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Marketing and our car psyche

When I started at Old Cars Weekly I was mainly a dyed-in-the-wool “muscle car” guy who lusted after good ol’ fashioned American horsepower. Since that day I have been exposed to more of a cosmopolitan palette of automobiles and my scope of what I see as cool has broadened. I find the uniqueness and utter coolness of Duesenbergs to Studebakers and even an occasional Kaiser to pique my underdog pinings. Along with the various marques come fabled histories that are just as intriguing as the cars themselves. That history adds a certain provenance to the cars that fuels the “want” factor in many of us.

Dodge DemonRetroQuestion

Modern day manufacturers are quite keen on this phenomenon and are adept at marketing the nostalgia and mythology of the classics. How else can you explain the modern day muscle cars? We have been inundated with marketing buzz names like HEMI and SS and gravitate with gusto towards the vehicles they are associated with. I have fallen prey to this marketing on numerous times. It is the nature of our love affair with the automobile after all.

The newest moniker from the past that has caught my ear is the dusting off of the vaunted “Demon” name in the Dodge lineup. The game of cat and mouse has begun and ad agencies have commenced building the hype by creating an aura of mystery –[aka] marketing 101! I feel like I should look away and not get caught up in the hoopla seeing it is merely a tweaking of their already ridiculous Challenger Hellcat. But I am a sucker for their nostalgia once again.

Even though I will more than likely never own one of these brutes, I still feel the excitement of a new release of a familiar brand. But wait a minute! Last time I checked, a Demon had nothing to do with a Challenger. Wasn’t that a Dodge Dart? Then again, Dodge just had a compact 4-cylinder car named Dart. I also own a Charger that sports four doors. Bo and Luke Duke only had two doors on the General Lee. Now that I think of it, my Dodge Magnum is a wagon and not a ‘70s B-body coupe. What in the world is going on with the Dodge lineup? The name has little to nothing to do with the history and pedigree of their namesakes.

It is only a name after all. Every car manufacturer has played the marketing game at one time or another. Nostalgia is being used as a sales gimmick. Is it right to get excited about a name re-surfacing? Probably not, but it does ad an air of excitement. Even though most times the names don’t live up to the their reputation and it seems like an uninspired way to boost sales, the affinity we have for our cars, for better or for worse, drives the enthusiasm. Too bad AMC is still not around… a 2018 Pacer might be the ticket. Nah, maybe not!

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