The Hustle - Revcounter 421

By: Guy Allen

Presented by

hustler hustler

Are car names the result of courage or sly humour?

Until a couple of weeks ago, I could go months – years perhaps? – without hearing an old Chrysler-Rootes brand name, Hillman, pass anyone’s lips. Then, all of a sudden, with the 50th aniversary of the London to Sydney Marathon coming up, the monicker seems to be everywhere. Why? Because, hugely unlikely as it sounds, a Hillman won.

Now I won’t spoil the story for you, but let’s just say a spectacularly absurd situation handed Hillman the win, and some fantastic conspiracy theories surfaced as a result. Rather than sulk, Chrysler-Rootes got on the front foot with a fabulous double-page cartoon strip that slyly took the mickey out of the situation. Check out the full story here.

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Many things are noteworthy about the Hustler. First is the triple-barrel name of the car we featured: Hillman Hunter Hustler. I reckon if you named a car that these days, you’d be arrested. Picture the hapless owner, in a bar somewhere, trying to meet people. "And what do you drive?" someone asks.

"A Hillman Hunter Hustler!" You’d get slapped.

In fact Hillman had a bit of a thing going with car names. The Minx was a long-standing brand, as was the Imp and the hopelessly optimistic Gazelle. Someone in that company had a strong sense of irony.

Then there are times when you wonder whether the marketing department got into the boardroom’s liquor cabinet. Who in hell names a car the Wizard for heaven’s sake? Really. What do you call the station wagon version, the Hogwarts?

Then there was the mysteriously named Vortic, a term related to Vortex and you can only assume the alternative name Turbulence was already taken. It’s a thought, though: test drive the new Hillman Turbulence. Go on, we dare you!

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They were different times. These were the days when there was said to be some unfortunate PR fall-out from the 1965 merger of the local arm of the giant British car maker the Rootes Group and American legend Chrysler.

Locals swear on a stack of religious items that the unfortunate receptionists for a while there brightly answered the phones at HQ in Adelaide with, "Chrysler-Rootes Australia!" We’re told people who had absolutely no business with the company would call just to enjoy a good old-fashioned snigger. True story? Who knows...

 

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