Worst Car Names Ever

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Naming cars, like naming kids, sometimes comes out all wrong. Striving to be cr8tive, some parents cripple their progeny with appellations guaranteed to result in a lifetime of abuse.

It’s the same with cars – and the effect can be just as crippling. Check it out:

* Ford Probe –

In a single stroke, Ford managed to alienate half the potential buyers of this otherwise not-bad 1990s-era two-plus-two sports coupe. The unfortunate connotations bothered many women in the same way that hearing that banjo theme from “Deliverance” tends to put most men on edge. Not one of Ford’s better ideas.

* Diahatsu Charade –

It’s not really a car; it’s just pretending! This was one of those econo-boxes that was not merely humiliating to drive, it embarrassed its owner everytime its name was uttered in pubic. “I drive a Charade.” Might as well shout, “I regularly attend Star Trek conventions dressed as a Klingon!” (See also: Ford Aspire.)

* Pontiac Aztek –

The name’s not even spelled correctly. It’s Aztec, you asshats!  And it didn’t help matters that the vehicle itself resembled a dumpster – though that’s where the idea for this abomination belonged in the first place. 

* Mazda Protege –

Someday, it hopes to be a car…  Sort of like Robin looks up to the big guy in tights and a speedo.

* Toyota Yaris –

This name sounds like the noise you’d hear issuing from the gullet of an exotic water bird choking on a herring. Or maybe it’s a small animal? (My Yaris had an accident on the carpet this morning… .)

* Geo Prizm –

It doesn’t separate light waves, just you from your cash. And your dignity. At least this thinly disguised, rebadged Toyota Corolla sold by Chevrolet was an ok car under its goofy nameplate.

* Nissan Altima –

A made-up word that attempts to evoke positive associations – height/achievement, apparently . (See also: Subaru Justy, Toyota Camry, Olds Alero, Chevy Lumina, etc.)

* Dodge Swinger –

You’ll also find ads for these on the back pages of porno magazines. STDs, anyone?

* AMC Gremlin –

Do you really want to own a car named after endless annoying small problems that are difficult to fix? Courtesy of the same folks who brought you the Pacer.

* Mercury Mystique –

AKA, the “mistake.” (A Mercury executive made just that slip-up at one of the press introductions for this car.) The third or fourth attempt by Ford to build a “world car” that not even the U.S. was much interested in.

Throw it in the Woods?

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34 COMMENTS

  1. I remember when Toyota was Toyopet and I still call them that in recognition of the heritage.
    My favorite of all time is a motorcycle, the Tohatsu Runpet. You would think that some decent guy in the USA would pull the Tohatsu folks aside and advise on a different name.
    Bob Hansen of a modest bike dealership here lead Honda into getting a good start on their cars. Bob had some uproariously funny stories. I miss him, and he was a very nice guy. I just wish that I hadn’t bought a pile of BSAs from his back room.

  2. Since you called out the Camry: apparently, that’s a corruption of “kanmuri”, which is a Japanese word for “crown” (which is confusing as, to the best of my knowledge, Toyota also has/had a car outright called the Crown).

    I’m more interested in “Corolla”; what does that even mean?

  3. Chevrolet Captiva- when they came up with this one, they also considered the Arresta, the Tortura, the Solitaria, the Perpwalka, the Penetentia, the Centenza, the Priznerra, and the Parola.
    I thought you were going to mention the Chevy Nova.

  4. Clearly the Ford Edsel belongs on there. Wtf is an edsel lol. plus it may be one of the oddest / ugliest cars ever built besides the point I suppose.

  5. Just stumbled on this today. Sorry for the delay. But you had an omission, in my opinion. The last thing any of us car guys wanted was Crossfire! We even used to look under the hoods in the total dark to make sure it wasn’t happening. Back when plug wires were actually visible and insulated with non-silicon rubber.

  6. Yes, but it’s a different species of ugly!

    And I’ll say this in defense of the Aztek: It wasn’t bad in terms of functionality. If you could get past the looks (and the abuse you’d suffer from friends/family) the Aztek made for a versatile family-mobile or recreation vehicle. It could be equipped with an “outdoor package” (tent that fit to the rear gate) and other stuff like that. It had a decent drivetrain and so on.

    The Prius, on the other hand, is nothing more than a way for the stupid to waste money and the self-righteous to tout their “green” credentials. Want to save on fuel costs? Buy a $12k 40 mpg economy car like the ’11 Ford Fiesta. You’ve now got an extra $10k in savings to pay for gas for the next 5-8 years. Buy a used economy car for under $10k and it will take a decade or more to break even if you got a Prius instead. I won’t even get into the “green” issue… other than to note that it produces a lot of C02 to build a new car (vs. a used/already-built economy car) and electricity is produced mostly by coal and oil-fired utility plants….

    • The Prius is an ANNOYING car, sought by ANNOYING folks that want to “virtue-signal” their “Ecological Consciousness”, never mind that the “carbon footprint” is anything they should be proud of! Had Toyota built a diesel-electric hybrid, they might have done something USEFUL and the overall performance and fuel economy would have been superior.

      Furthermore, I see more on-road stupidity committed by drivers of these Prii (Plural of Prius?) than any other make/model, period. Mostly by clueless little girls whom needed more instructor time behind the wheel, most not as attractive as Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz from “Clueless”, or by goofy old dingbats whose behind-the-wheel skills, assuming they once had anyway, are as withered as their ugly pusses.

