20 Car Names Which Have Hilarious Meanings In Other Languages
Have you ever tried to come up with a name for a car? It may seem easy, but car brands actually spend quite some time looking for exciting, cool and stylish names to match their vehicles. And usually, they double-check if a name might have a different meaning in another language. Here are 18 hilarious examples of when they forgot to do that.
Car makers keep struggling with the Spanish-speaking market. A very famous example is the Mazda Laputa, a rebadged Suzuki Kei which was produced from 1999 to 2006. The name Laputa came from Jonathan Swift’s book Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, but sadly it’s often associated with the Spanish word “La Puta” - which translates to “The Wh*re”.
NOTE: I have to censor these words, otherwise Car Throttle won’t let me post it. You will see that quite often along this post. Sorry!
Another example from the Spanish market, although this time it’s far less brutal: “Nova”, which was used by both Chevrolet and Lada, simply translates into “doesn’t work” (“no va”). The British Vauxhall Nova managed to escape this fate, as it was sold as the Opel Corsa in the rest of the world.
You might argue that most of the cars in this list are pretty old, and that the carmakers probably have learned their lesson. The recently introduced Hyundai Kona proves the opposite: Its name sounds very similar to the Portuguese word “cona”, which is a very vulgar expression for the female genital.
Hyundai’s solution to the problem: The Kona will be sold as the “Kauai” (a main island of Hawaii) on the Portuguese market. The Opel Ascona was also pretty unpopular in Portugal.
But not only Spain and Portugal get carmakers in trouble: They also have their problems with the French-speaking market. A nice example is the Toyota MR2: Its name stands for “mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-seater”, but the French pronunciation “M-R-deux” sounds very similar to the French word “merde”, which means “sh*t. Toyota reacted by selling the poor man’s Ferrari as the “Toyota MR” in France.
Another example from the French-speaking market, although this time the car in question kept its name: The Audi TT Coupé is pronounced similar to “Tete coupé” - which is French for a cut-off head. So, if you are a French murder, look no further, this is the car for you!
The Mitsubishi Town Box was produced from 1999 to 2011, and it’s a box-shaped Kei minivan designed for narrow town streets. How could this straight-forward name cause any controversies? Well, the problem was that Mitsubishi often used the abbreviation “T-Box” - which also seems fine, at least until you move the space between the words. Because then you’re driving around in a car called Mitsubi Shit-Box. You decide if that’s actually a more fitting name or just a hilarious fail.
Another car that seems to have a really straight-forward name is the Fiat Uno. How can the Italian word for “one” cause any trouble? Well, in Finnish, Uno means “fool”. Also pretty fitting, I guess… “Hey, what car do you have?” - “I drive a Fiat Fool!” - “You fool!”
The Honda Fit is a cool little minivan. At least in China, Japan and America - in Europe it’s called the Jazz. But did you know that none of these names was originally planned? Honda actually wanted to call it the “Fitta” - however they ditched that name pretty quickly when they found out that’s a very rude expression for the female genital in Scandinavian languages.
As if the weirdly-proportioned retro design with the big smiling face wasn’t yet controversial enough, Chrysler came up with the name “PT Cruiser”. In theory, PT stands for “Personal Transportation”, but in reality it’s pronounced very similar to “pity”. But hey, let’s be honest, “Pity Cruiser” is actually a very fitting name for that thing.
Yes, even two-million-dollar supercars can have unfitting names - although this one is actually pretty hilarious. In Lamborghini tradition, it’s named after a famous fighting bull - however, in Spanish, “reventón” means “blowout” or “flat tire”. Let’s just hope that this will never happen to the Reventón drivers, especially not at the top speed of 221 mph / 356 kmh.
Probably the most famous example (and the one which inspired me to create this post) is the Mitsubishi Pajero. It had to be re-named to Montero for the Spanish-speaking market - or would you want to drive around in a car named “male masturbator” (Mitsubishi Wank*r)?
Would you drive a car named “I hope”? Well, that’s exactly what the Spanish word “espero” means. And although it may actually be fitting for that car (you never know if it will start), Daewoo reacted by re-naming it to “Aranos” in some Spanish-speaking countries.
The Jetta is very unpopular in Germany (we only drive Golfs and Passats), but it’s pretty common in the rest of the world. But how about Italy? Because sadly, the word “Jetta” name sounds very similar to the Italian word “ietta”, which means “losing streak” or “streak of bad luck”. And coincidentally, I featured it 13th in this list! (That was actually not planned, I just noticed that…)
Take a look at the photo above: The car in front is a Ford Pinto which just received a slight tap on the back from that military vehicle behind it. And BOOM, it went up in flames. But it wasn’t just the badly placed fuel tank which caused controversies, the name had its problems as well - at least on the Brazilian market, where “Pinto” is an expression for a small penis.
The Citroën C-Métisse Concept was unveiled at the 2006 Paris Autoshow. It’s a hybrid shooting brake, and it can switch between FWD, RWD and AWD depending on the situation. The French word “Métisse” means “half-caste”, but sadly it also means “bast*rd”.
The name “Silver Shadow” doesn’t cause any problems in different languages. However, the car was originally intended to be called “Silver Mist” - Rolls-Royce had to ditch that name because in German, “Mist” is a different word for “dirt” or “crap”. Silver Shadow really is a better name for a luxurious sedan that “Silver Sh*t”.
Audi sells its plug-in hybrids under the “e-tron” label. However, it sounds suspiciously similar to the French word “étron”, which means “pile of sh*t”. Maybe that’s the reason why nobody buys it.
The Ford Kuga is a very popular SUV which is currently in its second generation. But does Ford know that “Kuga” actually stands for the black death, the pest, in Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian? Probably not, otherwise they would have changed that name pretty quickly…
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) is a small electric car which is also sold as the Citroën C-ZERO and the Peugeot iOn. All these names sound very fancy and modern, however Mitsubishi definitely came up with the worst one. “MiEV” sounds very similar to the German word “Mief”, which is colloquial for “smell”. This didn’t quite match the environmental friendly character of the car, and so Mitsubishi re-named it to “Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle”.
The Vento was introduced in 1992 as the successor of the 2nd generation Jetta. Volkswagen wanted to change the image and increase the profit by changing the name, although they kept the Jetta name in the US and some other non-European countries as people were already used to it. The Jetta has been featured earlier on in this list, and apparently Volkswagen also f*cked up the new name. “Vento” is indeed Italian for “wind”, but colloquially, that word is also used for a “wind” that comes from someone’s arse - so basically, the car is called “Volkswagen Fart”.
Which one was the most hilarious? And which ones did I forget? Comment below!
Tobi aka The Stig’s German Cousin