By on May 10, 2013

monte

Naming a car is tricky business. We know this because after years of challenging design work, engineering efforts, focus groups, and meetings that probably involved colorful PowerPoint presentations, Subaru named its first midsize SUV “B9 Tribeca.” Speaking of which: designing a car is tricky business.

While some car names are bad, others just don’t fit. Allow me to share with you some of the car names I think are least appropriate for their vehicles. As always, feel free to suggest your own.

Chevrolet Malibu

malibu

When the Chevy Malibu first came out, its name was highly appropriate, largely because it was cool. Also, back in the ‘60s, Malibu wasn’t the high-dollar celebrity retreat of today, but rather a sleepy surf town so far from LA that visitors probably thought: Who the hell would live all the way up there? This is documented by a website I visited called “Malibu Complete,” which says the most notable Malibu business that opened in 1968 was a Shell gas station on the Pacific Coast Highway.

But while Malibu’s star continues to rise, the Chevrolet Malibu suffered a tremendous fall from grace, almost in direct inverse proportion. These days, the only Malibus you’ll find in Malibu are tourists in rentals from LAX who drive through the town thinking: I wish I could live all the way up here!

Chevrolet Monte Carlo

mc

I’ve been to Monte Carlo. And when I say that, what I really mean is: I dragged my girlfriend to Monte Carlo several times, and once ran from a restaurant as we were eating to photograph a passing Ferrari F40. By this point, I had completely stopped photographing other Ferrari models, since they’re the Monaco equivalent of the Nissan Altima. (The Porsche 911, meanwhile, is the Monaco Toyota Camry.)

While exotic cars are common in Monte Carlo, the most exotic of all would be the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. That’s because no one in Monaco would ever drive one. Fortunately, they wouldn’t have the chance, since the Monte Carlo would never fit down the narrow roads required to enter the world’s wealthiest nation.

Chrysler Aspen

aspen

Aspen, Colorado, is home to precisely one type of vehicle: the Range Rover. Admittedly, there are one or two others. For example, some people have Land Rover Defenders. And the police force is saddled with the lowly Volvo XC90. (Apparently, they’ve switched to the Highlander Hybrid. Still, it’s no Panther.) Regardless, no one drives the Chrysler Aspen, which – for those of you who have forgotten – is a Dodge Durango twin with a slightly nicer interior. Also, chrome wheels. Those aren’t acceptable in Aspen either.

Dodge Intrepid

intrepid

“Intrepid” is defined by Webster’s as “fearless” and “adventurous.” Meanwhile, “journalist” is defined as “someone who still thinks quoting Webster’s is a clever opening sentence.”

For all its merits (and I will remember one – just give me a few hours), the Intrepid wasn’t fearless or adventurous. Sure, maybe it was neat when it came out because it wasn’t styled like an IKEA dresser, as the Dodge Dynasty had been. Also, it had a center-mounted backup light that illuminated the word “Intrepid” when in reverse. But the Intrepid wasn’t fearless or adventurous, unlike its drivers, who never knew exactly what problem was going to crop up next.

Hyundai Excel

excel

The Excel’s inclusion on this list is obvious to anyone who ever drove one: it didn’t excel at anything, except possibly being terrible. Performance is an obvious issue, since it used a 68-horsepower four-cylinder mated to an available three-speed automatic. It was also rather unreliable, which later forced Hyundai to change its reputation by offering extremely long warranties. But most importantly, it was just really ugly.

Mercury Monterey

monterey

Monterey, California, is a tremendously expensive northern California town that commands unbelievably high property values despite being covered, year-round, in dense fog. Actually, fog isn’t the only weather in Monterey: sometimes, it gives way to a slight drizzle. Really, it’s a beautiful place to spend time.

Sensing this, Mercury decided to name a rather awful minivan after the area. I assume this is because Ford had an edict requiring alliteration for model names, and Mercury had already wasted the similarly unsuitable Montego and Milan on dull sedans.

Nissan Rogue

rogue

Honda and Toyota invented the “tiny SUVs for women” segment with the CR-V and RAV4 respectively. Other models quickly joined the party, like the Ford Escape and Hyundai Tucson. Years later, Nissan came out with the Rogue, which used the exact same formula as the CR-V and RAV4. Rogue would’ve been a more appropriate name for the Juke, which is actually roguish since it looks like a fish that divers might discover when searching for an ancient shipwreck.

Pontiac Parisienne

parisienne

The Pontiac Parisienne started this whole article idea, on the theory that you could never actually drive one in Paris. Here’s why: Paris streets were laid out to accommodate people on bicycles and possibly the occasional Citroen 2CV, which may actually be smaller. A vehicle the size of the Parisienne probably never even crossed the minds of the initial city planners, whose planning method probably consisted of: “Put a street over there! And don’t make it go too far, or we’ll fall off the edge of the Earth!”

Beyond its size, the Parisienne is also way too uncool for Paris, a highly cultured city filled with beautiful artwork, impressive architecture, and lots of people who smoke. Even Americans weren’t having it, and Pontiac eventually renamed the Parisienne before dropping it altogether.

So, Best and Brightest: what other cars are totally unsuited for their names?

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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209 Comments on “The Name Doesn’t Fit The Car...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Toyota Tundra should be called Toyota Twing as there is no duelly option, nor a 5th wheel pulling diesel.