      • Preach it, Doug!

        I agree with every observation. The Prius isn’t merely a hybrid. It makes a Big Deal out of the fact that it is. To signal its virtue – or rather, that of its owner.

        It’s all so sick, twisted and infuriating. Imagine a diesel-powered Corolla. For $18k. That averaged 65 MPG. Which it could easily do.

        700 miles on a tank. Five minutes to refuel.

        Emissions less than those (in the aggregate) of a Virtue Signaling 55 MPG hybrid.

        It makes my teeth ache.

      • Hey Doug,

        I assumed responsibility for my mom’s Prius when she could no longer drive. It is awful! It beeps loudly at you when in reverse but, and this amazes most people, you can’t hear it from outside of the car. So, it’s not to alert others that you’re backing up, but to alert yourself that you’re backing up! It’s so annoying that I back up faster than I otherwise would, just to shut the fucking thing up. In addition, visibility is terrible. It is much worse than my pick-up with a camper-shell.

        Cheers,
        Jeremy

        • Anyone that NEEDS an audio signal to know if they’re backing up shouldn’t be behind the wheel, hell, they shouldn’t even be allowed to “ride shotgun”, but instead, be in a car seat, in the back, with their wrists and ankles strapped in, and a leg chain.

          When that SJW-mobile that you inherited is ready for the junk heap (many say it was the moment it left the showroom floor), instead of taking it to “Pick and Pull” (assuming they’ll take a hybrid, I’ve heard that most auto salvage yards won’t have them), why not just donate it to the local high school for a sledge hammer fest, at $2 a “whack”?

          • Hi Doug,

            Yep, the Pious is a virtue signaling abomination. The only reason I got it is because someone slammed into my wife’s, parked, trusty 1996 Prizm. It’s one supposed virtue is good gas mileage. But, even that pales compared to my friend’s 1993 Civic hatchback with the V-tech engine. Sure, it’s a technological marvel, transition between EV and gas mode is barely noticeable. But, it’s still a soulless POS.

            Cheers,
            Jeremy

    • An Aztek may be not so bad. If the frame doesn’t rot out the body will still have its original charm until the frame sags. There are far worse cars out there such as any Maserati from the eighties.
      How about any Jaguar after the E type?

  7. I think the Prius is just as ugly as the Aztek. They both have the same basic shape. I rather ride a mule then drive a Prius or Aztek…LOL

    • Prius is ugly. I think more Australians will go for the Hybrid Camry over the Prius. Hybrid Camry now built here in Oz.

      Neither get the economy of an European diesel! or dare I say some of the Korean diesels

    • Pardon if this is insensitive but I always thought the prius sounded like a part of one’s anatomy:
      “I have bad news… it’s your prius. We will have to operate immediately.”

    • “I rather ride a mule then drive a Prius or Aztek…LOL”

      How many years would the Mustang have lasted if they named it the Mule?

      What puzzles me is why they didn’t keep the Falcon name. Sure, a mustang is a fast and wild horse, but as we entered the space age, I’m surprised automakers didn’t look more towards the sky for car names.

      Hell, Ford had the Mercury division with Comet and Meteor. They had the Galaxie.

      Chevy screwed the pooch (as far as names go) with the exploding planet that means “not going” in Spanish.

      There were the fish cars, Barracuda, Marlin, and Stingray. All the Navy boys had them.

      But after Harley Earl and the tail fins went away (the fatwas came shortly after) we got the front wheel drive Toronado with the Rocket V8.

      It’s been downhill ever since.

    • I went to a mounted field trial one time in south Tennessee. There was a trainer aide that had a mule that would jump up on the back of his paintless pickup truck on a minor voice command. The mule had as much bird sense as the best dogs and was completely unguided. You could have gone anywhere without a bridle.
      But I am prejudiced as our failure of a football team was the Alamo Heights Mules.
      So lay off of the mules.

  8. Not to mention the Aztek still wins the award for the most butt-ugly car ever built. What about the Prius? Everytime I hear that name I think of what could happen to a guy if they take too much viagra.

    • It was foul! I remember test-driving new ones in the early 2000s. The inside was even worse than the outside. I think the Aztek helped put the final nails in Pontiac’s coffin. The brand used to be classy; it sold upscale sport-performance cars. That AssTek was neither classy nor sporty. It took a huge steaming dump on Pontiac’s previous great history.

      The Prius .. it’s not even a car, really!

        • Hi T,

          I owned a Thing once; it had a functional handsomeness about it – like an SKS rifle. The Aztec was just deformed – like those poor Thalidomide babies…

          • You’re probably aware that the VW “Thing” is nothing more than the civilian version of the “Kubelwagen” of which 50,000 literally soldiered on for the Wehrmacht in WWII.

            The US Army took a few captured examples to the Proving Grounds at Aberdeen, MD in 1943. Though it was considered inferior to the Bantam-designed Jeep (of which Ford and Willys made hundreds of thousands), the Army noted that its flat bottom helped it glide over muddy roads where a Jeep would get stuck, and it was more stable on turns (e.g., less prone to roll overs, which probably killed as many GIs as did the Germans in any given week).

    • Any male that drives one, IMO, you could drown in Viagra and he’d still not be suitable to father offspring.

      • “Pious” will do, to lampoon their owner’s annoying virtue-signaling, but any insult to this insult to automotive technology is helpful.

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