You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What's in a name? Interior leather, MPG, horsepower, etc.

Yahoo! Auto has just released their picks for the worst cars of the decade. Knowing next to nothing about automotive design or car mechanics in general, I can't disagree much with the picks except to suggest they add pretty much every high-mileage car to the list for the "hamster on a wheel" whirring sound they make, or did I just get a bad deal with mine?

Seriously, the one thing I did observe about the list of truly awful vehicles is that they usually were saddled with truly awful names. The Pontiac Aztek? It's "Astec" isn't it, or were they not able to secure the rights? The Izuzu VehiCROSS? Did the manufacturers decide to put "CROSS" in ALL CAPS to let us know just how CROSS they were with the engineers of the car? The Chrysler Sebring? Does anyone know exactly what a Sebring is much less want to drive one? For all I know, the Sebring is a type of rodent.1

By far, the worst is the Daewoo Anything. The word "Daewoo" may mean something majestic and profound in Korean,2 but in western languages - at least the ones I know, which are English and a smattering of Spanish3 - it sounds like a kids euphemism for going to the potty. ("I went Daewoo, Mommy!") So, whatever you append to that starting point had better be brilliant or it's a guaranteed loser in this market. "Anything" isn't a winner. I'm sure some currently unemployed marketing executive argued that it would allow the users to project their own visions upon the majestic vehicle. Alas, people are just as likely to project "boxy, unpleasant, death trap" as anything else on the little clunker.

Therefore, a great name is a key factor in getting an otherwise unmarketable car to sell.

Unfortunately, great names aren't very amusing. I have to keep standards up around here4, so instead, to save auto manufacturers time and money, allow me to suggest some names for the near future's really, truly awful cars.

  • BMW Schnitzel
  • Cadillac Houseboat
  • Chevy Lemon Zest
  • Chrysler Spinout
  • Daewoo Crapweasel
  • Dodge Saddlesore
  • Ford Flatulence
  • Jaguar Slummer
  • Kia Tumbler
  • Mercedes Benz Recession
  • Mini Cooper Scooper
  • Nissan Umagi
  • Pontiac Hobgoblin (Blurb: "Just in time for Halloween!")
  • Toyota Glow
  • Vauxhall Parliament
  • Volkswagen Leech
  • Volvo Stoner
1 Sebring is apparently an endurance car race in Sebring, Florida. Ho hum.
2 "Great Universe" apparently. It hardly sounds like it.
3 Based on the sound, I'm certain it's something awful in French.
4Or down, depending on your view.*
* Sorry for all the footnotes.

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