AT THIS week’s Frankfurt motor show, Nissan added a new entry to the big book of bizarre car monikers: the Friend-Me. With its social network-inspired interior and specification, the concept vehicle previews Nissans of the future. It looks great but the name is at risk of sounding a bit desperate to the Facebook generation.
And that’s the problem with car names. They can mean different things to different people. Take the Toyota MR2. The car maker had to market the model in France with the shortened moniker “MR” (pronounced “em-air”) because no one in the marketing department had twigged that the final digit (“deux”) made the name sound very like the word for French for what farmers spread on fields.
Fortunately, Mitsubishi came up with an altogether nicer name for one of its models. The Lettuce suggests something palatable and inoffensive, but as a name for a car it’s a little limp.
We Westerners can’t mock what we might regard as the naivety of Far East car makers, though. As we shall see, Ford, Austin, Vauxhall and more have each been guilty of giving their cars ridiculous and ill-judged names. Here’s our list of some of the worst from around the world.
Mazda Bongo Friendee
Once you realize 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.
The name of a car, or the dress code for its driver?
It’s difficult to imagine a car with less, no matter how much Mitsubishi wants us to think otherwise.
For some people, this MPV’s name came close to describing their ownership experience.
A car, and possibly a follow up to the 2000 Ridley Scott movie.
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.
It may have been named after the founder of Opel, Vauxhall’s owner, but Adam shouts “Bland! Bland! Bland!”.
Not the best choice during the 1930s and ’40s.
Don’t get it wet, and definitely don’t feed it after midnight.
Great Wall Wingle
It sounds like a comfort break while trekking in China, but we’re assured it’s the name of a pickup.
Mazda Titan Dump
See above, but in Japan.
Nothing pleasant is associated with the word “probe”.
For the vegetarian car owners out there.
Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard
JK Rowling left Isuzu soon after.
Mitsubishi Toppo Guppy
Named after the best fish in the tank, perhaps.
Mitsubishi Minica Winky
Find something funny, Jenkins? Do share it with the entire class.
It looks like a sad platypus whose mum and dad named it for a bet.
Overweight – not the image you really want for a car, is it?
A honkingly awful name.
We’ll put this one on the Z-list.
Any self-respecting child would instantly nickname it the Putrid.
Another nuts car name.
Doesn’t start when required, and slams the door shut behind you.
The only person who’d think this was a good name is Frank Butcher.
Laputa was the flying island in Gulliver’s Travels. Unfortunately it is also a Spanish term for a lady of the night.