Home » Let’s Talk Car Names You Couldn’t Use Today And Food Names And Ones You Think Suck But Don’t

Let’s Talk Car Names You Couldn’t Use Today And Food Names And Ones You Think Suck But Don’t

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Our partner Beau once told me that the process and struggle of coming up with good names for car models “the sport of kings,” and while I always assumed that was foosball, I can see why it would be called that. It’s not easy! At all. That’s likely why so many carmakers take the easy way out and resort to the sort of alphanumeric names that could only inspire longing in a mainframe running a FORTRAN program to calculate payroll. But a real evocative car name, well that’s a magical thing! And so elusive, which is why we’re going to look at some actual car names that are garbage for a number of reasons, and some you probably think suck but, surprise, you’re wrong.

There’s a number of lists online of bad car names, but they tend to just rely on pointing out weird car names, and the truth is those names are often fantastic. The Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard? That’s not a bad name, that’s a fantastic car name! Anyone who thinks that’s a bad car name is dead inside, worse, dead and boring.

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Wizard1

Animal names, also, I think are almost always good. Even when they’re animals we don’t always associate with noble things, like weasels. Studebaker made a military vehicle called the Weasel, and I can’t think of a better animal than that.

Okay, let’s get to the crap!

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Names You Can’t Get Away With Today

Times and language change. Generally, it seems that, when it comes to language, there’s two main factors that affect a given car’s name: history and the process by which people at least attempt to become less shitty over time. The historical bit means that sometimes things happen to alter our associations with a word, and the less shitty over time part means that some words that perhaps had racial or derogatory connotations are no longer the kinds of words people want to use when they talk about what they drive.

I can think of three cars that fit this category:

Studebaker Dictator

Dictator

Between 1927 and 1937, Studebaker’s entry-level car was called the Dictator, with a Commander and President above it. These could be had with inline six or eight-cylinder engines, and as you can probably guess, the late 1930s were not a great time to keep naming things “Dictators” as there were some actual dictators popping up in the news that were, to use the preferred term, shitheads. The Dictator name was changed to Commander, which is free of any Hitlers or Francos or Mussolinis, at least.

Chevy Confederate

ConfederateI thought about this one because I got a request from a reader for one of these for their Autopian Member Birthday Drawing, which you see above there. These were built in 1932, almost 70 years after the Confederacy was a thing at all, but a number of decades before mainstream American society realized that nobody wants to hear about the damn Confederacy.

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Austin Gipsy/Maruti Suzuki Gypsy

Gipsy

These two off-road vehicles one from Britain, one from India, both have a common source for their name, the term for the Romani people that is usually – but not always, it seems, for certain subgroups – considered a racial slur.

The Austin Gipsy, built from 1958 to 1968, was conceived as a competitor for the Land Rover, and definitely resembled the famous Land Rover, but was a good bit more sophisticated, featuring independent suspension with special rubber springs. It turns out that sophistication isn’t really what’s wanted from a rugged off-roader/military vehicle, after all, and the Gipsy never achieved the popularity of the Landie.

The Maruti-Suzuki Gypsy had a long life, from 1985 to 2018, and was an Indian-built version of the long-wheelbase Suzuki Jimny. These were used extensively by the Indian military.

 

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Food Names That I’m Just Not Sure If Are Good Or Bad

Lettuce

So, I ran across this charming little car, which is called the Mitsubishi Minica Lettuce, and it made me realize that I’m really not sure what I think of cars named for foods. I’ve written about them before, even recently, but I can’t decide if food-based names are good or bad.

The Nissan Cherry I think is a great name for a car! The Suzuki Cappucino, too, and while I get a kick out of the fact that there was a carmaker called Alldays & Onions, I’m not sure it’s a good car name. This Mitsubishi, though – I’m not sure Lettuce is an evocative car name? Mitsubishi has at least one other food-based name, the Mitsubishi Pistachio, and now I’m wondering how I feel about that, too.

I know a lot of worst-car-names lists include food-car names, but I don’t want to just knee-jerk say those are all bad. So I’m confused about the food names, but I think they have some sort of charm.

Names That I Get What They Were Going For, But Don’t Work Because Of How They Sound

Rapier

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The Sunbeam Rapier. I’m all for naming cars for swords. In fact, I used to have one, a Reliant Scimitar! Sword or stabby-things should make good car names, like Epée or Foil or Dagger or Dirk or Katana or Sabre. Rapier, should too, but the problem is it sounds like, well, rapey-er. I think most people would know the difference, but it’s still just kind of unfortunate.

Kind of like rapeseed oil. That name comes from the Latin word rapum, which means “turnip.” It’s also the same thing as canola oil. Why does anyone call it rapeseed oil still?

