Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Intelligent Whale

Names suggested by Modernist poet and writer Marianne Moore upon being asked by Ford marketing manager David Wallace to come up with a name for a new car:
  • Resilient Bullet
  • Ford Silver Sword
  • Mongoose Civique
  • Varsity Stroke
  • Pastelogram
  • Andante con Moto
  • And, most famously, Utopian Turtletop
Ford later used none of Moore’s ideas and simply called the car The Edsel, in honor of Henry Ford’s unfortunately named son. To me, the most significant name would have to be Varsity Stroke, mostly because the paragraph of the Wikipedia page that immediately follows the listed of suggested car names notes that “Not long after throwing the first pitch for the 1968 season in Yankee Stadium, Moore suffered a stroke.”

Another website expands on Moore’s list somewhat, including a few not found on the Wikipedia page. They include the following:
  • Anticipator
  • Thunder Crester
  • Regna Racer
  • Magigravue
  • Turcotingo
  • Intelligent Whale
Alan Axelrod’s book Profiles in Folly offers just one more, Thundercrest, and also explains that Moore arrived at Turcotingo by combining the word turquoise — then a fashionable color for automobiles — with cotinga, the name of a South American bird.

Moore died in 1972, meaning she outlived the Edsel by twelve years.

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