Few things in the development of a new car are more crucial than the name. In the case of a bland or mediocre car, it’s the last chance the marketers have to generate some buzz. That may well be why some of the most ordinary cars have wound up with some of the fiercest and flashiest names. Here are five of our favorite inappropriately named cars:
- Chevrolet Sprint — The Sprint was built by Suzuki for Chevrolet. Powered by a rather anemic three-cylinder engine, its acceleration off the line resembled not so much a sprint but more of a drunken stumble. Its Suzuki-badged counterpart was known by an equally inappropriate name, the Swift.
- Mercury Bobcat — A bobcat is a rather fierce North American wild cat. The Mercury Bobcat, on the other hand, was essentially a fancy Ford Pinto over laden with chrome trim and other options that added on additional pounds, sacrificing what little performance the Pinto possessed. While the feline Bobcat is plentiful in the wild, the Mercury version is all but extinct.
- Hyundai Excel — The Excel was first car sold by Hyundai in the U.S., and given the top-to-bottom excellence of the current Hyundai lineup, it’s probably a car they’d prefer to forget. Other than cheapness, the Excel essentially excelled at nothing — unless someone handed out an award for “crudest interior” or “oddest-smelling plastic.”
- AMC Hornet — The hornet is one pugnacious insect, and as anyone who has ever been on the wrong side of one can attest, they definitely can sting. With the exception of the rare S/C 360 version from 1971, the AMC Hornet was a pleasant-looking and practical compact sedan/wagon/hatchback without much of a sting.
- Hudson Jet — Jet planes were on the mind of nearly every car designer and ad man in the U.S. during the 1950s. Fins, bogus jet intakes, jet exhausts and jet hood ornaments found their way onto countless cars from that decade. Curiously, the Hudson Jet wasn’t among them. There was nothing even slightly swoopy or jet-like about this thoroughly upright and conventional compact from a company that later became part of American Motors.