Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What car might have been named Mongoose Civique, Pluma Piluma or Utopian Turtletop?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and name names.
As we all know, all the best car and truck names have long ago been taken like the athletic kids chosen for middle school basketball games, leaving only the spastically uncoordinated and that biter that nobody likes. It’s hard to say which era was the golden age of automotive nomenclature, as each generation had its cool contenders – Stutz Bearcat, Ford Mustang, Lamborghini Countach – as well as its turkeys. So important is an automobile’s name – instilling in a single word or phrase the personality and aspiration of the marque – that auto companies go to great lengths to ensure they have the right one.
Sometimes, that means involving non-traditional resources. In the fifties, the Ford Motor Company embarked on an ambitious project to better compete with General Motors by expanding their positional offerings. The goal was to fill what was seen as a hole in their lineup of marques created when the company shifted the ascendent Lincoln and Continental brands to compete with Cadillac leaving a perceived gap between those aspirational marques and the lower Ford and Mercury brands.
The naming of this new marque slotted to compete with the likes of Oldsmobile and Buick was crucial, and so Ford turned to the nationally known poet, Marianne Moore for suggestions.
From Dangerous Minds:
In 1955 Robert B. Young of Ford’s Marketing Research Department reached out to poet Marianne Moore for assistance on the name of the astounding new jalopy, seeking a moniker that would “convey, through association or other conjuration, some visceral feeling of elegance, fleetness, advanced features and design.”
Among the names Moore offered were “Mongoose Civique,” “Dearborn Diamanté,” “Pluma Piluma,” and, fantastically, “Utopian Turtletop.” On December 23, 1955, Young sent Moore “a bouquet of roses, eucalyptus and white pine” with the note “Merry Christmas to our favorite Turtletopper.”
In all, Ford weighed roughly six thousand names before coming up with “Edsel,” which today is roughly synonymous with “stinkbomb.”
Supposedly, Henry Ford II didn’t want to name the the new brand after his father as he didn’t like the idea of the name ‘Edsel’ spinning around on a wheel cover. In the end of course, he was overruled and today it’s unlikely that you would ever see another Ford so branded, nor would a kid named Edsel likely be first-picked to be on your basketball team.
Image source: Randa-Imagine