Best & Worst Car Names Ever

Over the years there have been some good, some bad and some ‘indifferent’ car names. This article looks at some of the best car names and and some of the worst, highlighting either the genius or the flaws behind each name.

Four of the best car names:

Ford Mustang

About the car:

First produced in 1964, Ford Mustang’s are still in production some 46 years later and it’s easy to see why. Undoubtedly one of the most famous, iconic cars ever produced, the Mustang is a true American muscle car that captures the spirit of the open road. Known around the world, the Mustang’s powerful performance and long history make it one of the all-time greats.

Definition

Mustang – “an American wild horse”

Comments:

The name Mustang ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a cool car name. As the Mustang name suggests, the car is both American and wild. But what about the horse part I hear you ask? Well firstly mustangs are known to be free-roaming animals and those driving a Ford Mustang will certainly experience a feeling of total freedom. Then there are the masses of ‘horse’ power under the bonnet! One of the greatest examples of a cars name matching its image, the Mustang may have evolved greatly over the years but the name remains untouched.

Dodge Viper

About the car:

The raw power of a Dodge Viper is what sets it apart from many rivals. Uncomplicated and uncompromising, the Viper was in production between the years of 1991 and 2010 and blended performance with great looks. There were 4 generations of the Viper produced during these years, all of which had a V10 engine. The fastest of these models was the fourth generation which was capable of doing 0-60mph in an impressive 3.4 seconds. Recently, there has been talk of a fifth generation Viper being released in 2012. Whilst the makers themselves have yet to officially confirm or deny this, there are many hoping and anticipating that a fifth generation Viper is forthcoming in the near future.

Definition:

Viper – “a venomous snake with large hinged fangs, typically having a broad head and stout body, with dark patterns on a lighter background”

Comments:

In general, most cars named after animals are considered pretty cool (the VW Fox is an exception – there’s nothing ‘foxy’ about the VW Fox!). The words fierce, ferocious, wild and untamed could be used to describe both the Dodge Viper car and the Viper snake, making the name of the car very fitting. There’s a real thrill and excitement when driving the Dodge Viper and it can really get your blood pumping. Most people’s blood would certainly be pumping too if they came across a real viper snake so there is some comparison! The word viper is instantly associated with the car by people around the world, a sure sign that Dodge got it right when they decided to name their car the Viper.

Ferrari Testarossa

About the car:

Unveiled at the 1984 Paris Motor Show, the Ferrari Testarossa was a two-door coupe with astonishing looks, impressive performance and a hefty price tag. Its high price and exotic design didn’t put people off though and between 1984 and 1991 almost 7,000 Testarossa’s were sold, making it one of the biggest selling Ferrari models in history. Following on from the Testarossa in 1991, Ferrari released the 512 TR and the F512M which both looked much the same as the original Testarossa save a few minor differences. Almost 2,300 512 TRs and just over 500 F512Ms were sold, taking the total number of Testarossa’s sold to around 10,000.

Translation:

Testarossa (correctly written in Italian as testa rossa) translates as ‘Red Head’

Comments:

The reason the Testarossa was named as such was because of the cylinder heads which were all painted red. The name works on another level however as Ferrari have made a habit over the years of naming their cars after parts of the female body. The ‘red head’ name could also relate to a red haired female which is much more in-keeping with both Ferraris ‘sexy’ image and the car itself. Ferraris are renowned for being painted red and the name Testarossa perfectly fits the cars image and personality.

Lamborghini Diablo

About the car:

The first Lamborghini built that was able to reach speeds in excess of 200 mph, the sensational Diablo was a mid-engined sports car that was in production between the years of 1990 and 2001. With the initial design brief being to design a car capable of reaching 196mph, the high-performance Diablo and its V12 engine certainly accomplished this. The cars performance and its stunning looks made the Diablo one of the greatest cars of its generation.

Translation:

Diablo is the Spanish word for ‘Devil’

Comments:

A real head-turner, the Diablo name works so well for a number of reasons. Firstly, diablo means devil in Spanish and the Diablo and its wicked acceleration certainly have a mischievous side. The Diablo also continued Lamborghini’s tradition of naming their cars after breeds of fighting bulls. The story is that the name ’Diablo’ came from a legendary bull from the 19th century that was involved in an epic battle with ‘El Chicorro’, in the process securing its place in history. With this, and the fact that Diablo sounds pretty cool anyway, the rampaging, fierce Diablo was perfectly named by the people at Lamborghini. Another example of a name being instantly associated with car, this was car naming at its best.

And here are 4 of the worst

Volkswagen Thing

About the car:

Sold around the world by Volkswagen between 1969 and 1983 (civilian sales stopped in 1980), The VW Thing certainly didn’t win any awards for its design philosophy. During its time in production, the Thing wasn’t known for its performance, style or comfort. What it did have in its favour however was that it was fairly reliable and it was cheap to purchase and maintain. It was in 1973 that the Thing was officially released in America and sales figures were surprisingly healthy considering its military looks and uninspiring name.

