Feature, Random Safari Express

Vroom! Vroom!

By Carlos Eton

Walking through the Sunny Isles parking lot I spotted a beautiful classic Ford Mustang.

Mustang.  What a cool name for a car. The pony muscle car model name conjures up images of the wild, of free-spirited speed, power, and rebellious adventure.

Next to the Mustang was a beat-up old Ram truck. I know that the Ram moniker is meant to inspire the feeling of power and utility but for a random-minded person like me, it inspired something else: laughter. “Ram” seemed like a command. Did “ram” mean that we should expect the vehicle to be some sort of battering device? Interestingly enough, the Ram used to be called “Dodge Ram,” which struck me as a contradictory or oxymoronic set of commands.

When done effectively, brand and model naming can inspire consumer confidence. But sometimes, especially in the automotive world, naming and badging can miss the mark due to language issues or just plain lack of common sense.

Besides, it’s more fun to write about the brand naming mishaps. 

Consider the AMC Gremlin, which debuted on April 1, 1970 (April Fools Day). As you probably already know, a gremlin is a fictional ill-behaved goblin-like being that delights in causing mechanical and electronic problems. Knowing that a car model is named after a character that loves to create inconvenient mayhem wasn’t likely to inspire consumer confidence, was it? Well, it didn’t.

In 1990, General Motors introduced the Impact, an electric vehicle that was leased at Saturn dealerships. The project director should have really considered a name change since “impacts” occur during vehicle collisions. Perhaps the names “Collision”, “Accident”,  “Oh no! This Is Going To Make My Insurance Rates Go Up!”, and “Dude!  You mean I Can’t Text While Drinking And Driving?” were already taken.

From 1999 to 2004, Daihatsu produced and marketed the Naked. I’m not quite sure what the naming logic was on this product. Was it some sort of driving instruction? Was Daihatsu trying to corner the nudist market? If so, one can only hope that the seats were made from a soft cloth material to avoid waffle-butt imprints.

And speaking of the commando unclothed fashions, there seems to have been a vast array of automobiles named after anatomical characteristics. The Tarpan Honker and Mitsubishi Winky both reference a predominant part of the male anatomy. And, perhaps in an accidental attempt at gender inclusion, Mazda produced the Fitta which is the Swedish slang term for the corresponding female body element. (Mazda was the same company that marketed the LaPuta. Clearly Mazda should have employed a Spanish-language consultant.)

And then there’s the just plain disgusting. The Ford Probe? Chances are this nameplate was inspired by a routine mid-life medical checkup. The Mazda Moco? Really? Who would name a car after dehydrated mucus? And to make matters worse, green was one of the standard Moco colors! The Daihatsu Scat? Was the name “Poop” already taken? Yikes! Will this naming trend continue? Will Daihatsu and Mazda eventually collaborate to manufacture a Kahkah coupe?

It makes one wonder. Who comes up with these names? They’re even more random than this column.

It makes one wonder. Who comes up with these names? They’re even more random than this column.

So, if you can figure out the logic to these automotive badge names you get extra points today.

The Honda That’s
Did the car designer suddenly have to make a restroom pit stop in mid-sentence? 
Can you imagine him/her as a professor?  “Your final grade is …”
The Mitsubishi Minica Lettuce
Perhaps the successors will be named the “Bacon” and the “Tomato?”
The Suzuki Celerio
Oh, yeah, that reminds me! I’m out of celery and ranch dressing.
The Renault Le Car
Hmmm. The car is named “the car.”  I guess the folks at Renault just ran out of naming ideas.
 Maybe they were inspired by Dr. Seuss:

The Perodua Kancil
It sounds like “cancel.” 
How are they going to sell cars if they tell the customers to cancel?
The Daihatsu Move Latte
I would like extra sugar and cream with mine, please.
The Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard
Perhaps this was the “Mystery Machine” that the Scooby Doo gang drove?  (By the way, it was sold in the U.S. as the “Amigo.”)
The Plymouth Duster
For some reason I just noticed that my window blinds need dusting. 
I would love to get the squamata to do it, but I’ don’t think he will.

So, what can we do about this? Clearly, they need our help. Big time!  So, let’s give it to them. Quickly! Let’s get automotive industry marketing jobs.

Clearly, they need our help.  Big time!

We could have at least prevented such naming disasters as the Volugrafo Bimbo, the Honda Life Dunk, or the Mazda Carol Me Lady.  We can’t possibly do any worse.

Hey, look! There’s a used BMC Landcrab for sale. Want to buy it?

Automotive photo credits: Wikipedia (Mustang and Gremlin) and Wikimedia (Naked).
Dr. Seuss video source:  YouTube.

The Random Safari Express, a serial feature column by senior UVI Communication student and humorist Carlos Eton, celebrates comedy, philosophy, and the thousand (often ridiculous) random thoughts that pop into our heads during the quiet moments of our day.

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