What is the biggest PR nightmare associated with cars?
Naming a car adequately requires massive and in-depth research. Sometimes it does pay off, but sometimes, it’s just dumb. As with any other product, car manufacturers name their cars according to their nature on the market. Remember the Sixties and the Seventies? That was a time that gave us all those muscle car names like Mustang, Challenger, Charger, and Barracuda. See, every name there corresponds with the ferocious nature of these cars and with what they represent on the market.
Not every company is the same of course – some use numbers and letters, some name their cars after important people from the past, while some simply want to enrage others. For example, the name Mangusta means mongoose translated from Italian. Back when the De Tomaso Mangusta was revealed, the car aimed to take on the Shelby Cobra. And, as you may know, the mongoose (specifically the Indian Gray Mongoose) is an animal that enjoys preying on snakes – specifically, cobras.
Some of the names are just made up. Usually, in order to mark the coming of an all-new mass production model. Like the Mondeo – from Ford. In America, it is known as the Fusion, mind you. The name (Mondeo) itself is a derivative of the French word Le Monde – translated into English it means ‘the world’. Obviously, the car was a global effort and Ford needed a fitting name.
Then you’ve got boring names like the Tesla Model X, named after Nikola Tesla and a corresponding model name. Regardless of all the hassle associated with naming cars, some really do resonate to this day. I bring you, with a little help from our friends at Road and Track, a list of 35 cars with some of the coolest names ever.
Aston Martin Vanquish
Can’t beat that. Almost literally. The Internet tells us the meaning of the word Vanquish and you won’t be disappointed. Aston Martin knew exactly what they were doing when they named this beast.
Vanquish – to overcome in battle; subdue completely; to defeat in a conflict or contest; to gain mastery over. Aston knew what this car was here to do, and named it accordingly.
Do I really have to tell you why this one is simply a demonic name? The Dodge Demon appeared only recently and it already stirred a lot of problems for everyone else. The name definitely fits its nature of insanity. With 840 hp and a 0-60 mph time of 2.3 seconds, we’d say this car is appropriately titled, wouldn’t you agree? It’s certainly more inspiring than the Dodge Dart in the name department, right?
This one is good all the way. As with almost all Lancia names of the time, the name Stratos was sourced from Greek mythology. Stratos for “army”. Considering how successful the Stratos was, this name fits perfectly. However, some other definitions of the word suggest Stratos was a mythical creature – a tornado with arms, red eyes and red mouth. A physical expression of the storm – and what a storm it is.
Ferrari 812 Superfast
Some may say that naming a car like this is a bit dull or even tacky. However, the name was revived. Back in the Sixties, Ferrari sold a car called the 500 Superfast. Although this isn’t its successor, it definitely represents a car worthy of the name Superfast. A sports car with the V12 developing 789 hp most definitely is super fast. The car is a successor to the equally stunning F12Berlinetta.
This one is a no-brainer. The Mustang is an icon unlike any other. First, it suits the car perfectly, but it does not, apparently, have links with the Mustang horse (it does a bit actually). The designer of the first Mustang, John Najjar, was a rather big fan of the WWII fighter plane P-51 Mustang. He proposed the name, and it’s stuck like glue every since.
Alfa Romeo Disco Volante
If I were to translate this name into English it would sound something like the Alfa Romeo Flying Saucer. I am not joking – Disco Volante literally means flying saucer. It would not even sound bad if it were named in English, but the Italian gives some heft to it. The Alfa Romeo Disco Volante was an experimental racing car in 1952 and 1953 produced with the Milanese coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring.
It is a spear, and the AMC Javelin definitely was one. Possibly the best muscle car name landed on a car sporting 343 ci and 390 ci V8 engines. The Javelin is easily one of the best-looking muscle cars of the time. It took the prospects of a pony car and improved on it. It had a mission to draw younger buyers and it did that fantastically well. The average Javelin buyer was 10 years younger compared to any other AMC car buyers.
