Blog: Dave LeggettCar names

Dave Leggett | 11 August 2006

The world of car names is something of a minefield. There are names that become rude in another language (eg Getz as in the Hyundai Getz, is apparently a slang expression for sperm in Hungarian) or are just plain daft sounding because they don't travel well across cultures (why would you call a heavy-duty truck range Big Thumb or a coach Super Dolphin? - makes sense to Japanese though).

Japanese vehicle manufacturers have been responsible for many of the classics (eg Nissan Cedric, Isuzu Big Horn, Daihatsu Step-thru Pantry Boy, Mazda Bongo van, Nissan Stout pick-up). I recall fond sessions with the JAMA yearbooks many years ago when I worked as an analyst at the forecaster DRI (now Global Insight) and looked after the Japanese market for a while. 

Weird sounding model names considerably brightened up the rather laborious task of populating spreadsheets with sales and production data.

But as China's auto industry grows, we can surely expect to see a steady flow of entertaining model names coming out of China (Geely has the Rural/Urban Nanny van, Beauty Leopard coupe).

Even going for letters and numbers doesn't necessarily get you off the hook (MR2, phonetically in French, sounds frighteningly like merde - well, it wouldn't help sales in French-speaking markets I guess).

Anyway, it is Friday afternoon. Someone has drawn my attention to an article that brings together a few of the car names that make us laugh (below link). Apologies if anyone finds my Brit-centric/schoolboy humour take on these things a little distasteful, but look, I expect Rover or Morgan means something really absurd or disgusting in Cantonese and I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone in China having a good belly laugh at that.

Just a little bit silly


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