I had an epiphany today about what automakers are doing wrong. I guess I have an epiphany fitting that description everyday, anyway, but this one was I thought was worth sharing: when automakers recycle a nameplate from the past they shouldn't always use revered nameplates. It's about setting expectation.

When Dodge was picking a name for the new Dodge Dart, they completely blew it. Instead of choosing "Neon" which this car is clearly a continuation of, they chose "Dart." At the time it was discontinued, the original Dart had been the best selling American compact car. It's revered as one of the great American cars of the 60's. That's entirely too much pressure.

What if they had instead called it the Neon? First off, people under the age of 50 would have some idea of what to expect out of the car (the Dart even resembles the Neon). Secondly and more importantly, the Neon's shoes are much easier to fill. The sentiment of most reviews would have been that it's a vast improvement over the old Neon, and that it was better than expected. Instead Dodge pitted this new, totally decent car against a specter of the past it could not possibly live up to.

More examples:

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Why call it a Cougar? Why pit it against this when it's really more of a Zephyr or Topaz.

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This car shouldn't have to carry the history of this car:

When really it's like a Citation or Corsica.

What are some other nameplates that have been driven into the ground?