Future Cars

Please don't be a SUV: Toyota trademarks Celica

Seriously, my heart cannot take any more nameplate retcons this year.

Toyota

If an automaker snags up a trademark, there's a good chance it'll get used in some fashion in the near future. Toyota's latest trademark might cause enthusiasts to get excited, other automakers' recent moves could be cause for concern.

At the end of August, Toyota filed a standard character mark with the US Patent and Trademark Office for the name Celica, Car and Driver reports. This move "[indicates] an intention to use the moniker," which could be either really great or really terrifying.

Let's hope it turns out more like this, and less like the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

Toyota

There are a few different ways this could go, most of which are wholly innocuous. It could use the name as a replacement for the 86, since Celica carries a bit more cachet around the globe, and there would be precedent here, because the original Celica was rear-wheel drive, like the current 86.

The second positive outcome would be the creation of a new, front-wheel-drive-based sports car that would slot under the 86 in the current lineup. If it were to come about, it would likely ride on the same Toyota New Global Architecture platform that the automaker uses in a variety of models, including the next-generation Corolla sedan.

The worst-case scenario, as it were, would be affixing this badge to the back of a sport utility vehicle. There's precedent here, too, although not at Toyota -- Mitsubishi recently revived the Eclipse name as part of the Eclipse Cross, which is just about the opposite of everything the original Eclipse stood for.

It would be a giant retcon and a slap in the face of every enthusiast around the world, but enthusiasts don't print money for automakers -- SUVs and crossovers do.

It's also worth noting that this entire process could have no measurable changes anywhere within Toyota's lineup. It could just be a simple reassertion of Toyota's trademark rights to the name, which it used between 1970 and 2006. That's a likely reason for this filing, but it's also the least fun reason.

Toyota has already done right with vintage badges once this year, as it intends to unveil a new Supra sports car that will be built in conjunction with BMW (it'll be the BMW Z4 on that side), so let's hope that Toyota is smart enough to keep the Celica badge where it belongs -- on something fun, sporty, and most importantly, not a crossover.