The Worst Car Names Ever

For every Mustang or Gladiator, there's a car name that leaves us uninspired, unimpressed or downright confused.
worst car names

What do impacts, citations and flat tires have in common? They’re all things we absolutely do not want to happen when driving a car.

And yet, they are all terms automakers have used to name vehicles. (OK, flat tire is not the name of a car, but Reventon is, which translates to flat tire in Spanish). The lapse in foresight and good judgment immediately places these monikers among the worst car names in history.

Unfortunately, these three are far from alone. Throughout automotive history, countless bad names have come and gone. From the bizarre to the truly uninspiring, with a number of simply bad ideas mixed in, here are some of the worst names ever bestowed upon an automobile.

Studebaker Dictator

It’s hard to imagine a period when this name would have ever worked, but Studebaker picked the absolute worst time in history to try to sell the American driving public on the Dictator: the advent of World War II.

Interestingly, the model was originally known as the Standard Six. Studebaker began renaming its cars in the 1920s. Although no one could have predicted the future, the automaker sensed enough trouble in the air to use the name Director in the European market.

Dictator lasted a decade on this side of the pond before it became too tarnished a word for Studebaker, which opted to swap in the name Commander in 1937.

Ferrari LaFerrari

If you’re unfamiliar with the beauty that is the Italian language, this name translates to “Ferrari the Ferrari.” The Italian carmaker was aiming for the contextual interpretation of the “definitive” Ferrari, but the name just sounds awkward and lazy.

worst car names
(Photo: SenseiAlan)

Renault LeCar

In competition with LaFerrari for the least original car name is Renault’s entry: The Car.

Mitsubishi Minica Lettuce

Lettuce has many positive attributes: It’s a good source of vitamins A and K, helps strengthen bones and has even been shown to improve your sleep. It also plays an indispensable role in a BLT. Shockingly, none of these facts served as inspiration for Mitsubishi’s naming of the Minica Lettuce.

Developed in partnership with the Japanese supermarket chain Seiyu, the car was designed specifically for loading and unloading groceries. The tiny sedan, which had two doors on the passenger side but just one on the driver side, was small enough to travel on small streets suited more for bicycles and rickshaws.

As for the name, Lettuce was the title of a shopping magazine published by Seiyu, which also sold the car right there in its grocery stores.

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Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard

The Wizard was simply ahead of its time. If it had debuted in the late 1990s instead of the late ’80s, it could have ridden the Harry Potter train broom to success. Instead, the MU Wizard has since been left to compete for worst car name ever.

To make matters worse, there doesn’t appear to be any story behind the name’s origin. It’s like it just appeared out of thin air.

Nissan Friend-ME

The Friend-ME was a concept car Nissan unveiled in 2013 specifically designed to appeal to Chinese 20-somethings. As such, the sedan had a social media-inspired cabin in which all four passengers had access to the same infotainment screens and could share content from their phones onto said screens. An interesting concept, indeed!

While the car’s design highlights the positive attributes of social media, its name reminds us of the worst. It simply reeks of desperation and self-promotion. Nissan even went as far as stylizing it with a capitalized “ME.”

Toyota Deliboy

This was not some sort of traveling sandwich purveyor mobile, just a tiny delivery truck. Its name is supposedly a portmanteau of the words, “delivery” and “boy.” Not only was the moniker a failure, so too was the truck itself. Poorly designed and featuring a woefully underpowered engine, the Deliboy was only in production for a few years.

worst car names

Subaru BRAT

Like many car names before and since, BRAT is an acronym. In this case, it stands for “Bi-Drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter.” Certainly, Subaru could have gone a different route, but we’re not entirely sure the car maker didn’t choose the name due to, rather than in spite of, its unruly connotations. The BRAT was marketed to younger (dare we say rebellious), off-roading drivers.

Interestingly, the car was quick to live up to its devilish moniker. BRAT models sold in America featured two rear-facing jump seats in the cargo area. This allowed Japan-based Subaru to classify it as a passenger car rather than a light-duty truck, thus eluding a significantly higher import tax.

Honda That’s

Honda, that’s a terrible name for a car. The third-generation of the Honda Life had a head-scratching name that was as grammatically awkward as it was flat-out weird. We’re hoping something got lost in translation from the Japanese automaker and no one truly believed this was going to work.

Kia Pro_cee’d

The Pro_cee’d was the sports version of the Kia Cee’d, giving the South Korean automaker two terrible titles in its portfolio. The company later took the bold step of changing the car’s name to ProCeed.

Know a terrible car name we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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88 Thoughts on “The Worst Car Names Ever

  1. I always thought the name ‘Reliant’ for the Plymouth K-car was a pretty bad name…so what is it reliant on? And such a name makes no claim to it being ‘reliable’.
    Then came the K-car’s replacement…not a bad name to start with, but then came the ‘man on the street’ interviewer ad campaign, who would ask regular folks “How did you come to pick your Aspen?” And that may have been the best thing about that car. I knew of plenty that had horrible problems with them stalling out at high speed.

  2. As a former USAF combat pilot, I have always found Killed In Action (KIA) a pretty poor name for any kind of vehicle. I don’t care what it means in Korean, I know what it means here.

  3. Then there is the car name that is now in the dictionary as a synonym for fiasco: the Ford Edsel.

    Not a great name for a car to start with, and it’s failure in the marketplace permanently tainted the name of Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s son. Edsel is now in the dictionary with the definition:
    “a product, project, etc. that fails to gain public acceptance despite high expectations, costly promotional efforts, etc.”

    (Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.)

  4. The English cars of the 1940’s and 1950’s had many odd names. The one that stands out is the HUMBER. The upgrade models were the HUMBER SNIPE, and the HUMBER SUPER SNIPE !

  5. I was so proud of my first car, the Chevy Nova, ’til I realized it meant “it doesn’t go” in Spanish!

  6. About 10-15 years ago, at the Auto Show, the Chevy display had a new model that was temporarily called the “Beat”. They were trying to convey a music theme. As a Chevy owner, I begged them never to use that name, since there would have been no end to the ridicule. Luckily, they didn’t.

  7. I bought a 2019 Toyota Yaris. I’ve been wondering what Yaris means? I hope that I don’t regret finding out.

  8. I wonder if it’s primarily a problem of creating trendy translations into English from vastly different languages like Japanese or Korean. It’s really hard to nail the semantics across such gaps. If anyone in the auto business would be interested, I’d be happy to be paid a few hundred grand to help.

  9. Yes, there are duplicate posts. All the posts are not readable away, and there’s a lag in submitting vs posting.
    😎

  10. Porsche gives its beautiful cars the weirdest names. •Cayman…A small snipey-nosed alligator. Or is it a nod to islands where one can hide money?
    •Macan…”Cayman” rearranged. Or are they hinting at “makin’ it”?
    •Taycan…Toy can? Really?

    Saddest name: Yugo. It was so positive: “you GO!” But then the country did, while the car didn’t.

  11. In the 1980’s Yugoslavia produced a car that was sold in the United States called the Yugo. There were so many problems with the car that in America the joke was, “You go, the car stays”.

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