  • avatar
    FordRangerFTW

    I’ll go one step further. The Scion FR-S should be a Toyota. The BRAND doesn’t fit the car.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    “Tiny SUVs for women”?

    Gee Doug, no wonder TTAC doesn’t have any female commentators (does it?).

    Plus, your riff on Hyundai was unnecessary. Do you have some kind of belief that anything not built in America is crap?

    Is this what the TTAC editorial standards have been reduced to?

    • 0 avatar

      Haha. Yes, we are trying desperately to gain back the women we lost to the other car sites. Also, I assume you’re aware the Rogue actually has the highest percentage of female owners?

      I can only assume you’re trolling though, since you singled out the Hyundai and neglected the fact that virtually every other car on this list is American!

      • 0 avatar
        car_guy2010

        Well Hyundai has come a long way. Just saying.

        I hate SUVs no matter what size or shape they are.

        • 0 avatar

          But the comment wasn’t about how far they’ve come. It was about the Excel. I strongly suggest DRIVING an Excel it you believe I’m being unfair.

          • 0 avatar
            car_guy2010

            Well I drove a ’97 Accent.

            Does that count?

            Doesn’t matter. I find today’s Hyundai to be as bland as Toyota and Subaru.

          • 0 avatar
            mankyman

            The Excel was a bad ride. My sister bought the mitsubishi version (Precis) almost new in 1990 and within a couple of years half the interior had fallen off or disintegrated in a powderly plastic pile. The exterior had about half-rusted off in three years. I personally took it to it’s top speed of about 80-83 mph and was taking my life into my hands. You had to really plan to get it up to speed on a highway on-ramp, and it had this irritating “ding ding ding” sound when the key was in the off position. I wonder how many are still around. I haven’t seem one in at least 15 years.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            We had two Hyundais in Canada before the Excel – the Pony and Stellar. Cheap RWD, but game in a lop-sided grin sort of way.

            The first Excel upgrade was the Scoupe. One of my field engineers bought one to replace an ’85 Accord, which turned to red oxide despite a complete Honda paid for body job in ’89. It had huge mileage, maybe 110K, and the engine fell out on the ground in late 1990.

            Like he said, “I bought the Scoupe on my credit card, it was so cheap. How can it be any worse?”

            And it wasn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            I thought Hyundai did a great job with the ’87 Chevette tooling. Too bad they didn’t recognize the Chevette’s shortcomings and put them in the Excel.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            I got your back. I convinced a friend to buy a new Excel, and have regretted it these past 25 years. He always reminds me.

            It was a pure POS. They’ve come a long way, but as I’m car shopping (and got a sweet eye for the Santa Fe…) I can’t seem to shake his 1988 Excel…

          • 0 avatar

            @Dave M – that’s funny! I bet you are one of very few shoppers who remembers the Excel. BUT, I bet everyone who remembers shares your reticence on Hyundai, even 25 years later.

          • 0 avatar
            luvmyv8

            Try finding one that still moves under it’s own power….. or even try to find one, period.

          • 0 avatar
            YotaCarFan

            I owned an 87 Hyundai Excel. The 67-HP carburated engine made it terrifying to merge onto the freeway, especially when carrying its rated 5 adults. I remember mashing the pedal to the floor in 3rd gear (it was a 5-speed) while still on the curvy part of the on-ramp to get up speed, and keeping the pedal pinned all the way to the exit ramp 5 miles away, still trying to get up to the 55-mph speed limit. The interior plastics were crap. The steering and suspension resulted in the car and steering wheel violently shaking at speeds above 60mph on highways. Knobs and levers stopped working, plastic storage binnacles broke, etc. I take exception to the negative comment about the key reminder chime — the mechanical two-toned doorbell chime was the only remotely classy thing about the interior.

            I was surprised to see a late 80s Hyundai Excel go past me on the highway several weeks ago. It was a red hatchback, the body appeared to be in very good shape, and no smoke was coming out the exhaust. It was going about 60mph, and no, it was not being pulled by a tow truck. I tried to snap a picture, but couldn’t get my camera phone out in time.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            “The Excel’s inclusion on this list is obvious to anyone who ever drove one: it didn’t excel at anything, except possibly being terrible. Performance is an obvious issue, since it used a 68-horsepower four-cylinder mated to an available three-speed automatic.”

            And yet somehow Rodney King got his to allegedly go over 100 mph on the L.A. Freeway. Just sayin’.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          ………Well Hyundai has come a long way. Just saying.

          I hate SUVs no matter what size or shape they are…….

          Well, all the surviving brands have gotten much better, for those willing to at least look…just saying…

      • 0 avatar
        ezeolla

        My mom has leased 2

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        There are women on other car sites? On the site of course meaning not just in the pictures?

        The thing I most recall about the Rogue was that the series “Heroes”, as part of the incredibly steep slide they experienced when caught obviously unprepared for a second season, began doing the world’s most blatant Nissan product placement. Not only did a couple of characters begin driving one in every possible scene, they started constantly referring to it in badly written lines. It must have worked, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Geez, lighten up. Most small SUV/CUVs are purchased and driven by women and Hyundais were garbage for many years. Them’s the facts.

