OCT 29th 2015

Axon's Automotive Anorak: The Name Game – Revived

Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Aston Martin DBS, Jaguar S-type, Lancia Delta, Mini Clubman, Dodge Charger, TVR Griffith, Ford Escort, De Tomaso Mangusta, Mazda 121, Chevrolet Camaro, MG TF, Fiat Uno, Vauxhall Viva, Maserati Ghibli, Opel GT and Volkswagen Scirocco.

Jim Clark Rally Promo

On odd mix of cars perhaps, but all with one thing in common. These models are just a few examples of cars that have been badged with a revived model name, dug up from the archives and previously used on a none-continual basis some time earlier by the same marque.

Consider the Lotus Elan name, for example. Originally used from 1962 to 1973 on its benchmark sports car of Emma Peel fame, Lotus chose to revive the Elan moniker for its modern front-wheel-drive 1989 to 1995 ’M100’ roadster to help evoke found memories of Colin Chapman’s trend-setting Sixties original. It tried the same strategy again in 2006 with its modern take on the popular 1966 to 1975 mid-engined Lotus Europa, but sadly with rather less success second time around, as the new Europa S failed to find many buyers. Hethel’s earlier mid-1970s revival of the Elite nomenclature, to honour its pioneering late ‘50s name sake, also failed to stir the emotions in quite the same way as the GRP monocoque original.

Lotus Elan name

Alfa Romeo is another marque taking a similar route by trading on past glorious, hence the reintroduction the revered Giulia name for its exciting new sports saloon, due for sales launch next year, as it has done previously with its revival of the 33 and Giulietta names – with mixed results. Based on favourable first impressions to its static unveiling at the recent IAA Frankfurt Show, Giulia seems to be a fitting name for Alfa’s all-new sports saloon, as it looks to be a natural successor to the original cutting edge 105-Series Giulia Berlina of 1962 to 1978. If the new Giulia is anywhere near as good as its first – and now cult – incarnation, the many Alfisti out there will certainly be rejoicing.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo’s parent, Fiat, is also no stranger to reviving old model names (Uno, Multipla, 500, etc.), and it was the recent news of a brand new Tipo – set for launch in 2016 – that actually got me thinking about this subject. Unlike the Giulia, Elan, or many other revived model names, the reappearance of the Tipo badge seems less obvious, as the original 1988-1995 hatch, although not a bad car in its own right, especially in sporting Sedicivalvole form, never really cut it amongst its contemporary Golf and Astra C-segment rivals.

Perhaps Fiat will enjoy a more enthusiastic reception when it revives its legendary 124 Spider nomenclature next year for its badge-engineered version of the new Mazda MX-5. After all, as the 124 marks its 50th anniversary in 2016, not only did the sexy two-seater Spider Group 4 Abarth derivative take multiple World Rally Championship victories throughout the mid-1970s, but the more humble four-door 124 saloon on which its was based, impressively went on to became the third best-selling car of all time in its various guises. Millions of 124s were built, many badged as VAZ-Lada (Russia), SEAT (Spain), Tofas (Turkey), Kia (South Korea), Premier (India), Pirin (Bulgaria) and so on.

Alfa 124 Spider name

Old car names – some revered, others rather less so – will inevitably continue to be regurgitated as manufacturers struggle to think up new and catchy names that not only work in any language, but importantly haven’t already been registered by their competitors, and I for one look forward to seeing the return one day of a modern Ford Capri, Citroen Dyane, Lamborghini Espada or Rolls-Royce Camargue!  

Photography courtesy of Brian Snelson and ‘philipp’ licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

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