Cadillac is in the process of abandoning names like Catera, Seville and Deville for the supposedly sleeker CTS (derived from Catera Touring Sedan), STS (Seville Touring Sedan) and DTS (Deville Touring Sedan). Mercedes similarly has its C-class, E-class and S-class, and BMW its 3-series, 5-series, 6-series and 7-series. In both cases, the numbers next to the initial character, C240 or 760i, for example, refer to the displacement of the engine. So the 760i has a 6.0 liter engine. The “i”? It’s meaningless. “It used to stand for fuel injection,” says a BMW spokesman. But now, because all engines sport fuel injection, “it’s just a historical thing.”
All Lamborghinis are named after bulls. The Murciélago was named after one that gored a matador in 1879 and it flies in the face of the no-names-over- three-syllables rule of naming cars. Buick named a sedan LeCrosse, despite the fact the word’s teenage slang for masturbation in Canada. Toyota had to battle the research company LexisNexis to name its luxury vehicle Lexus. GM’s Saturn is not named for the planet or the Roman god of fertility, but for the rocket that sent Americans to the moon. Naming cars is a nightmare, “harder than naming your children,” Ford Motors’s Steve Lyon says in a story at forbes.com (via agendainc.com). And a dying art. Car names are getting pared down to just numbers and letters.