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Mustang - The name is a perfect tag for the car that launched the pony-car era. What better image could there be for a trend-setting sports car than an unbroken horse? The name makes you think of adventure, wide open spaces and wild spirit. As a bonus, there is a clear association with the P-51 Mustang, the coolest fighter plane of World War II. The Mustang name has lived for more than 45 years. Although the car has gone through various iterations, some great, some terrible, the Mustang’s name has never lost its magic. (Ford)
Mustang - The name is a perfect tag for the car that launched the pony-car era. What better image could there be for a trend-setting sports car than an unbroken horse? The name makes you think of adventure, wide open spaces and wild spirit. As a bonus, there is a clear association with the P-51 Mustang, the coolest fighter plane of World War II. The Mustang name has lived for more than 45 years. Although the car has gone through various iterations, some great, some terrible, the Mustang’s name has never lost its magic. (Ford)

Road Rush

Only a handful of car names become classics Add to ...

The name came to Carroll Shelby in a dream.

It was 1962. In Shelby's ramshackle garage was a muscular little sports car with bulging fenders and a V-8 engine. It had no top, no side windows and no name. Then Shelby had a dream: he saw a coiled black snake with a hooded neck and white fangs. The next morning, he told his crew that the new car would be christened the Cobra.

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Pete Brock, who was there at the time, remembers his first reaction: "Cobra? What kind of stupid name is that?"

Top 10 best car names of all time

2011 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
In Pictures: A good car name makes you dream of sailing down a highway on a sunny day with the wind in your hair. These 10 are classics.



The worst car names ever

<b>Datsun Fairlady</b> - As strategic errors went, naming a hot new sports car headed for the US market in the macho 1970‘s was like putting Audrey Hepburn in the ring with heavyweight champion Joe Frazier. But it almost happened. The Japanese are ardent Anglophiles, worshipping all things British. So they thought Americans would lap up a name inspired by a musical about a young girl’s makeover into a society lady. (The fawn-like Audrey Hepburn starred in the movie version.) At the insistence of the US importer, the car’s name was changed to “240Z” (an internal company code used to label the project during development.) But the Fairlady name stuck in Japan, and is used on the 240Z’s descendants to this day. The name stands as a monument to corporate tone-deafness: when the 240Z (nee Fairlady) arrived in North America in 1970, its sports-car competitors included the Mustang, the Barracuda, and the Cyclone 428 Cobra Jet.
You won't make a Benz out of this Datsun: These car names will go down in automotive history as some of the worse marketing failures on record.

The kind of name that every car executive dreams of, as it turned out. Forty-eight years later, the name is still being used, and original Cobras now sell for more than $1-million. A great car name is a money-maker, and industry experts regularly cite Cobra as one of the best of all time, along with Carrera, Mini and Corvette Stingray.

So what makes these names work while others flop? Would a Cobra by any other name be as sweet? "The right name helps define a car," says Mark Gillies, executive editor of Car and Driver magazine. "Who wouldn't want a car named Cobra?"

A successful car name is an act of inspiration. Car companies spend millions trying to come up with new names, yet for every hit there are countless misses - like the Studebaker Dictator, the Chevrolet Luv and the Rickman Space Ranger.

The sublime and the ridiculous can be separated by the thinnest of margins. Ford may have come up with the brilliant Mustang, but it also coined the unfortunate Probe, which conjures up a colonoscopy. By all accounts, Chevrolet's Corvette Stingray was a stroke of genius. Then came Citation, a name that makes you think of a traffic ticket.

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