The Japanese are undoubtably the kings of strange car names. For some incomprehensible reason, even though Japan has about the worst TOEIC scores in, well, the world, they insist that all of their cars have English (or at least foreign) names. Over the last 30 years, they have perfected the Strange Car Name. A small scratch on the surface:

Daihatsu Applause.

Daihatsu Cube. Not a bad name, considering that this car is pretty much a box with wheels.

Daihatsu Move. I should hope so.

Daihatsu Naked. A mini-SUV ("one box") very popular among the ladies, who generally freak out when I tell then what it means.

Daihatsu Rugger. I guess the upholstery is a key sales point?

Honda Acty. At least they didn't call it "Seizey".

Honda Joy Machine. For a the slightest fraction of a second I had this confused with the Hitachi Magic Wand.

Honda Life. If you have 1,800,000 yen to spare, you too can get a Life!

Honda Mysterious Utility. Indeed.

Honda Stepwgn. "wgn" is pronounced "wagon", of course.

Honda Street. Where exactly are you supposed to drive a Street?

Honda That's. How can a relative pronoun be a name? (I think it might be a play on words for "zatsu", as in "zatsuyou" - capable of many different tasks.)

Mazda Bongo. Pretty hard to beat that. Har!

Mitsubishi Bravo Exceed. Car or giant robot?

Mitsubishi Canter Guts. A light freight truck.

Mitsubishi Delica. The name would be slightly less hilarious on a car that wasn't a turbocharged diesel, 4WD behemoth van, complete with a full-steel bumper / rambar that looks like it could give a brick wall a run for its money.

Mitsubishi Fighter Mignon. Some kind of play on words? Is this supposed to be the filet mignon of trucks or something? I don't think I need to mention that "mignon" means "dainty" in French. Oh, the woes of randomly combining foreign languages...

Mitsubishi Pajero. According to Mitsubishi, "Named after a mountain cat that inhabits the Patagonia plateau region in southern Argentina." Unfortunately, it's also a minimal pair for "Pakero", "one who masturbates". I think it was renamed to Montero or something for foreign markets, but they still make new Pajeros in Japan, including the Pajero Jr. and the Pajero Mini.

Mitsubishi Starion. According to rumour, was supposed to be "Stallion".

Mitsubishi Super Great FP-R Ultra-Economical Motorway Tractor. A very heavy freight truck. It had to be big to fit the name on it.

Mitsubishi Toppo. How many clowns will fit in the trunk?

Nissan Homy. I wouldn't try driving this through the 'hood.

Nissan Sunny. No, it's not solar powered...

Nissan Vanette. At least it is a minivan, so this kind of makes sense.

Suzuki Every.

Subaru Impreza Gravel Express. This mini-SUV wagon, well known for its offroad abilities, can now handle gravel!

Toyota Coaster. "To move without power", or "a defunct CD" - take your pick.

Toyota Comfort. Actually, it is pretty comfortable. If you've ever been to Japan, you've see this car -- it's the standard taxi. It's also the car you use to take your road test.

Toyota Picnic. A 7-passenger utility wagon... that's a damn big picnic. From the pamphlet: "When it comes to the cabin space, it's a joy for claustrophobic."

Toyota Starlet. A wannabe performer? (Actually, I have one, it's not too bad. Update: Before leaving Japan, I sold my Starlet. Three years of hard driving on a 1992 vehicle, with only a burnt-out headlight and one bad wheel bearing. Better than any north american car I have ever owned. What kept this out of the world market? Maybe the name.)

Yamaha Vino. A motor scooter. Do you have to get loaded to drive it?