The good thing about a bad car name is you've got no expectations; nothing to live up to -- and therefore, little to disappoint. But using up a good name on a bad car is almost a moral crime -- like "American Idol," for instance. Here are ten good car names gone bad -- ruined forever, but 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 obsolescent economy car that bore this name ever felt like a king. The Cavalier was the cheese whiz of cheap cars -- mass produced and mediocre at best. You didn't drive one because you wanted to, but more because you had to. Someone either gave it to you -- or the dealership was giving them away. And in your 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 -- and from there to K-Car rehab. The shovel-nosed, fastback 1980-'83 Mirada offered 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-incher belting out all of 130 hp. (See also Chrysler Imperial and St. Regis.)

* Pontiac T1000 -- It sounds tough, like relentless robotic assassin in "The Terminator" -- but it was just a rouged-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 tragedy is, many did.

* Porsche 914 -- Normally, the Porsche name commands respect and admiration. With this one exception. Packing an 80-hp VW-sourced flat-four not much different from what you'd have found in a Super Beetle, this car almost singlehandedly ruined Porsche's reputation. Later 914/6 variants were an improvement -- but the damage was done.

* Pontiac Turbo Trans Am -- Built for just two short years (thankfully), the final iteration of Pontiac's second-generation (1970-'81) F-car was the apogee of the Disco Machine -- a completely toothless fake muscle car 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 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 ever made. Solid? Well-built? Great value? Sure thing. But it's as much a travesty of language to describe this car as "legendary" as it would be to call a medical journal great literature.

* Mercedes-Benz 190E -- The 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 with it by christening its first downmarket model with the same once-proud designation. Thoughlater 190s got better, the stain on the carpet left by the initial batch can never be scrubbed away.

* Dodge Daytona Turbo Z -- Just saying it sounds pretty cool (especially if you're James Earl Jones). 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 to endure the association of his fabulous palace with a pretentious Ford Granada. An example of Detroit badge-engineering bait-and-switch 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 atrocity that bore it, circa 1976-1990. Aston Martin has produced some gorgeous and memorable machinery; the Lagonda -- with its oddly angular body and cheesy, early Atari-style interior -- isn't one of them. The electronics were so unreliable that early cars were often undriveable -- though the ugly futuristic shape of the car made it useful as a background prop in low-budget sci-fi flicks.

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