Top 10 Worst Vehicle Nicknames

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Like ‘em or not, nicknames are a way of life. Perhaps you were called four eyes as a child because of your glasses. If your teeth were bedazzled with braces train tracks may have been a more appropriate term of endearment.

Of course various companies have earned themselves disparaging nicknames as well. The Home Despot, CrApple, Taco Hell and Skinemax are but a handful of less-than-flattering titles. Oh, and you can’t forget about Coca-Colonic.

Of course cars are by no means immune to this good-natured ribaldry. In fact since automobiles are such personal objects they seem especially susceptible to earning such titles. Here’s a list of the top 10 worst vehicle nicknames. Have you ever owned one of these gems?

Without question Pontiac’s GTO is one of the most iconic muscle cars from the glorious 1960s and ‘70s. This midsize two-door featured rear-wheel drive, sporty styling and a roster of muscular V8 engines. You might say it was all that and a satchel of crisps.

The car also had an unusual nickname, well, two to be precise. Arguably the strangest title it earned was Goat, a crude anagram of its three-letter name. It was also called The Great One, a name created, of course, by jumbling its letters.

But today none of this matters. Pontiac’s in the big parking lot above along with Oldsmobile, Pope-Toledo and a bunch of other orphaned brands. The legendary GTO lives on in our hearts and cruise nights at Big Boy restaurants across the country.

Few vehicles are as famous as the Volkswagen Beetle. This bulbous economy car is about as legendary as an automobile can get. But perhaps it should have been called the cockroach since it just wouldn’t die. It’s the longest running and most prolifically produced car in history with some 21 million examples of the original version manufactured.

Its timeline reaches back to pre-World-War-II Nazi Germany, smashes through the hippie era and crash lands decades beyond. The venerable Bug as it became known undoubtedly earned a million other nicknames, some of which can’t be said at the dinner table. Fortunately for motorists and pop-culture enthusiasts alike, this insect wasn’t squashed. And come on, Bug beats Kraft Durch Freude Wagen any day.

Ford’s venerable Model T put the world on wheels… literally. It was the first truly affordable mass-produced car. This meant it was within reach of the average person, which made it the cat’s meow of the early 20th century.

It was perfect for trips to the local blind pig to imbibe a little coffin varnish or for youngsters to go barneymugging. And how! Old Henry’s motorized buggy served owners well. The car was cheap, rugged and more plentiful than grains of sand on a beach.

The Tin Lizzie (or perhaps Stannum Elizabeth if you of the pedantic persuasion) as she came to be called is one of the most important vehicles ever produced. Some 15 million were built between 1908 and 1927. 23-skidoo!

Are you hungry? You will be. Toyota’s Tacoma small pickup truck has earned itself a mouthwatering nickname.

The Taco has been around for decades delivering reliable service to hundreds of thousands of customers. Obviously this is a truncated version of its proper name, but it still makes us smile and our stomachs growl.

If you drive one in the morning is it a breakfast taco? Also, does it come with a hard or soft shell? Come on Toyota, we need answers!

Is there a car more 1980s than the Pontiac Firebird? This sporty model was introduced in the late ‘60s and shared its F-Body bones with the Chevrolet Camaro. However, it really seemed to come into its own a decade and a half later… at least that’s how this author remembers it…

The Screaming Chicken earned its nickname because buyers could get a gigantic f***ing bird plastered on its hood. This Poncho was far from subtle. Still, the ostentatious look probably helped it land a number of starring roles in critically acclaimed movies like Smokey and the Bandit, Smokey and the Bandit II and Smokey and the Bandit Part 3. Who knows, if Pontiac was still around they might even make a fourth installment of this series

Another day, another defunct brand. You can think of Mercury as Ford’s scab, a crusty financial wound that never healed – or made much money. Fortunately it was sloughed off a few years ago so the Blue Oval could focus on its own vehicles and maybe Lincoln… possibly… perhaps.

The Mercury Mystique was a small sedan that bowed in North America for the 1995 model year. It was a rebadged version of the Ford Contour, itself a rechristened Mondeo from Europe. These models stayed in production until 2000, at which time they were promptly (and thankfully) dropped… and forgotten.

The Mistake as Mercury’s variant came to be known was smaller than much of its contemporary competition and its quality was suspect. These vehicles suffered from numerous recalls plus their interiors were quite noisy. On the plus side, the Mystique and Contour delivered a surprisingly sporty driving experience (especially the SVT version of the Ford).

Adding insult to injury the Contour came to be known as the Detour for all the same reasons.

Before Cruze there was Cobalt; before Cobalt came Cavalier. Chevy’s J-Body small car was introduced in the early 1980s and it lingered as a mainstay of the Bow Tie brand’s lineup until the middle 2000s.

Despite its longstanding service the car was not terribly competitive, especially in later model years; rivals continued to improve while the dreary Cadavalier stagnated.

This “loss-leader” was priced to sell. GM might have lost money on each Cadavalier sold but they’d make it up when patrons came back to purchase a more expensive model in the future. However, the plan backfired like a pilgrim’s blunderbuss. The only thing this corpse-like car was ever the leader of was losing customers as they flocked to more reliable and modern offerings from companies like Honda and Toyota.

The Ford Mustang is an American cultural touchstone on par with Elvis, the Statue of Liberty or McDonald’s. Singlehandedly this sporty two-door inaugurated the ponycar segment, a class of automobile that blends performance and youthful styling with value pricing.

But the Blue Oval’s warhorse wasn’t always a smash success. Iterations like the bloated version from the early 1970s and the ill-fated Mustang II tarnished this otherwise famous nameplate. Sidesteps like these helped this car earn the derogatory nickname Rustang.

Chrysler’s retro-themed PT Cruiser was something of a sensation during the early 2000s. Stylish, space efficient and relatively thrifty it struck a chord with American consumers. People were eager to dress theirs with aftermarket grilles and fake-wood body cladding that was tackier than swimming trunks made from flypaper.

Capitalizing on their success, Chrysler engineers offered buyers even more choice several years later when they introduced a turbocharged GT model and even a convertible.

But affordability and practicality be damned, enthusiasts had a field day lampooning this cutesy, Dodge Neon-based vehicle. The PT Loser soon became synonymous with un-cool things like elastic-waist jeans and the band Nickelback.

And last but not least, another Ford vehicle. Just in case Tin Lizzie and Mistake weren’t enough we submit for your approval the name Exploder.

This midsize utility vehicle was tremendously popular during the 1990s; the company sold millions of these Ranger-based vehicles during the decade’s SUV craze. Of course today’s model rides atop a gussied-up automobile architecture for more refined dynamics and better efficiency.

Still, this truck earned an unfortunate nickname. Remember the Firestone scandal? Yeah, failing tires and rollover accidents will dull any nameplate’s luster. As a result the Exploder nickname was born.

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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  • Profoss Profoss on Aug 25, 2014

    Honda Jazz was originally named Honda Fitta, until they found out that "Fitta" means "The C*nt" here in in Norway and "C*nt" in Sweden :D And they had already come up with slogans like "Much bigger inside than it looks" and "Once you get in, you don't wanna get out of it!"

  • Ricky Ricky on Apr 26, 2023

    Pontic 6000LE, GOOLE