Sunday, June 04, 2017
  Error, not error

I was thinking about cars named after people and animals. Read an article about Pininfarina's 1961 dream car, the Jacqueline. Pininfarina was trying to get Cadillac to make the car, and the name (as in Jackie Kennedy) was meant to be part of the appeal.



It was a DAMNED PRETTY car, but GM didn't bite. It's clear from actual results, if not from written history, that AMC did bite on the styling. The perfectly pretty 1963 Rambler clearly follows the same lines, and the timing is about right. Ed Anderson gets full credit for the '63. I doubt it. His previous "own" designs were clumsy, and his previous designs with official help from Pininfarina were pretty. So the influence, official or otherwise, seems like a good bet.

= = = = =

Naming cars after people other than the company founder has always been a jinx, so it's easy to see why nobody picked up the name.

Around 1930 Marmon named its sub-luxury car the Roosevelt, after Teddy. Just in time for the other Roosevelt to become a hissing and a byword to Marmon customers. A little later Studie named its new cheap car the Rockne, after Knute. Just in time for Knute to get killed in a plane crash.

So we don't have a Cadillac Ivanka or a Chevy Nixon or a Ford Paterno.

But in fact Ford made a personal-name error later without realizing it. Starting in 1960, Ford ran wild with wild animals. Romantic-sounding animals. No plain domestic names like Dog or Cat or Horse or Fish. Ford wanted Mustangs, Cougars, Lynxes, Panteras, Pintos, Mavericks.

Pinto was a partial mistake. The name must have seemed wild and romantic to Ford's NYC marketers, but in fact pinto is just a color scheme for horses, like tabby or brindle. Considering the fashion for strange color schemes in the '70s, it's odd that Ford didn't make any pinto Pintos; though many Pintos ended up as pintos because their owners didn't feel like repainting repaired fenders.

Maverick was a complete mistake that came full circle, accidentally becoming the most appropriate name ever for a Ford. Those NYC marketers were apparently thinking that a Maverick was a wild Texas Longhorn. In fact Maverick was a rancher who was famous for not branding his cattle, which is not a good omen for brand-conscious marketers. And Maverick's grandson Maury was famous as a Left Populist politician in the '30s.

Full circle. Unfortunately the car wasn't wild or populist or anything special at all. It was durable and domestic and uncomfortable and inefficient. Should have been called Turtle.

Later thought: Lincoln is a major exception to the rule. I guess the jinx doesn't apply with people who are far enough in the past that they have fossilized into household words. It certainly applies to people who are alive at the time of the naming, because living people can surprise you.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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