How cars are named has always been a curiosity. Studebaker had a car in the 1930s called the Dictator. Before that, they had the Rockne – yes, named for Knute Rockne of Ronald Reagan movie fame. You know that old Gipper line he always quoted.
Naming cars for people is not strange. That is how we ended up with Nash, Ford, Lincoln, Oldsmobile (Ransom E. Olds, who also gave us R-E-O). That is how we ended up with Hudson. Hudson was not named for the river or valley; it was named after Joseph L. Hudson, a Detroit department store owner, whose store was named, you guessed it, Hudson’s Department Store.
Car naming was obviously very egotistical in the early days.
Just as we had “look at my company” cars, we also had cars with strange names. There was the Terraplane – on the water you are hydroplaning, in the air you are airoplaning, on the ground, you are terraplaning! Seen a Terraplane dealer lately (for those that don’t know, this was a Hudson brand)?
We have had Presidents, Ambassadors, Statesmans, and Diplomats, but we never had a car called Middle Manager or Frustrated Pencil Pusher. Now, that would sell.
There have been Thunderbirds, Firebirds, and Bantams (a type of chicken), but we never got to drive a Buzzard, a car that would circle and circle until just the right spot was available.
Places make nice names like Monterey, Dakota, Riviera and Montana, but thankfully, no one tried to sell us a convertible Newark or Newport News Station Wagon.
There have been Rockets, Satellites, and Apollos, but did you ever see a four-door hardtop Skylab? I mean one that wasn’t falling toward your house in a million fiery pieces.
Also, there have been the controversial names like Cherokee, Comanche and Chief. Imagine a personal luxury car called a Jewess. It will only take you to restaurants and department stores and never pull into a grocery store parking lot.
Then, there are the names that confuse me.
I have always disliked the name Prius. To me, it sounds like a vaginal infection. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Greenberg, but you seem to have Prius. Does your husband frequently seek the services of prostitutes?”
Toyota also has the Yaris, which is a sleeping disease you contract from fleas that have jumped off a walrus. Corolla means shitty, dirty appliance in Japanese, which is why their owners rarely clean them. The only Toyota name I cannot joke about is Camry because I have an old friend named Cammie, and besides, I cannot think of a Camry joke.
The Nissan Maxima is a feminine hygiene product. How can a straight man drive one of these, and if he does, how can he refuse to pick up tampons for his wife?
Nissan used to be Datsun, and my father always told the joke that a Jewish guy named the company. His boss said, “I need a name by tomorrow,” and the Jewish guy answered, “Dat soon?”
Nissan has the Altima, which is only driven by Alta Cockers – literally; the Sentra, which is enriched with essential vitamins and minerals; and the Versa, which can be parked on the top or bottom tier of a garage … think about it.
Mazda is smart. They only use numbers. However, the English translation of Miata is flaming hot mess of a drag queen. I don’t think since the Dodge Custom Royal La Femme has a car been more associated with women and effeminate men than the Mazda Miata. I wonder if it also has a lipstick holder.
Now Dodge has used a few strange names, and many either medicinal, Lancer for removing moles, or phallic, Dart, and don't forget bisexual phallic, Dart Swinger.
Then, there was the Dodge Coronet, a favorite car among nuns because nothing says marketing strategy more than selling your car to monasteries. Realizing their cars were named for penises, medical instruments and the Flying Nun’s hat, they have recently gone all testosterony with Avenger, Caliber, Challenger and Charger. It’s as if you have to wear spandex and a cape to drive one of their cars.
Chrysler always put on airs with New Yorker, Newport, and Windsor, but Plymouth always suffered from disassociative personality disorder with the Cranbrook, a side-dish served during the holidays, Fury, what happens to your partner when you stain a pillow sham, and Valiant, a prince with a page-boy haircut and lots of male friends.
Ford now has Focus, Fiesta and Escape, so are you going to concentrate, party or just leave? Make up your minds guys.
The best names used to be at Cadillac with DeVille or is it Deville or is it De Ville, Seville and Calais. Well, they did have Fleetwood, and brand of enema. But now, it is all DTS and CTS and LL Cool J and FU2. Where is the class in all that?
Kia disturbs me most. They gave us Sorento, an Italian TV dinner, and the Cadenza, a type of mid-century modern desk. Who drives a desk? Can you imagine asking the valet for your Cadenza?
My favorite is the Kia Sportage, which is when two athletes rub their genitalia together. “After the game, Bruce and I sportaged until we were spent. Then we took a shower and sportaged some more.” No wonder these are so popular.
Did you know the Edsel was almost named Utopian Turtletop? That is an uncircumcised penis that appears perfect in every way, until you have to live in it.
If you drive a feminine hygiene product or a phallic symbol, follow me, join me or just buy my books. www.miltonstern.com