Simply put, it is a master of the roads. One has to grow a serious pair of balls to call itself that. The name dates back to 1938 when Buick introduced the Series 80 Roadmaster. All other cars with the name, more or less, fit the bill of being advanced luxury cruisers. Buick called the name back in the 90s for another run of the Roadmaster, but that version didn’t have nearly as much character as the original.
Cheap, but offers serious speed! That is what was important with the legendary Corvette. Now, the name was, most likely, sourced from navy nomenclature. Corvettes are small army warships. The Corvette, considering its angry and animalistic nature, certainly fits the bill.
With seven generations under the Corvette belt, its name has never been as sound as today. The perfect name for one of the greatest cars North America and Louis Chevrolet every produced.
De Tomaso Mangusta
I mentioned it above. Mangusta – Italian for mongoose is the name best describing a car that should have been the Shelby Cobra killer. Although designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and engineered to be a proper sports car, the Mangusta in the US had an engine developing only 221 hp thanks to the Ford 302 Ci V8. The Europeans got a much cooler version that developed 306 hp.
Some may not like the car, but the name was a win. Magnum is an instant cool. Derived from the best known American pistol Magnum .44, the name stayed on the Dodge car for three generations. While the name is cool, the only version that really deserved its namesake was the SRT8 version, which featured a 6.1L V8 good for 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Talk about recoil.
The name is an awesome one. However, considering that the Dodge Rampage was based on top of unibody subcompact architecture, it did not actually bring the hardware to justify the name. With a four-cylinder under the bonnet and not exactly an overwhelming size, the car lacked some heft. Yet, the name.
Better than El Camino or Ranchero for sure.
A venomous snake. It’s the best possible description of the Dodge Viper – a car so mad even some pros were scared to drive it.
Honestly, I think that this name and the car are best-suited for one another. The Viper will bite – both the animal and the car.
I totally forgot this car existed. It was a rebadged Mitsubishi Eclipse, but with a far better name. The word Talon represents a claw of a bird of prey. See what they did here. Eagle – bird of prey; Talon – its claw. It’s almost too good.
Just FYI, the most powerful engine for the Talon was the two-liter Mitsubishi turbo unit with 210 hp. Coupled with AWD, it made the 2+2 coupe quite raspy.
The redhead. I mean, it’s an absolutely gorgeous name for an exciting, yet exceptionally elegant car. The Testarossa name Ferrari used for their famed model was actually sourced from the Ferrari 500 TR from 1956.
Italian words definitely sound powerful and emotional when heard in English speaking countries. The Testarossa may well be one of the most seductive names we’ve heard ’round this parts and leaves us looking forward to every new Ferrari.
The Hudson Hornet was a massive full-size sedan. Measuring about 210 inches in length one would think the name Hornet wouldn’t be a good match. Yet, with its NASCAR racing history, the name of the vicious insect definitely was a good fit for the car.
The Hudson Hornet saw two generations and it was produced as a coupe, sedan, hardtop, and convertible.
As one of only a few non-American muscle cars, the Jensen Interceptor definitely nailed it with the “muscle-car-name”. A car produced in Great Britain from 1966 to 1976 had a number of proper American virtues. After all, it employed massive engines – 360Ci, 383Ci, and 440Ci motors. The most powerful car to ever bear the name Interceptor features a 440 Mopar machine “Six Pack” with 390 hp. Six Pack for “three 2-barrel configuration” carburetors.
Translated from Italian, the word Countach roughly means “Oh my!”. That is a polite term to define the word. More precisely, the term has been slang for something amazing in Piedmonte region in Italy for generations now. While some may translate it from Piedmonte as a “wow!” you are closer to its meaning with the English term “holy shit!”
The Lamborghini Countach is definitely the only car in the world with a name like that. Neat.
While the Dodge Demon definitely sounds cool as hell (see what I did there), the Diablo sounds even meaner. Carrying the name of the devil, the Diablo was a fantastic successor to the Lamborghini Countach. Although Lambo names their cars quite viciously even today, the Countach and the Diablo are definitely the meanest.
