Ever since vehicles have been mass-produced and sold in significant numbers, car marketing has played a vital role in sales success. It’s never been enough just to build the right car or to price it correctly. You need to name it right and promote it properly. The biggest challenge is often the name, and you need to come up with a name that perfectly suits the character of your vehicle. Legendary names like the Corvette, Mustang, Spitfire, or Carrera have become so well-known that they are even recognizable amongst non-car people. However, there are some cases when car companies give their vehicles names that really don’t suit them. Let’s get started…
Back in the late `50s, when the Austin brand was a respectable British company, the name Princess could be considered appropriate for its upscale models. Two decades later, however, when Austin released a model with the same name but a front-wheel-drive layout and extremely poor fit and finish, the name suddenly became very inappropriate. In 1975, British Leyland introduced the Princess, a five-door family hatchback with front-wheel-drive and transversally mounted four and six-cylinder engines.
Despite having a modern layout and a then innovative hatchback design, the car was poorly executed, terribly unreliable, and prone to rust. Simply, there was nothing royal or majestic in driving an underdeveloped and almost unsafe vehicle. Certainly not beautiful enough to be called a princess either!
When you heard the name “Rampage,” what was the first thing that came to mind? Action, chaos, something dynamic and exciting, perhaps? Not exactly. In the case of this Dodge, it hardly rampaged at all with a fairly disappointing 2.2-litre four-cylinder and rather tiny 96 HP. Weirdly, it’s a compact pickup too, a pretty cool design, granted but not exactly fitting with the name. Needless to say, it rampaged pretty quickly off the market, becoming a commercial failure and discontinued in 1984.
If the Pride was a top-of-the-line luxury or sports model, maybe we could understand the logic behind the name. Not the case here though, as the Pride was the cheapest economy car you could buy from Kia back in the late `80s and `90s, and it wasn’t originally even a Kia product. The first-generation Kia Pride was in fact, a rebadged Ford Festiva and Mazda 121. Its kind of hard to comprehend why the marketing strategists decided to give this very ambitious name to a vehicle that they didn’t even make! Maybe somewhere somebody was proud to have this car, but for most customers, “pride” isn’t something that is usually connected with Kia models.
As Skoda is part of the Volkswagen Audi Group, in many ways it’s always been the thinking person’s Volkswagen, usually being sold at lower prices with more practicality than its siblings. Skoda models have been good sellers ever since Volkswagen acquired the Czech brand in the early `90s, but unless you go for the hotted-up VRS models, speed has never been part of their game. Whilst the Rapid is a good car, there is nothing rapid about it, with its top-spec model having a 125 horsepower 1.4-litre TFSI engine; most models have significantly less!
It is hard to believe, but the Suzuki Swift has been on the market for 37 years. Along the same lines as the Rapid, its speed-based name is rather optimistic. With a 0 to 60 mph time you measure with a calendar, perhaps Suzuki Slow would be a better name? To be fair, Suzuki did produce a few Swift GTI versions with a hint of performance, but most of the cars produced during the last four decades were dreadfully slow 1-litre things with around 50 horsepower. Not even nippy!
What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you heard the name “Concorde”? Of course, the legendary passenger jet plane with its pointy nose and supersonic engines. Despite the fact that the Concorde series planes are no longer in use, it remains a symbol of speed and technological achievement.
That is precisely why Chrysler choose this name for its line of upscale sedans produced from 1992 to 2002. Whilst it had a v6 engine and mimicked the cab-forward design of the plane, it was a big, front-wheel-drive, four-door plasticky thing. To be fair though, it was a unique design with some thought put into it for sure. The 90s were a bit Concorde mad though, presumably because it was supposed to herald a new era for travel. Shame it never worked out that way!