The weird, the offensive, the downright absurd; these just might be the worst car names of all time.
Despite Shakespeare’s comments on the essence of a rose being transcendent of word we use for it, choosing the right name for a car can be make or break when it comes to marketing. For every Ford Mustang there’s a Chevy Citation. Below are just some of the many naming fails from automotive history. Are they the absolute worst ever? We’ll let you decide.
The Volkswagen Type 181 began life as a military transport in WWII, with the nickname the Kübelwagen, or “tub car,” because it was literally a steel tub of a car. In its civilian adaptation it was the called the Kurierwagen in Germany, the Safari in Mexico, the Trekker in the U.K., and the Pescaccia in Italy. In the US, the Type 181 was marketed as The Thing. With absolutely no relation to the Fantastic Four character, we have to assume VW had just run out of cool names that week.
For the ultimate Ferrari the company naturally went with LaFerrari which translates to “the Ferrari.” It doesn’t get more definitive than that or lazy, especially considering Renault had already named one of their hatchbacks Le Car. Then again, it worked for New York, New York and Bond, James Bond so maybe Ferrari LaFerrari not so terrible after all.
A mini-truck produced in China, the Geely Rural Nanny is one comma away from being a great title for slow moving yet charming BBC drama.
Studebaker had intended the Dictator’s name to denote “dictating the standard” of all other cars. But as the 1920s gave way to the 1930s, the name became less and less palatable with the rise authoritarianism.
On face value, a name like the Honda HR-V Joy Machine is fitting for a cute kei crossover, just so long as you don’t read too much into it. We eventually received the HR-V in the states, but I guess it wasn’t a “joyful machine” anymore.
Another Mitsubishi kei car, another odd name. This time Mitsubishi went with Minica Lettuce for reasons they defy explanation.
And you thought Subaru liked dogs. Honda Vamos Hibio microvan has a variant that requires you either own or purchase a dog to travel with you. Really, read the fine print.
The Peugeot Bipper Tepee may sound silly, but it’s actually a no nonsense, super practical hatchback with sliding rear doors.
There are also a lot, I mean a lot, of car names that ended up being unintentionally vulgar once they arrived in other markets. Since this is a family website, we’ll leave out the translations for the Ford Pinto in Brazilian slag, the Honda Fitta in Swedish, the Mitsubishi Pajero or Mazda Laputa in Spanish, or the Buick LaCrosse in Quebecois French. A lesson for all car makers, when targeting a foreign market, do your market testing, ask around, heck, try out your prospective car names on middle school kids and see if they giggle.