It was right in front of me. I was driving right behind it. It brought back a flood of memories and reminded me of the fun we've had with Japanese car names over the years.
It must be over a decade ago since I had a jolly good laugh at some of them: Every Joy Pop; Bighorn; Cedric; Bongo; Mighty Boy; Royal Lounge Alphard. Yes, all of those are real.
Recent research shows that the Japanese automotive industry has not been affected by the almost universal ridicule of their nomenclature. The risible names just keep on coming so it's time for an update.
Okay, the one I was driving behind wasn't exactly funny but one still wonders where such a name could have come from. It positively smacked of madeupness (I made up that word). It was a fairly recent vehicle by Subaru which they chose to call a Levorg.
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Where on Earth could that have come from? How many people sat round the discussion table? How much rice wine was involved?
Could it be French in origin, the "Le" being the French masculine definite article? But then what is a vorg? Some sort of burrowing animal.
Don't worry! I did my research and there is a "valid" reason for the name. Levorg is a portmanteau of three words: the Le comes from Legacy, one of Subaru's other models; the vo is supposed to represent revolution; the rg has been plucked from within the word touring.
Perhaps you see now why I put the "valid" in inverted commas. You don't? I recommend more rice wine.
Mitsubishi had the Legnum. If we apply the same reasoning as they used on the Levorg we might get Le (to make it sound French), gn (to represent a gnu), and um (to indicate hesitancy and uncertainty about the name).
Using animal names is not unusual. Take the well-respected Jaguar, for example. Then there's Barracuda, Beetle, Cobra, Mustang, Viper, Stingray and Impala.
It's surely a short leap from an impala to a gnu (a wildebeest or antelope, after all) and I'll have you know that the adult gnu can run at speeds of up to 80km/h. You can't argue with that sort of nomenclature background.
Or perhaps Legnum is just a two-word portmanteau: Leg (to suggest there's plenty of legroom); num (to suggest those legs won't go numb). Pass the rice wine, please.
More research revealed some names we don't see on our roads as they are reserved for the Japanese market only. I think I'll just list them (in alphabetical order) so they can speak for themselves.
Honda Vamos Hobio Pro
Mazda Scrum Truck
Mitsubishi Super Great
Mitsubishi Town Box
Nissan Big Thumb
Suzuki Solio Bandit
As usual, I'm here to help so I've come up with some more names that Japanese car makers are free to use.
My first suggestion is the Toyota Emulsion. The "valid" reason for such a name is that it combines into a single vehicle a number of features buyers look for in cars – such as wheels, wall-to-wall floors and brakes.
My next suggestion is the Suzuki Very Quickly which could also be available in a more luxurious, souped-up version, the Suzuki Very Quickly Indeed.
For Mitsubishi's next people-mover, I have come up with the Luxury Velour Armchair, also available in a higher-spec version, the Luxury Velvet Armchair Grande.
To be on the safe side, I suggest the Japanese could just stick to combinations of letters. There's nothing risible, for example, about an XL or a GT.
Perhaps one day in the near future when I'm out driving, I'll be right behind a BO. Let's hope there's a crosswind.