O'Connor: Car name ABCs gives me ZZZs
There's all kinds of big Cadillac-related news here in my Motown hometown. General Motors Co.'s luxury division is going Bohemian with a planned move to trendy lofty space in New York's Soho neighborhood, and also announced the name for its new top-of-the line premium car.
But while the relocation to the city that never sleeps is exciting, the new name for the premium car is sure to put you to sleep: CT6, which sounds less like a fine piece of machinery in which to take to the open road and more like the doctor ordering a medical imaging test.
Look: A car is a big investment, and with the average new car price at $32,500, you want to be inspired by the name of your shiny new ride, if not when you put it in gear than at least you when you sit down to write the check for the next 72 months. And that primo Caddy is likely to cost close to $90,000 when you consider that the 2015 Cadillac Escalade tops $70,000. For that kind of dough, your car shouldn't be saddled with a moniker boasting less romance than the ticket for your dry-cleaning.
Is it soup yet?
We once drove cars with names like Thunderbird, Rocket 88 and Cougar, in addition to vehicles with such flat-out inspiring handles as Hudson's Terraplane and DeSoto's Firedome. In its proud history, Cadillac boasted some of the most luxe-sounding models to ever ride the road. Coupe de Ville. Fleetwood. And just the very mention of "El Dorado" evokes the sudden urge to take the convertible cruising for kicks on Route 66.
By comparison, who gets excited about plunking down nearly six figures for a car named after the dregs from a bowl of alphabet soup?
Which is not to say the folks at Cadillac couldn't have done worse. There was the Pontiac Aztek, which, besides being named after an ancient and extinct tribe, also turned out to have been designed by one. Plymouth honored household cleaning supplies with the Duster, which today would probably be named the Swiffer. And Mercury had the Capri, a true dream come true for anyone who'd ever wanted to commute behind the wheel of a pair of women's slacks.
Lost in translation? A lot!
Foreign manufacturers do even worse. For every Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost there is, unfortunately, a Volkswagen Golf, a name as exciting as the game is to watch. Subaru had the Justy, which is justy dumby. And Renault brought us the LeCar, when it would have more accurately been named LeCrap.
But at least they tried, which is more than I can say about the ABCs of car names now. I, for one, am not looking forward to trading in the mystique of my (t)rusty Roadmaster Estate Wagon for something with a name cribbed from Aunt Feebie's Bingo card.
All I can do is hope that the Cadillac folks will be inspired by the grandeur of their new Manhattan surroundings when it's time to name the next car. And at least they aren't moving to Brooklyn.
After all, who'd want to drive the Cadillac Goombah?
Brian O'Connor is author of the award-winning book, "The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed
Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese."