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Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

Posted April 12, 2017 9:00 AM by dstrohl

So the next time you feel like illustrating your point that even big-shot bigwig executives get things wrong by trotting out that story you heard about the Nova bombing in Spanish-speaking countries in the Seventies because its name translated as “won’t go,” don’t – the story’s made up.

Apparently, the story has become a staple in undergrad and master’s-level business courses, used to illustrate the pitfalls of either a) insufficient research when entering foreign markets or b) insufficient workplace diversity. The business department was on the other side of campus all our four years, but we still heard the story at some point, so it’s a good bet that the tale is not exclusive to the ears of MBAs.

(Some perusing of our library reveals the story repeated in Steve Statham’s book, “Nova SS Muscle Car Color History.” Good bet it’s repeated in other reference books as well.)

Whoever tells the story, it’s a good bet they have no more than a mere understanding of Spanish or of automobile history. Or of how modern multinational businesses work, for that matter.

Don't let the mythos fool you, no one in Chevy was dumb enough to name a car "No Go."

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#1

Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 9:50 AM

I heard this story years ago. I didn't believe it then, and the only thing about this that surprises me is that, apparently, some people did. (?) Did anyone really?

I'm beginning to think that the story about people believing it is actually the urban legend.

This reminds me of story about the Orson Welles 'Martian Invasion' broadcast. Really, only a handful of people listening to the radio broadcast thought it was real. But in the decades since, 'the media' has made this a sensational story about 'a panic that gripped the nation'. BS. There was no panic. My Dad was a teenager and, like many people, heard the broadcast and knew it was a dramatization of a sci-fi story. And like most people, also read the newspapers and listened to the radio for regular news. He used to grumble about this story saying, "No, there was NO panic. The 'panic' was made-up later to sell books and magazines."

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#54
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/17/2017 8:20 PM

Your father probably didn't live in NJ as close to NYC as my father did. He was 28 at the time, and described a relatively tranquil evening being turned into an evening of local panic. Even after Welles personally assured the listeners that it was a fictional account, it took the rest of the evening for the populace to return to normal.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/welles-scares-nation

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0617_050617_warworlds.html

But, hey, fake news is still fake news!!

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#55
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/18/2017 9:07 AM

Believe it or not, it affected folks in West Texas the same way, as all they had for outside contact was radio, and of course newspapers back then. People have always had an innate fear of something more powerful that "us" coming and wiping us out.

Could this be because it has happened (nearly so) in the past, and it is genetic memory of something so horrific, we have it as a survival instinct now?

Sort of like our innate (rightly so) fear of NK going further bonkers, and launching nuclear tipped missiles.

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#2

Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 10:10 AM

My first car was a 1970 Nova... was happy with it that my second car was also a used 1975 Nova... body styling wasn't the greatest, but a very simply car to maintain.

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#3
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 10:42 AM

I rued the day when I gave up my 1972 Ford Torino for a 1975 Chevy Nova. That Nova would run, but it always had this strange problem with dying right in the middle of turning right. Bad wiring harness I assume. Nearly got me and my first wife killed one morning, after she freaked out when it died, and cars were barreling down Foothill Dr. right for us. I had to pop her back to reality, and get the car started in one move, then tell her to "gun it".

I was glad to see the Nova finally "go".

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#5
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 10:59 AM

Then we have the Supernova. Blows itself to bits in your driveway and whatever remains collapses into a black hole.

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#7
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 11:47 AM

Wow am I glad I didn't buy into that one!

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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 11:57 AM

It didn't get past the 'Concept Debris' stage. Like its namesake it was massive, ran too hot, burnt through a tank of fuel in a matter of minutes and ended its life in a blaze of glory. The material blown off eventually coalesced over time into numerous Ford Fiestas, some as far as Hawaii.

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#13
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 1:49 PM

I am surprised no Gremlins spawned from that.

I heard it was no good on the drag strip either.

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#14
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 1:54 PM

Well, actually, it dragged pretty well once they hooked up to the tractor.

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#16
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 2:02 PM

Gremlins. Oh gawd. And what was that other one that looked like an inverted bathtub with windows? A Pacer? I got one of those as a loaner car whilst my car was in the shop (a Fiat X1/9, what a POS. Fix It Again, Tony). Changed lanes on the highway and the thing wallowed and rocked like bowl of seasick jello. AMC's cars were the ugliest junkers on the road, bar none.

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#18
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 2:22 PM

inverted bathtub,... that could have been a 53' Chevy Belair, 2 door sedan.

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#28
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 10:57 AM

Looks like a pregnant bar of soap.

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#29
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 11:10 AM

A friend of mine showed me the picture of it in a trade magazine,... I thought it was the most ugly car I have ever seen... but I kept looking at it... after about 2 weeks of looking at it, I had to see it, mine had 47,000 original miles on it that came from down south... when I sat behind it,... I realized it wasn't ugly, I actually liked it and made an offer that was accepted.

The intricacies of driving is funny. the Steering wheel was so big,...I felt like a 6 year old driving it.... And since it had no seat belts... I felt like I was sliding around in it....

And if you heard a slight 'ping'..... you'd better stop and look for your hubcap that just dropped off

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#43
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/14/2017 12:33 PM

I heard it was no good on the drag strip either.

AWWWW! come on, the 1966 nova with the 327 350 hp 4 speed was a terror at the drag strip. Ran against 426 hemis and such. A guy named Grumpy Jenkins beat out a lot of big block muscle cars with the Nova.

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#44
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/14/2017 1:46 PM

Nova SS is a nice car...

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#46
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/15/2017 5:43 AM

That looks like a Ford Cortina. The Vauxhall/Opel Nova sold in Europe in the 80s/90s was a little thing

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#47
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/15/2017 7:44 AM

I am guessing, but I believe the other car was the US version with that name "Nova", which I also believe, has been the subject of this particular blog all along.....

Its certainly not a European Ford Cortina of any year that I know of by the way.....nor is it a "Taunus", (the German name for the Cortina models in Germany, though they were also generally not completely "identical" with the British versions either...)

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#48
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/15/2017 8:43 AM

Didn't intend to imply it was a Cortina, just that it looked like the 1970s British one .

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#50
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/15/2017 3:00 PM

AH!!

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#49
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/15/2017 10:26 AM
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#53
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/16/2017 3:20 PM

That was uncalled for...shame on you for not standing up to be counted

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#6
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 11:00 AM

The only problem I had with mine... I ran into a old friend from high school... I was 24 years old at the time... and we were joking around have a good time... what I didn't realize was,... she came with her boyfriend... who was standing in the corner steaming at her.

he left her, she mentioned that her ride left stranded and asked if I could take her home.

On the way to take her home.. my car just died... like it was out of gas, but my fuel gauge had a half a tank. no flash light no nothing to look at it... and we were basically in the middle of nowhere. ... fortunately, it wasn't that long and the sun was coming up so I could see. I lifted the hood, and the 2 bolts that held my fuel pump in.... were loose. I never worked on it and I never heard that happening,... but I suspected some foul play, that back fired.

I tighten the bolts up and away we went... my friend thought I did it on purpose, because i fixed it so fast, but when I explained to her what was wrong and apologized for it and along the confused look I had, she got real quiet... I think she suspected foul play also.

But I have to say.... it never failed me and always got me home.

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#8
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 11:50 AM

Who's house? So, it's the old "car died" trick again? You devious ladies man!

So she fell for that? What's the rest of the story, we are all dying to hear it!

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#12
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 1:16 PM

So she fell for that? What's the rest of the story, we are all dying to hear it!

Yes,... it did look that way... but it was fate,.... all of it unplanned.

So,... you want to hear the rest of the story.... ok, then a story you'll get, so put on your waders,... because some of it will be true,... some not so much....as far as the rest of story...

The guy she went out with,... really pursued her,... heavy.,. they did get married,... and she had (4) kids from that marriage... I believe (3) boys and a girl,.... lets if I can remember their names,.... oh yes,...

Oldest to the youngest....

Steven, Steve, Stephanie and little Stevie.....

How's that for a story,...

steve

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#17
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 2:18 PM

You porker!

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#19
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 2:24 PM

no,... victim of circumstance...

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#24
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 10:28 AM

The oldest trick in the book. You should have just been obvious about it and taken her up to Inspiration Point. Steamed up the windows and no one would have seen what was going on when the sun came up.

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#27
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 10:42 AM

Well, I knew her from kindergarden,.... and we have and always will be good friends,... you see, she was my #2 girlfriend in 4th grade.... she was tied with my other #2 girlfriend who was also her best friend... You see, I never really had a #1... and they needed to decide how to handle it. wow I was a little stinker even back then...

anyways,... james stewart wanted a story... I hope he's enjoying it.

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#30
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 11:50 AM

Yeah man, this has the makings of a romance novel for the ages, or the aged, not sure which.

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#31
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 12:07 PM

Thank you.... your too kind,... that the nicest thing anyone,... I mean, anyone ever said to me...

for some reason, I feel like Jed Clampett with this episode...

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#35
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 1:10 PM

Wrong "your"!!

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#36
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 1:27 PM

you're .... thanks

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#37
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 1:45 PM

Jilted Jed? Conniving Emaline?

Oh Emaline, why can't you be true, oh Emaline, why can't you be true?

You done started back to doin' the things you used to do....

SNAP! PFfrrrit! Start that record over with the right girl. Maybelline.

Other song: (to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song) salute, Uncle Jed.

I used to have me a gal named Maybelline.

Darnest guitar that you ever seen.

Riffin' and pickin' is what I used to do,

Then I found her gettin' taught some new licks.

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#38
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 1:49 PM

hmmmm... its got all the workings...

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#39
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 1:54 PM

But what happens if I play that backwards?

My girlfriend guitar gets unlicked?

I stop frettin' and fumin', and struttin'?

I crow backwards? Momma runs over a train?

I leave before my wife runs me off?

I sneak out of Louisiana at midnight? That's just wrong!

