When perusing the local car dealership lot for a fresh set of wheels, pay close attention to the names of the vehicles sitting under the sun. Muscle cars tend to favor masculine sounding names like Cobra, Camaro SS, and Hellcat, while trucks typically have more of a “Wild West” feel to them, with titles like Ranger, Bronco, Ridgeline, Frontier, and Silverado.
Meanwhile, compact cars often have one syllable titles, like Chevy’s Spark and Honda’s Fit. Vans, on the other hand, lean more toward adventurous names like Odyssey, Voyager, and Quest.
But there are also plenty of cars out there with names that have absolutely nothing to do with the vehicle itself or its capabilities. Some titles are merely misaligned, while others border on the bizarre. But while most commuters tend to focus on the color of the car in front of them, we take great joy in memorizing the names of automobiles, which got us thinking. What are the most ridiculous car names in recent memory?
Auto manufacturers always want to see strong sales numbers, yet ludicrous names could potentially compromise profits in a particular segment. It’s no wonder that most of the cars on this cheat sheet are now extinct.
1. Volkswagen Thing
This off-road-inspired atrocity was manufactured from 1968 to 1983 but was only made available to Americans from 1973 to 1974. True to its title, the car is indeed a weird German “thing.” The bizarre convertible genuinely looks like it could be the illegitimate offspring of a Volkswagen Beetle and a pontoon boat. Originally engineered for European military use, this rear-engine oddball carries the perfect title for anyone bold enough to ask, “What on earth is that thing?”
2. Ford Probe
While it may have a sporty look to it, this coupe from Ford easily had one of the most awkward titles in automotive history. People tend to think of doctor’s appointments rather than spirited drives down scenic backroads when they hear the word “probe.” It makes for an awkward conversation piece as well. Imagine the look on everyone’s face at the dinner party when you announce that you just purchased a used Probe and that you cannot wait to show it off.
3. AMC Gremlin
The AMC Gremlin is a car with a devout following like no other. But obscure car enthusiast fandom aside, naming a vehicle after a mythical miniature monster is just flat-out strange. While it certainly predates the 1984 cult classic starring Howie Mandel, more questions than answers surround the logic behind the name of this miniature machine.
4. Plymouth Duster
Much like the aforementioned Gremlin, the first Plymouth Duster has a small but dedicated fan base, and unlike later generations from the 1980s featured some pretty slick styling cues in its early years. But being named after a cleaning instrument doesn’t represent a muscle car very well either, thus landing the Duster on today’s cheat sheet.
5. Ford Fiesta
Every time I see a Ford Fiesta on the road, I cannot help but look to see if it has a piñata in the backseat. What was Ford thinking when it opted to name a compact car after a giant party? With a name like Fiesta you would think that The Blue Oval would have capitalized upon this oddball title a bit more by now, but sadly, unless you opt for the ST model this compact falls short of being a real party animal.
6. Chevrolet Celebrity
There is something inherently wrong about making a truly terrible car and then calling it a Celebrity. Everything that sucks about automotive manufacturing and design can be found in this thing. It was a formidable combination of ugly, uncomfortable, poorly made, under powered, sloppy, and inefficient. Thankfully, this atrocity was sent to the underworld decades ago, and to this day likely haunts the dreams of retired GM assembly line workers.
7. Ford Pinto
Ford must have been on a pony kick when it named this highly combustible car after a multicolored horse. Following in the hoof prints of its more powerful and popular big brother, the Pinto was supposed to be an efficient alternative to the iconic pony car. Unfortunately, when Americans hear the word “Pinto,” the thought of greasy frijoles tend to cross their mind faster than images of majestic creatures gallivanting across a mesa. So when an unhealthy number of damning press releases surrounding the Pinto’s gas tank blanketed the headlines, Ford wisely made a decision to put the Pinto out to pasture.
8. The Hummer
Masculine, militaristic, and thirsty as all hell, the Hummer was a threat to any compact hatchback that stood in its way. But with a name that reminds us of a liquored-up uncle strolling down to the bingo parlor, it’s tough to take this SUV seriously when you actually listen to its title. It’s a pity GM didn’t have the audacity to name the military version’s civilian-focused siblings, the H2 and H3, the Whistler and the Yodeler.
9. Chevrolet Citation
Much like the Celebrity, this under-inspired creation from GM was a bad car that was ill-named to boot. Outside of looking like it just went bobbing for french fries, this under-powered automobile was recalled several times for failures pertaining to its “X-body” and was thankfully phased out in 1985. Interestingly enough, the original name for the car was supposed to be the “Condor,” but instead GM’s marketing people thought it would be a great idea to name the car after the paper you get for minor traffic offenses.
10. King Midget
Our final offering comes to you courtesy of our friends in Athens, Ohio, who thought it would be a good idea to crown their greatest success with a “sport package” so that it could really give performance fans a kick in the pants. Unfortunately, the only thing that ended up being interesting about this miniature contraption was its hilarious name.
The car’s naturally aspirated one-cylinder engine (that’s not a typo) struggled incessantly to get this tiny jalopy up to speed due to only having 9 horsepower and a torque curve to match at its disposal. By 1970 the company had folded, leaving us to wonder if this is what Tyrion Lannister would drive if he were here now.