      • 0 avatar
        kjb911

        i still view them as garbage, my ex’s veloster is falling apart with 20k on the clock with a new front suspension being installed a week ago, terrible wear on the interior and electrical gremlins on the radio and headlights…meanwhile my focus with 40K driven hard still looks brand new and despite a few rattles that either myself or the dealer fixed, solid as a rock. Hyundai is getting better the problems in the Veloster are far less severe and dangerous than they were in my Tiburon

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I have no experience with Hyundai in general but my initial thought after seeing the Veloster for the first time was also “garbage”.

          • 0 avatar
            kjb911

            breakdownsone offers you a Tiburon SE V6….Run Away, my Fiero had less problems and breakdowns

        • 0 avatar
          azmtbkr81

          You have to admit that Hyundai has made significant progress since the bad old days.

          That being said I’d never spend my own money on one and if forced to choose I’d rather own a 5 year old Honda than a brand new Hyundai.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          The question I have is how great a Hyundai will be after 100K miles. Is it worth paying $8-9K for a 5-6 year old Sonata with 100K miles? How long is the real usable life?

          The corollary perhaps is how much of the destruction of the Hyundai is caused by Hyundai owners as opposed to the car…

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            More importantly, what’s the resale value on a Hyundai now? Used to be on TTAC, all Korean cars were disposable BICs.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          We test drove 2 Kias – Optima and Sportage, both were the high-end models with the 2.0l turbo. In terms of equipment, build quality and fun to drive, both were top-of-class compared to their Japanese, American and German competitors.

          Durability? Only time will tell, I’m certainly not qualified to judge.

          • 0 avatar
            Ltd783

            I have a family member who replaced a Lexus GS300 with a 2011 Sonata. Still loves the Sonata, all of it’s fancy features, and in over 60k miles all that it has required has been oil changes and one burnt out headlamp bulb.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    The 64 Malibu wasn’t exactly a style setter either.

    The Parisienne was the result of GM’s tendency to name their Canadian cars with local names. Pontiac used Quebec type names for some reason, even though none of the cars were made there. Parisienne, Laurentian, and Acadian are three that come to mind.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    Mercury Montego
    Ford Aerostar/Windstar/Freestar. Only the Previa has a justifiably cool name

    • 0 avatar
      walker42

      I always thought Previa was a cool name. A friend had one and we called it the Prevster. His Tercel was called the Tershit, wasn’t everyone’s? Toyota come to think of it probably had the best pet names, Celica, Corolla, Camry all sound good. In fact I heard “Camry” was selected because it sounded like “my car” to the Japanese ear.

      They had the best jingle too oh what a feeling. Major motion over at Nissan was good too. Can’t remember any of the Big3′s.

      • 0 avatar
        rolladan

        I have a previa and if I don’t include Toyota when I’m googling something I end up with a bunch of pics and listings for placenta previa….. Lemme tell you that is just unpleasant

      • 0 avatar
        tienbac2005

        Camry actually sounded like the Japanese word for ‘crown’. “my car” is just Camry scrambled up.

        • 0 avatar
          BourbonBob

          I use my ‘camry’ to take lots of pictures! Previa sounds like medication to me. Ford’s Probe (ouch!) and Escort come to mind? Anyone get Escort service when their car needs repair?

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        “The only way to travel… is Cadillac Style”

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Big three is easy: Chevy’s “First Chevy of the 80s” was great, even though the car was not. Ford’s “If you could see tomorrow, the way it looks to us today” was also a great kick off to the back 9 of the Malaise Era. Chrysler had….uh…well the “Rapid Transit System” was awesome even if it was not a jingle.

        Go way back and Datsun’s jingle of “Its a long way to empty, in a Datsun” was perfect for the horrible times that were on the way. The Malaise Era was really bad; so bad that when one cries that a Hyundai is a POS, well…

      • 0 avatar
        ccode81

        Venza means toilet seat in Japanese.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    I was working on site at (Dumbler)Chrysler when the Aspen was announced. I quipped that it should have the Slant Six as the base engine.

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      A friend of mine was there at the time of the merger. Shortly afterward, he told me a joke going around that (may have been) apocryphal:

      During a press conference a reporter askes Jurgen Schrempp : “Now that the merger is complete, how do you pronounce the name? Is it DAIM-LER Chrysler or DIME-LER Chrysler?”

      Schrempp pulls down his half glasses, takes a sip of water, and answers in a cold, Germanic voice:

      “DIME-LER. And the Chrysler is silent”

      • 0 avatar
        rpol35

        I’d have to imagine Chrysler was the biggest, most silent $36 BB bite of “DIME-LER’s” arse that they have ever experienced!

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          Good one! On principle, and due to being brought up in the UK until the age of 11, where a proper Daimler was pronounced as Dame-ler, and Paris had no silent “s”, I insist on this pronunciation! Just to be annoying.

          Besides, the British Daimler company had two V8s for the 1960 model year, well before the German company, whose name they licensed back in the 1890s. Good engines, too – hemi V8s. We always called the German chariots Mercedes Benz. Don’t think Benz made Daimlers after their merger, while Daimlers were made in the UK until Ford bought Jaguar in 1990.

          So “Dame-ler” it is.

        • 0 avatar
          SoCalMikester

          At least Chrysler got the tech needed to make the 300… that they will keep milking

  • avatar
    rpm1200

    “Pontiac eventually renamed the Parisienne before dropping it altogether”

    I’m surprised that you did not note that they renamed it to the equally inappropriate “Safari”.