I think I figured out a name for my Gray Chevy truck: Not Maybelline, not Emoline, but Valvoline, because she is starting to be an oilaholic, and sucks that stuff down.

Beats the heck out of calling her "Texaco", or "Mobil 1", or "GTX".

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#40
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 2:01 PM

paul is dead... john is elvis, George is alive, ringo is a female and Hillary's president?

ahhhh,... better not.

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#32
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 12:19 PM

Gee, some guys get all the girls.

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#33
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 12:22 PM

just keep in mind, I took the truth and embellished upon it. memory has a way with these things... but that post was not that far off. And if I wasn't so dam shy at the time,... I could of really turn out to be a p***k

have to start marking this ot....

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#41
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 2:06 PM

We're all just having fun with it.

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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 2:23 PM

Yes,.. it was easy making her laugh... one time, I met her when I went out... I must have said something that cause her to start wringing my neck.... I than said,... I'll call her Julie Julie must really like me, and I ask her if she knew how I could tell... curiosity got the best of her and ask me,... "How I could tell", I told her "I could tell she likes me by the way she was strangling me" , she laughed and she left me go,... but not without a punch in the shoulder.

Yes,.. it was easy making her laugh... I just have to be myself ,... wait..

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#4

Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 10:48 AM

Which?

• "No Va" (spanish: no go)

•"Nova" (latin: new)

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#10
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 12:07 PM

Exactly. I made that point the first time I heard the story.

Does anyone know if the Rolls Royce Silver Mist / Silver Shadow story is true? It says Mist means s**t in German, hence sales under the original name being so low.

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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 1:09 PM

I think names have a great deal to do with sales, that's why when a car company finds something that sells they don't change it...You don't see cars named pig, or cow, or dog, yes the owners call them that sometimes, but that's just the nickname....sometimes your car is named by other people, as in 'what a piece of shit' you drive, or that is a 'sweet ride'...In the old days people used to name their cars, I called mine 'The Beast' ,'old nelley', and others, but the cars today have no personality and rarely stick around long enough to develope a relationship with, so are just called by the number they were owned like 'my first car',' my second car' 'my chevy' my truck my van my vetteblahblahblah...No, people today are always looking at that next car, what will I get next, what will my next car be, what will I own in the future....When cars start driving themselves around, that will be the last emotional tie broken, and cars will just be another possession....like a shirt, or jacket, or maybe shoes....maybe someday they won't have names at all, just be called car model 27. or be given class status like hardware updates, the Impala celeron "sky blue" platform version 121a....It can run your errands for you!

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#15
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 1:55 PM

I totally agree, but my 2001 Chevy truck, should have a name. Let's start a naming contest right here, right now. I thought about Bessie, but we had a cow named that years ago (good milk cow), and an Avon lady with that name, no no, not Bessie.

She is charcoal gray (like so many Silverados of that year for some odd reason). No extended cab, regular length bed, V6.

And I don't want to name her: "Puppy, monkey, baby" either!

I can't afford to change cars like I do shirts, and if I changed shirts like I do cars, then I would smell really, really bad.

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#20
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 3:51 PM

The Greyverado...?

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#25
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 10:34 AM

Spittin' image of her. Not the right dealership, though, but we can let that slide.

She normally gets a good solid dose of dove poo every night near the back gate and bumper. I can't think of a catchy name involving dove poo.

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#51
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/16/2017 1:21 AM

'Deja,' for 'deja poo' (that feeling you've cleaned this sh!t off before)

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#21
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 7:11 PM

Ive had a Silver Flash, 65 Fury III; Kojack Specia,l 76 Century; Snowflake, 96 Sebring Convertable; Sahaaaara, 95 Wrangler and of course Zelda, 97 Aerostar.

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#22
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/12/2017 7:14 PM

Sounds like a group of super heros...

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#45
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/15/2017 5:25 AM

My Mum's first Toyota Corolla was called Angin-san, after Richard Chamberlain's character in Shogun. Her Volvo 340 was called Sven, I think. I call her current car Woof...because the plate reads WOF

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#23

Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 12:41 AM

In a similar vein, many years ago the US company that made the cold/Flu product, that still gets rubbed on children's chests, tried to sell it in Germany.....apparently with little success, till someone asked a German why...!

The product that was not selling (apparently!) was "Vick".

The reason being, (which could be true by the way!), is that the "V" has the sound of an "F" in German (crudely put!). Also a certain well known 4 letter swear word in English, translates to "Fick" in German......

Would you as a mother/father rub that on your kid's chest?

Changing the name to "Wick" (when said in German now sounds like Vick said by an English speaker), apparently solved the problem and its a big seller since then.....

As an aside, this is why very few women (as good as none almost!) are ever named "Victoria"!!! In fact I only know one and she has Greek heritage......

See here:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicks

Also see here:-

Fick

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#26
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 10:35 AM

Isn't marketing Vicking wonderful?

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#34
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Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/13/2017 1:08 PM

LOL!!!

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#52

Re: Fact Check: The Nova Did Not Sell Poorly in Latin America Due to Its Name

04/16/2017 3:21 AM

Se U all somewhere else on CR4..........

Happy Easter......

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