XVI would surely prefer another trip to the chopping block than having to endure the association of his fabulous palace with a pretentious Ford Granada. An example par excellence of Detroit badge-engineered, bait-and-switching at its most contemptuous. The Versailles showed the world that people will pay Lincoln money for a Ford with a fake vinyl roof and knock-off wire wheel covers.

    * Aston Martin Lagonda -

    Another not-bad name forever tainted by the freakish, over-digitized, not-ready-for-primetime atrocity that bore it. Aston Martin has produced some gorgeous and memorable machinery; but the Lagonda - with its bizarro angular body and cheesy, early '80s Atari-style all-digital interior - isn't one of them. The electronics were so unreliable that early cars were often literally undriveable - though on the upside, the ugly futuristic shape of the car eventually made it useful as a background prop in low-budget sci-fi flicks like "Robo-Cop" and "Judge Dredd."

  2. #2
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    But if you see a rotting Lincoln Versailles for sale for a few hundred bucks... buy it provided it still has it's OEM rear axle on it. It's a strong 9" diff and the axle has disc brakes attached to it. It's like gold to anyone building up a Falcon, Mustang, or Maverick. It is also useful in many a street rod application. It all comes down to the smaller width that other 9"ers didn't have.

    While the car is a marketing failure, they are worth saving just long enough to remove those axles.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Yep!

    And as the years roll by I find I like those old barges more and more... and the new "sporty" luxury sedans less and less.

  4. #4
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post

    * Porsche 914 -

    Normally, the Porsche name commands respect and admiration. With this exception. Packing an 80-hp VW-derived flat-four not much different from what you'd have found in a same year Super Beetle, this car almost singlehandedly ruined Porsche's reputation. It was mocked as the "Poorsche" by afficionados - and routinely humiliated on the streets by cars costing half as much. Later 914/6 variants were an improvement - but the damage was done.
    The 914/6 was not a "later variant", it was part of the original 914 production run. They only made a few thousand of them then stopped. The 914 was available with either a 1.8L or optional 2.0L flat four. I'm not sure, but I think the 1.8 was from the Fastback/Squareback and the 2.0 was from the Microbus?

    The 914 was competitive enough in its market segment, against other open 2-seat sports cars. None of the 4-cyl Brits -- MGB, Spitfire, Sprite, Midget -- were even as fast, these were all cars that stuggled with making a 13 second 0-60. The real danger to the 914 came from the Datsun 240Z and the Triumph TR-6, both of which had inline sixes. The Porsche outhandled all of them though, and did surprisingly well in SCCA Solo II Autocross.

    For me the most amusing thing about the 914 was before it was introduced, R&T got ahold of some spy photos of a production-ready prototype, with a caption that stated that the ugly mess must be a heavily-disguised test mule.

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    I'm surprised you didn't mention the evil torque steer that the Daytona had.

    Hit the gas and you were headed for the ditch.

    Chip H.

  6. #6
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    I'm surprised you didn't mention the evil torque steer that the Daytona had.

    Hit the gas and you were headed for the ditch.

    Chip H.


    Try running an older (or even newer) Porsche 911 hard. In '75 I was running a friends hopped up '70 911 in a rally. He was running a different car and asked me to see what I could do with it. He had told me that in those cars you DON'T go into a turn hot and let up on the throttle in the middle of a curve. Being told and knowing in your gut though are two different things. With the engine in the rear, the front pulls up when you let off the throttle. Then the centripedal forces make the engine pivot towards the outside of the curve, and it brings the car with it. I didn't go in the ditch but it was close.
    Honk if you love Jesus.

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  7. #7
    Senior Member eesquared's Avatar
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    Well, I think you have all presented good arguments to avoid those atrocities (Sorry Eric - I stole your term....) What's that they say?: They just don't make 'em like they used to....and in these cases...thank goodness.

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