Christening Cars

Detroit fusses over nameplates

To ballyhoo the two-seater sports car they will introduce this month, Pontiac executives summoned the press to a sneak preview in a cavernous auto plant. At the climax of the meeting, officials did not show off the car. Instead, they unfurled a banner displaying the result of their hard work. FIERO, it said, revealing the auto's name, which is Italian for "proud." It was no small disclosure. Detroit carmakers spend millions of dollars each year dreaming up prospective auto names, and they risk much more when they finally choose one....

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