 

The Car Name You Think Is Bad But You’re Wrong About

ProbeThe Ford Probe. It’s the butt (get it?) of so many dumb jokes, but here’s the thing – it’s just not that bad a name! We all know it’s referring to space probes like the Voyager probes to the outer solar system or the Viking probes to Mars or the Juno probe to Jupiter or any number of other probes, and the truth is that if your mind goes to aliens anally probing people, that’s on you.

Probe can be used for so many things! Investigations! Research! It’s a word about curiosity, and discovering new things! Even those alleged aliens, who are supposedly probing anuses of abducted humans, why, I suspect they’re just looking for truth, too, even if they have the misguided idea that truth is somehow to be found crammed up the rectums of some poor bastard driving along a rural highway at the wrong time.

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Car names need our support now more than ever, lest we find ourselves permanently stuck in a world of alphanumeric soup bullshit.

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Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

My absolute favorite car name is the Suzuki Capuccino! There’s something about it that’s just so awesome
Also have to mention my favorite car: Dodge Superbee

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
1 month ago

Oldsmobile 88. If you’ve ever see a guy with a tattoo that says “88” you know why.

https://www.adl.org/resources/hate-symbol/88

Last edited 1 month ago by MAX FRESH OFF
Herb Powell
Herb Powell
1 month ago

“The car is named after Persephone, the Greek goddess of spring and rebirth, but Herb Powell rejected it since people don’t want cars named after hungry, old, Greek broads.” File:Persephone_(car).png

Herb Powell
Herb Powell
1 month ago

’79 Plymouth Volare’ didn’t evoke any cache for my 16 year old self amongst my classmates.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago

When I was young and had my own imaginary car brand, I named a car the Acteon (I had just read the Greek myth of this hunter, turned into a deer and killed by his own dogs). When SsangYong named a vehicle the Actyon fifteen years later I felt rather miffed.

Vee
Vee
1 month ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

I used to name the fictional cars I drew after engineering concepts and console code names, because I was a strange child. For instance the MA Leverage and MA Delfino (Nintendo Dolphin, what was release as the Gamecube) 400.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago

I just referenced the Minica Lettuce in a comment somewhere (because of its asymmetric design); very surprised to see it here only minutes later.

John Patson
John Patson
1 month ago

One existing one is the Dacia Duster. In English English a duster is a cleaning rag. My wife refuses to even look at them because they have such a silly name.
And the classic one in France is the Toyota MR2. Sounds just like merde in French which is why it never sold there….

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago
Reply to  John Patson

It was sold in France – as the MR-S. Rebadging is easy: the SEAT Malaga was sold as the “Gredos” in Greece since malaka means “wanker” in Greek.

Vc-10
Vc-10
1 month ago
Reply to  John Patson

I wonder how the electric Audis do in France, given that “étron” means turd. Seems like a fair few car names don’t work in French. But then the French also came up with the Renault Wind, which, well, toot. I don’t think that car did well anywhere though TBH, being a 2-seater convertible based on the Twingo, with either a 1.2 or 1.6 litre engine.

John Patson
John Patson
1 month ago
Reply to  Vc-10

Yip, had wonderful exaggerated Jag style flying buttresses. I liked it, except for the plastic roof…

Tondeleo Jones
Tondeleo Jones
1 month ago

I doubt we will ever see a revival of the MG Midget.

Douglas Lain
Douglas Lain
1 month ago

I always thought that the Chevy Citation was a bad name. “And now presenting the Ford Moving Violation!”

I still desperately want one though…

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
1 month ago

The worst? The STD.

Not actually sure if that is, in fact, a car model. But between the CTS, MKS,CT5, CLK, GLC, BRZ, at least the STD would be memorable…

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan Green

Gotta love that Subaru has stuck with STI despite that being the latest term for STDs, too. Hahahahahaha.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 month ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Bank employee: Why do you need this loan?
Me: To get an STI
Bank employee: Do you mean to get rid of an STI?
Me: No, I don’t have an STI but I want one really bad
Bank employee: You know that you can get one for way less money if you go over to…

Chris Lewis
Chris Lewis
1 month ago

Without a doubt the most questionable nameplate that comes to mind is from Chevrolet. It was the early seventies and GM were exporting the Holden GTS Monaro coupe from Australia to South Africa. Rather than call it the “Monaro”, an Australian model name unfamiliar to South African ears, someone in marketing decided that a *perfectly normal* name with no problematic baggage associated with it *at all* would be the “SS Kommando”.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Landau an ugly roof? Escort a prostitute,

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Jason were we supposed the names we would like but know they would suck at the same time? Maybe better Punctuation?

Jack Swansey
Jack Swansey
1 month ago

IMO, honorable mention to Hyundai’s crossovers named after places.