    • 0 avatar

      …sold alongside a GMC “minivan” which ALSO inappropriately used the name!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        My mother had an ’84 GMC “minivan”, it broke an axle (or somesuch my mother can’t remember) and nearly killed my infant self and her in 1985. A new Dodge Caravan followed not long after and except your typical Chrysler build quality issues (and about five A/C repairs), it served well until 1996.

      • 0 avatar
        rpm1200

        That sounds like another article idea: manufacturers that have multiple, different models for sale that share the same name… you could call it “The Lumina Syndrome”.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’m surprised that you did not note that they renamed it to the equally inappropriate “Safari”.

      The name change was completely appropriate. Let me tell you I’ve had a few pretty good safaris in a wood paneled Safari wagon.

  • avatar
    TorontoSkeptic

    Kia Soul. It’s one thing to make a car like that and name it the Cube. It’s pretty bold to name it the Soul.

    The Parisienne is pretty awesome, though.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    This is the first Monte Carlo I saw as a child:

  • avatar
    mkirk

    This is all fine, but now you know why makers adorn their models with alphabet soup rather than names so quityourbitchin!

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      The Lincoln Quityourbitchin – that has a nicer ring to it than MKZ.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Shhhhh knock it off of there going to rename Zephyr the “Lincoln Q” next.

        • 0 avatar
          Tosh

          Lincoln MKQ? The letter ‘Q’ is very hot right now according to Infiniti…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ut oh now it will happen if Infiniti is doing it… coming soon the Lincoln MK Question Mark, that’s right its a car, its a truck, its an SUV, wagon, ATV and boat all rolled into one… MKQ, its whatever you want it to be. Coming soon from the Lincoln Imperial Automobile Motor Coachworks of Dearborn, not Detriot, MI inc. ltd.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Hearse 28, you forgot hearse.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I did, and also minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        Windy

        It is one thing for a company like M-Benz to use numbers and short letter combos as model identifiers (did They ever use model names? All I can think of is the Pullman 600 series the 300SL was never called the Gullwing officially when it was offered for sale… The Unimog was from their truck unit….) but for company like Lincoln that had a tradition of model names to switch to nonsense combinations of a few letters smells of desperation rather than a clever marketing move….

        Other odd car names? How about the King Midget?

  • avatar
    dts187

    Bad names:
    Hyundai Veloster. Too slow for the name.

    Ford Fiesta. Nobody wants to party with the guy who drives one.

    Plymouth Acclaim. Nobody ever enthusiastically announced they drove one. It was more than likely a deep dark secret that haunts former owners to this day.

    Good name:
    Dodge Magnum. Long and wide just like other things that have to be covered with magnums.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Good names:
      Ford Aspire. Drive one, and you’ll aspire to something else.

      Plymouth Duster. A Sundance trim package for maids.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Oh. I thought the Aspire was named that because it aspires to be a car.

        • 0 avatar

          Agreed. And the Subaru Justy: Just Enough body panels not to be mistaken for a go-cart.

          Toyota Yaris: I always hear a pirate saying “Yar-is a very small car.”

          Also, I was always struck that a Hyundai Accent is only an Id away from being an accident…not sure whether that’s Freudian.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      The original Fiesta was cheap, unpretentious, and a lot of fun. My kind of party. Haven’t driven the latest iteration.

    • 0 avatar
      Jason_in_SD

      The only guy in my circle of friends first year of college who had a car had a Fiesta. The name was most definitely appropriate.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I had a college friend who had a Fiesta. Don’t recall the year of the car, but in 1982 it broke down coming back from a ski trip. We saw the cat glowing bright red. We pushed this thing for a couple of miles and coasted for another one before he tried to restart it. Which it did. Felt like partying

  • avatar

    Everything I know about naming cars I learned from Marianne Moore:

    http://planetpeschel.com/wp/2008/12/marianne-moore-names-a-car-1955/

    The worst car name is ‘Achieva’ though, to its credit, the name is no more or less appealing than the automobile itself.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The last few generations of Chevrolet Monte Carlos were four inches thinner than the last couple generations of entry level Ferraris. Just saying…

    The Intrepid really was pretty daring when it was introduced. It was radically different and attempted to create a bold new American design language in a period of unsuccessfully emulating imports. All that held it back was Chrysler’s reputation, which saved hundreds of thousands of logical people from the heartache of ownership.

    The Excel was designed by Ital Design’s Giorgetto Giugiaro. It wasn’t ugly, just completely generic. But I’m talking about its looks. What killed it was that it was a complete piece of Obama voter. I fully expect someone to show up with their 300,000 mile, trouble free ownership experience because they knew how to maintain alternator windings, unlike every other lazy American, but I didn’t know anyone like that during the 18 months it took a few hundred thousand Excel’s to disappear from our roads.

    How about cars with perfectly suited names? I nominate the one that was named for the merging of joke and puke.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re going to factually rebut each and every one of Doug’s jokes, that takes the fun out of reading his stuff, though I did say to myself that there hasn’t been a Monte Carlo made that’s as wide as a Testarossa.

      As for the Juke, don’t you be dissin’ Little Walter.

    • 0 avatar

      I was actually thinking about length! The Monte Carlo is FAR longer than anything you see in Monaco on a daily basis. Even longer than the outgoing Range Rover…

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang

    Oh goodness… how long can a list get?

