- Image: Chevrolet Pressroom

5 Times Old car names were revived brilliantly - and 5 that were sacrilege

A reminder to be careful with history

5w ago


If you think about it, names comes with a strong connotation attached to them that people will struggle to adjust to. Whenever you mention Pepsi to anybody, you obviously think of a refreshing can of cold drink with lots of sugar and an alarmingly high amount of fizz. To put it simply, if Pepsi stopped making fresh drinks and moved onto coffee, you can imagine that an awful lot of people would struggle to process the shift.

It's therefore deadly important that manufacturers of all types don't confuse their customers in terms of brand iconography. Change does occasionally happen; for instance, when Amazon announced they were introducing a talking speaker for your kitchen, not once did anyone think that was what the brand now stood for. Pretty much everyone still sees the company as a site to order things from and to watch The Grand Tour on.

It's no different for car manufacturers - especially when it comes to the topic of reviving a name of an icon. Whether it be drastically changing it or bringing it back from the dead, it's imperative that they get it right, otherwise they have themselves a failure right in front of them.

Good: Corvette

Image: Chevrolet Pressoom

Image: Chevrolet Pressoom

Now yes, Chevrolet shocked the world when they announced the flagship Corvette sports car would move its engine from the front to the middle. Since 1953, the Corvette was always a simple, do-as-you-will recipe that even a monkey could understand. The C8 challenged that line of convention, yet General Motors pulled it off brilliantly.

Not only is it great to look at, but it's extremely fast. Even the base model has the same 0-60 time as the previous generation ZR1! A 6.2 litre V8 and a well-sorted chassis makes this car a great competitor to the likes of... well, nearly everything from Europe.

The best part? It starts from just under $60,000. A comparable Ferrari or McLaren is two or three times the price! It sums up just how good American engineering can be when they try: take an exotic recipe, manufacturer it to more affordable levels and let the money roll in. This is every bit as Corvette as all front-engined generations before it.

Good: Defender

Image: Land Rover Media

Image: Land Rover Media

Despite hefty criticism from fans of the old Defender and preceding Series Landies, the new car was always going to be different and it delivered in (very) muddy style.

It's a capable off-roader, like it should be. It's made from durable materials, like it should be. Land Rover have modernised the Defender in the best way possible and whatever your opinion is, you can't really argue that it's a worthy successor of a humble British icon.

If only it came with a manual gearbox and costed less money. Otherwise, it's a class act.

Good: Supra

Image: Toyota Media

Image: Toyota Media

This one was the subject of debate for this list. A lot of support for a new Toyota Supra was heavily balanced out by crying fans who complained it was basically a BMW Z4 in a Kimono robe.

But if we look past the fact it's actually German and built in Austria, you have to respect Toyota for understanding what people wanted in a Supra. It has a straight six engine, rear-wheel-drive and plenty of room for modifications.

It also looks pretty good as well. The new Nissan Z is certainly going to have a rough time competing with the Supra, which if you think about it, has always been a key rivalry since the late 1970s.

I don't personally love the Supra (even the old ones), but you've got to hand it to Toyota for giving the world something cool.

Good: Senna

Image: McLaren Newsroom

Image: McLaren Newsroom

This one is a bit of a trick, because no car made before the Senna was actually called the Senna. There was however, a man, and his name begun with Ayrton.

There is simply not enough space to explain why he is one of Formula One's and in fact, the world's greatest sporting names. He did things that nobody else really matched. So, to name a car after him is well... properly brave.

The fact is though: the Senna wasn't built to have the fastest top speed or look the coolest while parked up at The Dorchester. It was built to tackle the world's race tracks at alarming levels of adrenaline, pace and skill. You probably already know the specs of this car and it's safe to assume the Senna does... exactly that.

Good: GTO

Image: General Motors

Image: General Motors

After a 40-year absence, the GTO name was revived by General Motors in 2004. This was huge as the original Tempest GTO from 1964 kicked off the peak of the muscle car movement. Its simple recipe of a full-sized 389ci V8 in a mid-sized saloon car set the trend for several years to come.

When the GTO was dropped in 1974, enthusiasts patiently waited for a new one to arrive. And it delivered more than adequately.

For starters, it was based on the Australian Holden Monaro. It housed a 5.7 litre V8 (6.0 later on) and sent all power to the rear wheels. It was a no-nonsense, all-out muscle car and it's a great shame that it and the Pontiac brand were killed off shortly down the line.

Bad: Commodore

Image: Vauxhall Pressroom

Image: Vauxhall Pressroom

This is a perfect example of General Motors getting things wrong... dead wrong. Within the same decade, they effectively killed off Saab, Hummer and now the iconic Australian brand, Holden. The re-badged Vauxhall Insignia was the final nail on the coffin and a pitiful offence to the Aussie market.

No effort to modify the car for the Aussie market was made. Even back in the late 70s when the VB Commodore was introduced, it was extensively tweaked from the Opel/Vauxhall to house six and eight cylinder engines. From then on, the Commodore became a cultural icon and a car that many Australians grew up loving. Suddenly sacrificing that and merely putting a different badge on an Insignia must've been downright rude to Holden fans.

As a Brit, I can never understand the full picture of how sad it was to lose Holden. But from what I've read, people who lived in Elizabeth and worked at the factory often called it their lives. So, it must've been wholeheartedly tragic.

