Just as it seems we’re moving out of the retro movement with the phaseout of the Dodge Challenger and Charger, Chevrolet registered a name from the past that’s sure to evoke fond … some memories anyway — Cavalier.
Challenger. Charger. Cavalier. They’re similar — all begin with the letter C — in that they take owners of the previous models back to a time when gas was cheaper and so were replacement parts.
The move to register the Cavalier name for trademark last month, according to Carbuzz.com, is a move that’s fairly common for automakers looking to keep control of their past or even hoping to find a way to bring a new meaning to an old moniker, much the way Ford did with Maverick.
Once sold as a V-8-powered compact two- and four-door model from 1969 to 1977, it continued on in some Latin American markets for several more years after that. Now it’s the toast of the town — as a compact pickup that comes as a hybrid in standard trim.
Past performance isn’t a guarantee of future plans
GM’s move to essentially renew the Cavalier trademark shouldn’t come as a big surprise to those who follow that sort of thing closely. They’ve done in the past, 2015 and 2019, and well, there’s no new subcompact hatchback or even a small pickup to compete with the aforementioned Maverick, sitting on dealer lots with the name.
However … if they were to bring it back, TheDetroitBureau.com has a couple of “recommendations,”
- It could return as an all-electric crossover with self-driving capability; however, true to its name, it either forgets or doesn’t care about where it’s going, instead traveling — safely and obeying all traffic laws — the nearest Chevy dealer to commiserate with other Cavaliers on the lot.
- Using another definition, it could be an SUV clad in protective armor with a giant graphic of a sword down the driver’s side of the ute, and a roof featuring a wide brim all around to provide further protection and a giant feather on top that acts as massive antenna for radio transmissions or even on the battlefield wifi.
Regardless of silly possible “design interpretations,” the important thing to know is that just because GM protected the name Cavalier, it’s not a sign of its pending return. In fact, the company itself moved on from the name, shifting from Cavalier to Cobalt, which later became the Cruze.
Not alone in protecting names
Automakers regularly register names for trademark protection, Ford renewed the Thunderbird trademark in early 2021.
It wouldn’t be the first time Thunderbird has risen, phoenix-like, from the automotive scrapheap. A decidedly retro-designed two-seat convertible was introduced for the 2002 model year but scrapped three years later due to lackluster sales.
Despite that weak performance, Thunderbird is considered one of the most iconic names in the portfolio and, said a Ford insider, a key reason why the company wanted to make sure to keep its trademark active. But could there be specific plans in the works?
The trademark application filed on Jan. 13, 2021 states that the Detroit automaker continues to reserve the registration for use on “Motor vehicles, namely, concept motor vehicles, four-wheeled motor vehicles.”
The company followed that up this summer filing two trademark registrations with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, or EUIPO, for both a Ranger Lightning and a Maverick Lightning.
Curiously, Ford applied a month earlier to register the name, “Thunder,” for all three of its pickups in the U.S. and Canada.
They’ll also hang on to names from the past — which is why Tesla was unable to call the smaller of its two sedans the Model E, a name Ford has held onto for decades. Ford announced earlier this year it was using Model e as the name of the division overseeing its electric vehicles.
It could be possible that Ford would like to use both Thunder and Lightning badges and not just in different markets. But what seems clear is that it will electrify its entire pickup family, top to bottom, as it migrates away from internal combustion technology over the coming decade or so.