Today most cars have a global market – the Ford Focus is essentially the same car if you buy one in Europe, America or China, for example. That said there are some rare exceptions were different cars get different names depending on where they’re sold. Diesel Car runs down its top three.
1. Vauxhall Viva/Opel Karl
When Vauxhall announced the Viva, the motoring press was swept up in memories of the original Viva – Vauxhall’s 1960s saloon that rivaled the Escort and the Austin 1100. In Germany, the story was quite different. Opel had already launched the Adam, named after Opel’s founder, Adam Opel. Adam had a son, who, you guessed it, was named Karl. So we get the Viva and lots of 60s nostalgia, Opel get the Karl and continue the theme of naming cars after the company’s founders.
2. Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit
Volkswagen entered the modern age and created a legend in 1974 when it unveiled the water-cooled, front-engined, front-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf. The Golf would become a global success story for VW and become the hatchback of choice for millions of motorists. In the United States the Golf was charged with replacing another icon, the Beetle and VW’s American arm was concerned that its customers might miss the character that the Beetle boasted as standard. Seeking to keep things cute and cuddly it christened the Golf the Rabbit. Unsurprisingly the name didn’t stick…
3. Austin Allegro/Innocenti Regent
Pity the poor Allegro – replacing the best-selling car of the 1960s, the Austin 1100 & 1300 range, was always going to be a tough task. Some of the design quirks – the famous square steering wheel for one – became something of a joke, and urban legends about it being more aerodynamic in reverse or that jacking the car up made the rear windscreen pop out did little to help. When the time came for British Leyland’s Italian subsidiary Innocenti to launch the Allegro it needed a new name – in the UK we generally associate the term ‘Allegro’ with music, but over in Italy it’s got a second meaning – usually reserved for someone who’s drunk a little too much vino. Unlike the 1100 & 1300 it replaced, the Regent didn’t enjoy the same standard of makeover for the Italian market and the car struggled to sell. The Regent marked the beginning of the end for the BL’s Italian job, Innocenti’s sales fell off a cliff face and in 1976 BL sold off the once-profitable company.