Bad: Mustang (Mach-E)

Image: Ford Media Centre

Image: Ford Media Centre

Normally, I hate it when people refuse to accept something radical or different in the car industry. It usually involves when exotic manufacturers make SUVs for the first time and you have clans of people who whine statements like "it's ugly!" or "they're sacrificing their heritage!" etc.

In the case of this electric Ford SUV however, I have to be one of those people - and for damn good reason.

This car represents a middle finger to the Mustang's image and heritage; for over 55 years, the car has represented a romanticism to all things that are great about the American way of life. It was so cool, that Steve McQueen was synonymous with it. It was the heart of song lyrics, movie stars, freedom and an engineered symbol of young American life.

To be honest, it's difficult to describe why the Mustang has always been such an iconic name. But even if you mentioned it to remote tribes in the Amazon, they would probably picture a cherry red, V8 sports coupe with Tom Cruise relaxed behind the wheel.

Image is everything when it comes to an iconic name, and suddenly slapping the Mustang name on a soccer mum's electric SUV is nothing less than a disgrace. I don't think that myself and thousands of other people would bear to live in a world where the name, Mustang is connotative to a dull, ugly mum mobile. It's such a depressing thought.

It would've been fine if Ford just called it the Mach-E. That both nods to Ford's heritage and adds a modern spin to it. There is no need to apply the Mustang bit in between.

Bad: Escort

Image: Ford Media Centre

Image: Ford Media Centre

Believe it or not, you can buy a brand new Ford Escort... over in China. Whereas the rest of the world got the Focus as the Escort's replacement, Ford have recently revived the Escort name for a small economy car for the Chinese market.

Because this car is little-known, it's nowhere near as shocking as the other cars on this list. There's also the fact that the customers of these things have probably never heard of the MK1 RS1600 or XR3i. I'm willing to bet that whoever has bought one has probably never heard of the firm, Cosworth either.

It's a slightly sneaky way of reviving a historic name, but I'd say they just about got away with it.

Bad: Eclipse

Image: Mitsubishi Media

Image: Mitsubishi Media

To play the devil's advocate, I would've forgiven Mitsubishi for using the Eclipse name on a crossover/SUV thing. But only on one condition: if it was good.

Is the Eclipse Cross any good? Well... not really.

While performing some research on this thing, the amount of lacklustre opinions and low-rated journalistic reviews suggest that the revived Eclipse is pretty rubbish. It lacks miserably behind key rivals and you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's the worst car in its class.

Overall then, not a great effort from Mitsubishi. Couple that to fans being upset by using a name from a niche, but capable sports car and you have a fairly disappointing result. Deary me...

Bad: Challenger (1978-83)

Image: Dodge

Image: Dodge

The early Dodge Challengers of the 1970s were famously cool things. They may have arrived late to the muscle car/pony car scene, but they were well-received for being stylish and were available with powerful engines that included the beastly 426 Hemi.

The Challenger name was gone for a few years, but was revived in 1978 with something a bit... worse. It wasn't even an American car, rather a re-badged Mitsubishi Galant Lambada coupe.

Power numbers were ridiculously low at just over 100bhp for the top spec 2.6 litre 4-cylinder engine. Being a Japanese car, it would've been sturdier and more economical than the equivalent American car of the time. But calling it a Challenger was brave... too brave in fact.

Happily however, Dodge realised what the Challenger was meant to be and gracefully delivered a proper muscle car in 2008. To this day, they're still selling like hot dogs at a baseball match.

Thanks for reading

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

So, there we have it. Five times iconic car names were revived greatly and five that were awful. I hope you enjoyed reading and feel free to add any more that I may have missed out.

Most of all though, remember to keep yourselves safe!


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Comments (82)

  • I thought the Blazer would’ve been here tbh

      1 month ago
    • Agreed

        1 month ago
    • It's a good shout that I totally forgot about. I think Doug Demuro made a case of it being a generic SUV whereas it should've been a proper Jeep off-road competitor.

        1 month ago
  • I'll also just put the Audi R8 and the Porsche 718 out there as well.

    The Audi R8 got its name from the hugely successful R8 series cars at Le Mans, although the gap between the two weren't really that far but the roadgoing supercar really did deserve the R8 name. And the Porsche 718 gets its name from the 50s 718 sports racers that also shared the same MR layout with a four cylinder engine. Considering downsize is viewed negatively around the community it was a good call from Porsche trying to connect it with their historic race cars that utilized 4 cylinder engines.

      1 month ago
    • That's a very intelligent point actually. Totally forgot that the R8 name was used in racing before the road-going supercar.

        1 month ago
    • I don’t really think the Audi R8 could’ve had another name though... I mean with their naming system they had to come up with a new letter because it was a brand new type of car for them, And all of their top and models have are numbered eight......

      Read more
        1 month ago
  • The Dodge Daytona’s and Charger’s of the eighties were pretty sad compared to the originals. Even in Shelby spec.

      1 month ago
    • They were actually quite fast for their time. I know 102 horsepower isn’t a lot now, but we took what we got during those dark times. One of the top 10 coolest fwd cars ever I think.

        1 month ago
    • Yep, pretty dismal times for the U.S car industry at that point...

        1 month ago
  • With the Holden Commodore thats a rebadged Insignia. That’s what Aussies would do with it. Same as Mustang and Eclipse owners/fans are with the Mustang Mach-E and Eclipse Cross.

      1 month ago
  • In my opinion, the worst case of all is the Eclipse. The eclipse used to be one of the best Mitsubishis ever made, rivalling the Supra and the Impreza. But then, Mitsubishi decided to make it into a SUV. What a loss.

      1 month ago


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