    Safari
    Sunfire
    Sundance
    Omni
    Horizon
    Monaco
    LeMans (last gen Pontiac)
    Fairlady
    Eldorado
    Zephyr
    Rodeo
    Oasis
    Impulse
    Starlet
    Topaz

    and of course the musical based names…

    Stanza
    Tempo
    Sonata
    Rondo
    Prelude
    Fiat Bravo
    Austin Allegro
    Daihatsu Applause

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    The Porsche Boxster, Cayman, Panamera and Cayenne. Porsches are numbers dammit!

  • avatar
    jd418197

    Acura Vigor – not much vigor in those who drove them (as you know, Doug, based on your “other site” writings). As for appropriately-named, the Acura Legend. And Ford Probe.

    • 0 avatar
      rolladan

      If you’re not careful accentuating the v in vigor you get a lot of dirty looks ordering parts in the hood….

    • 0 avatar

      The Legend was no legend, and yes, the Vigor was hardly vigorous. Plus, it had frameless windows.

      What’s so bad about Probe?!

      • 0 avatar
        jd418197

        Nothing wrong with the probe at all – I think it’s appropriately named, as it looks like well, a probe. And with all due respect, the Legend was and is most certainly a legend. According to me, based on my criteria.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Actually, the Legend was a legend. After CBS news destroyed the Audi 5000 my dad had two Legends. The 5000 had been the best-selling foreign premium model and the Legend assumed that position – quite a feat for a new brand and model.

        The Legend was a much better built car, more powerful and better handling. Acura’s success w/ the Legend against the Europeans was so great that Toyota and Nissan created their own premium brands

        The Legend name was so highly regarded and powerful that it eclipsed the Acura brand. People referred to Legends, not Acuras. Some marketing gurus corrected that and Acura has never recovered.

        The Mercury Mystique, a rebadge of the Contour’s rebadge of the Mondeo, was always a Mercury Mistake.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    So, I had a bit of an epiphany reading this.
    Parisienne – pronounced “pah-reeh-shyn” as one would describe someone who lives in Paris.
    Until today I always though it was: “Pah-rih-seen” as one would read it in no circumstances outside of a group that refused to acknowledge France as a thing.

    I’ll add Ford Aspire – since you will only aspire to have a better car than the Ford Aspire.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I’d think that quite a few Mercury Montereys were seen in Monterey when the name first debuted in the early 1950′s.

    Some car names are just plain stupid. Veloster: Hey, Sven, ve can’t find the car in the parking lot. I think Veloster. Veloster, velocipede….

    Excel: I think that was named after software rather than for any feeling that it might actually excel at anything.

    Intrepid: Maybe that was a riff on Valiant, I don’t know. It at least gives the impression that Chrysler initially had high hopes for the thing.

    Two-car families…you could have a Shadow and a Prism. A Lancer and a Probe. A Tucson and a Tacoma. The mind boggles….

  • avatar
    photog02

    Suzuki Esteem. Guaranteed to lower yours, both in your eyes and in the eyes of your peers.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Actually the Monterey (and Freestar) weren’t that awful. They compared well to their contemporary Chrysler minivans, the notable exception being the lack of blue exhaust fumes. We have a 2005 that’s about to surpass 130,000 miles with only basic maintenance needed since new. A recall took care of the torque convertor output shaft, which could have been a disaster, but still…

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Just mix some oil in with the gas and you’re there.

    • 0 avatar

      I just couldn’t get over the floor-mounted parking brake. There’s basically a hole in the floor for this thing.

      I actually find the vans to be rather handsome, though.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        That’s a carry-over from the Windstar which had the same thing.

        Did they fix the head gasket issues from the 3.8 Essex at some point with the bigger engines they put in the Freestar?

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Did they fix the head gasket issues from the 3.8 Essex at some point with the bigger engines they put in the Freestar?”

          Yes, but they didn’t fix the various transmission woes including the aforementioned input shaft.

          Not to mention these vans tend to rust apart expediently. Over the past few years there were recalls for the rear beam axle, front engine cradle and now an investigation into the rear seat mounts.

          Windstars were the worst depreciating minivans since the Aerostar for good reason. Changing the name to Freestar didn’t help anything.

  • avatar
    PhilMills

    35 comments in already and nobody’s mentioned either the Suzuki Swift or the Suzuki Esteem?

    Edit: Photog02 got the Esteem already.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The Ford Expedition. Seriously… running to Wal*Mart is not an expedition. Try “Super-sized Grocery-Getter.”

    • 0 avatar
      PhilMills

      To that end, why is the “Excursion” Ford’s biggest vehicle? Do they name their SUVs in some inversely-proportional manner? Is the “Ford ShortWalkToTheFridge” the secret codename for thier Nimitz-class aircraft carrier project?

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        Prescient. The next-gen aircraft carrier is the Ford-class.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I’m looking forward to the Ford Jaunt diesel-electric freight locomotive and Ford Stroll container super-carrier.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Ford was thrilled when the Hummer came out because of the public perception shift from Ford making the most resource-wasting vehicle to GM taking the “honors”, at least in the eyes of the media.

          • 0 avatar
            markholli

            In defense of the Excursion, from my observation they were always driven by people with large families who also owned boats or horses.

