Jebediah Wilbury riffs on some really awful car names, starting with Ford’s Edsel, which wound up with the name of Henry Ford’s firstborn after thousands of possibilities, including a whole sheaf by poet Marianne Moore, were rejected. (Although I think “Mongoose Civique” would have been kinda neat.)
“Edsel” never bothered me all that much, perhaps because there weren’t too many of them around: the marque was unceremoniously killed off early in its third year. Some badges, though, perplex me to this day:
- Chevrolet Celebrity (1982-90): Chevrolet has always positioned itself as the car for Everyman, so tagging a Chevy as “Celebrity,” the very antithesis of what Chevy stood for, was counterproductive at best. At worst, they actually offered a trim line called “Eurosport,” with toned-down brightwork but no actual performance improvements.
- AMC Pacer (1975-80): Not such a bad name, really, but “Pacer” had baggage: it was the name for one of the lower Edsel trim lines.
- AMC Matador (1971-78): There was great amusement during the early days of the Chevrolet Nova and how its name meant “it does not go” in Spanish, though most of the stories turned out to be apocryphal. But “Matador” means “killer” and not just of bulls.
- Pontiac 6000 (1981-91): A corporate cousin to the Celebrity, this Poncho was mostly innocuous, unless you bought the uprated LE version, which carried “6000LE” badges on each front fender, leading smartaleck children to yell, “Mom! Look! It’s a GOOOO-LEE!” The performance-oriented STE, at least, didn’t have to put up with this.
- Hyundai Excel (1985-94): This first Korean car on American soil did not actually excel at anything, so I’m assuming they named it after a spreadsheet.
- Ford Flex (2009-?): The last thing I want in an automobile is the suggestion of bendy sheetmetal.
Dishonorable mention: Kia cee’d (2007-?), sold only in Europe, because (1) it looks silly and (2) Hyundai sells a version as the i30, which bugs Nissanophiles.
On the other hand, a source of delight was Toyota’s Cressida (1973-92), so far the only car I know of named for a woman of variable virtue. (No Boxster jokes, please.)