Montreal. Malibu. Aspen. Many cars throughout automotive history have been named for places. Such names are often evocative or, at the very least, pleasant. You can picture a ’57 Chevy Bel Air cruising through that SoCal neighborhood back in the day, even if the name was eventually relegated to a fleet special. A Chevy Monte Carlo or Chrysler Cordoba probably never drove through those locales, but the name conveys a sense of luxury and prestige.
Names like Santa Fe, Tucson, Tahoe, Denali, Colorado, Rainier, Durango, Dakota and Yukon make sense: these names are exotic to foreigners, but those vehicles are likely to actually be driven in those places. The choice of the name “Reno” for one of Suzuki’s hatchbacks was baffling though, no offense intended to the Biggest Little City in the World.
My vote for the most ill-suited geographic name would be the Ford Torino. At least with cars like the Chevrolet Corsica and Oldsmobile Firenza, they were European-sized if not European-mannered. But compared to most cars on the road in Turin, the Torino is positively gargantuan. And while the Torino nameplate started as a high-end trim of the Fairlane, it ended up being applied across the entire intermediate Ford range. Cognitive dissonance arises when you consider a 1970s Ford pillared sedan with dog-dish wheels bears the same name as a beautiful Italian city.
What geographic car names make sense? Which don’t?