So, Ford is going to call the Five Hundred the Taurus, the Freestyle the Taurus X, and the Montego the Sable. Well that ought to solve all their problems. Or at least you'd think so from the way the local press has been cheering the announcement.
Yeah, we know the Taurus used to be the bestselling car in America. Everyone knows that--or at least everyone who lived within earshot of a television or a radio, or saw a magazine or a newspaper, sometime between the years 1992 and 1996.
But Ford's mistake wasn't killing the Taurus nameplate; it was allowing the car to become a pathetic also-ran, so much so that the name Taurus came to mean lameness, not popularity.
But hey, the lame old Taurus has been gone for, what, months now? So the public has probably forgotten. They just know that the Taurus used to be popular. Of course, we could follow that logic even further, back to the days when Ford had an even bigger seller. Maybe what Ford really should do is change the Five Hundred's name to Model T.
None of this is to say that a name doesn't matter. It does. For cars, and for people, a good name helps. But, as my (highly subjective) list of the best and worst cars names will show, a good name is no guarantee of success, and a bad name isn't necessarily fatal.
The best car names, grouped thematically:
A place you want to be: ;Riviera (Buick) Eldorado (Cadillac) Superamerica (Ferrari) Bonneville (Pontiac) Catalina (Pontiac) Galaxie 500 (Ford)
Our animal friends, real and imagined: ;Mustang (Ford) Thunderbird (Ford) Cougar (Mercury) Viper (Dodge) Sting Ray (Chevy Corvette) Barracuda (Plymouth)
The romance of the open road: ;Cross-Country (Rambler, Volvo) Trans Am (Pontiac) Explorer (Ford) Voyager (Plymouth, Chrysler) Safari (Pontiac) Speedster (Auburn, Porsche)
Miscellaneous: ;Acura Lexus Camaro (Chevrolet) Wagoneer (Jeep) Electra (Buick) Charger (Dodge) Mini Continental (Lincoln, Bentley) Power Wagon (Dodge) Carrera (Porsche) Maserati Ferrari
And some of the worst: Edsel Oldsmobile Superba (Checker) Probe (Ford) Kaiser Cimmaron (Cadillac) Sephia (Kia) Sportage (Kia) LeCar (Renault) Tempest (Pontiac) Alfasud (Alfa Romeo) Viggen (Saab) Beetle (Volkswagen)