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Let’s Talk Cars: Hangar Queens, Audi Diesel Racing and the New Small Cars

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Welcome to “Let’s Talk Cars”

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This week on Let’s Talk Cars, we take on the juicy subject of “hangar queens.” These are the vehicles automotive companies wish they hadn’t decided to sell. AutoPacific founder and president George Peterson and VehicleVoice contributor Jim Hall have another of their signature dialogs and take on the entire automotive industry while they’re at it!
But it’s not all negative. Jim Hall thinks Audi has done something extraordinary on the race track that might soon trickle all the way down to a showroom near you.
And we wrap things up with an OpEd piece from George Peterson on the new flood of small (we mean really small) cars hitting the market.
Show Rundown
01:48 Hangar Queens – VehicleVoice contributor Jim Hall and AutoPacific president and founder, George Peterson
16:20 Audi Diesels – VehicleVoice contributor Jim Hall
20:36 The New Small Cars – George Peterson, AutoPacific president and founder


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Lincoln Navigator – An Avoidable Abomination

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When the wraps came off the heavily facelifted Lincoln Navigator at the Chicago Auto Show I cringed in terror. The elegant, instantly identifiable front end of the Lincoln Navigator was gone replaced by a grille that was kindly described by one journalist as a “teenager with bad braces”. Above the grille on the leading edge of the hood is a heavy chromed applique that had AutoPacific staffers wondering if it was an integral bug guard.
Even having Magic Johnson at Chicago to reveal the Navigator could not hide the travesty that was on the stage. Journalists surveyed after the Navigator reveal seemed destined to rate it as “Worst of Show”.
The other seven-eighths of the Navigator are OK, even well done. Sure there were criticisms of the chrome moldings on the doors that seem to have no purpose except to add more bling to the SUV. The interior is spectacular with Navigator finally getting rid of the flip up door over the audio system controls.
So, Lincoln provided Chicago show-goers with a trifecta of follies. Number one is the abominable grille on the Navigator, number two is the renaming of the almost all-new Lincoln Zephyr as the MKZ, number three is the overall alphanumeric naming strategy of Lincoln’s cars. They have abandoned Continental. They have abandoned Zephyr. They have abandoned who they are.


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Lincoln Naming – Cat Food By Any Other Name Would Still Smell As Sweet

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The Madness at Lincoln Continues.
Over that last two and a half months, Ford Motor Company has been misrepresenting its new naming strategy for future Lincolns. At an early reveal of the Lincoln MKS, Ford’s North American Supremo Peter Horbury called the car the “Mark Ess.” Yet at the Detroit autoshow a couple of weeks later, the model was verbally referred to as the “Em-kay-ess” by Ford management and P.R. types. Concurrently the Aviator replacing crossover utility was called the “Em-kay-ecks.” That’s MKX in badgespeak.
At the Chicago show this week, Lincoln unveiled a lightly restyled and reengineered Zephyr that will be called the MKZ. In the press release materials for the successor to the Zephyr, the car is identified as the “Mark Zee.” C’mon guys, make up you minds.


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Lincoln Naming – And Speaking Of Names, Don't Throw Out The Baby With The Bathwater

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Lincoln has devised a new nomenclature system for all future models. The company that originally brought us Continental, Capri, Premier, Lido and Zephyr has decided to move to a new, apparently consultant savant-based, alphanumeric naming standard. So the just released new Lincolns like the Lincoln Mark LT luxury pickup and Lincoln Zephyr already violate the new strategy.
VehicleVoice correspondent and head of AutoPacific’s Industry Analysis operations weighs in with his opinion on Lincoln’s new naming scheme.Jim Hall
Lincoln Goes Alphanumeric Crazy – MKX, MKS
The first production vehicle to use the new methodology is the crossover successor to the unappreciated Aviator. It will be called the MKX. As in “em-kay-ecks.” Some folks are calling it the “Mark Ecks.” Which is right?
A new all-wheel-drive sedan near-flagship to debut late in 2007 will be called the MKS (em-kay-ess). As I’ve previously said, there’s no such thing as a bad name for a good vehicle as long as you stop short of calling a product the Monkey Pus V100.
Will the Zephyr Be Renamed MKZ?
The MKn theme will continue to be rolled out when the recently introduced Zephyr receives some major revisions for the 2008 model including a more powerful 3.5L engine, all-wheel-drive and significant sheetmetal changes up front. When this happens, you can expect the Zephyr nameplate to be once again filed away in the dead badge cabinet for another decade or two and the entry model to wear some manner of MK moniker (MKZ?) on its trunklid. With the Zephyr on sale for a scant two model years, the rebadging is unlikely to cause any significant hiccoughs beyond some incremental marketing costs to establish the car’s new handle.


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There's No Such Thing As A Bad Name For A Good Car

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In spite of the fact the naming of new automobiles is one of the most arcane and over-intellectualized elements of the auto industry, when all is said and done the name is all but academic if the car is good. And the best damned name in the world will do little to redeem a miserable excuse for an automobile. Perhaps a few examples are called for. When it comes to the lame name for a accomplished automobile a few rise to the top…
Jim Hall, VehicleVoice correspondent and head of AutoPacific‘s Industry Analysis office ponders the naming conundrum.
Mazda Miata Good Car, Good Name, Now the MX-5
Mazda has decided to go back to its original name for the extremely popular Miata sports car. Now the car is officially the MX-5 and Miata is no longer “officially” used. Reportedly, when Mazda was testing potential names in focus groups (none of which were ever chosen), one participant almost came out of his chair when he saw a photo of the Miata prototype and said, “I don’t care what they call it, I would call it MINE!” Well, that is the kind of reaction you want when naming a car, but now millions are spent figuring out what combination of letters and numbers to use to name a car. Oh yeah, how was the Miata named? The Mazda Product Planner for the car at the time was flipping through a dictionary one day and came upon a word that sounded good and meant something good in German. Sold. Cheap, effective research.


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