Definition:

Thing – “used to refer in an approximate way to an object or to avoid naming it”

Comments:

In the UK it was known as the ‘Trekker’. In Mexico it was called the ‘Safari’. Neither name is particularly imaginative but at least they both have some relevance to the vehicle in question. For VW to release the car as the ‘Thing’ in America however goes beyond lacking imagination. You have to wonder how a major car manufacturer like VW could display so little creative thinking when coming up with a name. Ambiguous, vague, indistinct – all of these words could be attached to the VW Thing.

Ford Probe

About the car:

Produced between 1989 and 1997, the Ford Probe was thought by Ford to be the natural successor to the famous Mustang. However, this didn’t work out to be the case for a number of reasons. Unlike the Mustang, the Probe was front-wheel drive. The Probe was also unavailable with a V8 engine which many Mustang fans took issue with. Ford attempted to lower production costs to make the car more affordable but this didn’t work as similar models to the Probe were available from more prestigious brands for a similar price. As a result, sales were fairly poor and Ford was forced to discontinue the Probe and bring back the Mustang. Whilst the Probe wasn’t a bad car, its many flaws and inability to compare with the Mustang held it back from being a success.

Definition:

Probe –

  • “an attempt to discover information by asking a lot of questions”
  • “to examine something with a tool, especially in order to find something that is hidden”

Comments:

Probe?! Really?! Undoubtedly one of the worst car names ever, the following example alone highlights why the choice of the name Probe was so dubious. Picture it now; you’ve stopped at a set of lights and all of a sudden a car ploughs into the back of you. The car in question happens to be a Ford Probe. You’ve now got to call your insurance company and choose your words carefully as you explain that a Probe has smashed into your back end. Enough said.

Daihatsu Charade

About the car:

First produced back in 1977, the Daihatsu Charade was still being sold in the UK up until a few years ago. 5 generations of the Charade were produced in total, the most recent of which was available between 2003 and 2007. The car was designed to be a ‘large, compact cat’ which was supposed to differentiate it from its competition. The positives of the car were that it was cheap, fairly spacious and pretty well equipped. What held the car back was its poor cornering, somewhat dull looks and the huge competition it faced.

Definition:

Charade –

  • “an act or event which is clearly false”
  • “a team game in which each member tries to communicate to the others a particular word or phrase that they have been given, by expressing each syllable or word using silent actions”

Comments:

It’s safe to say (hopefully!) that the car wasn’t named after the team game charades which suggests that Daihatsu named their car after ‘an act or event which is clearly false’. I’m not sure if it’s just me but naming a car after something that suggests being inaccurate or incorrect doesn’t seem like the best idea. What were they trying to achieve calling the car a charade? Is it not really a car and is it merely pretending?! Whatever they were thinking, naming the car after a ‘ridiculous pretence’ may go some way to explaining its poor sales figures.

Suzuki Cappuccino

About the car:

When you think of Japanese 2-door roadsters, the first car that comes to mind for most is the Mazda MX5. However, the Suzuki Cappuccino which was produced between 1991 and 1997 is another car that falls into this category. Whilst it may not be particularly comfortable or practical, it is certainly a fun car to drive. The Cappuccino has a 64bhp 657cc engine which is very willing, taking the car from 0-60 in a credible 8.5 seconds. An attractive car with somewhat of a retro look, its small fuel tank and limited boot space made it slightly unsuitable for day to day use. This didn’t discourage enthusiasts from buying the Cappuccino though and it nowadays has somewhat of a cult following.

Definition:

Cappuccino – “coffee made with heated milk which is served with a thick mass of bubbles and often powdered chocolate on the top”

Comments:

Whilst the car itself had a set-purpose, the name Cappuccino is certainly questionable. It’s clear that Suzuki were attempting to think ‘outside of the box’ when naming the Cappuccino. Whilst they may have been aiming for fun and quirky, what they did was name their car after a hot drink that has no relevance to the car itself. Car naming is all about building awareness and recognition, ensuring that the name becomes synonymous with the car. When people hear Mustang or Viper they instantly think of the Ford Mustang and Dodge Viper. Unfortunately for Suzuki, very few people will associate cappuccino with their small 2-door roadster. The problem is that the name is too far-fetched and there is no clear link between the name of the car and the car itself.

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  • Tim R.

    haha I always thought that ‘Dodge Diplomat’ was a poor name.

  • cherry

    actually ‘thing’ was just a nickname for the volkswagen type 181, and its just because people couldn’t be bothered to remember the type number.

  • gaby

    great article =) thanks for the information.

  • Bestialidad

    You stupids The Thing & Safari are booth great names, mustang is dumb it only fits with the usual “were so incredible” gringo attitude. Cherry is right also