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September 9, 2006

Car Names as Comedy

Mitsubishi MumCar names from overseas, especially from Asian countries, sometimes don’t translate. As Dave Legget points out on the Just Auto blog, the Japanese have offered some howlers in the past: Nissan Cedric, Isuzu Big Horn, Daihatsu Step-thru Pantry Boy, Mazda Bongo van, Nissan Stout pick-up. They have called trucks Big Thumb or a coach Super Dolphin.

The Japanese seem to have cleaned up their act but now that China is on the rise we can probably expect some more interesting brand naming faux pas — they already offer the Nanny Van and the Beauty Leopard Coupe.

The replies to this blog post are full of more ridiculous howlers: a Dutch car that shares its name with a margarine brand; a Fiat that was almost named after a sewing machine. One of the replies leads us to another hilarious link of names that just do not travel well — maybe it should be renamed "the work of errant name development companies." I suppose we in the West should not have too hearty a laugh at Asia’s expense: Chevy did try to sell the Nova in Spanish speaking countries, while being blissfully ignorant of the fact that no va in Spanish means "doesn’t go" or "no go."

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Posted by William Lozito at September 9, 2006 2:59 PM
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