Some car names just make sense. The curvy Volkswagen Beetle, the devilishly powerful Lamborghini Diablo and the superfast Ford Mustang were given monikers designed to call attention to each vehicle’s unique characteristics.
But not every car is so fortunate. Whether these vehicles were top sellers or commercial failures, they all have one thing in common: prime real estate on our list of the worst car names of all time.
- Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan (1967-75): Well, a really bizarre-looking car needs a really bizarre name, and former seaplane mogul turned automaker Bruce Baldwin Mohs came through on both counts with his Ostentatienne Opera Sedan. Incidentally, we have no idea what it means, either.
- Zimmer Quicksilver (1984-88): Quicksilver is an archaic name for mercury, exposure to which causes all sorts of neurological impairments, a few of which may have afflicted those who came up with the idea of designing a hyper-expensive luxury sport coupe around the lackluster Pontiac Fiero.
- Studebaker Dictator (1927-37): In fairness to Studebaker, when they named the car Hitler, Mussolini and Franco hadn’t yet given dictators the black eye they later would, but still, naming a car after an undemocratic, authoritarian head of state seems more than a bit weird. Ford Führer, anyone?
- Geely Beauty Leopard (introduced in 2003): If you imagine being a non-English speaker, it’s conceivable that pairing the words “beauty” and “leopard” might have a certain cachet. Or not. The car itself is a relatively non-descript Chinese compact whose only claim to fame is that it sported the world’s first in-car karaoke machine.
- Mitsubishi MAUS (Mini Active Urban Sandal) (1995): The name conjures the image of a smelly, worn-out pair of flip flops, so it’s no wonder this micro compact concept car flopped. Little was heard of it after the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show.
- Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard (1991-2004): A compact SUV produced by Isuzu in Japan, the real mystery here was why anyone thought this was a better name than “Amigo” or “Rodeo,” the way the car was marketed outside of Japan, unless both Amigo and Rodeo mean something rude in Japanese.
- Honda That’s (2002-07): A tiny urban car built in Japan for the home market. Honda’s rationale for the name was that it wanted people to see the car and exclaim, “That’s it!” They more likely exclaimed, “That’s totally lame!”
- Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear (1994-2007): Mitsubishi has an illustrious history of nonsense names like Starion, Cordia and Tredia, so Delica isn’t out of character in that mishmash. The “Space Gear” part likely refers to the chubby minivan configuration of the vehicle and contributes immensely to the overall absurdity of the name.
- Datsun Fairlady (1959-70): Nothing says macho sports car like show tunes. Amazingly, Nissan named its sporting roadster after the musical “My Fair Lady,” thereby alienating at least 50 percent of the market for the car.
- Mazda Bongo Friendee (1995-2005): To non-English speakers, this probably sounds like it means something. To English speakers, it just sounds silly and is perhaps even the silliest-sounding name on the list. Other than the nutty name, it’s a rather nondescript minivan.