Naming Cars

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Op-Ed by Staff

So, imagine you have created a car, what more do you need? Well, the first thing you need is a name. Perhaps the only thing harder to name is a new drug. It’s quite hard to come up something which doesn’t sound rude in a different language and of course, you always want something which sells the car and the brand. It’s a hard slog and it doesn’t always work.

The idea of looking to future might seem a given, but a car called the Futurama bombed terribly. It may not have just been the name, the design was awful too.

nash-835986_1920When it comes to naming your car company it tends to be mostly surnames such as Cadillac and Honda, but having said that it needs to be the right kind of surname. Fortunately, Emil Jellinik didn’t try this, preferring to name a car after his daughter Mercedes. There was a car designer called Benz though; Carl Benz. I hope Mercedes didn’t have to marry one of Benz’s relatives to keep the company; things would become difficult for her.

In some ways it is similar to naming an individual, you want something with a bit of tradition but you want something that suggests that you’ve thought about your decision too. In the end, you might have to see it before you know what you want to call it.

Many cars are named after concepts like Honda Accord, Chevrolet Agile and Caprice and so on. It’s a bit of moot point whether people want to be capricious, but people tend to want to show accord or show agility, at least in their car driving.sunbeam-835969_1920.jpg

An original way to come up with a car is to shorten a word or phrase. The Versa, for example, which apparently is short for versatile space (though there is a river and a pop band too, as well as a Roman word). You could come up with a car called Techni or Revo, couldn’t you?

Each make of car creates a specific brand and so the names might be quite similar. Lamborghini uses Spanish terms, many of which are used in bullfighting, such as Aventador (a fighting bull) and Estoque, a matador’s sword. Obviously, terms like matador and toreador are too obvious. Vauxhall, however, have used the Picador, which is a bullfighter on horseback, so Lamborghini can’t take that.

Peugeot has numbers like 3008 and 107. Why do the numbers always have zeros though? I think it’s due to small numbers feeling less stressful, hence too why the number always starts with 1,2 or 3. It’s just a theory though.

renault-1671405_1920A popular theme might be to look at mythology. Clio is the muse of history, there is both a Honda Clio (sold in Japan) and a Renault Clio. The Honda Phateon may be named after the son of the God of fire or an old name for a carriage, it’s difficult to tell. There’s a great deal of mythology about but it might be wise to look at a successful mythological figure, look at Zeus rather than Icarus. And they tend to look at Greek mythology rather than anything too obscure.

Another thing you might want to stay away from is excessively long names. Ford left the minivan market entirely in 2008, then came back with a series of cargo vans called Transit Connect. They doubled down on the chaos by offering a dozen different sizes, packages, and designs without tweaking the name at all. Is this a Transit Connect XT? LT? XLT? No, I want the big one? Oh, the titanium? No the big one…

Yep, try not to confuse your customers. That’s a no-no.

So to sum up:

  1. Give it a human name if it works as a car.
  2. Or try naming it after a concept.
  3. A shorter word hasn’t been tried much.
  4. Come up with a group of names so you came more than one car.
  5. Try plundering mythology.

Now all you need is a new type of car…

 

Surprising Glove Compartments

We wanted to name this “Past, Present, and Future of Glove Compartments” but it was a bit long and some of what we ran into was surprising. For example, the future of glove compartments is not a sure thing.

We take the idea of a glove compartment for granted, most people knowing it as an area to the left of the dashboard in front of the passenger’s chair. It is not known as the glove compartment in all areas of the US though, the other names being a cubby hole and around the Rocky Mountains the jockey box. The strangest name must be the torpedo compartment, maybe due to being an ideal spot for a villain to hide a torpedo release button? Brits call it a cubby box by the way.

 

But where does the whole thing of a glove compartment come from? Well it should be obvious that it dates back to when gloves were a prime piece of equipment for the driver. With a rough steering wheel which got oily or hot, gloves were seen as useful to keep the hands cool and clean.

The first use of the term is thanks to a racing driver, Dorothy Levitt who is believed to have used a glove compartment, but it was in a different position than we find it today. The location of the glove compartment was to be found under the driver’s chair and was a just a set of drawers, presumably used for storing more than one set of gloves. The driver’s chair was raised higher than today’s chairs and there was no passenger’s chair next to the driver’s chair. There were no trunks in early cars; the storage was in hampers or baskets. The term “trunk” may have come from a huge box used to store certain equipment in the car.

The alterations to what was stored in the glove compartment came as early as the 1930s. No one would use them to store gloves at this stage.  It has been more often used as an area to store valuables or just to show you had valuables that you could afford to keep in a car.  In modern days these luxuries have included laptops and mobiles as well as Sat-Navs. Or you may keep documents associated with your vehicle.

And it seemed like a no-brainer to keep the glove compartment near the dashboard so you wouldn’t need to go under your seat to find anything and could also make the seat lower.  The weirdest thing that has been kept in the glove compartment would seem to be tiny dogs, though personally, I would worry about how much room they would have.