Land Rover Defender
As one of the best off-roaders in the world, the Land Rover Defender certainly bears a name representing the honesty, honor, and capabilities of the machine. Although Land Rover ceased production months ago, the whole motoring world awaits the arrival of a new generation. It will be different for sure – but it will be even more capable.
It is a raider, a bandit, a rustler. A short Google search about the Marauder meaning will reveal this. Now, whether the Mercury Marauder was that vicious, dangerous or rebellious is open for debate, but the truth is that the name is awesome. If you are in a market for the last Marauder out there, go for the black one. It’s a surprsingly capable ‘old man sedan’ that can lay down rubber at a moment’s notice.
Unfortunately, a name as cool as Raider ended up on a Mitsubishi truck without soul and the proper grunt to carry it proudly. As Road and Track suggests, the Raider would be best suited for a muscle car with a massive V8. From the Sixties. Dreams, dreams.
A Cutlass is a sword used by pirates. It is also a car made by Oldsmobile. A short sword with a curved blade isn’t something one would expect to find on the rear end of a car measuring more than 200 inches in length. Yet, the Cutlass became an iconic machine sought after by enthusiasts even today. Its name definitely had a lot to do with it.
Another Oldsmobile, another great name – the Toronado – this time from 1965. As a massive luxury coupe, the Toronado was at the high-end of the Oldsmobile offering. The car features a massive 455Ci engine and a special transmission setup differing it from all other cars out there.
The name, however, was of no meaning apparently. It was envisioned for the Chevy show car a few years before the Oldsmobile Toronado was revealed.
Google tells us this – “Esperanto is a constructed international auxiliary language. With an estimated two million speakers worldwide, it is the most widely spoken constructed language in the world.”
But there is a car called the Esperanto as well. Made in Georgia by a small car manufacturer called Panoz. This car features a slightly modified Ford engine with 320 hp. FYI – 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds.
Yes, it is here. The car isn’t actually a good one. Not as a retro machine, not as a sports car and not as a daily driver. However, it is a fine curiosity with a name embedded in criminal terminology. And that alone makes the Prowler a fine addition to this list.
It looked futuristic, muscular, badass, and definitely like something that could draw the buyers of muscle cars to itself. Four generations of the car proved it is a worthy competitor in the saturated market of sports cars. I am not certain, however, if we are to ever see a new one on the market. We definitely won’t under the Pontiac brand.
Porsche Carrera GT
It just works – the Carrera GT. Sounds fast and it definitely fits a supercar. Translated from Spanish, Carrera means race. As many tech advancements of the Porsche Carrera GT were derived from race cars, it is hard to think of a better name for the car.
The 612 hp beast certainly deserves an iconic name.
Rolls-Royce is known for naming its cars as mysterious, devious, and vicious spiritual beings. The name Phantom appeared all the way back in 1925. To date, Rolls Royce has produced eight generations of the Phantom. It is by far, the most luxurious car (and the best one by many) in the world. Having a ghostly name is just right.
This is the car that the De Tomaso Mangusta wanted to devour. Of course, it did not, as the AC Cobra and the Shelby Cobra became one of the most astounding icons of the car world.
While the Viper represents a venomous snake, the Cobra represents the most vicious snake of them all. With a lightweight design and more power than you could shake a stick at, it was certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Mercedes-Benz AMG Hammer
The Germans know a thing or two about naming cars as well. The AMG Hammer – 1987 Mercedes W124 with cafe racer bodywork and a surprisingly low drag coefficient of just .25. Its 17-inch back wheels transfer 365 hp of V8 muscle to the ground giving the W124 quite remarkable performance – 0-62 mph in 5.3 seconds and a quarter mile pass in 13.5 seconds.
