Over the course of time, car manufacturers have named many a car in honour of an illustrious or glamorous location. Ferrari Maranello, Ferrari Daytona, Porsche Cayenne, Opel Monza, Hyundai Santa Fe and Lancia Monte Carlo are just a few that spring to mind. In all cases, the manufacturer hopes to leave the owner in no doubt over the credentials of the car in question. Daytona, for example, takes you to the speedway, on a hot summer’s night, the sound of V8s and the smell of burning rubber. Stirring stuff you’ll agree. Then there’s Monte Carlo, which takes you to the French coast, twisty mountain-side tarmac roads, glitz, glamour and decadence. You get the point.
Now you may or may not be familiar with the Scottish town of Montrose. If not, let me enlighten you. Situated on the east coast, Montrose has a population of some 12,000 people, has the fifth biggest golf course in the world, can claim a three-mile long Blue Flag beach and has a rather wide high street. This is all according to Wikipedia anyway. All thrilling stuff, but just why is the town of Montrose relevant to PetrolBlog? Well, a fact not listed on Wikipedia and I fear totally unknown to the majority of the 12,000 residents is that Montrose has a car named in its honour.
I refer of course to the Mazda Montrose. You’ve probably forgotten about the Montrose and if you’re reading this from outside of UK shores, you’ve probably never heard of it. That’s because in the majority of markets, the Montrose was known as the 626, which went on to enjoy several incarnations before eventually simply becoming the Mazda 6.
But why the Montrose? Well, in their infinite wisdom, the official importers decided, after one too many Friday evening post-work beverages, that they’d name their car after their favourite UK dealer. No seriously, they did. Mazda weren’t happy to let the Cortina have the family car market all to itself and wanted a piece of the action. “OK Ford, so you’ve got yourself an Italian ski-resort, well we’re going to trump you Henry”.
The official story is that the dealer in Montrose was the clear winner, but I’m not so sure. I’m actually led to believe that Montrose was crucially some way down the list of favourites and the Mazda could have easily been known by a different name.
Topping the table and boardroom favourite was the dealer in Barrow-in-Furness, but the official badge maker at Mazda was concerned that the number of letters required for the back of each car could seriously reduce the margins on each car sold. So Barrow-in-Furness was reluctantly ruled out.
Second on the list was the Welsh dealer in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. The problem here was less about the number of letters and more about the problems experienced by anyone phoning to request a brochure. So Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch was ruled out too.
Eventually, after a lot of soul searching and a few more jars of ale, the name Montrose was agreed. The car went on to become synonymous with being anonymous, but still managed to rack up nearly three quarters of million sales in the four years of production. When it was replaced in 1982, Mazda UK saw sense and brought the car into line with other markets, calling it the 626.
I leave you with this timeless ad for the 626, all the way from Australia. Just one look is, apparently, all it took. When a car’s key selling point is the reclining front seats, you know you’re scraping the proverbial barrel. Although in fairness, the passenger does look relaxed.