CAR names can mean different things in different countries. Take the example of the Toyota MR2: in France it was hurriedly rebadged as the “MR” — pronounced “em-air” — because the local sales guys pointed out that not many people would want to drive an “em-air-deux” (as close to “merde” as makes no difference).
Japan is infamous for its curious car-names; Mitsubishi once came up with the altogether more palatable “Minica Lettuce” for one of its models, but while that’s unquestionably inoffensive to UK ears, as a car name it’s a little limp.
The same brand also called one of its cars the Starion, which many Westerners (including Jeremy Clarkson) believed would have been “Stallion” had there not been some confusion between the letters L and R.
Sadly, this appears to be incorrect — original press materials indicate that “Starion” is a contraction of “Star of Arion”, with Arion being a horse from Greek mythology. Still, it’s not the coolest of names and having to correct every person down the pub must have got tiresome for owners.
Silly car names aren’t exclusive to Far East car makers, though. As we shall see, Ford, Austin, Vauxhall and more have all been guilty.
1 Nissan Friend-Me
At the 2013 Frankfurt motor show, Nissan added a new entry to the big book of bizarre car names: the Friend-Me. With its social network-inspired interior and specification, the concept vehicle previewed Nissan’s vision of the future. It looked OK but the name reeked of desperation in the age of generation Facebook.
2 Mazda Bongo Friendee
Once you realise that the vehicle bearing this name is, at least in the UK, a campervan, its ludicrous name begins to make sense. Bongo drums around the campfire, making new friends… that kind of thing.
3 Daihatsu Naked
The name of a car, or the dress code for its driver?
4 Mitsubishi Carisma
It’s difficult to imagine a car with less charisma, no matter how much Mitsubishi wants us to think otherwise.
5 Hyundai Trajet
For some people, this MPV’s name came close to describing their ownership experience.
6 Gaylord Gladiator
A car, and possibly a follow up to the 2000 Ridley Scott movie.
7 Dodge Dart Swinger
This was a hip car to own when it was introduced at the end of the ’60s. Come the ’70s and it gave party guests the wrong impression.
8 Vauxhall Adam
Named after the founder of German car maker Opel, of which Vauxhall is still a subsidiary, the Adam is marked out for its many customisation options, making it “as individual as you are”. Sadly, with a name like that, regardless of your chosen colour combinations people will always think of its owners as a bit beige.
9 Studebaker Dictator
Not the best choice during the 1930s and ’40s.
10 AMC Gremlin
Don’t get it wet, and definitely don’t feed it after midnight.
11 Great Wall Wingle
It sounds like a comfort break while trekking in China, but we’re assured it’s the name of a pickup.
12 Mazda Titan Dump
See above, but in Japan.
13 Ford Probe
Nothing pleasant is associated with the word “probe”.
14 Mitsubishi Minica Lettuce
Sadly this variant of the Minica wasn’t followed up by the Mitsubishi Tomato and Mitsubishi Sesame Seed Bun. And it could have been worse…
15 Mitsubishi Minica Winky
Find something funny, Jenkins? Do share it with the entire class.
16 Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard
JK Rowling left Isuzu soon after.
17 Mitsubishi Toppo Guppy
Named after the best fish in the tank, perhaps.
18 Toyota Deliboy
New York, Paris, Aichi. “This time next year, Rodders-san”, etc.
19 Tarpan Honker
Hilarious name klaxon!
20 Chevrolet Celebrity
We’ll put this one on the Z-list.
21 Proton Putra
Any self-respecting child would instantly nickname it the Putrid.
22 Subaru Brat
Doesn’t start when required, and slams the door shut behind you.
23 Austin Princess
The only person who’d think this was a good name is Frank Butcher.
24 Mazda LaPuta
Laputa was the flying island in Gulliver’s Travels. Unfortunately it is also a Spanish term for a lady of the night.