            A car that is “resource-wasting” to one individual may be completely practical to another.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Indeed. At least GM was honest when naming its Suburban.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    As one who drove a 70 Cutlass Supreme in Naples Italy in the 90′s and drove the craptastic SEAT Malaga diesel that replaced said Cutlass to and around Paris I believe the later Parisienne pictured would fit on the streets of Paris. Parking would be tricky, and gas would break you, but it’d fit.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “As one who drove a 70 Cutlass Supreme in Naples Italy in the 90′s”

      My hero.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        LOL…I could really only drive it about 2 weeks out of the month. By then I had burned through my 400 Liter tax free gas ration and was paying Italian prices for gas for the remainder of the month. While hundred dollar dill ups arent so uncommon today back around 1996 they were painful especially when the price was paid in the inflated Lira of the day.

        The Cutlass did get jammed in a narrow alley once though but it drove out eventually. I did end up going smaller and smaller though culminating with an Autobianchi A112 until I got a couple BMWs and Alfas. Cars are a disposable comodity in Naples.

    • 0 avatar

      I observed this a couple of times, too. Once when I saw how people drive Hummer H1s and Suburbans in Tokyo, and another when seeing full-size Bimmers in Dublin (not Dublin, California). The driver has to be alert, even sharp, but it’s nothing impossible. For crying out loud they drive trucks in those streets too.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Dodge Rampage. It’s difficult to go rampaging with less than 100 horsepower.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    The Mercury Mystique has to be up there. There was none to be found.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I renamed these more appropriately as the Mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      kjb911

      Oldsmobile Silhouette: A more apt name would have been Olds Blob or Olds Vista-LLac

      Ford Contour: various usage of the word my favorite “In phonetics, contour describes speech sounds which behave as single segments, but which make an internal transition from one quality, place, or manner to another. These sounds may be tones, vowels, or consonants.” although maybe that makes a little sense as the European go-getter that no body bought since it was a pile of crap

      Chevy Beretta

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Worst names?
    - McLaren MP4-12-C

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I think the Aspen isn’t too terribly named as I doubt its intention was to convey a posh feel, its just a recycled Mopar name, such as Monterrey and Montego were recycled FoMoCo names. Heck the faux luxury SUV Aspen is more appropriately named than the 70s Aspen which was a compact car with incredibly poor build quality IIRC.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Sure, the Excel was horrible, but I actually like it’s looks. And I’m not the only one:
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/vellum-venom-1986-hyundai-excel/

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Chevy Celebrity! One of the most nondescript cars ever designed. (Mine was a great car, though).

    The AMC Marlin seems a bit goofy. A rather ungainly car named for a svelte fish.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I forgot the Ford Elite: a bloated coupe sold by the thousands in the mass market. But the name is aspirational…

    Appropriate name: Daihatsu Charade. Oh the humanity!

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    How about the Lincoln Aviator? I can’t figure out how a tarted up Explorer is even remotely related to airplanes or pilots.

  • avatar
    jjklongisland

    Uh hello, KIA SPORTAGE… Really…

    My favorite most edgy car name is the Dodge Demon. That didnt fit the car either…

  • avatar
    TR4

    Mercury Monarch

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Buick Century sorta fits, in the sense that your average beige or white Buick Century owner is pushing 100…

    The Geo Storm was a zippy and well handling small car, but it wasn’t exactly a storming success.

    The Chevrolet Sprint can’t sprint anywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The Buick Century name descends from the Buick’s first car able to reach 100 mph. In the United Kingdom they called cars that deliver 100 mph “doing the century,” and in I believe the 1930s one of the Buick’s executives was in the UK (it may have been Harley Earl) and on return suggested to name their new car as a Century.

      This site is goofy, but I have heard this story before:
      http://www.carid.com/buick-century-accessories/

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Well okay, so this is a matter of nameplate decline. I forgot about the old early 50s Century, which was a beautiful car.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I think even if that story were more widely known, it doesn’t have the same application since almost every car in the past 40 years can theoretically reach 100mph.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Yeah, I think even my 1987 Chevrolet Nova with a carbureted 4A engine could have reached 100 miles per hour with some engine tweaking, and the Twin Cam version could definitely reach 100.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Except that in Spanish the Nova translates into “NO GO’…

            28Cars: Not really. In the height of the Malaise Era, many cars could not break 100. It was that bad…really.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Not even in theory… as in 10 miles of straight-away?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Car and Driver used to test everything for top speed, up until Don Schroeder died during such a test, in a modified Mercedes-Benz, IIRC. I remember that it was a pretty big deal when the Dodge Charger 2.2 reached 105 mph in 1981. Pretty much no other American naturally aspirated 4 cylinder car could reach 100 at the time, although a number of imports could. Top speed of the Hyundai Excel was 90 mph in the mid ’80s. In a 1992 comparison test of economy cars, 7 of 12 could exceed 99 mph.

          • 0 avatar
            porschespeed

            Schroeder effed up in 2000 in a RennTech Benz. There was never any evidence that the car failed, it was just Don making a mistake – which is part of the game. And the complete abandonment of anything resembling real auto testing was officially when C&D completely jumped the shark into irrelevance for anybody who cares at all about cars.

            As far as 1981 goes, going 145 was no big deal – in a real car made in Europe. Which is why many folks abandoned American junk.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            Nova, the real story:
            http://spanish.about.com/cs/culture/a/chevy_nova.htm

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            It would have been hard to tell in many cases, since the speedometers only went to 85 back in the day (and before GPS was widely available for cheap). You had to guesstimate.

