I Just Don’t Get It

There are words in our language that do not induce warm fuzzies:

  1. Tornado
  2. Hurricanetornado
  3. Typhoon
  4. Earthquake
  5. Sarahsanders
  6. Flood
  7. Wildfire
  8. Avalanche

Let’s go with avalanche.

An avalanche is “a mass of snow, ice, and rocks falling rapidly down a mountainside.”

You’ve heard the stories, seen the videos – avalanches are unpredictable.  Uncontrollable.  Scary, and worse than scary, deadly:  Avalanches kill more than 150 people worldwide each year.

It’s hard to find anything good to say about an avalanche.

Ask WhySo could someone tell me why – WHY – General Motors named a car “Avalanche”?

With nearly a half-million words in the English language to choose from, why choose a word that denotes a disaster?

Yet GM did, and the Chevrolet Avalanche was in production from 2001 to 2013.

This came to mind recently when I was at a stop light and noticed the name of the car in front of me.  “Avalanche?” I thought.  “What kind of car name is that?”

Actually, I thought, “What the @#$%&! kind of car name is that?

avalanche_02 avalanche car
Q:  What does this avalanche………………Have in common with this Avalanche?
A:  Nothing.

But auto makers seem committed to using strange names for cars.  And not just using – but creating names for car models.

Let’s start with the strange names that are, at least, real words.

A guy gets home and says to his wife, “Honey, I got the Viper!”  Logically, she’d expect him to walk in with a nasty poisonous snake.  But somehow Dodge thought Viper was a cool name for a car for 20+ years.

Or how about “Spider,” used by several car manufacturers?  Supposedly that tarantualword indicates a small convertible, but to me spider indicates a huge, ugly, possibly deadly bug with eight legs and, if it’s in my house, on a suicide mission.

Maybe the worst of all:  the Eagle Talon.  Now, “eagle” I can understand – eagles are fast, smart, powerful, and impressive to look at, suggesting that the car is, too.  But an taloneagle’s talons – are its toenails.  Its long, curved, sharp toenails that the eagle uses to catch and kill prey.

What was Chrysler thinking with that one?

As for the made-up car names – with that half-million words in English, car makers couldn’t find anything to name their latest and greatest?

And if it isn’t an actual word, what are these supposed to say about the car?Not a Word_03

  1. Allanté
  2. Astre
  3. Elantra
  4. Invicta
  5. Sentra

Here’s the conversation:

Husband:  Honey, I got the Invicta!
Wife:  Oh, no!  Do you need to see a doctor for that?

I guess I’ll just continue wondering about automobile names, and longing for the good old days when a car’s name made sense.

ford-model-t-1915-1Like Henry Ford and his Model T.  Ford had been producing cars for years, starting with his Model A in 1903, then progressing with the Model B and C and so on, skipping some letters when the plans for those models didn’t make it off the drawing board.  He didn’t do all that well with any of them until 1908 when he struck gold with his Model T – a name that made sense, as the next letter in the alphabet.

By 1914 it was estimated that nine out of every 10 cars in the world were Fords.  The Model T put Ford on the map, put millions in his pocket, and put thousands on the road in the first car middle-class Americans could afford. edsel_02

Of course, then there was Ford’s Edsel, which was supposed to be the car of the future but lasted only from 1958 to 1960.  Ford named the car for his only child, his son Edsel, who was named for Henry’s close friend, Edsel Ruddiman.

At the time some wit wrote in Time magazine that the Edsel looked like “an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon.”

The car’s name became synonymous for “failure.”

But at least the name made sense.

makes sense_02

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