Type to search

Are These the Worst Car Names Ever?

The weird, the offensive, the downright absurd; these just might be the worst car names of all time.

A Car By Any Other Name…

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.

Volkswagen Thing

Volkswagen Thing - media.vw.com
Volkswagen Thing - media.vw.com

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.

AMC Gremlin

1974 AMC Gremlin - carsforsale.com
1974 AMC Gremlin - carsforsale.com

The last thing you should be naming a car after is a small green monster whose favorite pass time is destroying mechanical equipment, but here’s the AMC Gremlin.

Pontiac Fiero

1987 Pontiac Fiero - carsforsale.com
1987 Pontiac Fiero - carsforsale.com

Though I’m sure Pontiac didn’t know it at the time, but the Fiero’s fiery name would end up being a little too spot on when the car became notorious for catching on fire.

Chevrolet Celebrity

1987 Chevrolet Celebrity - carsforsale.com
1987 Chevrolet Celebrity - carsforsale.com

A case of wishful thinking, the budget-friendly Chevy Celebrity was never going to be driven by anyone remotely famous.

Volkswagen Tiguan

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan - media.vw.com
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan - media.vw.com

The name Tiguan is a portmanteau of tiger and iguana. Which, now that I think about it, is actually awesome and should be on the best car names list instead.

Ferrari LaFerrari (Plus Renault Le Car)

2015 Ferrari LaFerrari - carsforsale.com
2015 Ferrari LaFerrari - carsforsale.com

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.

Honda Life Dunk

2000 Honda Life Dunk - honda.co.jp
2000 Honda Life Dunk - honda.co.jp

The first of many kei car entries on this list, the Honda Life Dunk is a charming little hatchback that definitely won’t ruin your life. At least, I don’t think it will.

Geely Rural Nanny

Geely PU Rural Nanny - @bggluckman on Twitter
Geely PU Rural Nanny - @bggluckman on Twitter

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.

Ford Granada

1978 Ford Granada - carsforsale.com
1978 Ford Granada - carsforsale.com

There are good reasons not to name your car after explosives, but Ford missed the memo with the Granada. Good thing the car had been discontinued in 1982, just a year before the US invaded the small Caribbean country of the same name in 1983.

Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Guts

2013 Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Guts - mitsubishi-fuso.com
2013 Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Guts - mitsubishi-fuso.com

A variant of the Mitsubishi Fuso Canter, the Canter Guts took a weird name and made it infinitely weirder.

Studebaker Dictator

1935 Studebaker Dictator - carsforsale.com
1935 Studebaker Dictator - carsforsale.com

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.

Honda Joy Machine

1999 Honda HR-V Joy Machine - honda.co.jp
1999 Honda HR-V Joy Machine - honda.co.jp

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.

Mitsubishi Minica Lettuce

Mitsubishi Minica Lettuce - nv850hd3 on Youtube
Mitsubishi Minica Lettuce - nv850hd3 on Youtube

Another Mitsubishi kei car, another odd name. This time Mitsubishi went with Minica Lettuce for reasons they defy explanation.

Honda Vamos Hobio Travel Dog

2008 Vamos Hobio Travel Dog - honda.co.jp
2008 Vamos Hobio Travel Dog - honda.co.jp

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.

Peugeot Bipper Tepee

2008 Peugot Bipper Tepee - stellantis.com
2008 Peugot Bipper Tepee - stellantis.com

The Peugeot Bipper Tepee may sound silly, but it’s actually a no nonsense, super practical hatchback with sliding rear doors.

Mitsubishi Mini Active Urban Sandal

1995 Mitsubishi Mini Active Urban Sandal - John Lloyd on Flickr
1995 Mitsubishi Mini Active Urban Sandal - John Lloyd on Flickr

No, the Mini Active Urban Sandal is not footwear, it’s another kei car from Mitsubishi.

Honda That’s

2006 Honda That's - honda.co.jp
2006 Honda That's - honda.co.jp

Honda could have at least used an ellipsis when they named the That’s….

Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard

1998 Isuzu Mystery Utility Wizard - HubNut on Youtube
1998 Isuzu Mystery Utility Wizard - HubNut on Youtube

Like the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard is actually a super cool name and definitely belongs on the the best car names list as well.

Ford Probe

1992 Ford Probe - carsforsale.com
1992 Ford Probe - carsforsale.com

If you thought the Ford Probe was awkward and uncomfortable, try sitting in the back seat.

Nissan Moco

2011 Nissan Moco - nissannews.com
2011 Nissan Moco - nissannews.com

This Nissan kei car shares its name with the Spanish word for booger, but we wouldn’t pick it for the worst car name ever. #dadjokes

Unintentional International Double Entendres 

1979 Ford Pinto - carsforsale.com
1979 Ford Pinto - carsforsale.com

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.

Related Pop Culture Articles

Cool Car Find: Studebaker Avanti

Do You Know These Cars From The Office?

10 Weird Facts You Didn’t Know About Ford

Tags:
Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

  • 1

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share
Tweet
Pin