Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Drivng Me Mad

Naming cars has been something of a dicey proposition for automakers. The marketers live in fear of a negative image, and if a car has a crummy name, it's already started out on bad footing that may be hard to overcome. Like Mitsubishi's Pajero, which in some Spanish countries is slang for masturbator. What??? Or perhaps Ford's Probe. Gonna head up the ol' fudge canal with that thing, are ya sport?

Chevy's Camaro originally was touted as a small, vicious Mustang eating animal, but some Ford folks supposedly found a Spanish translation that says it meant a small, shrimp like creature. I think the sales figures of the Camaro have bothered those Ford folks much worse than some tiny seafood. And the Pinto supposedly meant "penis" in the Portuguese slang of Brazil. One must admit it was the fabulous engineering behind it and it's competitor Chevrolet's Vega that earned it's bad rep. I guess at least the Vega was named after an established astronomical artifact.

And some of the General's newer offerings kinda sorta make sense. A Traverse? You, too can traverse the incredible distance from your house to the mall. The Volt? Apropos for an electric car. A Spark? Just the thing to light up the arse end of your slacker teenager. Howza about the Cruze? Same teenager burning up your money on your gas card, Dad.

Ford's fresh offspring? Escape and Edge? Escape from the Edge, dude! Driving a Focus will make you concentrate more - on what I'm not sure. And Fusion. I think they were leaning towards the techie side - like wow, dude, that's like nucular fusion, yannow. I don't think they were wanting to remind one of fusion in foodie circles - "Yes, this car represents the fusion between Nordic and Hunan style cooking - we present General Tso's Lutefisk!" Yeah, probably not.

The manufacturer that has my shaking my head is VW. Some make sense - the venerable Beetle, the Golf, and even the Jetta has a speedy sort of name. But Routan? Sounds like a bad 1960s Japanese monster movie. Routan vs Mothra. Coming to a late nite monster fest on your favorite channel.

I do not relate to the Toureg. I am German (and Irish, too), and the only thing that name signals to me is a mashup of Touring and Keg. Perhaps that is the car that one uses to tour Oktoberfest in Germany and tap all those kegs. The hose washable interior is particularly useful in that regard, and the breathalyzer enclosed in the steering wheel insures that you will not be spending an inordinate amount of time in der klink. Probably not gonna wanna bring little Susy and Bobby along for the trip. All those busty Frauleins might give the kiddos the wrong idea about how Daddy feels about Mommy.

And worst of all is the Tiguan. What in the wide wide world of sports is a Tiguan? I tell you this, I do not see the rugged Sam Elliot, all decked out in cattle drivin' gear and wearing a pair of Colt's finest, step up to the bar and announce "I drive a Tiguan. Anyone object???"

Sorry, don't see that at all. Tiny Iguana is more like it. Something I'd clean from my boot heel in Central America. "Yeah, Tom, you wanna shake out your drawers in the morning for sure. Nuttin' like puttin' on yer tighty whiteys and getting one of them thar Tiguans all excited. They and yer family jewels just don't mix, son." I can hear ol' Sam say that.

So what car names drive you nuts????


jed said...

You do know about the Tuareg peoples, don't you? Not sure why VW chose to name a car after them, but there ya go.

Coming up mostly blank on car names that drive me nuts. I'm sure there have been some. I wasn't too fond of 'Tiburon', but then it is Korean for 'shark', so that's not quite so bad.

I think 'Citation' is a bad choice. Got enough traffic tickets, don't want to drive one too.

'Cruze' just sucks. I suppose the hip spelling is supposed to appeal to somebody, but I wouldn't drive anything named after a Scientologist.

I recall an article some years back talking about how it's getting more difficult to name vehicles, due to trademark issues, and the vast number of already-used names -- all the good English words are already in use. This at least partly explains the reprise of names such as the Zephyr. And if you're looking for a Corvette killer, well, I think Dreadnought is already taken, and Frigate probably wouldn't go over well.

MurciƩlago bugs me some -- is it because it corners like it's glued to the road?

Seems safer to just go with non-word model designation, such as '402-GI' or somesuch. That way you avoid calling your car something dopey like Leaf or Fit.

Jeffro said...

Ahhh, NOW I remember them!

Citation - whee! What a car it was! Or the Cimarron? Insulted my hometown!

Aircraft Carrier probably doesn't work for a 'Vette killer, either.

Forgot about Murcielago - it's either glue or something you have when your sinuses are in overdrive.

David said...

The ones that drive me crazy are the cars that only have numbers and/or letters for names. There are a few exceptions, like the Datsun/Nissan 280ZX, which is instantly recognizable to any child of the 70's or 80's, but all too often they just speak of laziness and lack of imagination trying to name and market cars.

I miss most of the standard naming of cars from the 70's and 80's. Caprice, Firebird, Grand Marquis, Crown Victoria, Volare, Grand Fury, Monaco, Impala, Skylark, Fiero... to name just a few. Too bad most of the cars themselves back then weren't half as good as the names...

Jeffro said...

Ha! I hear ya, David! I can give the Z cars some slack - they started with the 240Z and moved up as the displacement and the car got bigger. And I don't care who you are, what you said about none of that era's cars living up to their names is funny! Sadly and ironically funny, but yeah.

And to think I'm looking very hard at a FX4 to replace my aging Z71.

jed said...

I'm just waiting for somebody to come out with the 'Turbinado' ... yeah, it's a sweet ride.

Not technically a model name, though probably used by more than one marque as such, my favorite is 'Phaeton'. Too bad some midwestern rock group didn't do a song about that, eh?

The worst model name I can think of after a day of occasional noodling, is the Tribeca.

Jeffro said...

Not the most inspirational of place names for a car. Monza? Heck yeah, racing! Tribeca? How about Snob Hill?

o to 60 in the new Snob Hill is twenty seven seconds, but you won't mind because you'll be in the back drinking the champagne from the chiller whilst you eat hors d'oeuvers with Grey Poupon.