There's a long-dead automaker that only persists in the collective unconscious for its excellent car names. It's evidence that a great model name might not be easy, but it can absolutely landmark your car.
This carmaker built some of the finest sports cars of its nation, featured powerful engines mated to a rear transaxle, and was praised as a better-handling racer than a contemporary Bentley.
Nobody remembers any of the qualities of the car. Nobody remembers very much about it, but everyone remembers it in some form of another because of the name:
Stutz was one of America's two greatest sports car companies, the last great one to keep the flame going before it took a two-decade nap and re-emerged with the Corvette. And the Cunningham, I guess, but that's beside the point.
People know the name Stutz because it had a knack for great model names.
Black Hawk, Bearcat, Bulldog, Monte Carlo, Safety Stutz, Pak-Age-Car, Super Bearcat, Bearcat Torpedo Speedster
Do random people know what a Mercer is? Hell no. Will any middle-aged person you meet still sort of foggily remember the Bearcat? I wouldn't be surprised.
The Bearcat, if you are curious, is locally known as the biturong in its native Southeast Asia. It is the only animal in its genus, it has a prehensile tail, and it is thoroughly badass. They can grow up to two or three feet long (double that counting the tail) and can weigh up to 70-odd pounds.
Here is Newt Gingrich wearing a live 50-pound specimen on his head, for some reason.
This all comes to mind because of Cadillac's decision to double-down on alphanumerics. Now, this isn't totally out-of-character for the company. In fact the most famous Cadillac of all time, the '59 with the giganto tailfins, could be officially ordered as the 'Series 6200.'
You don't remember that name. There's no reason to remember that name. It is completely forgotten, because you could also order the '59 Cadillac as the Coupe de Ville or the Eldorado, and those names are simply better than 'Series 6200.'
Much as the move to alphanumerics may be the easy thing to do, even the historically consistent thing to do, it will never be the great thing to do.
Photo Credits: AP (photo of Bearcat at top and Newt Gingrich picture), Stutz via Alden Jewell