What’s in a Name? Matt 15. September, 2015 Cheap Ramblings I am a parent. I would have started that last sentence with the words “believe it or not” but for the fact the simple act of becoming a parent isn’t rare, miraculous or in any way difficult. If one is blessed with man parts it isn’t even particularly time consuming, regardless of the claims one might make to one’s male friends in the Fillet and Fracas of a Friday night. The tricky part is what happens once the result of the necessary union emerges blinking and screaming into the daylight some nine months or so later. Becoming a parent is simplicity in itself, becoming a good one is altogether a different matter. Much of what you might imagine as tricky is in fact just a matter of routine; as adults we tend to be creatures of habit and the same applies to the average Mini-Me; get your newborn into the right regimen of feeding, napping, bathing and so on and sleep deprivation is a torture that you need only suffer for two months at the outside. The hard part is the decision you must make within a week of the birth. It is much harder than staying calm when your wee scrap has traced the face of their favourite Teletubby onto your brand new 4G television with a Magic Marker, harder even than knowing what to say when he or she asks what that dog is doing on top of that other dog. It’s what to call the little bundle of joy. Whether we breezed through our own childhoods without a care or suffered interminable torture at the hands of our peers and elders most of us are aware of just precisely how cruel children can be to each other. I recall missing entire box-sets discussing what to call the bump next to me once it ceased to be a bump, and even worse having to write off all previous options when the little one emerged looking nothing like a “Jasmine” and the midwife on duty pointed out that our second choice was fit only for a pole dancer. Fortunately she also offered some very sage words: “Whatever name you choose, make sure it sounds right with the word ‘Doctor” in front of it”. She’s right, and I have shared that gem with every expectant parent I have encountered since, but it still doesn’t get over the whole problem which is choosing something that their peers will have difficulty turning against them and using to make their life a misery. Now before you rush to point out this isn’t “Matt on Maternity” bear with me. It’s the Frankfurt Motor Show this week and so of course there is a wealth of new and exciting metal being launched upon the world. Some of it is production ready, some previews stuff you might actually be able to buy in a year or two and the remainder is designed to showcase ideas but is so far fetched you are as likely to see it in your garage as you are to get handcuffed to Banquo’s ghost. The one thing many of them have in common is that they have names. Names that people have had to think of, discuss in meetings, debate whether they fit in with the company’s ethos and design philosophy before being signed of by someone with the relevant authority. A someone who, by and large, doesn’t have a clue simply because they can’t see the wood for the trees. With your average concept car names don’t really matter. Your captive audience is too busy impersonating the one at a firework display and the resulting “Oohs” and “Aaahs” offer a welcome distraction from the fact that your concept’s nomenclature sounds like a man lowering his scrotum into an overly-warm bath (Mercedes IAA I’m looking at you). When it comes to production ready stuff however, models into which millions have been ploughed and on which many more depend, things are rather different. Allow me to give you a case in point from the Frankfurter Messe, brand spanking new and first SUV in the company’s history, the Bentley Bentayga. There is no doubt that it offers the last word in off-road luxury and refinement, that there are things on the options list that JLR are kicking themselves for not thinking of, and in the oil- and nouveau-riche markets Bentley is targeting the name won’t actually matter that much. Unfortunately for Bentley and fortunately for the boys in Coventry, before the thing even hits the showrooms it will be forever known in the English-speaking world as the Bent-Gayer. That’s right, Bentley, you have officially given the world it’s first ever, off-road, homo-tor car. Before you leap onto the lentilwagen and start to browbeat me with the Staff of Political Correctness I didn’t coin it but I follow enough respected autojournos in the Twittersphere to know that it exists and isn’t going away anytime soon. It is typical of how motoring writers and the wider world react. Inside every true petrolhead, young or old, inny bits or outy bits, beats the heart of a 12 year old. It’s the main reason why Top Gear evolved into the juggernaut it became as it transported us away for an hour a week to where it was OK to be impressed by tyresmoke and knob gags. It’s also the reason why car makers should be careful when choosing names for their new products. It’s not just the new Bentley; history is littered with cars whose names have been twisted to reflect their characteristics (VW’s Tourette’s, Vauxhall’s Shove-It or Nissan Microbe) or simply for fun and a play on words. What staggers me is that statistically the people who dream up the names for these cars and those who sign them off are likely to be parents, parents who will have vacillated long and hard before Pierre or Heinrich became a matter of public record but who gave not a moment’s thought to committing millions in public and private money to the new Fiat Fudgepacker. There are, of course, those car-makers who play it boring but at least safe and stick with numbers. The closest I got in the last two decades to making fun of Daimler Benz was doing hand antlers at the drivers of the first-gen A-Class after the Elk Test debacle. Happily there is still a rich seam of manufacturers who remain destined to fall into the trap of the perpetual teenage mind with every single model launch. I am, however, willing to offer a solution. As Final Gear’s Arch Piss-Taker in Chief I am going to start a small multinational agency. For a modest fee and with a guarantee of absolute secrecy we will assess, probe and dissect every single proposed model name that comes our way before declaring only the best ones to be 100% ridicule free. Well most of them. I think the Ssang-Yong Molefister has a certain ring, don’t you? Related Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.