What's in a Name?


| 11/19/2014 3:29:00 PM


Tags: Sam Moore, looking back,

You've heard the old expression "What's in a name?" I was reminded of it as I was sitting on my front porch one day, watching the world go by and thinking about the names that car companies give to their new models.Somewhere West of Laramie Ad

When the car world was young, if manufacturers happened to build more than one model, they often began with "Model A" and progressed through the alphabet. For example, Henry Ford's first "Model A' was sold in 1903, and was an open, 2-seat, 2-cylinder machine. During the years 1903 to 1908, Ford progressed through Models B, C, F, K, N, R and S, before introducing the famous Model T in October of '08. Some 15 million Model Ts were produced before it was replaced by the equally famous Ford Model A in 1928 (you'll have to ask Henry why it wasn't called the Model U, or X, or Z). In 1932, the 4-cylinder Ford Model B, the last of Ford's lettered models, was introduced, along with the brand new and revolutionary Ford V-8 engine.

During the teens and twenties, many cars were named according to the number of cylinders and the horsepower. For example, the 1918 Moon models were 6-36, 6-45 and 6-66, with the first number denoting the number of cylinders and the second, the horsepower.

Other combinations of letters and numbers sufficed for most cars until the 1930s, although Reo introduced the Flying Cloud in 1927, and Studebaker, the Dictator, President and Commander in 1928. Even earlier was the Jordan, which produced the Playboy and the Silhouette starting in 1920.

Slumping auto sales due to the Great Depression inspired the real beginning of the fancy model names, which manufacturers hoped would attract buyers to the showrooms. Nash introduced the Ambassador in 1932 and the Lafayette in 1934, and Ford, the Lincoln Zephyr in 1936, while Graham had the Prosperity, Bluestreak, Cavalier and Crusader, as well as the Cord designed Hollywood.

Chrysler had the Imperial (1926), Airflow (1934), Airstream (1935),Royal (1937), and later, the New Yorker, Windsor, Newport and Crown Imperial, while Dodge and Plymouth had to make do with New Value, Beauty Winner and Luxury Liner (Dodge), and Deluxe and Road King (Plymouth).