O.K., so the Ford 500 wasn’t the big hit that Ford Motor Company wanted. Ford Chairman William Clay Ford‘s wish to have a sedan that would look respectable driving up to a country club failed. Was it the name? Or was it that the car design or engineering wasn’t that exciting? Or was it that there weren’t enough country clubs?
Usually it’s engineering or marketing, though we also submit that country club folks really haven’t had Fords on their minds since they stopped making the Country Squire. Oh, a few of those country clubbers in places like Maine still drove Taurus wagons, but you’ve got to have alot of gumption for that, and that’s an old money notion.
In spite of BrandlandUSA’s love for historic brand names, customers will usually buy something good if the name is crap, but will rarely do the opposite. That being said, a great brand name gives a new product that is made in the spirit of the old a distinct advantage, but the new product has to live up to the history to take advantage of it. And that’s not always easy to do. So just cause it has a great name like 500, and a decent market, it doesn’t mean it won’t work.
One thing that was missing from the 500 was the first part of the name. Because the 500 that most middle aged folks recall was the Galaxie 500, the great Jetsons age Interstate cruiser.
New Ford CEO Alan Mulally was puzzled that the Taurus name was dropped, so he brought it back, and put it on the 500. It ought to help sales, as a solid but boring sedan always has a good market, especially if the brand is known. Heck, if it can get a buzz back, that Taurus might not just be resigned to schlepping pharma salesmen around.
With Mulally, the dashing side of Ford engineering appears to be having a spin too, and with Mulally’s former career at Boeing, we’d hope so. The July issue of Motor Trend devotes a cover story to Ford, centering on the concept car called the Interceptor. The Interceptor (not a bad name) has wide Le Corbusier-style seating, rear wheel drive, and a look reminiscent of a better-car design time; it droops down toward the rear. Thankfully, there is nothing pimped up or gangsta about it.
Motor Trend writer Angus Mackenzie calls the car a “a nice piece of eye candy designed to take your attention away from the real horror story playing out in Dearborn” but nevertheless praises the car, and the company, for bringing it out.
There are other tidbits in the article. Ford still makes the LTD and Fairlane in Australia, as well as the Falcon. And the other detail in Mackenzie’s piece is that the working name for the car is Galaxie. It’s the great Galaxie, that 8-cylinder blue oval extravaganza that looked best in red. Over the years, Galaxie Clubs around the country have been keeping the old Galaxie legacy alive. And while the club’s founder died in 2003, maybe the rest of the club will live long enough to see the Galaxie again.