Its design inspired by fighter jets of the time, Vector was the supercar company producing interesting sports cars from 1989 to 1993. As Road and Track reports, “in physics, the vector means to have direction as well as magnitude”. While the car company had a rather fine name, its cars were unremarkably called the W2, the W8 and the WX-3.
Hennessey Venom GT
With a top speed of 270 mph, the Hennessey Venom GT was the closest thing to a Veyron killer that ever existed. It was the fastest car on Earth at one time, unofficially beating the Veyron with 1451hp at its disposal. The name is a dangerous one, obviously. The Venom GT is a substance to harm or kill a living being. A substance to compete with the mighty Bugatti Veyron. Hennessey revealed one to tackle the Chiron as well, and combined the Venom namesake with the highest rating on the Fujita Tornado Scale. A wicked name for a wicked car.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Yes, Corvette is a fine name for a car, but the Corvette Stingray is taking it all to DEFCON 3. The Stingray nameplate is of high value in the world of Corvette enthusiasts. For the C7 generation, Chevy finally brought it back. Even with a huge name to live up to, the C7 delivered with ease.
Ford F-150 SVT Lightning
The Raptor replaced the Lightning. This one was a sweetheart of muscle truck enthusiasts back in the Nineties. Now, however, the Raptor took its place. Not that anyone is sad about it, but it would be nice to see the SVT Lightning badge make a comeback. Ford ceased its production in 2004. Granted, we have seen some special edition revamps come through the works lately.
What About The Worst Car Names Ever?
Sometimes you have to wonder where companies got their names from when they stick a name on their new car models. Some names are absolutely ridiculous. Others are just lazy. Still, we’re going to have a look at 5 of the worst car names we’ve ever seen. Imagine the scene: you’re at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and General Motors are just about to pull the cover off of their latest creation, a race car derived beauty with…a name so stupid you can’t overlook it. It has happened. And here are of the worst offenders.
#05. The AMC Gremlin
There’s no denying that the AMC Gremlin is a fairly epic car. This little delight from the American Motors Corporation could come equipped with a roaring V8 if you wanted it to, capable of smashing quarter miles in the high 13s thanks to the car’s small size and big power. Unfortunately, it’s called the “Gremlin” though, which doesn’t conjure up powerful imagery or anything apart from the little unattractive beasts from the 1984 smash hit film of the same name. Hardly confidence inspiring, is it? If you were naming your car, you’d think of something better.
#04. The Ford Probe
The Ford Motor Company has delivered its fair share of epic names, so the Ford Probe is a bit a head scratcher. It’s one of the worst car names of all time! Why? Well, it’s hard to think of the word “probe” without the word “anal” in front of it. No one wants to drive around in an extra-terrestrial anal probe, even if it was made my Ford. There’s no denying that the Ford Probe is a terrible car name, right?
#03. The Ferrari LaFerrari
Awesome car, awful name. For some reason Ferrari can build, design, engineer, and fabricate sublime sports cars that dazzle auto show spectators the world over, but when it came to naming their latest creation, they hit a wall. You don’t need to be a polyglot to work out that LaFerrari literally means “The Ferrari.” So, you’re looking at the Ferrari The Ferrari. Lazy naming, that’s what that is. They might as well have called it the Red Car, which is infinitely better and shows more creativity, at least.
#02. The Nissan Homy Super Long
Yes. This is real. But we can’t help but wonder whether it’s one of the worst car names or one of the best ones out there. Homy, for a start, is a pretty awesome bastardization of the term homey, which would be cool enough. Nissan decided to go a step further and add Super Long on to the end of the name for good measure. Personally, we think the Nissan Homy Super Long is a great name. However, if you had to drive around in one, the novelty probably wears off pretty damn quickly.
#01. The Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard
Again, it had potential to be a great and comical car name, but in reality it just plain sucks. Isuzu might not be selling vehicles in the USA any more but the Mysterious Utility Wizard moniker will live on forever in enduring lists like these that like to poke fun at the naming conventions adopted by our friends in the East. Whether it’s one of the best or worst car names out there, it certainly is memorable. Imagine pulling the covers off of that at the Geneva Motor Show!