  • avatar
    BourbonBob

    A lot of companies added the word “Limited” to cars they made thousands of. Most of them, however, were severely limited.

    The word “Sport” was usually meant to describe a bland vehicle with a racing stripe.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Smart.

  • avatar
    BourbonBob

    New Yorker and 5th Avenue were a pair of names that really stayed around too long

  • avatar
    zaxxon25

    As the unofficial TTAC representative of Anonymous Malibu Owners, I’d like to defen … uh …um … well, we prefer it to the Chevrolet Lompoc.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Mitsubishi Cordia, Tredia and Beadia.

    I may have made that last one up. Who thought it was a good idea to name cars after parts of tires?

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Diahatsu “Charade”, it was a charade of a car….

    In the close but not quite category, Oldsmobile “Achieva” should have been “Underachieva”; last version of the Ford Thunderbird should have been “Blunderbird”, and while we’re at it, Mercury “Mystique” should have been “Mistake.”

    Over and out.

  • avatar
    7402

    I remember when the Oldsmobile Trofeo came out we immediately named it the Tres Feo.

    It’s hard to argue with Chevrolet “Suburban”. Apart from the early days when only surveyors drove them, the name Suburban fits the bill perfectly.

    I liked the “Cougar Eliminator” (1970-71 if memory serves).

    The Olds “442″ had a great name for a muscle car.

    “Vista Cruiser” was perfect for a station wagon that imitated the Greyhound Scenicruiser double-decker buses.

    “Coupe Utility” was the in-house and marketing term for the Chevrolet El Camino.

    Some nicknames work out exceptionally well: The “Adenauer” for the Mercedes-Benz 300, the “Topolino” (Mickey Mouse) for the early Fiat 500, and, I’m sure, lots of others.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    The Corvette doesn’t really drive like a boat.

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    More than 100 replies, and yet *nobody* has mentioned the Mitsubishi Carisma!

  • avatar
    wmba

    Ford Cortina. Wildly inappropriate name if you’ve been to the place. Twelve hundred roaring cc, 48.5hp (note the extra half hp, very important) and inability to climb the Alps to its namesake town when filled with four sweaty Brit tourists looking for babes.

    Hey, no problem. Add three hundred cc and a Weber carb and produce a full 73.5 hp SAE gross. Voila! Cortina GT. Yes! A Gran Turismo tin box for inhaling continents in relaxed comfort at 80 mph and 5000 rpm for hours, nay days, on end. “I say Tommy, do you smell, um, hot oil?”

    So the marketers had no problem naming the two door coupe based on the Cortina, they just moved to the coast. Hey, Ford Capri. That’s the ticket! For a car destined to be driven mainly in the rain. Yeah. Uplifting.

    Mazda Protege. Really? For what or who exactly?

    And now we just get dumb alphabet soup names. Q60, ooh. SLK AMG, I want one, MK (T, Z, S, X, Y, Z) whatever you want.

    I prefer a silly name to this dull accountant-style nonsense. No fun at all.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Chevy Citation.

    Opel Senator. Don’t know any senators that drove an Opel.

    Buick Lacross, Mitsubishi Pajero, Mitsubishi Diamante – what was so brilliant about it?

    Chrysler Intrepid, name better suited to for SUV.

    Olds Achieva, shoudl have being called underachieva.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I’ve never really gotten the dislike of the Achieva. Is it just because it’s ugly?

      I drive a 1995 Buick Skylark, and aside from the interior having gone to s*** before I got it, it’s a reliable car with good handling and decent MPGs. And GM chose the N body platform in 1997 over the L platform…

    • 0 avatar
      vaujot

      The Opel Senator stands in the tradition of Opel Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat. And I think at least the older versions were appropriate rides for (naval) Captains.
      Also, the German Cities of Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg are governed by senates and a few of their Senators may have had Opel Senators as their vehicles.

  • avatar
    99GT4.6

    Ford Five Hundred
    . Mustang II is another bad one, especially in 1974 with no V8 available

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Doug Demur–You missed the best name ever Ford Aspire. Click and Clack have even made fun of the Aspire name by saying it was a cheap small car that aspired to be something when it grew up or its owners aspired to own something besides an Aspire. I prefer a name to intials with numbers like Lexis does and many other car makers do. What do the numbers stand for? How about the Yaris, they could have named it the Yawn because it is so boring. Also how about the Ford Escort, I wonder how many ladies for hire drove around in Escorts? Cadillac Cimmaron not a name that fits a compact Cadillac based on a Cavalier. Cimmaron would have been a better name for a new compact pickup truck from Chevrolet.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    Just to correct a common miscoception about size. A Chev Monte Carlo (width 72.9 inches) would fit better in Monaco than the Ferrarri F40 at 79 inches wide.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Chevy Monte Carlo vs. Lancia Monte Carlo. The Lancia version that was sent to the U.S. was rebadged Scorpion in order not to confuse the two. Probably copyright as well.

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    I use to laugh at the Chevy Celebrity “Eurosport”. GM blacks out some of the shiny trim, does away with the whitewall tires, and suddenly it’s a “Eurosport”? What a joke. Typical GM ingenuity.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Go ahead, make fun of the Subaru B9…

    At least they named it after the good kind of tumor.

