Anyone who’s had a child knows that coming up with good solid name that will stand the test of time is a bitch. In basic terms you have to apply the harshest ‘school playground test’ and make sure it doesn’t rhyme with anything silly, sound a bit like something rude or have a bad connotation that renders the rest of the child’s life a living hell of taunts, jibes and endless sniggers.
Naming cars is just as fraught with a daft, ambiguous or hard to pronounce one likely to dent sales (and owners’ self-esteem) while a really bad one has the potential to become a financial disaster for the car company that made it and any owners who were daft enough to buy one and then try to sell it on for anything more than buttons.
There’s been endless stories about imported car names that don’t travel well from country to country – usually because they translate to ‘wanker’ in Spanish – but this list is (mainly) made up of straight-up silly names that have been officially launched in the UK in the firm marketing belief that their catchy titles will add a certain something to their car’s sales chances. Oh yes, this lot certainly did that…
1. Skoda Yeti
Having just about managed to put the old jokes about its brand quality to bed, the Czech outfit then go and name this actually very good semi-off-road style car after a big and hairy abominable thing. How many customers are there prepared to admit they have a Yeti on their drive. Sample suburban conversation: “Nice car Bryan, what is it?”
2. Proton Savvy
About as savvy as a six-digit bumpkin arriving in the big city for the first time asking the way from a large group of hoods down a dark alley with his wallet hanging out and a big camera round his neck.
3. Renault Wind
Might as well have called it the ‘Renault Fart’. Shame because it’s a nice little two-seater convertible. Proof that silly car names are still alive and kicking even in 2010.
4. Mitsubishi Carisma
Award-winningly dull 1990s Japanese hatchback and saloon that had none and couldn’t even get the spelling right.
5. Rover Streetwise
Oh to have been in the Brummie marketing meeting when this gem of a name got dreamt up. “I know, let’s stick some faux 4x4 plastic cladding on the side of that ageing Rover 25 model no-one cares about anymore, jack up the chassis a bit, call it ‘Streetwise’ to be down with the kids and pretend it’s now some go-anywhere hard-man car.” Sold by desperate Rover salesmen to gullible grannies and granddads. Poor sods.
6. Peugeot Partner Tepee
A van with rear windows and seats not to be confused with your other half’s Native American-inspired camping equipment. The end bit sounds like going to the loo too. Silly arses. On sale now.
"There’s been endless stories about imported car names that don’t travel well from country to country – usually because they translate to ‘wanker’ in Spanish"
7. VW Sharan
Tough luck for the German marketing team behind this large MPV, who probably thought they had achieved a pan-European result with this seemingly innocuous name. Why didn’t anyone tell them that in England the name ‘Sharon’ – which ‘Sharan’ obviously sounds like – has long been twin-towned with ‘Tracy’ as a byword for a certain type of lairy, loose and loud white working-class girl from Essex with a penchant for cheap white high heels. Families needing seven seats but wishing to avoid ridicule have tended to opt for the almost identical but sensibly named Ford Galaxy instead.
8. Ssangyong Rodius
Sounds like a something you might stick down a Korean drain and maybe should. Vast and ugly as sin people carrier with a stink name to match.
9. VW Beetle RSi
Perfectly acceptable car name aside from the daftly monikered go-faster ‘RSi’ model that suggests ‘Repetitive Strain Injury’ comes as standard.
10. Mazda Bongo Friendee
Actually an import-only car but couldn’t resist adding this in. It might sound very slick in Japanese, but is clearly ridiculous in English, although the idea of a friendly bongo is at least endearingly ridiculous. The classic silly car name. So wrong it’s almost right.
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