Talking of cool car names, despite American cars having some of the best car names out there, some didn’t quite cut it overseas. In fact, many American exports go by different handles once they’ve been shipped overseas. Here are 10 good car names that got changed abroad:
10 American Cars Named Differently Overseas
These car names might be different but that’s about it.
In modern conditions, large automakers can’t afford to be strangers to badge engineering. Rebadged cars appear more and more often as automakers divert their resources on lowering production costs by establishing alliances, sharing platforms and even outright buying out their competition. American automakers are no strangers to this practice as well. They’ve rebadged a number of foreign nameplates over the years and these 10 were likely the best jobs they’ve ever done in that respect. This time, however, we’ll be focusing on reversed state of affairs. Here are the 10 current American models marketed overseas under different badges, car names or even both.
Dodge Journey (Fiat Freemont)
Mid-size crossover was introduced for 2009 model year and started initially as North American market exclusive vehicle. As of 2011, however, things changed. Mexican-made SUV received new badge and car name, and started its overseas journey as Fiat Freemont. Fiat Freemont can now be bought in Australia, China, South Korea, Brazil and most of Europe. Unlike American models which are offered in conventional two-way 4-cylinder and V6 options, global models can also be ordered with fuel-efficient 2.0L turbo diesel engine. Other than one additional engine and reworked frontal fascia, Dodge Journey and Fiat Freemont are basically the same thing.
Chevrolet Volt (Opel Ampera, Vauxhall Ampera, Holden Volt)
Depending on part of the world you’re stationed in, you can get Chevy Volt either under different name or different badge and name altogether. Holden Volt has been launched in Australia and New Zealand, in 2012 – two years after the original Chevy’s debut. Europeans have gotten it in November 2011, in original package, but German GM division Opel (soon to become a part of Peugeot-Citroen alliance) immediately took over. Opel Ampera was available as soon as February 2012. On the other hand, since all Opels in Britain are badged as Vauxhalls, UK Ampera/Volt is neither Chevy nor Opel. Right-hand drive Vauxhall Ampera was launched in May 2012. Differences between the mentioned models are purely cosmetic, however, as all feature the same powertrain and range. As of 2016 model year and second generation launch, all non-Chevy versions have been axed due to slow sales.
Buick Encore (Opel Mokka, Vauxhall Mokka)
Buick’s first ever compact crossover was actually first introduced as Opel Mokka in Europe, in late 2012. Buick version came a few months later, in early 2013. Differences between the models, however, are almost non existent. There’s nothing to separate them apart from different badges and frontal fascia. And engines, of course. While Buick Encore in America and China both come with 1.4L turbo four making 138 horsepower, European Opel and Vauxhall counterparts do things slightly differently. Redesigned Mokka X (both Opel and Vauxhall) can either be ordered with mentioned 1.4L turbo four or optional 1.6L diesel and petrol mills.
Ford Escape (Ford Kuga)
One of the best sold American compact crossovers doesn’t stop there. Ford Escape has its market across the pond too, where it goes under the name Ford Kuga since 2012. Kuga existed before that, mind you, but it was based on the C1 platform jointly developed by Ford, Mazda, and Volvo. Furthermore, third generation Ford Escape and second generation Ford Kuga feature the same visual treatment. They’re only powered by different engines. While American version offers a choice between 1.6L and 2.0L EcoBoost 4-cylinders, and 2.5L naturally aspirated in-line four, overseas models add 1.5L EcoBoost and four tunes of 2.0L Duratorq diesel mill. They don’t get the naturally aspirated 2.5L engine, though.
