Hooniverse Asks: What was the Most Misguided Namesake Make?

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You can really tell if someone stands behind their product when they put their name on it. Well, actually applying your name to something isn’t always the best idea because if its a failure then your name with forever be intrinsically linked to that defeat, just ask Edsel Ford. Go on, I’ll wait.
That of course hasn’t dissuaded many a starry-eyed entrepreneur from slapping their sobriquet on a car, although you can probably count on the fingers of one hand the so-named marques from the last 30 years that have lasted more than a decade. Some, like John DeLorean went down in very public flames, while others, like Warren Mosler just seemed to fade from the scene.
What was the cause of so many of these failures? Maybe it was the product, or perhaps the auto industry is just so onerous a category that it’s impossible to jump in the game no matter what your name is. What we want today is your take on which namesake auto was the biggest misstep, the one that perhaps tarnished its progenitor’s name the most. Are you willing to name names?
Image: Rigs of Rods

70 Comments

    1. That tweet is amazing. He sort of comes off as that one friend who bugs you when he sees you online to go “like” his band on Facebook.

      1. Oh…Yeah.
        It’s always damn FACTS with you people.
        EDIT: To be fair, it WAS named after Dale Clifft, who built the prototype for Jerry/Liz.

        1. So it was. I stand corrected. Well, not really corrected. My statement was factual, but the obvious implication that the Dale was not a valid answer was incorrect.
          Named after someone? Check.
          Carries a really bad legacy? Double check.

    1. I was not aware of this one. Tracked it down by the looks. Quite the story behind “Ms.” Carmichael there.
      That’s about enough internet for one day. See you all later.

    1. It’s “Youabian.” He certainly shouldn’t miss out on being enshrined the pantheon of mockable failures accurately and completely.

    2. I endorse your thinking. This is probably the worst thing ever being done to a new Volvo.

        1. Correction: it’s a fairly normal-sized car (judging by the greenhouse) that had an unfortunate reaction to peanut butter.

  1. In 1979, race car builder Ralph Moody put a Perkins diesel engine in a Mercury Capri, called it the Moodymobile, and claimed that it could get 84 mpg. Although this got a lot of media attention during Fuel Crisis II, in reality the car never got even close to the advertised mileage. Only one Moodymobile was ever built and the whole project soon fizzled out.

  2. I’m not sure that’s this constitutes the ‘MOST misguided ‘ but it’s certainly up there in ‘honorable mention’ territory.
    This is not meant to suggest any disrespect for any Tim Horton fans or any one else named Malcolm.

    1. The Bricklin is simultaneously mockable and totally awesome, because it looks exactly like every sports car I drew between the third and seventh grades.

  3. While Panoz has had some success on the racetrack, their street cars just seem to have never caught on. They seem to be one of those companies that you have to check and see if they are still in business and get conflicting stories. I know a “friend of a friend” who used to work there and got a chance to see the facility. Overall it seems like something the son of a multi-millionaire would do in his spare time with no sense of making a profit (which it is).
    http://panoz.com/assets/default/images/spyder-esperante-luxury-sports-car-header.png

    1. I remember traveling through the Atlanta area once shortly after the Esperante’s introduction and realized I would be staying overnight close by (at the Falcon Inn, IIRC). I contacted Panoz a few days before my trip and they happily arranged for a tour of the factory. It was nice seeing how hand-assembled everything was. They explained their manufacturing process to me and even showed me their test mules. It was quite educational to see the US equivalent of “men in a shed” building cars. I imagine they would still give tours.

      1. There is the whole conflicting stories on wither or not they are still in business, which has been the case for the last 3 or 4 years. The answer seems to change a couple of times a year or so. http://panoz.com/ Their website appears to have been updated within the last year. $179k seems like a whole lot for what is basically a really fancy Mustang based kit car.

        1. I find it interesting that they are no longer married to Roush Ford engines. You can even get an LSA package now. I had not realized that they stopped building street cars back in 2006 but I’m glad to see they’re back in the business.

  4. The low hanging fruit is the Tucker Car Corporation. While we look back with the benefit of history and knowing that it was a conspiracy by the Big 3, Senator Homer Ferguson, the Illuminati, and Kermit. At the time, however, Tucker’s name was dragged through the mud via allegations of SEC violations, a media campaign aimed at undermining his fledgling company, and, compounding things, his troubles finding things like engines that are fairly critical to an automobile’s success.
    After building only 51 cars, Preston Tucker’s namesake company went under.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c8/1948_Tucker_Sedan_at_the_Blackhawk_Museum.jpg/1024px-1948_Tucker_Sedan_at_the_Blackhawk_Museum.jpg

    1. Dang, I was googling too slow, or maybe being too image picky. Preston Tucker was going down in some pretty public flames while John DeLorean was still in college! So great answer!
      1.bp.blogspot.com/_IBHBFPqHMEE/SlKy7wspZoI/AAAAAAAAAZE/BVyBRqAzY24/s400/3tucker_2.jpg

      1. Why has this not been discovered in a barn yet? And where is the prop one from the movie (so I can get it, semi-cheap)?

