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When it comes to naming a car, sometimes a manufacturer gets it right. Think of the Rolls Royce Phantom, Lamborghini Aventador or Aston Martin Vanquish. They’re names that just roll off the tongue.

But sometimes they get it horribly wrong, like the amphibious crossover, Tang Hua Detroit Fish (above). Here are 11 cars that really got us wondering, “what on Earth were they thinking?”

Great Wall Wingle

Baring the name of possibly what a child may call a part of the male anatomy, in Chinese, this Great Wall ute actually translates to horse. That explains why it’s been called the Steed (cue Shrek quotes) in Australia and in other markets.

Thank goodness it didn’t keep it’s original name, otherwise it would be the butt of many jokes at work sites, like, ‘how’s your Wingle?’

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Mazda Scrum Wagon

When I visited the Tokyo Motor Show last year, I picked up a brochure of this car to bring home, just to prove to my friends that the Mazda Scrum exists.

These boxed wagons are incredibly popular and they also come in van and truck variants. It’s essentially a re-badged Suzuki Carry, with the name originating from a manoeuvre made in the game of rugby.

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Mitsubishi Lettuce

You don’t make friends with salad. And the same goes if you’re driving a car called a Lettuce. Mind you, the car is that small you wouldn’t fit any of your embarrassed friends in it.

The Mitsubishi Lettuce has a single door on the right side and two doors on the passenger side. It is a variant to the Minica, which is in itself, a genius name – it’s mini and it’s a car.

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Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard

This medium-SUV is anything but mysterious and it certainly doesn’t have any magical powers.

The Japanese brand later dropped MU to become the Isuzu Wizard. Does the Isuzu MU-X ring a bell? Surprisingly, it stands for “Multi Utility eXtreme”. No mystery there.

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Geely PU Rural Nanny

The Chinese company Geely, obviously realised there was a void to fill in the market for knitting grandmas who love to roll in their own hip compact ute. It was, as its name suggests, a car that was built for the country.

Hopefully most of them lived their life on the farm and not on the road, though, as it had a 1.0-litre engine that produced 38kW of power – reaching a mind-blowing top speed of 98km/h.

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Volkswagen Thing

Named in the USA as the Thing, it was just as scary as the movie baring the same name. It was originally made by Volkswagen for the West German army and then sold to the public.

It won’t win any “good looking car” awards, as it was designed for practicality with the aim of it being an off-roader. It was cheap to manufacture, too, using parts from the Beetle, Microbus and Karmann Ghia.

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Suzuki Cappuccino

While you think Cappuccino is a rather silly name for a car, there is meaning behind it. In a round-a-bout way, in Italian, it means ‘hood’ or ‘something that covers the head’.

As you can see, it has a detachable hardtop.  The Cappuccino was made to meet Japan’s Kei car specifications, which is designed to decrease insurance and tax in Japan, and could be called Suzuki’s answer to the Mazda MX-5.

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Renault Kangoo 

Kangoo is not a typo with a few words missing from the name of a marsupial. It’s a small van that has been made by the French company since 1997. Apart from its amusing face that looks as if it’s been squished against a window, it’s a rather funky and practical car.

These cars have broken records too, with the variant, Kangoo Z.E, being the world’s top selling all-electric light utility vehicle. The cool part is, you can buy these Renault‘s new right here in the land of Oz.

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Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur

Even prestige manufacturers can have strange names. One that is quite familiar in the classic car world, is the Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur. It was later renamed in 2005 as simply the Flying Spur.

Where the name derives from is rather complex. The British coach building company, H.J Mulliner, was chosen to take on the project, and its Managing Director was Harold Talbot Johnstone. Flying Spur featured on the coat of arms of the Scottish clan Johnstone, and this is where the Bentley’s name originates. There’s your history lesson for the day.

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Nissan Homy Super Long

I bet you first read this as the HORNY Super Long. As its name suggests, this is a super long version of its small van, the Homy. But in the beginning, it wasn’t made by Nissan at all.

It was manufactured and sold by a company that first made airplanes, Prince, before the merger of Nissan in 1965. We think Prince Homy sounds so much better. (Incidentally, the famous Skyline was originally a Prince model.)

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Honda That’s

Japanese car companies have a fascination with the English language, so when they name a car that we think is absurd, they think it’s cool. Like the Honda That’s. For any grammar-obsessed folks, this is something to keep you awake at night.

It’s basically an unfinished sentence. The That’s (ergh) is another of Japan’s boxy Kei cars that was produced between 2002 and 2006, and featured a turbocharged engine with 48kW of power.

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Can you think of any other strange car names? Tell us in the comments below! 






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