Bad Car Names

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm going to try to make it over to the New England Auto Expo next month. I've gone before and, even though I probably won't buy a new car for a few more years, I love looking at the new models, finding out what new features are available, sitting inside the vehicles, and inhaling that new car smell.

In anticipation, I thought it might be fun to come up with a list of the worst car names in history that I could think of. Certainly not the most unique retro post, but a road that's worth revisiting. You see, a car's name is everything - it's the brand and has the power to make or break a legacy. Unfortunately, there have been a few instances where automobile marketers dropped the ball big time when coming up with a good name. Get that foghorn ready:

1. Ford Probe
A painful name - in more ways then one. I don't know about you, but anything that sounds like something that would be inserted into any of my bodily orifices during a medical examination or procedure is definitely a turnoff to me. What was Ford thinking when they came up with this gem? Shame, because the car itself was a sporty little 80s number.

2. Ford Escort
If the car had actually been sleek and sexy, Ford might have gotten away with such a scandalous name. But they didn't, which makes it all the more laughable. I think the Ford Companion would've sounded better and less like a forbidden listing in the yellow pages.

3. MG Midget
A real head scratcher. MGs were already unbearably tiny cars. How was the Midget series any different? And saying that you drive a Midget just sounds weird.

4. Dodge Diplomat
Despite a long production run (from 1977 to 1989) I've never heard of anyone who owned a Diplomat, and I'm not sure that those who did really did feel all that more important. Check out the vintage ad I've posted above - shuttle diplomacy? A misguided advertising attempt to make a soccer mom feel like she's royalty or something.

5. AMC Gremlin
It's cute, but you mustn't let it near bright sunlight, get water on it, or feed it after midnight.

6. Hummer
Yep. No explanation needed.

7. Subaru Brat
Who wants to drive a brat? It was really an acronym for "Bi-drive Recreational All-Terrain Transporter." Gotcha. Couldn't they have come up with something KITT?

8. Renault Le Car
Thinking of Renault's unoriginal moniker reminds me of when Madonna released an album titled "Music." And the car was so le fugly, I don't think even Inspector Clousteau would've been caught driving one.

9. Toyota Estima Lucida G Luxury Joyful Canopy
I'm cheating here - this van was actually called the Toyota Previa in the U.S. It's "real" name, as coined by the Japanese, sounds like one of those silly show dog names.

10. Ford Edsel
A bad car name list would not be complete without the king. The Edsel proved that naming a car after one of your offspring was not always a good idea, especially if their name sounds like a hiccup.

If I missed any interesting ones, let me know.


  1. You forgot the Pinto! ;) I love checking out all of the new cars as well. My first love might be fashion but it's followed closely by cars!

  2. Personally I would never drive a Sunfire or Sunburst - fire and burst should never reallly be part of a car's name

    and I never really liked the name Hornet either - I don't think I'd drive one because of that name.

  3. I've always thought the popular British car the Morris Minor was a really bad name. It's kind of meek and unassuming. It's quite a nice car, shame about the name.

  4. My Dad had one of those station wagons with the wood paneling when I was a tyke.

  5. Ms. B - yes, I think maybe they were going for a junior version of the Mustang with the Pinto!

    My Little Corner - I've always thought the Sunfire was a really cute car but would agree on the name. The Pontiac Fiero really did have a problem catching on fire.

    Richard - never heard of the Minor, but I'll check it out!

    Jen - ah, gotta love those 70s station wagons with the fake wood paneling. I actually think wood paneling is really cool now.

  6. oh my goodness, my parents had a little white ford escort when I was little :-)

  7. I started to post a comment, but it got WAY too long, so I made a blog post about it instead:

    Sorry, Go Retro, the Dodge Diplomat DID make me feel like royalty. I loved that car and it breaks my heart that I don't have a photo of it.

  8. I always wondered about the Mercury Merkur as if sounding foreign made it more appealing.

    I also got a kick out of two names the superior marketing staff at Daihatsu came up with.

    1. the Rocky. That just begs to be used as a negative headline into how rough the vehicle rides.
    2. the Charade. Why would they name a car after something that represents falseness?
    As in “I sold you this lemon of a car using a clever Charade”.

  9. My brother had a Gremlin and he loves that car more than his girlfriend.


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