Buick Regal (Opel Insignia, Vauxhall Insignia)
Buick Regal has a long tradition and deserves to be part of tri-shield automaker’s portfolio. Regal’s main market isn’t USA any more. It’s China. But that’s not the only other market in which Regal appears. It’s also available in the UK as Vauxhall Insignia, and in rest of Europe as Opel Insignia. Furthermore, as of next year and introduction of the second generation Insignia, New Zealand and Australia will get it as Holden Commodore (NG). As it’s usually the case, both Regal and Insignia are very similar in their styling. Engine choices make the most of their differences. Buick Regal can be had with 2.0L turbo four and 2.4L normally aspirated four in the US, and additional 1.6L turbo four exclusive to the Chinese market. Euro spec Insignia, on the other hand, adds two tunes of 1.6L turbo diesel 4-cylinder while discarding the naturally aspirated 2.4L mill.
Chevrolet Spark (Opel Karl, Vauxhall Viva)
Spark originally started as Daewoo Matiz, but Chevy quickly changed its car name after absorbing the Korean automaker. Current, fourth generation of this super mini city hatchback answers to the name Karl in Europe and Viva in the UK. Styling differences across the three are somewhat more substantial than it’s usually the case. While Karl and Viva are more or less the same car, Spark boasts different front and rear end, different headlights, and different midsection creases. Finally, while Spark gets 1.4L 4-cylinder engine capable of producing 98 horsepower, more pragmatic Europeans get off with 1.0L 3-cylinder delivering 74 horsepower and 66 mpg.
Ford Fusion (Ford Mondeo)
Ford Fusion is currently Blue Oval’s best-sold sedan in the US with range comprising of petrol, hybrid and plug-in models. Fusion currently shares its underpinnings with Euro spec Ford Mondeo, but that wasn’t always the case. Mondeo predates Fusion by almost 15 years, being introduced in 1992. It was first affiliated to Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique, but these badges have long since been retired. Just like the versatile Fusion, Mondeo too offers plenty of choices when it comes to powertrains. Apart from mechanically identical hybrid, Mondeo comes with a host of both petrol and diesel engines. Most of them are 4-cylinder mills, but Mondeo can also be had with 1.0L 3-cylinder for greater efficiency. On the other hand, Fusion should soon start offering 2.7L EcoBoost V6 powerplant.
Chrysler 300 (Lancia Thema)
Chrysler 300 has been a success ever since it was introduced. Bold, radical styling, great performance and luxury that was still more affordable (albeit sub par) compared to German competitors, helped it stay competitive in the luxury car segment. Backtrack a few years, and you’ll stumble upon Lancia Thema which resembles Chrysler 300 in an uncanny way. Maybe because it was based upon it. Although Lancia Thema originally hails from mid eighties, this revived 300-based version had a lot in common with the original car. It too was luxurious, boxy and powerful. Unlike Chrysler 300, which at that time featured 292-hp and 300-hp 3.6L Pentastar V6 (not to mentione Hemi-powered V8 models), Lancia Thema had the engine capped at 282 horsepower. Furthermore, Italian version of the 300 could have been had with either 188-hp or 236-hp VM Motori 3.0L turbo diesel V6. Thema was, sadly, discontinued in 2014.
Buick Verano (Buick Excelle GT)
Verano shares its platform with Opel/Vauxhall Astra among others, but its closest relative has to be the Chinese market Buick Excelle GT. Excelle GT, produced between 2010 and 2016, was a rebadged Astra manufactured by Shanghai GM. As such, it actually precedes the American version of the entry-level luxury sedan. Unlike Buick Verano which was powered by 2.4L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder or 2.0L turbo four engine, Excelle GT was offered with smaller 1.8L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder and 1.6L (1.5L from 2015) turbocharged 4-cylinder mills.
Ford F-150 (Ford Lobo)
Best selling American vehicle doesn’t need introduction. Ford F-150 has practically been the backbone of American economy for decades now. However, full-size pickup goes by another name in Mexico. And for a long time at that too. Since 1992, to be more precise. They call it Ford Lobo south of the border, which stands for Ford Wolf in Spanish. Everything else about the truck is basically the same. Only badges will tell you if it’s the Mexican or any other global market (including the US) version as car names can easily vary.