• Apr 3rd 2006 at 4:01PM
  • 40
Despite Forbes Magazine curmudgeon Jerry Flint's opinion on Lincoln's naming strategy, there are reasons why automakers use alphanumeric designations  (i.e., G35; MKZ, etc.) instead of giving vehicles' actual names such as Regal, Pinto, etc.
TechnoRide's editor Bill Howard points to one obvious reason: translations. The Buick Lacrosse is but the most recent example. Assumed to have been named after the sport, the Buick Regal replacement took on an entirely different meaning in Canadian-French slang. Mitsubishi's Pajero also suffered a similar translation problem in Mexico.

Other naming 'oopses' include:
  • AMC Matador. A reminder that cultures that speak the same language don't necessarily use them the same way. To Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans, 'Matador' means killer.
  • GM's Hummer. No comment.
  • Ford Caliente. Also translates as 'streetwalker'.
  • Toyota Fiera. Also means 'ugly old woman' in Puerto Rico.

Howard also points out that some vehicle nicknames make sense after the vehicle acquires a certain reputation (e.g., the pictured AMC Gremlin and its numerous mechanical problems). Feel free to shout out other naming oddities in Comments.

[Source: TechnoRide]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      There was nothing inherently unsound about the mechanicals of a Gremlin. The 6 cylinder engines were used in the AMC line since about 1963 and live on today as the 4 litre straight 6 vehicles that are sold as Jeeps. And you have to try hard to bust a Borg Warner or Chrysler TorqueFlite box.

      The only clunker major bit was, 77 through 79, AMC inflicted a carbureted 2 litre version of some pile of crap from Audi into the market place. It was my "pleasure" to own one of these fine examples of engineering brough to us by the Masters of the World. Fracturing exhaust manifolds, rotting valve stem seals, and other, well, gremlins. It was not just mine. Our Navy base had a bunch of them. and they all had the same failures.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Numerous mechanical problems? Listen, the Gremlin was a great car that became villified AFTER it left the market. Are these "numerous" problems not just a result of your percieved thoughts of how the car used to be viewed?

      I find the funniest one the Chevy Nova, which in spanish, means "It does not go. (No go)."
      • 9 Years Ago
      I'm not sure just using letters is always safe either. Is it really attractive to drive a Cadillac Et Cetera (ETC)? I usually read GMC SLT as GMC SLuT. A Chevrolet SS in most colors seems reasonable, but in black I find it a little creepy. My favorite might be the Honda CR-V. They're advertised everywhere in California. "CRV" is the California Redemption Value", the nickel you get back when you turn in bottles and cans for recycling.
      • 9 Years Ago
      The best one I can think of was Mitsubishi's 'Starion' which was in the same family as their 'Colt'. An unfortunate case of 'Jinglish' I believe.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Before anyone mentions it, I'd like to say that "Nova" in Spanish does mean the same thing (a star sorta blowing up). It's pronounced NO-va while "it doesn't work" is no-VA. So that name is actually totally ok.

      My favorites are the Japanese market Honda names, like "Life Dunk Diva" and "Vamos Hobio".
      • 9 Years Ago
      The AMC Gremlin was an inexpensive yet highly reliable car. What's NOT reliable is what passes for information here at Autoblog!
      As for stupid names, how 'bout the Chevrolet Avalanche, named after a natural disaster!
      • 9 Years Ago
      Ford GT = Grand trash

      Chevy Impala = Goat with Buffalo horns

      • 9 Years Ago
      Car Salesman: The Bronco's been discontinued. We're trying to shed that whole fugitive on the run thing. This is the Escape.

      George, Sr.: What a fun name.
      • 9 Years Ago
      #13 , i've seen one Grand AM whcih was modified to say just that. Needless to say, it was a "grandma" who was driving it.

      • 9 Years Ago
      Okay, you know what - you guys are right. Geeze, my 3 years of spanish studies and my spanish side of the family must mean nothing.
      • 9 Years Ago
      The first time I heard that Caddillac were to name their vehicle BLS I could not believe my ears. As far as abbrevations go, this one tops them all.
      • 9 Years Ago
      "Okay, you know what - you guys are right. Geeze, my 3 years of spanish studies and my spanish side of the family must mean nothing."

      Correct Spanish is one thing, but documented history is another.

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