What were these manufacturers thinking?
The Porsche Taycan (pronounced Tie-Khan) is the production name for the Mission E electric vehicle. While it makes sense in terms of adding suffixes like S, 4S, GTS etc. to the name, it really sounds a little stupid. Sure it has a meaning, translating to ‘lively young horse’, but when you’re creating a benchmark for the future of sports cars, surely you’d want it to sound a little cooler. However, the Taycan isn’t the worst thing a car has ever been named, and we’ve found 15 examples that prove the Taycan might not be so bad after all.
The first entry on this list might be a truck, an actual light-duty commercial truck, but its name makes it incredibly deserving of a spot on here. Canter refers to the gait of a horse, quicker than a trot, but slower than a gallop, which seems apt for a truck. But Guts, we couldn’t fathom a deeper meaning behind that one. Couldn’t the Japanese have thought of something better than Fuso Canter Guts?
Displayed at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show, and produced from 2000-2004, the Daihatsu Naked was a Japanese Kei car with a diminutive 695-cc engine and a choice between front- and all-wheel drive. Named after its rugged styling, read ‘half finished’, it notably featured hard plastics that looked like fabric. To add further insult to poorly named injury, there was even a derivative named the Daihatsu Naked Be-Pal. Yeah, we don’t know what they were thinking either.
The Honda HR-V is a pretty impressive crossover SUV from the Japanese brand, now in its second generation. But the first generation was a little different, more compact than what it is now. In Japan, to appeal to a younger audience, the crossover was marketed solely as the Honda Joy Machine. It might’ve been a pretty cool car, but describing it as a Joy Machine is a bit of a stretch.
Shall We Join Us? The question mark isn’t us questioning Mitsubishi’s poor life choices; it actually stuck a question mark in the name. Aside from that, the grammar is horrendous – and it’s not just a poor translation, the name was actually written out in English. Also, to whom was the question being addressed? Shall we join us? The MUM 500 SWJU was just as awkwardly styled as it was named, which resulted in it being one of the weirdest cars around, period.
Who says the folks at Nissan don’t have a sense of humor, and a dirty one at that? The Homy Super Long might seem like a misspelling of ‘homey’, but at a glance it’s all too easy to read it as ‘horny’, with the ‘Super Long’ adding further insult to poorly judged naming injury. Super Long was apt though, as the minibus featured four rows of seating including the driver’s cabin.
The hybrid hypercar may form one of the automotive ‘holy trinity’, but could Ferrari not have named it a little better? The folks over in Maranello might have intended the LaFerrari to be the ‘embodiment of all the things Ferrari is supposed to be’, but calling it the Ferrari ‘the Ferrari’ as it directly translates is a little conceited. At least it has everything else going for it, and as Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
The Honda Life was a small Kei hatchback that like all Kei cars, was intended for use in the city. The third generation model, produced from 1998 to 2003, received an upgraded turbocharged motor in 2001 as well as the suffix of ‘Dunk’ to its name. How Honda arrived at the name is beyond us, but I can imagine there must’ve been an equally weird TV commercial to go along with it that had nothing to do with cars.
You likely know this as the Isuzu Rodeo, as it was sold in the United States. But elsewhere the Isuzu SUV was marketed as the MU in 3 door guise. When a 5-door was added, so was the ‘Wizard’ suffix – not entirely a bad name. But ‘MU’ was actually an abbreviation for Mysterious Utility, giving the Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard one of the weirdest names around.
To the English speakers, a Nova is a type of star, so you can see the allure in Chevrolet naming its small car the Nova. But for the middle- and South American markets, the Spanish translation of No-va quite literally means, “not going”. We’ll chalk this one up to a small oversight and lack of understanding of the market they were entering, but unsurprisingly the Nova didn’t sell well in Spanish speaking countries.
The Pajero is a damn fine off-roader, and a strong selling nameplate for Mitsubishi. But in some markets the name was changed to ‘Monteiro’, as in Spanish Pajero has an entirely different meaning as a slang word meaning, “He who fiddles with himself for sexual gratification.”
We’re willing to bet the man who signed this one off never traveled anywhere vaguely Spanish. If he had, he’d have known that ‘la puta’ translates as ‘the whore’ from Spanish. Oops.
What’s with Mitsubishi’s naming department? This one never got past concept stage, but in 1995 the Mitsubishi MAUS, as it was abbreviated, was an electric super-compact city car that would’ve rivaled the Smart ForTwo. MAUS seems alright, but its full name, the Mini Active Urban Sandal is yet another weird bit of nonsensical naming from the land of the rising sun.
The 2003 Beauty Leopard was a half decent looking coupe from the Chinese manufacturer that now owns Volvo and Lotus. Powered by a 1.3-liter Toyota engine, it was neither as feisty as a Leopard, nor as beautiful as its name might suggest. However, it was capable of reaching 112 mph, and outside of China it could be purchased with a built-in karaoke machine – because traditional radio is too mainstream for the Beauty Leopard.
The Honda Vamos Hobio Travel Dog is a Japanese micro-van, powered by a 695-cc engine to comply with Kei regulations. The Travel Dog was the first small utility vehicle in the world to be built specifically with dogs in mind, but with a name as unmemorable and awkward as that, it’s no surprise its legacy never lived on. The Vamos competed with the equally as awkwardly named Suzuki Every.
Again, what is it with Mitsubishi and these names? Minica makes some sense, as a portmanteau of the words ‘mini car’, but the suffix of Lettuce makes none at all. It was a vehicle co-developed with the Seiyu supermarket chain who sold the car directly, and it notoriously featured one door on the driver’s side, and two on the passenger side, a-la Hyundai Veloster.