[Smt-talk] Car names

Chris Bonds chbonds1 at willy.wsc.edu
Wed Jul 25 08:35:30 PDT 2012

On 7/24/2012 12:05 PM, Salley, Keith wrote:
> Actually, here's one (or two) from an American manufacturer.
> Ford made a car called the 'Tempo,' but I believe the model was 
> discontinued.

I used to own a Tempo. My insurance agent always insisted on calling it 
the "Tiempo." But he wasn't Hispanic. . . . Tempo was also the name of a 
German car manufacturer, in business between 1933-1956.

BTW, no one seems to have mentioned the Suzuki Alto, which has been made 
since 1979. I could be wrong.

Other names (from a list): Allegro, Maestro, Applause, Beat (?), 
Caprice, Quintet, Samba, Stanza, Veloce.

This business of car naming could actually be more than just a humorous 
digression. Someone jokingly offered a few German possibilities, and 
it's easy to guess why German doesn't seem to be used for naming cars. 
(Two of the biggest makers are Mercedes and BMW, both of which identify 
their models by abstract letter-number combinations. They don't need no 
steenkin' names!)

I remember reading about a famous psychological experiment in which 
subjects were shown two abstract shapes, one gently curved, like an 
amoeba, and the other a starburst, with straight lines and sharp angles. 
They were told that one was called something like "wooloomoloo" and the 
other a "rikki-tikki." They had to guess which was which, and of course 
most got the "right" answer. So if you design a car aerodynamically, you 
might want to name it something that rolls out smoothly, without a lot 
of plosives like k, g, ct, etc.

As far as I know, no car has ever been called a Legato, but that might 
be one to consider. . . .

Chris Bonds
Wayne State College (retired)

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list