  • avatar
    5ivegearsinreverse

    Nobody’s (AFAIK) mentioned the Europe-only Mitsubishi Carisma (sic)

    Perhaps the spelling was bastardised to avoid confusion with a quality the dreary car entirely lacked.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    This piece is a true testament to how great and geeky are the contributors of this web site. It’s right on. For more than a decade I have been wondering about the connection between Chevrolet’s mediocre coupe and the small Principality of Monaco in Europe. Likewise, no resident of Malibu would ever be found dead driving a Malibu.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Mitsubishi Carisma, lacks of any kind of carisma.

  • avatar
    fuckGM

    Chevrolet Sonic: because it’s a slow, outdated,plasticy, ugly, horrible piece of shit car that isn’t any better than the Aveo that bequeathed it. At least we’ll only have another fews years before GM either goes bankrupt again or has to change the name of the thing again because it’s such an embarrassment…

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Pontiac GRAND PRIX. Was there ever anything about that car that made you think of world-class GT or open-wheel road racing?

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Two I can think of are the Olds Firenza and the Lincoln Versailles . Or the Ford Torino.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    The Volkswagen “Thing”, nailed it exactly, unless you were a member of the Addams Family.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Kia Rondo. I need to get some Bondo for my Rondo. Bondorondo.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    “Bondo”

    Senor, please to not say that word.
    We old people, it make us spazz.

  • avatar
    CamryStang

    Plymouth Acclaim/Dodge Spirit

    Not horrible cars, but neither worth much acclaim nor containing much spirit.

    Toyota Tacoma

    I don’t know about anyone else, but a small made-in-America Japanese pickup doesn’t elicit imagery of Seattle.

    Toyota Matrix

    It sounds cool, but its confusing. Are we talking Lawrence-Fishbourne-&-Keanu-in-black-kicking-ass Matrix?
    Or the large brackets denoting matrix math?

  • avatar
    BobAsh

    I have to strongly disagree with the notion of Pontiac Parisienne being undriveable and uncool in Paris. While I haven’t driven a Parisienne in Paris, I have spent quite some time driving a Chevy Caprice (and other similar stuff) in old towns of Czech Republic – including Prague, which is not only nearly as beautiful as Paris, but also as old.

    And having done that, I would much rather drive a 1980s Parisienne than a new Opel Astra (or, come to think of that, some French piece of junk like Peugeot 308) in any old European town. Why?
    1) Old American car looks totally cool in Europe. And is regarded as such by most everyone. During my years with Caprice, I have never received any negative reactions about it.
    2) Modern European cars (or modern cars at all) are far worse for driving in tight spaces than old US metal. For one, you can actually see out of Caprice or Parisienne, and you can even see the extremities of the car. With typical European hatchback, you can’t see squat in any direction, and you can only guess where the car ends. With current Opel Astra, I had a hard time parking in space vacated by a friend’s Buick Roadmaster.
    Secondly, old American cars (similarly to old Benzes) have unbelievably tight turning circle, thanks to their longitudinally mounted engines, which give lots of space for wheel lock.

    To go back to my Astra comparison – that Opel piece of crap wasn’t able to do a U-Turn from the inside lane to the outside lane of the dual carriageway, while aforementioned Roadmaster completed a U-turn from the inside lane to the inside lane with ease.
    Also, I had a direct comparison of Skoda Felicia (small family hatchback from 1990s, approximatelly the size of todays supermini – a VW Polo, or Toyota Yaris) my father drove and my Caprice. My Caprice had actually TIGHTER turning radius than the five-foot-shorter hatchback (I frequently did a U-turn with both cars in the same spot outside our house – Caprice made it without reversing, Felicia did not).

    Also, I drove a 1971 Imperial (which is MUCH larger than a 80s Parisienne) in older parts of Hamburg – and it still did fit quite well…

    And one last thing – AFAIK, the significant portion of Paris was demolished in 19th century, to be replaced with wide boulevards – so there’s actually a lot of space there…

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    I have to disagree with the Intrepid analysis…I think we were all pretty sure that the transmission would randomly grenade one day costing us more than the car was worth to fix.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    My apologies for being late to this party…further apologies if this name’s been dropped already:

    The Toyota Solara. None of them are powered by alternative energy, and maybe half of the ones I’ve ever seen aren’t even convertibles, thus limiting the driver’s exposure to the car’s namesake. Compare that to the old Chrysler LeBaron/Sebring models, where hardtops are truly exceptional in their scarcity (especially now) and you can still buy the ragtops in moderately to heavily used condition.

  • avatar
    mvoss

    I mean, the Japanese car makers love making silly names. Matrix and Avalon for Toyota for instance. The former indicates a large array of numbers and symbols and the latter is the ancient place where King Arthur’s sword was forged. Nissan Armada indicates it represents a naval fleet.

  • avatar
    cls12vg30

    I know this is late, but I can’t believe nobody commented on the irony of the Fiero being prone to spontaneous combustion. The same can be said, to a lesser extent of the Renault Fuego, although in that case burning would represent an only slightly faster form of oxidation than the usual one.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Interestingly, Fiero translates into ‘wild’ in Spanish, ‘proud’ in Italian, and ‘pride’ in Esparanto. Obviously only one of these adjectives comes to mind as the car bursts into flames under the driver’s right arm doing highway speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      cls12vg30

      As I come back to read replies, I think I’m going to have to use that bit about the Fuego in the future, in regard to rust-prone models in general. “The only way that car could oxidize faster is if it was on fire.” Heh. Man I’ve got to stop laughing at my own jokes.


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