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Is there any pattern or deeper meaning to the model names given to automobiles?We had a...

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gamefaceguy | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:34 PM via web

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Is there any pattern or deeper meaning to the model names given to automobiles?

We had a discussion in regards to car model names, such as  "MUSTANG," "CHALLENGER," "CAMARO," "FIREBIRD," and "CAMRY."  There is belief there is a pattern in selecting these names and debate has arisen as to their origination and when the words entered the english language. Truthfully, this subject never even entered our minds, until it was brought up in casual conversation. I would like to write a paper about it, but I'm not sure even how to research it.

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM (Answer #1)

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The most important significance to the model names given to automobiles is that they are a marketing strategy to increase sales and name recognition. "Mustang" is a well-known model of muscle car, and is associated with 70s-80s American individualism and rebellion. The word comes from the Mustang Horse, which is a classic wild horse associated with freedom and strength; the name was probably selected by Ford because it tested better than other names. Similar powerful-sounding words are selected (Challanger, Firebird) to evoke desire in customers; the more macho or appealing the name, the more likely a purchase and the more likely that the name would spread among potential customers.

The Chevrolet Camaro was actually a direct competitor to the Mustang; its name is a deliberately made-up word that:

...suggests the comradeship of good friends as a personal car should be to its owner...
(Pete Estes, Chevrolet GM, 1966, Wikipedia)

In this case, the word is coined to create a unique brand, one that is intended to compete with other established car lines.

The Toyota Camry is actually the Anglicization of a Japanese word, "kanmuri,' which means "crown," and it was a company policy to name their primary car lines after words meaning "crown," such as the Corolla.

Essentially, car names are picked by focus group, by tradition, or by deliberate design. The main goal is to create a brand that can be instantly recognized, repeated, and desired by customers. 

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