Vehicle Naming Honored by Literary Community

Two men brainstorm the worst auto names

San Jose, CA – If you’re comparing the 2019 Chevy Tahoe vs 2019 Toyota Sequoia, you’re probably looking at performance, handling, design, comfort, cargo and amenities in an attempt to determine which better fits the unique demands of your lifestyle.

What you’re probably NOT thinking about, are the names of those vehicles.

But leading automakers are more than happy to pay six-figure salaries to the marketing professionals tasked with crafting the most compelling package possible in order to sell their vehicles. This includes all areas of branding, marketing strategies, slogans and (yes) the vehicle’s name. Through countless hours of collective brainstorming and filtering of those ideas through the candor of test groups, automakers aspire to select iconic monikers which draw consumers their products in a primal, visceral manner. And of the most effective ways of achieving this kind of irresistible pull, is to utilize a name that evokes a sense of grandeur, intrigue or the spirit of adventure. Hence the glorious blended-climate of Lake Tahoe, or the near-infinite permanence of the giant tree collectives.

And while their efforts might go largely unnoticed (and certainly underappreciated) by the everyday consumer these champions of descriptive vernacular are celebrated for their efforts, once a year, as a subset of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University, the primary point of the award is to explore the very worst in literary prose. Open to the public, all entrants are invited to “compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” Formed in 1982, the contest has grown exponentially in its popularity, with the first year yielding three entries and recent years incurring more than 10,000 entries annually.

While tongue-in-cheek awards are far from uncommon, the BLFC differentiates itself by its open-invitation format. It also aims to celebrate wordplay across a series of genres, including the fields of marketing and – since 2014 – Automotive Marketing. And thus, each year, the awards serve to identify the model names which feel…well…deliberate in their badness.

Previous winners include:

  • The ‘Ford Probe’, evoking a sense of personal violation.
  • The ‘Geely PU Rural Nanny’, wondering what makes country childcare workers smell so bad.
  • The ‘Studebaker Dictator’ especially in light of socialist rhetoric.
  • The ‘Nissan Homy Super Long’ (although who wouldn’t sneak a peek at their homey’s thing if it was super-long?
  • The ‘Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard’, ironically my former Dungeons & Dragons alias.
  • The “Tang Hua Detroit Fish”, have you even seen the water in Detroit?
  • The ‘Daihatsu Charade’, because deception sells.

And the winner of the 2018 Bulwer-Lytton Automotive Award goes to Mazda, for their oft-lamented “Mazda Scrum Wagon”. Sure, most people outside of the United States know damn well ‘Scrum’ is a Rugby formation; but it’s hard for others not to imagine it as being part of human biology, be it (in form) found somewhere between the frontal abdomen and anus (or in function) as being some sort of discharge. Thus, it’s simple to imagine a Scrum Wagon as some sort of mobile setting for unsavory debauchery of the most unsanitary kind.

So, great job Mazda! You’ve created something truly….well…deserving of recognition.


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