Saturday, October 05, 2019

101 Things #9 - What's in a Name?

My list of things I really do not wish to have included on the charge sheet when the Eternal Judge begins his summing up, 101 Things I Refuse To Do Before I Die is mainly stuff others think is just right for their own bucket lists. Some of the items, however, are strictly personal. In this piece I am going to discuss the names given to motor vehicles. Let me first declare an interest - amongst the cars I have driven are numbered an MG Midget, a Triumph Herald, a Rover 415, a Vauxhall Cavalier and a Skoda Octavia. The link is that all these names are perfectly sensible. You can utter them to strangers without embarrassment. They do not carry any particular associations. Alas, there are names so jarring, so discordant to the ear and so at odds with the image normally conveyed by a car that I have compiled a list, a Top 10, of most egregious. I have no intention of owning any of these

Cars with silly names

As is traditional, we begin with the least worst and progress to the most silly.

10. Nissan Juke
Years ago there was a computer printer called a Juki. That, I imagine has nothing to do with the Nissan SUV other than I imagine they are pronounced in the same way. Otherwise it could be said in the same breath as "box". It is however so easy to think of it as the Nissan Junk that inevitably I do.

9. Renault Kadjar
Some cars are named after attractive towns, such as the Cortina, the Capri and the Cordoba (other initial letters are available) and one might think that Kadjar is a small port somewhere in the Adriatic, with medieval walls, a marina and lots of nice little cafes on the waterfront. No. It is a made up name. Unfortunately it sounds exactly like "Cadger" and one imagines it puffing and gasping on the motorway as it tries to draw level with another car "Lend us some petrol mate and cor, my camshaft couldn't half do with a good greasing if you've any to spare, squire".

8. Vauxhall Mokka
This is the company that gave us the Cavalier, the Senator and the Viceroy. For their new SUV they could have given us the Congressman, the Knight, the Equerry but instead settled on a type of coffee and then spelt it wrong. Were there too many "k's" left over from a scrabble game at the North-Eastern dealers spring break in Scarborough? And they utterly failed to use the totally brilliant slogan "Don't knokka the Mokka". Missed opportunity, there, lads.

7. Mitsubishi Pajero
 Another SUV and apparently the name is derived from a Pampas cat. Also sold under the much more reasonable name of Shogun. That one works - Japanese maker, Japanese name. If they wanted to convey nice and cuddly they could have called it the Pussy but I guess that might have caused some tut-tutting from the PC Brigade. As it is, that "j" in the middle makes it ugly.

6. Renault Twingo
I don't know what happened here. Did they rule out the "Bingo" as it was too British? It's a little car and little cars do tend to get lumbered with innocuous little names like Corsa and Ka (which is both silly and rather clever at the same time) but Twingo sounds like a mildly disabling complaint of the lower vertebrae - "It's just a touch of Twingo, Mrs Arkwright, nothing to worry about, rub some liniment in and take it easy". Alternatively it could be a chocolate bar, sold as two sticks in one packet (hence "twin", you see). But it doesn't say car to me.

5. Renault Captur
Renault again and another SUV to boot. Cap Tur is, of course, a well known and highly fashionable resort near Menton, home to an artist colony, a famous perfume designer and a man from Essex with a scar, too much gold jewellery and very high gates around his villa. But Captur? It surely cannot be a contraction of "capture", can it, and if it was what do we make of it?

4. Dacia Duster
These SUVs certainly get more than their fair share of daft nomenclature. Did they do no market research at all? Do people go go into car washes and say "Would you kindly clean my Duster?" If they wanted a name with bit of spirit and boyish aggression they should have called it the Dust-up. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the Mitsubishi Mop, the Bentley Bin and the Volkswagen Vacuum. And, in another context (when I can think of it), the Skoda Soda.

3. Nissan Qashqai
These SUVs don't let up, do they? I think the Nissan men must have been at the same conference as the Vauxhallers, only someone took all their "u's". What an irritating name this is, only you do get 2 "q's" for the price of one and surely that has tipped the balance for many a wavering buyer. Reminiscent of Yiddish, one can imagine an aged lady moaning to her friend "Oy, ikh hobn veytik in meyn qashqai" 1. Not only would I not buy one of these cars due to its name, I don't have a clue how  to pronounce it.

2. Seat Mii
A small car with a small name and another misuse of letters (No wonder that sales conference ended in uproar with much angry beating of clipboards). Do they want it to be called the Me? Why not say so? I suppose you have to say "Me-ee" like a two year old putting his hands up when asked who wants more jam on his rice pudding. Not to be confused with the even more stupidly named Nintendo Wii. Of course, in Latin, it represents 1002 which, as all numerologists know, is the secret number denoting something parked forlornly at the side of the road with the bonnet up.

And now the number 1, the silliest car name of all. Drum roll, please. I give you (and please remember to take it away at the end):

1. Kia Cee'd.
Plenty of commentators have discussed this one. Curiously, Kia have removed the apostrophe on the current model (perhaps they needed it for a really advanced Scrabble game) so now it is called the Ceed, which I suppose you pronounce as Seed, and which is pretty awful anyway. The car itself is an unexceptional hatchback; maybe a mini version can be called the Ceedless. Anyway, back to that unbelievable apostrophe. Was it put in to win a bet? It is not possible to speak this word as written because the apostrophe thus placed denotes missing letters (as it does in the word "doesn't", for example) but we don't know what they are. Could it be a contraction of "Cedarwood?" or "Seaboard", spelt wrong? Whatever it is, I don't care and I'm not going to buy one.

Special bonus
Thank you for staying with us right to the end. As a reward to you, our loyal readers, we give you the light van with the silliest name. And the award goes to (let's have another drum roll, if the drummer is still here)....

Peugeot Bipper
Bravely rejecting real and gritty words like "gripper" or "flipper" or "nipper" (a very good name for a small and versatile vehicle), and unaccountably ignoring the rather pertinent "shipper", the best brains in Paris went to the playground for inspiration. Is not a bipper that little red button on the side of a toy that squeaks when you press it?


 1:  translation. "Oy, do I have a pain in my ****", where **** represents whatever part of the anatomy you feel is most suitable.

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