So why do we think the humble glove compartment might actually be dwindling in popularity. Many cars, even luxury cars do not come with glove compartments. It seems that a sizeable amount of the vehicle owning public don’t use the space at all, 25% prefer to keep the space empty.

If you don’t have a glove box you will likely need alternate solutions to your storage needs. Kelly on Hative.com has loads of creative ways to store things in your car if that’s your challenge.

Of course, another reason you might need more storage in your car is that you have too much CRAP in there. In that case, we bring you Aby of Simplify101.com with ideas about the best way to clean out your glove box. Starting with this quote:

First, clear everything out of the glove compartment and load it into a portable storage container. Take your bucket of stuff inside to a flat surface (I used the kitchen table) and sort like with like. Toss out the things you don’t need (like old ketchup packets) and find a new home for items you need but not in your car.

Which should leave you with the bare essentials and a few extras. Nationwide insurance suggests the following list of must-haves:

  • Medical information.
  • Emergency contact numbers.
  • Pen and paper.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Owner’s manual and maintenance schedule.

We have a couple luxury items to add to that list, of course, but it’s enough of a topic to rate it’s own post soon. If you’re a traditionalist and actually want to store gloves in there, here’s a set that come well recommended.

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Autodromo Slingback Driving Gloves

The glove compartment could be an area ripe for innovation though, with car space being at a premium.

As we’ve recommended before, if you have an old cell phone on pay as you go, you could keep it in the glove box so you can use the GPS location to find your car if it’s every stollen.

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According to Thrillist, the 1957 Eldorado Baughm by Cadillac came with a cocktail set for the glove compartment. Perhaps a better concept would be an area to keep drinks cool.

If you have any ideas about what the glove compartment could be used for or maybe what a replacement for this cubicle could be please comment below. All innovations have to begin somewhere, after all.

 

Badges – Truths and Fictions

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A car emblem is more formally called a badge, and it’s the tip of the spear when trying to communicate your brand to the auto-buying public. Car makers have used taglines and sometimes even the distinctive design of the car itself to help brand their cars. Long ago they could rely on that small figure on the hood to help, but those were deemed hazardous. Still, the badge is consistently the first insight members of the public get with a brand. Like all attempts at branding, it can be entirely misleading.

background-3276749_1920A number of people believe the BMW logo is based around a propeller. In actual fact, it was based on the Bavarian flag, which is also blue and white. Having looked at the Bavarian flag though I would say that the propeller theme is more obvious which might explain why so many sources on the internet continue this myth.

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BMW isn’t alone in this type of confusion. Look at Chevrolet’s badge for instance. It may have been based around the Swiss cross (but then again a “+” is such a common symbol) or it may have been inspired by a specific design of wallpaper.

Chrysler, however, has an obvious theme. The 1930’s gave birth to the age of the jet engine and Chrysler wanted to draw subtle connections.

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Audi’s four rings are based on the link of four companies, one of them being Audi, the other three being audi-1721126_1920DKW, Horch, and Wanderer.

If you are like me you haven’t heard of any of these companies but DKW or Dampf-Kraft Wagen was into creating steam-powered cars, so understandably was a thing of its time. Horch created a number of cars in Germany including the Cabriolet.

Wanderer made automobiles, but also vans, bikes, and even trucks. This is a four-ring emblem with lots of history.

ferrari-2151244_1920.jpgFerrari is based on one of the enduring Italian symbols of the prancing horse. Apparently, a fighter pilot had a horse emblazoned on his plane. It isn’t linked to Ferrari family though, they just happened to like the design. The idea that Ferraris have horsepower and so are represented by a horse doesn’t quite work; Italians don’t use the word horsepower to describe the force of a car.

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Mercedes had the idea of a three-pointed star to represent success in land, sea, and air, though nowadays most people have forgotten that they made boats and planes and just remember the manufacturer of cars.

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Despite seeming to be only three rotated diamonds the badge of Mitsubishi, in reality, relate to two Japanese families, namely the crest of Iwasaki and the crest of Yamanouchi, the former holds a shipping business, the latter the head of a great clan. Since both represent three objects; Iwasaki was chestnut leaves and Yamanouchi was oak leaves the symbol relates to them both.

car-3258541_1920The origin of Subaru’s stars is a bit obscure. There are five stars on the logo and there are six stars in the Pleiades which is a kind of sub-constellation found in the constellation of Taurus, which is what Subaru means in Japanese. It would make more sense to have the logo have nineteen the same number as Taurus, but maybe that would be too obvious? Also, nineteen stars wouldn’t make a good badge.

When Ferdinand Porsche broke away from VW, he chose the Coat of Arms of Stuttgart (where his company headquarters was located) and the flag of the Free Peoples of State of Wurttemberg to create one of the more interesting badges.

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Still, they help to sell quality brands of cars and that’s the main reason they are there. The histories are just an added bonus.