Nonsense Names: Five car names that aren’t actually words

What’s in a name? In the case of the examples below, not much more than a lot of marketing and a trademark registration. Yep, the names of the cars on this list were made up by someone clever, every one of them.

  1. Toyota Camry: The company that came up with names like Carina, Previa and Yaris not surprisingly gets the top two on this list. “Camry” is an agreeable-sounding word that Toyota initially copped to being totally made up. Upon the runaway success of the car, they later sheepishly invented the story that it sounds kind of like an anglicized version of “kenmuri,” the Japanese word for “crown.”
  2. Toyota Celica: Like Camry, Celica is another made-up-in-Japan moniker. When pressed, Toyota reacted as if it’s somehow dishonorable to make up a clever name for a consumer product. So as with Camry, Toyota later came up with a feeble explanation for the origin of the name — something about it sounding a little bit like the Latin word for “celestial.” Whatever.
  3. Chevrolet Camaro: Camaro emerged from a GM marketing sheet containing more than 2,000 words that started with the letter “C.”  And while some attempt was made to assert that it was an arcane French word for “pal,” it was in fact a made-up name. No matter, 50 years and six generations of Camaro later, it’s acquired the meaning “badass sport coupe.”
  4. Oldsmobile Toronado: Toronado is one of those words that both sounds like it means something and looks like a typo. A cross between a mobile home’s worst nightmare and a fancy beef dish with an extra vowel thrown in, it in fact means absolutely nothing.
  5. Mitsubishi Starion: Nope, it’s not a mangled version of the word Stallion — it has no meaning in any known language.
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