15 Crazy Car Names that Will Make You Do a Facepalm
Car brands really need to start using the dictionary (including Urban Dictionary), the thesaurus and Google Translate when naming their vehicles. Sure, there are more important things to worry about, such as performance, design, and safety, but the name is what sells the frame (and everything in it). Unfortunately, the auto world has a reputation for picking car names that taints their reputation.
Whether it’s due to lazy translation, poor context, or just a lack of creativity, many brands set themselves up for an onslaught of jokes from critics, comedians and consumers alike. Since we’re in the auto biz and love to laugh as well, we think it’s worth taking a look at the car names that trigger fits of head-scratching and giggles.
1. Mazda Titan Dump
Technically, it’s not a car, but it illustrates our point about auto brands with their bad naming attempts. The truck has been in production since 1971; Isuzu took over from Mazda in 2000. Since it is a dump truck, they called it the “Titan Dump”. First of all, the word “dump” is incredibly redundant. But when fused with “Titan”, it just creates the image of someone spending a long, long time on the toilet (sorry for ruining your appetite).
2. Ford Probe
It’s our guess that Ford was trying to make a statement here, perhaps with a double meaning. Maybe they wanted to reign in the 90s by telling people to search for themselves, while trying to appear as a brand that’s futuristic and forward-thinking (like the makers of space probes are). Unfortunately, many people associate the word “probe” with cameras going into the rear (think colonoscopies) and alien abductions (where aliens insert devices into the rear as well). It serves as a reminder that some names have more than just a double meaning, some of which you don’t want attached to your car.
3. Suzuki Esteem
Again, we get the idea of using metaphors and symbolism in car names. But naming a car “Esteem” comes across as a cry for desperation, and it certainly didn’t do well for Suzuki’s ego since it only survived for seven years (1995 – 2002) before getting scrapped. But who knows what’s next. Perhaps, they’ll someday work on the Suzuki “Confident”.
4. Ford Escort
There’s a bit of irony that Ford didn’t notice here: they produced a small family car and named it after a job in an adult-oriented industry. They we’re probably hinting at the car’s high safety rating (escort does mean to guide and protect, after all) to save their reputation after the disastrous Ford Pinto. But it still might not be safe for work since telling people you drove an Escort might raise an eyebrow or two.
5. Audi e-Tron
Add a lowercase “e” in front of anything, and it’s assumed we’re talking about something digital (or electronic). So it would seem apt for Audi to name their electric concept supercar “e-Tron”. However, e-Tron means “excrement” in French. In all honesty, that’s a hard one to escape because e-Tron doesn’t really sound like a foreign word. But somewhere in a French-speaking country, someone must have said “Tres bon, Audi” while giggling.
6. Mitsubishi Mirage
Mirage is a beautiful sounding word. But in the context of naming a car, mirage is a poor choice since it means “illusion”, and the last thing you want is to give drivers the impression that your car has nothing to offer. Unfortunately, Mitsubishi succeeded in tricking drivers to buy this mediocre car. With it’s hummingbird-like, 74-horsepower engine and undersized wheels, the hatchback certainly left drivers thirsting for much more.
7. Daihatsu Naked
The “Naked”, produced from 2000 – 2004 by Japanese automaker Daihatsu, somewhat suits its name due to its exposed bolts and hinges. But still, we ask, “why?” There must be better ways to express the concept of exposed bodywork without openly saying your car is in the nude. Like the Ford Escort, telling your friends you drive a “Naked” just makes for awkward conversation.
8. Ford Ka
What is a “ka”? It’s Ford’s city car that has been in production since 1996. But what does “Ka” mean? Apparently, you have to say the letters separately (“k-a”). But again, what does “k-a” mean? Is it an acronym for something? Because it just sounds like a random pairing of letters that if reversed, would spell the name of a popular series of Russian rifles.
9. Mazda LaPuta
We’re really not sure what Mazda was trying to accomplish by naming their SUV/Kei Car “LaPuta”. Were they making a reference to the flying island in Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel, Gulliver’s Travels? Or were they trying to appeal to Spanish-speaking drivers? We hope it wasn’t the latter, because the word is quite offensive; just search “la puta meaning” in Google.
10. Chevrolet Citation
“Citation”, when referring to driving, is just a synonym for traffic tickets (usually speeding tickets). So for Chevy to have named their car “Citation” is a confusing move, because it implies that its drivers would get pulled over a lot. Our guess is the name was suggestive of the car’s superior performance, and how it would tempt people to really push it to its limits. But the name itself is just a crime against the art of naming cars.
11. Renault Le Car
It might have been a slow day for those naming Renault’s new vehicle. So perhaps in a fit of frustration, they dropped their pencils on their desks and settled for the name, “LeCar”, which in French means, “The Car.” Imagine if more companies took this route if they couldn’t think of product names. We’d have items named LeSavon (“The Soap”), LaChemise (“The Shirt”), and LeDentifrice (“The Toothpaste”).
12. Nissan Homy Super Long
Yes, Nissan’s Homy Super Long is a van with a seating capacity of 15 passengers. But wasn’t there any other name that could imply this feature without the innuendo? It’s the kind of name that would make both kids and adults chuckle not only at what it sounds like, but how lazy the choice was. If Nissan were to go along with this theme, we can only imagine what a car with tons of truck space or a wide interior would be named.
13. Mitsubishi Pajero
Symbolically, Pajero (which is Spanish) is interesting, because it’s named after the endangered Pampas cat (Leopardus pajeros), which lives in the grasslands and forests of South America (mainly Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru). But “pajero” is often used as an insult, and translates to “wanker” – a word we won’t bother discussing here. However, Mitsubishi was smart enough to come up with alternative names for their SUV (like Montero, Shogun).
14. Subaru Brat
Supposedly, “Brat” is an acronym that stands for Bi-Drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter (try saying that fast). It is fitting for what the 2-door utility coupe was made for. However, we just can’t take our minds away from the image of what a brat is – a loud, obnoxious and often spoiled person (usually a child or teenager) that you just can’t stand. Brat just sounds odd for an automobile, and it conjures up the feeling that something in this car would annoy drivers.
15. Ford C-Max
The Ford C-Max actually won awards for its eco-friendliness as a hybrid MPV. But the name was a misstep. Instead of sounding like a car, it resembles the name of a product you’d find at a health food store. It’s a shame that such a well-received car sounds this unappealing. With that said, Ford may want to keep the C-Max name if they ever plan on selling cold & flu meds one day.
Brands Need to Get their Names Right
There are firms that charge $50,000 – $100,000+ to name products and services for companies. That’s not an exaggeration. A single letter alters the sound and meaning of a word and how people view the brand itself, making the art of naming a deal-breaking task. So auto companies need to take note. Those silly car names may serve as comedy gold but on a subconscious level, they could entice more people to buy if brands made better word choices. More importantly, they could avoid offending certain cultures by staying away from names that mean inappropriate things in other languages. And remember too, that these names can affect you. Mentioning the fact you drive a particular car may just sound weird in certain sentences, making your vehicle the center of teasing from friends and family members!