Name and Shame


Giving a Japanese product a western name is sometimes thought to add cachet; the danger is you end up with a random selection of Janglish words that only add ridicule to an otherwise blameless model. Here are some of our favourites, none of which officially made it out of Japan with these names attached.

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by Ben Oliver


13 Responses to “Name and Shame”

  1. Excellent work. I particularly like the Mysterious Utility Wizard.

    You left out two of the greatest though: Mitsubishi’s Mini Active Urban Sandal, and Nissan’s Pantry Boy Supreme. Isuzu also produced another classic with the Giga 20 Light Dump.

  2. Nissan Cedric
    Toyota WiLL CYPHA (perhaps the ugliest thing you’ve seen with Corolla underpinnings, they are really popular in Kyoto and Niigata)

  3. Motorsrme

    Well I always thought the coolest name was a Nissan Cedric. It just gives that instant impression of power, taught handling, walloping exhaust note and even a smidge of exotica that has eluded all European car manufacturers.

  4. Ray Pearson

    Although not an English word, you might like to add Suzuki’s “Cappucino” to your list. It was certainly not the light, fluffy, frothy, milky item the name suggests but a very worthwhile little sports car. I drove one when they were introduced to this country and found it a very potent little number. There was no way however that I was going to drive around in a car with such a name and probably many other potential buyers felt the same, which could be why the car was not a big seller. Perhaps it would have been better if they had called it (sticking to the Italian theme)”Grappa” – now that is a drink with a bite !

  5. How about the Mitsubishi Carisma, this must be one of the cars with the least charisma of all.
    And how about the Nissan Gloria or Fairlady, wow dont they sell the image.

  6. Andrew Kelsey

    How about the Mitsubishi Starion. It was supposed to be called Stallion in line with its pony car status as a sort of mini-Mustang, but with the Japanese accent and inability to pronounce the ‘L’ sound it was produced in Japan and sold in the UK as the Starion for some years.

    • Yes, rumour has it that a phone call from Mitsubishi in Japan to their UK based marketing team was responsible for this, although Mitsubishi always maintained that they meant to name it Starion as a contraction of ‘Star of Orion’. Yeah right, Mitsubishi, so you name the Colt & Lancer after types of horse, then go for something that’s named after a star. Mitsubishi also named the Pajero – if you’re Spanish, Pajero means w*****r!

  7. How about the good old Toyota MR2? What’s wrong with that? In French this is pronounced Toyota emmerde. The literal translation being “Toyota drops you in the s**t!” And I thought they were so reliable!

  8. graham thomas

    Nissan Sunny – TURBO , priceless!!??

  9. My neighbour has an R34 Skyline and a Nissan Cube,he loves them both. The Cube is like a topless woman,everybody keeps looking at it!

  10. Adam Limbrey

    In the 80’s and 90’s I worked in product marketing for Daihatsu UK. After a serious error of judgement in naming some of their cars without consulting the importers (anyone remember the Applause? aka the Clap), the factory in Osaka got round to asking us for feedback on potential names before they were launched on an unsuspecting market. I am delighted to say that I was largely responsible for preventing their re-worked mini-van carrying the monniker “JOYBOX” – my email to them suggested that it may have dodgy homo-erotic connotations which I’m never quite sure they understood but at least they dropped the name!

  11. The prize should go to the Nissan “Horny”. But worthhy (??) mentions : Isuzu Bighorn, Daihatsu Naked and Isuzu GIGA 20 Light Dump