I think place names work great on normal cars, and are pretentious as all hell on fancy cars.

Aaron
Aaron
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Swansey

The Hyundai/Kia habit of naming their SUVs after locations always struck me as try hard. “See, we’re a genuine American car company! We named our SUVs (you Americans love SUVs) after locations in the Southwest!”

Dug Deep
Dug Deep
1 month ago
Reply to  Aaron

Hyundai itself is “try hard”. Americans were introduced to it as “Hun-day”, rather than “Hyuun-die”, and it’s a total coincidence that the name and the logo are a lot like “Honda”.

Mortalcombatant
Mortalcombatant
1 month ago

My favorite car name since I learned it meaning in Mexican Spanish is Mitsubishi Pajero.

Mortalcombatant
Mortalcombatant
1 month ago

Holy crap! Thats FSO Polonez taillight in the title Pic!

El Chubbacabra
El Chubbacabra
1 month ago

And it’s not a regular Polonez taillight, it’s the one from Polonez Caro – a car that’s been produced (with a few changes in between) from 1991 to 2002.

Beceen
Beceen
1 month ago
Reply to  El Chubbacabra

And, behold, “Polonez” is a name of a Polish traditional dance, but it also means, well, “Polish” in French, so there’s that in the context of good/bad car model names.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

In the past 20 years or so, my thoughts on the subject are “every carmaker should just outsource to Ford’s naming guy.” (I’m talking to you, Toyota.)

Ford (especially in modern times, but either way I do concede they’re not all perfect) has some really simple, memorable names. (Dodge, too, though I won’t document them here.) Meanwhile Toyota’s are very hit-or-miss or just kinda…nothingburgers.

Ford: Mustang. Flex. Focus. Escape. Bronco. Edge. Ranger. Maverick.
Even ones like Transit and Fiesta are, at worst, serviceable and inoffensive. Worst ones in recent times I can think of are Ecosport (…just spell it “Echosport” and you’d fix half the problem….) and C-Max. And again, I don’t hate them as names.

Now let’s look at an arbitrary smattering of Toyotas.
Corolla? Tacoma? I could take it or leave it.
Highlander? Camry? Just barely cool.
Venza? Sequoia? Tundra? Avalon, aka “Heaven”? Cool.
Prius? Sounds like priapism (the term for a prolonged erection) and I hope you think of this every time you see one for the rest of your life. (You’re welcome.)
Supra, Land Cruiser? Probably the best out of their lineup, but also not particularly affordable ones.
bZ4X? Even for alphanumeric car names this is ridiculous.
And I guess, bummer for me, but I’m not a fan of the name “4runner” nor “RAV4”, even if I’d probably enjoy both vehicles for what they are. “forerunner” makes me think “so you’re old?” It doesn’t necessarily indicate “old and wise” in a positive way. I’d suggest “TrailRunner” as a slightly better option, but I assume Chevy would get all huffy with the Trailblazer and trademark infringement or whatever. As for the RAV4, I dunno what to suggest. I generally don’t like abbreviations to begin with, but either way the name just doesn’t have any “punch” to me.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Ford? Probe? Edsel? Escape? Model T? What happened to models A thru S? Cortina?

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I did say they’re not all great…and I wonder if there was an alternate history where the Edsel was a car people liked. The name has bothered me less as I’ve gotten older.

….what’s wrong with Escape? I think that one’s solid too. The idea of “escaping” from your dreary existence with an exciting car!….even if that’s not what that particular model did, I think it’s a good name.

As an American, I’ve only heard of the Cortina through a song, but is there a problem with that name? I’d call it “medium” at worst. Might not advise it today due to “Cortana” but that’s a tangential reason.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Well Ford escape escape from Ford. Its marketing. The Cortina is a piano. Of course I didn’t have research time. But Probe? Insert things in my rectum? If you want I can actually check 100 years of all their lines? You did pick and chose. Hey mercury Capri women’s 3/4 length pants.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Cortina was named after ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo. Italian-sounding alpine towns are popular sources of inspiration, like the Opel Ascona. No one likes German names for some reason: I’d love a Ford Saalbach -Hinterglemm or a Pontiac Ischgl.

Chris Lewis
Chris Lewis
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I adore the cheekiness of 1970s Ford of Europe. The names generally fell in one of two camps. Either they evoked overseas holidays and a sense of Continental sophistication (Capri, Cortina, Grenada), or dirty magazines sold in plain brown packaging (Fiesta, Escort).

