Here’s an important question for you: If you had to pick a carmaker’s lineup from one era, and think of their model names as possible superheroes, what company — and in what era — would have the best superhero team? I think there’s a lot of possibilities here, but there’s one lineup that I think stands out.
The model name should evoke a pretty specific sort of superhero, with an easy-to-infer general set of powers, or at least theme. That’s why some carmakers will just never pull this off well, like Honda: Civic, Accord, Prelude — those aren’t superhero names, they’re concepts of rationality and harmony and municipal responsibility. That’s not exciting.
It’s trickier than you might think. Look at how little you’d have to work with for ‘70s Chevrolet:
Caprice? That’d be what, a superhero who just does everything on a whim? Vega? Ehhh, maybe some space-star-power kinda deal. Monte Carlo, Kingswood, Camaro, Suburban? Nope, nope, nope, and ha ha, no. There’s just not much there.
More promising are 1970s Volkswagen and 1960s Ford. VW could field a team with a Beetle, The Thing, Rabbit, Dasher — all of those can kind of evoke various powers, and maybe if we render Scirocco as Sir Rocco, a kind of super-tough knight, that could work.
Ford could give a strong lineup with a Falcon, Galaxie, Thunderbird, and maybe Mustangs and Broncos — those could make decent themes for superheroes, and in fact I think some even have actual superhero versions already.
But I think the best lineup has to be 1974 AMC:
We can use pretty much the entire lineup, and they all work as superheroes:
The Ambassador, the brains of the team, who has some kind of super-compromise mind-ray powers;
Matador, a Spanish superhero who dresses like a matador and can, say, summon ghost bulls that died in the ring to do his bidding;
Gremlin, the small, plucky little brute who can get into any machinery or vehicle and disable it in moments;
Hornet, a flying, buzzing hero with a potent stinger on their ass;
and Javelin, a fast, deadly being who throws a magic javelin that always returns to his hand.
This team is called the Amchampions, and they’re here to save the world, with less development cost than the so-called Big Three superhero crews, a pack of lovable losers that always get the job done.
There may be an even better lineup out there, and I challenge you to beat the Amchampions! Lemme see what you got!