• 5 Iconic Names That Are Coming Back in All the Wrong Ways

It’s hard to come to grips with what’s happening with all the nameplates that are being resurrected

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To some people, a car’s name is nothing more than that: a name. They have no value other than identifying one model from another model. But for others, a car’s name is it’s value. We identify them beyond what others do. For us, they’re more than just names; they’re identities that have helped shape our love for them and this whole industry.

Unfortunately, not all of the best car names live on in perpetuity. Some get retired — R.I.P., Dodge Viper — while others are shelved for an indefinite period of time before they’re brought back, sometimes in a different guise. The latter has happened quite a lot in recent years, and while there have been some expected hits to come out of this name recycling exercise — the Toyota Supra and BMW Z4are poster children of this — there are those that are probably best left in the shelves.

5. Chevy Blazer

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The Chevrolet K5 Blazer first entered our lives in the 70’s as a full-blown off-road SUV that had no problem getting down and dirty if certain situations called for it. Eventually, the Blazer evolved into the Trailblazer, a more upscale version that drifted away from the ruggedness that defined its previous version. The Trailblazer lasted until 2009 in the U.S. Fast forward nine years later, and the Blazer nameplate has returned as a mid-sized crossover. While some people are happy that the name is back, countless others are upset that Chevrolet decided to use it on a new midsize crossover instead of just importing the international Trailblazer to the U.S.

Fans of the K5 Blazer and the S10 Blazer are particularly miffed, largely because of the feeling that Chevrolet desecrated the Blazer’s history as an off-road marauder by using it on a model that will populate America’s suburbs more than the country’s great outdoors.

4. Mitsubishi Eclipse

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The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is another example of what happens when an automaker thinks that it’s a good idea to bring back a popular nameplate and then ends up using it on a crossover. The Eclipse Cross is Mitsubishi’s new compact crossover. By all accounts, it looks like a good model. It has a nice design, good tech offerings, and a decent amount of available engine options. But, did Mitsubishi really have to use the name “Eclipse” on it? Couldn’t it have been just the Mitsubishi Cross? The Eclipse is a holy name, especially among people who were fans of the super popular compact sports car that Mitsubishi produced from 1989 to 2011.

It may not have the lasting legacy of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but the Eclipse was one of the rare cars that Mitsubishi could proudly hold in high regard because its fans did the same. But, instead of doing that, the Japanese automaker decided that it would be a good idea if it dusted off the name and used it on, of all things, a crossover. It would be like Toyota doing the same with the Supra name. In a roundabout way, both the Eclipse and the Supra are coming back. The only difference is that one automaker did it the right way while the other, well, it didn’t.

3. Dodge Charger

2015 Dodge Charger High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Did you know that in the course of its life, the Dodge Charger has been built on three different platforms and sizes? It’s taken the form of a subcompact hatchback, a two-door coupe, and most recently, a four-door sedan. There was a time, though, when the Charger nameplate was synonymous with performance. It was the perfect complement to the Challenger, Dodge’s resident muscle car. Likewise, the Charger also gave way to some out-of-this-world models, including the Charger Daytona and the Super Bee. Heck, even Carroll Shelby got in on the fun, creating the car we now know as the Shelby Charger. Today, it’s hard to make out what the Charger really is. Sure, it still has the power and performance chops that can make its nameplate proud, but it’s also become a somewhat bland four-door sedan that’s struggling to carve its own identity. It’s a shame that the Charger has, in some ways, lost the identity that made it one of the most prominent cars in the world. It still has a bit of that in it, but wouldn’t it be better if Dodge just went back to the formula that worked so well for the Charger in the past? It’s done it with the Challenger, so there’s still hope that Dodge can do the same with the Charger.

2. Mitsubishi Lancer

2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Final Edition High Resolution Exterior
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It’s hard to understand what Mitsubishi’s thinking of these days. It’s already part of the gargantuan Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, so it already has the resources to reestablish itself as a premier Japanese automaker. We should be talking about Mitsubishi in the same vein we did Volvo when Geely swooped in and purchased what was then a struggling company. But instead, Mitsubishi is doubling down on the mistake it did with the Eclipse. Worse, it’s doing it with the Lancer, without question the company’s most popular nameplate. The Lancer was a lot of things, but for a lot of people, it was a sporty little sedan that competed against the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic in its heyday. It also happened to have a rally DNA, a distinction not shared by its rivals.

That history gave the Lancer name clout, and we all know how that worked out when Mitsubishi added “Evolution” to the nameplate. Unfortunately, a nameplate’s history and legacy mean little to Mitsubishi because the automaker is bringing back the Lancer name, only this time, it’s going to be used on an SUV. An SUV! For crying out loud, Mitsubishi! Has it become a mind-numbing process to think of other names for your new crossovers and SUVs, instead of using the Eclipse and Lancer nameplates? You’re wasting a lot of precious equity among your fans. If you keep it up, you might find yourselves in the same position you were in before the Nissan-Renault conglomerate swooped in and saved you.

1. Ford Mach 1

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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By now, you’ve probably realized a common theme here. Ford’s use of the Mach 1 name dates back to 1969 when it was introduced as a performance package on the Mustang. The Mach 1 package added an upgraded suspension, several appearance upgrades, and several V-8 engine options. The package continued through 1978. Ford later brought it back in 2003 and 2004 as a send-off for the fourth-generation Mustang. Regardless of the year or body style, the Mach 1 nameplate became synonymous with performance, at least until Ford decided to bring it back…on an electric crossover. There’s absolutely no excuse for this, even if Ford says that it’s going to be a Mustang-inspired crossover. Ford can justify it all it wants and say that there’s still going to be elements of the original Mach 1 on this electric crossover, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s still a duck. The very notion that Ford is going to use a name with muscle car heritage on an electric SUV is stupifying, to say the least.

Dishonorable Mention – Mitsubishi EVO Name

2008 - 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X High Resolution Exterior
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Mitsubishi’s a three-time loser on this list for good reason. It’s bad enough that it’s ruining the legacies of the Eclipse and Lancer names by using them on crossovers, it’s beyond the realm of comprehension that the Japanese automaker is also planning on doing it on the Evolution nameplate. To be fair, nothing is certain yet, so cooler heads could still prevail. But Mitsubishi UK managing director Lance Bradley did almost bring all of us to our knees earlier this year when he said that if Mitsubishi brought back the Evo name, it would be different from what it was in the past. “The day of the very high-powered sedan car from us is probably gone, but as long as it lives up to the ideals, the Evo demonstrated there’s no reason why we couldn’t do it with a different kind of vehicle,” Bradley added. Hopefully, we don’t ever live to see that day arrive. Hopefully.

Further reading

2019 Chevrolet Blazer
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Read our full review on the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer.

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

5 Iconic Names That Are Coming Back in All the Wrong Ways
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Read our full review on the 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

2015 Dodge Charger High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2015 Dodge Charger.

2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Final Edition
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Read our full review on the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Ford Mach 1.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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