I drive a boring SUV
I drive a boring SUV
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Many of Ford’s names work great when you add “anal” in front of them:
Anal Explorer
Anal Probe
Anal Focus
Anal Edge
Anal Fiesta
Anal Escape
Anal Transit

Uberscrub
Uberscrub
1 month ago

Expedition
Flex
Ranger
SHO

Tim R
Tim R
1 month ago
Reply to  Uberscrub

Maverick

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

Of course; I’ve been on the internet long enough to have seen that joke many times, even long before I was into cars at all. I think that’s just a side effect of often using words that can be both nouns and verbs as car names, but I still think it makes for more punchy, memorable names than the “pure nouns” of Toyota names.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I do like that Ford’s non-number/series names tend to stick to the “sounds funnier with ‘Anal’ in front.” typology.

Anal Ranger
Anal Raptor
Anal Explorer
Anal Probe
Anal Taurus? Whatever, it works.
Anal Expedition
Anal Bronco?
Anal Mustang
Anal Flex
Anal Fiesta
Anal Focus
Anal Transit
Anal Five Hundred
Anal Ka—shoot, that’s a Bostonian describing a legendary “Jackass” prank.

Anal EcoSport didn’t really work that well, but do note that it’s not around anymore. Kind of a terrible name anyway. Eco, maybe. Sport, nope.

Anal C-Max isn’t great, either, but Anal S-Max? Pronounced like “Anal Smacks,” that one’s just hilarious.

Even Anal Kuga kinda works.

Anal Crown Victoria is…hmm. Also a stretch (huh huh huh), but I’ll allow it. You do you, queen.

ETA: Goshdarnit, someone beat me to it. I should’ve scrolled down, but the allure of posting about butt jokes was too tempting.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stef Schrader
Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Toyota had an obsession with Crowns, since that was their first successful automotive product. They followed up with the Tiara and the Corona, while Celica and Corolla continued the theme if you look up the rather obscure definitions, whereas “Camry” is an internationalized version of kanmuri – which means “crown” in Japanese. Cresta and Cressida also have a vaguely regal theme.

They also favor model names that begin with a “C” (Corsa, Curren, Caldina, Carina, Century, Celsior, Chaser, Cynos). Not sure how much sense this all makes, but that’s their internal reasoning.

0l0id
0l0id
1 month ago

lest we forget, The crown jewel of this subject matter: Mazda Laputa!

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

The General Lee is also a car name you couldn’t use anymore today

Viking Longcar
Viking Longcar
1 month ago

Toyota Taco(ma)
…still waiting for my Dodge / Dorito crossover branding

Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
1 month ago
Reply to  Viking Longcar

Also from Toyota: The TRD, which is supposed to mean extra off – road bits..
Someone pointed out that if the letter ‘U’ is added, the truck goes from being special to just being a turd. Now I can’t unsee it

Clupea Hangoverus
Clupea Hangoverus
1 month ago

Ora Funky Cat? Apparently it was already changed to Ora 03…

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago

It’s a word about curiosity, and discovering new things!

Spoken like someone arguing for butt stuff. ARE you an alien????

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

I like cars that are named after cool places I’d like to visit:
Torino
Seville
Granada
Montreal
Monterey
Monte Carlo
Riviera
Rio
Sunny California
Tiburon
BelAir
Park Lane
Baja
Sapporo

What I do not like are cars named after places I really don’t care about visiting:
Tucson
Tacoma
Toledo
Dakota
Yukon
Montclair

Oddly – Where are the cars named after places in the Caribbean, Far East, Africa or Middle East that are great to visit?
Cairo
Morocco
Mozambique
Seychelles
Madagascar
Bali
Jakarta
Maldives
Fiji
Samoa
Bonaire
Bahama

InvivnI
InvivnI
1 month ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Frankly, I’m surprised there isn’t already something like a Chevy Bonaire from the ’50s – great name!

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
1 month ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

You don’t want a Toyota pickup that smells like a paper mill? Clearly you do not understand marketing.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Tacoma always makes me chuckle. “The Aroma from Tacoma” was the unavoidable paper mill stench that would always assault your nose when you drove through that town. I think it’s been improved or mitigated somewhat since then, but Toyota came out with that truck name when the aroma was at its stinkiest peak. Did no one visit the city they were picking as a namesake?????

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

How about a Chrysler Columbine?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Yes but the action happened after the car. Just bad luck like Aids weight loss candy.

I drive a boring SUV
I drive a boring SUV
1 month ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I’ve always thought that some of the names of the Free Cities from Game of Thrones would make for great model names:

Volantis
Braavos
Pentos
Qohor

The Schrat
The Schrat
1 month ago

I was honestly surprised to see Dodge resurrect the scat pack.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago
Reply to  The Schrat

oh my gosh, for REAL

That’s a poop joke waiting for me to tell it…repeatedly……to everyone who is tired of me talking about the poopy poopy poop pack. Poop.

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