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Back in an earlier, simpler time – 2001 – I interned at a locally-based major advertising company (I was doing copy editing, of course). One of the company’s largest clients was Chevrolet, who at the time was working on bringing a new truck/SUV-type vehicle to market.
One thing I never thought about until then was how new vehicles are named. Sure, occasionally the odd name comes out (what the hell is a "Yaris," anyway?) but for the most part the name is just there, just one more part of the car. As it turns out, there are all kinds of ways cars get their names. Often, the engineers or someone at the company will have the name in mind with the concept, and other times the company will just go with whatever the model designation happens to be (your F150, perhaps). And sometimes, someone creative gets thrown in the mix.
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It really pains me to admit that I can’t remember his name, but the guy writing the ads for this new Chevy vehicle also happened to be an avid comic reader – the cubicle filled with Spawn toys being an obvious indicator. When he was given the project, this overly-large bastard merging of pickup truck and SUV simply had its project number as a name. The writer knew that X57J4 or whatever it was just wasn’t going to grab anyone. So he went to the place where he knew he’d find powerful, descriptive names, the kinds that jump out at you and pull you in, that lodge themselves in the pop culture consciousness and stay there. That is to say, he looked in his comics. Marvel comics, to be precise.
And there he found his answer. So now you know, whenever you see that ugly beast of a vehicle called the Avalanche driving down the road, you know that it is indeed named after a third-tier member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Which in its own way is almost poetically appropriate.
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As to how the Aztek got its name, well, that’s a tale for another day… preferably to be told by someone who actually knows it.