Automotive: February 2009 Archives

2009-maybach-zeppelin.gifThe return of the Maybach Zeppelin brings with it a whole array of interesting car naming discussion points.

For one, this is a reincarnation of one of the most luxurious cars of all time - a Benz that captured the public's imagination back in the pre-Hindenberg 30's when Zeppelins still loomed large both in the public consciousness and in the skies. More specifically, it echoes the Maybach Zeppelin DS 8, model year 1932.

The Maybach Zeppelin is pretty much the ultimate luxury car on the market today, which makes it almost too lavish for some of us - note the Rocky Mountain brown or Taiga black color options and the California beige leather along with the stromboli black stitching (Stromboli, you will recall, was the evil puppet master in Pinocchio with the black beard).

I also have to wonder why they have Taiga black, given that a Taiga is a "biome characterized by coniferous forests."

Wouldn't a Taiga green be a more suitable name? The only association the name currently has with blackness is a gothic metal band in Finland.

In addition to expensive sounding colors, this car also has a fragrance distributor. I'm not kidding. It comes standard with "woody" or "fresh" scents, but for a few extra thousand dollars they will let you make up your own. I'm thinking I'd go for "mint" on this one, because that's what it costs.

There are two models, the 57 Zeppelin and the 62 Zeppelin, with the numbers at the start of the name refering to each car's wheelbase. The real big numbers, zeppelininsignia.gifhowever, are displayed in the costs, as the two models are priced at $523K and $609K, repectively.

The hood will bear a double MM emblem and a Zeppelin insignia, distancing this design from the Mercedes Benz brand name.

Altogether, with the design, pricing and naming of this new automobile, you'd almost think that Maybach felt there was a market for these things in the U.S.

Well, we all can dream. Can't we?

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gmlogo.gifThe retiring of the Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac brand names has fired up a great deal of debate on the blogosphere.

I have long thought that the best thing for GM to do is to follow Toyota's lead and streamline its brand architecture, keeping Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. This move streamlines GM and gives its remaining brands ample room to grow.

Autoextremist goes so far as to say that GM should in fact rename itself, replacing General Motors with Precision Motors. That, however, may be a little extreme, as others have pointed out.

Although one must admit that some of these popular brand names will not go quietly.

Jalopnik has followed the demise of Pontiac pretty closely and wishes it a cheerful adieu, but I feel like playing devil's advocate today.

Why?

Because CNN has all but declared the "muscle car" dead with the demise of Pontiac which really makes me wonder.

pontiac_logo_5.gifPontiac really was all about muscle cars. At least a few decades ago. And Americans love their muscle cars. We still have them in our genes, like mullets, sleeveless t-shirts and heavy metal.

gran-torino-fl-poster-full.gifEuropeans and Japanese automakers just do not get muscle cars. And for every person out there wanting to buy a Prius or a Fusion, there's ten guys who dream about owning a Trans-Am or a Corvette or a Gran Torino, which was just named "Hollywood's Coolest Car."

Remember when Kevin Spacey traded in his Toyota for a Firebird in American Beauty? He was speaking for legions of men who feel a little part of their souls die when they crawl into a Camry.

Love them or hate them, muscle cars are what Americans do best. Pontaic has been stuck with the Aztek, but deep down it's a rude, nasty nameplate for people like Burt Reynolds and Steve McQueen.

The New York Times went to a group of experts to gain some insight on this topic, and not surprisingly, many of them were not too thrilled with the departure of this well loved brand name.

Let Hummer go, Let Saab go, they say, but Pontiac has some real equity to leverage.

How about putting that Pontiac name on a few, select models? It may sound crazy, but Pontiac is to muscle cars as Harley Davidson is to hogs.

And I can vividly recall when Harley seemed doomed.

Some enterprising entrepreneur will buy the Pontiac business and find a way to make it work as a fuel efficient muscle car.

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