    1. Hey! I was going to nominate Muntz for our Memorial Day memorilaization! It wasn’t a bad car from what I’ve read (not much) but his habit of selling them for less than they cost that was ridiculous. Fast forwrd to GM in the 21st century…
      (I have no idea what Muntz ownership was like after they went out of business.)

      1. To paraphrase a, shortly thereafter, fired Chrysler marketing Exec when asked about the massive incentives on his vehicles to move them that had them losing money on each car,
        “I guess we’re supposed to make it up on volume.”

    1. Have to be honest, this is one of my bucket list cars… they go for 15-25k now and are unlikely to dip any lower, so it seems like a great way to try something really different, even if it isn’t objectively “good”…

  5. I know this isn’t quite an answer to the question, but most people don’t think of most car companies as the name of the person it’s named after. In fact it’s not at all uncommon for a car company to be named after someone, in fact all of the big 3 in the US are named after people. Chevrolet after Louis Chevrolet, Ford after Henry Ford and Chrysler after Walter Chrysler. Some others are Rolls Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Fisker, Cadillac to name a few.

      1. The 311 model line wasn’t even all that bad for its time, after all they still had to compete with western cars in the early years of East Germany when the border wasn’t locked down yet. Only when they decided to facelift it into a cheap-to-make socialist pillbox in the form of the 353 did everything go downhill.

          1. It depends on what parameters you define a good car by. If a good car for you is one that is utterly basic and cheap to make and maintain, then the Wartburg 353 is brilliant. If you seek any level of comfort, luxury, performance or beauty, then it’s largely terrible compared to any car except other socialist products. My grandpa had one, and one of my earliest clear memories is riding to our family holiday bungalow in the back, and my grandma insists it was a good car, but then again her standards at the time were defined by Trabants, Zaporozhets, Skodas and Moskvitchs. Also my grandpa’s Wartburg was one of the late 80s ones where they had already fitted 1.3L VW engines in them instead of the original two stroke threebangers.

      1. Lovin’ the 2×6 bumper!

        Used Powells as inspiration for one of my high school machining projects…

      2. The Homer car on the Simpsons was made by Powell Motors, owned by Herb Powell, Homer’s older half-brother.

    1. Looking at the history of the company it appears he took the phrase, “Go big or go home” quite literally.

    1. You know, I almost don’t dislike this car, especially compared to the “neoclassics” that Zimmer was famous for. The Quicksilver sort of looks like a factory job.

      1. And I almost don’t dislike your comment, but you decided to criticize the most lovably gaudy kitschbombers on post-war roads. No matter how ugly, they’re unhateable simply because they’re the closest thing to a rolling caricature of a century of automotive design you’ll ever find. But I’m pretty sure you guys will come up with something even whackier.
        However I do agree that the Quicksilver can almost be taken seriously as a car though.

    1. A late entry here, ( not surprising for a guy named “Slow Joe”?) but I think we have a winner here in the Crosley Hotshot.
      A tiny economy car poorly timed for the post war economic boom, built as an ego project by a guy who made his money in the radio boom (sort of a failed Alton Musk of his day?) with a radical brazed-together-sheetmetal engine that was an underpowered disaster, and a really, really ugly car to boot.
      To top it all off, Time Magazine named it one of the 50 worst cars of all time, noting that:
      ” A wondrously mangled and compacted Hotshot can be glimpsed in the 1961 driver’s ed scare film Mechanized Death. “
      http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1658545_1657867_1657678,00.html
      This little fella makes Madman Muntz look sane!

    1. On a tangential note, I was waiting for a bus about a month ago, and a couple drove past in their LHD DeLorean (in inner suburban Sydney). Still waiting for the bus about 5 minutes later they came back the other way and parked just up the street, popped open the gullwings and got out. Even though we all know that it isn’t the greatest car, I have to say that with the LHD-ness and the gullwings it had a bit of presence (and I will also admit that the PRV6 sounded alright too).

        1. It’s a great, proportional, simple design. Stainless steel manages to be both cool and attention-grabbing. Also: Perfect wheels. I’d say the gullwings are just icing on the cake. Keeping that image, the PRV is a cucumber in the cake. Blørk.

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