We wondered—for about nanosecond—if we should risk asking our Facebook fans, “What’s the dumbest car name?” We love all cars, so why invite the world to take aim at the less fortunate, especially when those unlucky cars didn’t have a choice in the matter?
But then we considered the comedic possibilities, posted the question, and smiled as the answers rolled in.
We’d like to believe that most automakers put a lot of thought into naming a car before it reaches the “let’s do this” stage. Certainly Renault had good reasons for naming its little roadster the Wind. Maybe the car flies like the wind, or it accelerates so quickly it’s as if the wind is at your back. On the other hand, what happens if you accidently break a little Wind? Do you blame it on the dog?
Nissan likely felt safe choosing a straight-forward name for its comfy, extended-length camper van. Unfortunately, Homy Super Long sounds more like a rap artist than a vehicle. And good luck finding a teenage boy who can say it with a straight face.
And then there’s Isuzu, which actually produced something called the Light Dump. Neglecting to add the word “truck” at the end was a bit of a misstep, but hey, it could have been worse. At least Isuzu didn’t make a Big version.
Of the dozens of “dumb names” you nominated, none was more popular (unpopular?) than the Ford Probe. While we can appreciate that Ford was likely attempting to give its sport coupe a high-tech, space-age name, the Probe became the butt of jokes instead. “I love Ford,” Felicia Stelpflug wrote, “but I don’t know what they were thinking when they named a car Probe. What is it probing?” Patrick Whitton suggested the car “was supposed to be the next-generation Mustang and buyers hated it, so the designers got the probe.” Carl Landkammer wondered if perhaps “a proctologist won a car-naming contest.”
The poor AMC Gremlin was given a name that most people use to describe those head-splitting car problems no one can ever seem to figure out. Stephen Renton Emsley sarcastically applauded the choice as “marketing genius,” but Bruce Morgan reasoned, “You can’t say the name wasn’t accurate.”
Many of you selected Yugo … as in, “Yugo nowhere.” And even though Dusty Kuebler pointed out that “the name is derived from Yugoslavia, the nation in which they were produced,” few were swayed. “If you had one,” Jorel Staub wrote, “you no go.” Actually, that’s exactly what many of you said about the Chevrolet Nova, a name that translates to “no go” (or something similar) in Spanish. Juan Carlos explained that a Nova is also “a star that shows a sudden, large increase in brightness and then slowly returns to its original state over a few months.” While that definition may be an improvement, do you really want a car that shines for only a few months before it flames out?
As if we haven’t picked on Isuzu enough already (who can forget the Light Dump?), Loyd Bell nominated the P’up. “I know the name is short for ‘pickup’… but it didn’t have a lot of bark or bite.” Ashley Thompson also nominated an Isuzu, explaining that the name “Mysterious Utility Wizard” is a perfect example of “what happens when a direct Japanese-to-English translation goes horribly wrong!” Paul Nolte couldn’t take it anymore. “Japanese names don’t count,” he wrote. “We’d be here all week!”
John Pollick said plenty without naming a specific model: “I’ve always thought that vehicles with just a letter and some numbers were dumb.” Chris Weber agreed, calling out “the interchangeable, nondescript numeral designations most often used by today’s foreign car manufacturers.”
Daniel Laigh Shafer nominated LTD, complaining that the name is “supposed to be a shortened version of ‘limited’ … except they were all mass produced.” Doug McWhirter concurred, but for a different reason: “For me, LTD meant Long Term Debt.”
Also high on the list of dumb car names were Pacer, Prius, Pinto, Aztek, Le Car, Intrigue, Cruze, and Cube. Matthew Spearman nominated the Chevrolet Citation: “You get a citation for impeding traffic.” And Pete Meyer said of the Ford Aspire, “Does it aspire to be reliable transportation? Or something more sporty?”
The last word goes to AJ Katinsky, whose interpretation of the question still has us chuckling. “Gus. Gus is the dumbest car name. Who names their car anyway?”