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Vehicular nominative amusement

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22nd Mar 2016 | 21:37

Today I have been amused by a conversation on Twitter about car names.

It started with a map of common occupational surnames in Europe which prompted me to say that I thought Smith's Cars doesn't sound quite as romantic as Ferrari. Adam and Rich pointed out that "Farrier's Cars" might be a slightly better translation since it keeps the meaning and still sounds almost as good. And it made me think that perhaps the horse is prancing because it has new shoes.

In response I got a lot of agricultural translations from @bmcnett. Later there followed several more or less apocryphal stories about car names: why the Toyota MR2 sold like shit in France, why the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow was nearly silver-plated crap in Germany, or (one, two, three) why the Mitsubishi Pajero was only bought by wankers in Spain, and finally why the Chevy Nova did, in fact, go in Latin America.

(And, tangentially relevant, Mike Pitt also mentioned that Joe Green's name is also more romantic in his native Italian.)

But I was puzzled for a while when the uniquely named mathew mentioned the Lamborghini Countach, before all the other silliness, when I had only remarked about unromantic translations. I wasn't able to find an etymology of Lamborghini, but their logo is a charging bull, and many of their cars are named after famous fighting bulls. However, the Countach is not; the story goes that when Nuccio Bertoni first saw a prototype he swore in amazement - "countach" or "cuntacc" is apparently the kind of general-purpose profanity a 1970s Piedmontese man might utter appreciatively upon seeing a beautiful woman or a beautiful car.

So, maybe, at a stretch, it would not be completely wrong to translate "Lamborghini Countach" to "bull shit!"

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Comments {3}

Gerald the cuddly duck

from: gerald_duck
date: 22nd Mar 2016 23:52 (UTC)

Allegedly, the Fiat Punto ran into trouble because in some South American countries "Punto" is slang for "small penis". They'd intended it to connote full stops, punchiness, verve.

Equally allegedly, "saxo" approximates a Japanese phrase for "let's shit", which created problems for the Citroen Saxo.

One of my pet peeves as a Lexus driver is that people don't realise the brand name is completely artificial. It's not Latin; the plural isn't "Lexi".

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from: entropy_house
date: 23rd Mar 2016 16:47 (UTC)

Or possibly "Lamborghini Countach" could stand for "Holy cow!" :^)

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 23rd Mar 2016 16:56 (UTC)

That's a bit nicer :-)

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