The fashion for naming your child after a car having died a convenient death some time ago, Opel (and by extension, Vauxhall) confounded the world by announcing the ‘Adam’ earlier this year, thus reversing the trend: naming a car after a person, namely the founder of Opel itself.
In the history of the automobile, there have been very few cars named in this way. There have been models named for children of the founder: the Ferrari Dino being a memorable example, the Ford Edsel being a wholly less popular one. And yes, there is no shortage of manufacturers named after their founders either in full (Bugatti, DeLorean), or in abstract (TVR was from “Trevor”, a name that is harder to associate with speed). But this writer can think of only a single other car model named after the company’s founder: the 2002 Ferrari Enzo.
The contrast between each company’s treatment of their founding father couldn’t be more different. Of course, there’s not much to compare in the companies themselves: one could probably buy several shipments of Adams for the price of an Enzo. (Second hand prices of Enzos have only risen from the £500,000 they cost the multi-millionaires of ten years ago.)
The Enzo is, of course, the most recent rear mid-engine, rear wheel drive Supercar that Ferrari made. Designed by Ken Okuyama, it paid tribute to the brand and to the man who created and furthered it by weaving his essence into every fibre of its being. Enzo Ferrari and his team were (and are) a pillar of Formula One, so it was only appropriate to build a road-worthy car with Formula One technology: C/SiC disc brakes, semi-automatic transmission and aerodynamics that leave hints of open-wheel racing within an immaculate closed-wheel carbon fibre body. The Ferrari Enzo was a giant among cars, just as enthusiasts would argue that Enzo Ferrari was a giant among men.
Adam Opel was apparently the human equivalent of a nippy city car, which isn’t an especially flattering statement to make.
It’s not like Opel don’t operate in somewhat flashier markets than the smaller city car tier that the Adam is trying to establish itself. We’re not asking for an Opel supercar by any means, but you’d expect the company to at least make some kind of statement in the large family car space, perhaps. An ethos of dependable family motoring summed up in a flagship estate.
Or, considering that Adam Opel died before his company moved from manufacturing bicycles and sewing machines to automobiles (in 1899, four years after his death), perhaps he’d have been quite taken with the Opel/Vauxhall Adam after all. That, and the widespread availability of central heating and electricity. The Adam is, after all, an appealing little car “if you like that kind of thing”, or less dismissively, if you need that kind of thing. Nationwide Vehicle Contracts lease the Adam for as little as £185.95 (plus VAT) per month so it’s bound to be a popular first car for any teenager not scared off by how the trim levels got badged (‘Jam’, ‘Glam’ and ‘Slam’).
Still, I can’t stop feeling a little sorry for poor Adam. If I created an automobile brand that was still going in 2125, I’d kind of expect them to put my name on the least-sensible car that the greatest designing minds of the day could conceive.