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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Bigger Numbers are Smaller Cars

Kamil Kaluski February 1, 2018 Encyclopedia Hoonatica 47 Comments

In the days of alphanumeric vehicle names, automakers typically setup their model lineup so that the bigger number represents the bigger, better, pricier car. There hasn’t been a better example of that than the BMW lineup of the 1990s. The 3-series was a small sedan for yuppies. The 5-series was the bigger sedan designed with mid-career manager in mind. And finally there was the 7-series, a proper luxury sedan reserved for directors.

Even their subsequent numbering placed the models in specific hierarchy that reflected their price and power. The 318i got all the jeers for its tepid acceleration whereas the 325i was the proper small sport sedan. But a 525i was just driven by someone who wanted a bigger vehicle than the 3-series. Serious drivers stepped up to the 540i and its V8. Likewise, the 750i with the V12 separated the successful entrepreneur from the corporate ladder climber in the 740i.

But not all companies, or brands, follow this logic. Take Hummer for instance. H1 was the original uncompromised military based beast purchased by the nouveau riche. GM then figured out that there many people who would love a Hummer but can’t afford the H1 it or find uncomfortable. So the GMT-800-based H2 was born. The followed that up with an even smaller H3 which was based on the GMT-355 compact pickup platform.

Your Hoonatian topic for today is makes, brands, or models with numerical names where the smaller number represents a bigger, more powerful, or more expensive model.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Specific higher performance versions of pedestrian cars don’t count, such as the BMW M2 being pricier and more powerful than the 530i.
  • One-off models don’t count as well, such as the M1 being superior to the M3. I think BMW regrets calling it the M1, anyway. 
  • The model distinction has to be clear, for example: A loaded 340i will cost more than a base 520i, but that doesn’t meet the requirement.
  • Models of the same brand that are vastly different from one another such as the Mazda MX-5 being pricier than the Mazda6. Apples-to-apples, sedans-to-sedans, coupes-to-coupes, please.
  • Open to all vehicles, even planes, bicycles, or horse carriages. 

Difficulty: 2 out of 8, the bigger the effort, the smaller the prize.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: My twitter feed, by my pal Joey.