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What's in a number?

Shakespeare said That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet . The German car manufacturers are now espousing a number by any other number, would_ .

MB and BMW were always very precise (Teutonic?) in their vehicle numeric or alpha-numeric names.

You knew what you were getting, and everyone knew what you had, evidenced by the badge on the car (except for those with the smaller displacement options who removed the badge  you know who you are).

The model names included accurate engine displacement figures. A BMW 328 was a 3 series, 2.8 L i6.

Today, a 328 is a 2.0L turbo i4, albeit with same or better HP than the old real 2.8 i6, and better mileage.

A MB SL550 had a 5.5L V8. Today, a 550 is a 4.3L turbo-V8, with equivalent HP (400 or so) and better mileage (like you count mileage on a 400 HP car, but the government CAFE does). For marketing reasons, I suppose, these companies have decided that they cannot introduce newer models with smaller numbers.

These are my 350 s. Real 3.5 L V6s, with 270 to 329 HP depending on the year. The 2014 C400 is a 3.0L turbo V6 with 329 HP. OK, bigger numbers are more substantial.

Do you recall the BMW transition from 320i to 318i, both i4s, in the 1980's? A disaster. Are you old enough to remember the 1980's? Note, an i does not mean injected, now or then. A tii meant injected at one time, long ago, during the Paleolithic age. Of course for many reasons, the 318i was undesirable. Sorry Bimmer fans. Luckily, the 325 (2.5L) i6 was your rescue.

I think Audi is still true to form. A 2.0 T is a 2.0L turbo i4. A 2.8 or 3.2 is a 2.8L, 3.2L V6. Add T and it is turbo. Why are you Audi guys so honest? It must be your humble VW ownership.

Let's get back to Bimmer. I have lost total track of what you guys are doing with your 1, 2, 3, 4 series designations. I thought I read that the 1 would be renamed the 2 , and the sacred 3 would be renamed the 4 . Bigger numbers are better, correct? Well, now I see 3s and 4s and I am confused. I read a nice R&T review of an M3 and an M4. They looked and spec'd out like the same car, except one was 2-door and one 4-door. So they should be M2 and M4? No, that might conflict with whatever the souped up 1 , or is it 2 , might be.

Maybe the Germans should migrate to alpha only names. Like an Impala . No, please. Nice animal, non-descript car. You don't know what the engine is and you do not care. Not now. When I was a kid, my family had a 1960 Chevy Impala, with those horizontal wings (reduced size from dangerous 1959 model), but it did have a 307 badge (cubic inch V8). We later had a 1969 Chevy Malibu 328 . I went to Woodstock with that car. Now I am a multi-Benz snob, but I do not deny my roots.

In Japan, Nissan and Toyota/Lexus have totally different names for the same cars they sell in the US.

One model, is called a Gazelle. I cannot recall the US equivalent. Oops, a little internet research reveals that MB made a Gazelle model in 1929.

In conclusion, it would be nice to see MB and BMW go back to numerical integrity, but I shall not hold my breath.

Joel Camarda
San Francisco Bay Area Section