9 Cars That Fail to Live up to Their Names

Like the kid in remedial math named Albert E.

The Formula 1 Grand Prix—literally from the French, “grand prize”—is the biggest award in racing. It’s the trophy that keeps racers awake at night. The Pontiac Grand Prix—pronounced by more than one owner with a hard “x”—is a clunky, abysmally upholstered sedan that helped ultimately kill the brand that produced it.
For over two centuries, the Aztec people ruled Mesoamerica, constructing righteous temples and an apocalypse myth so compelling, it’s worrying folks to this day. The Pontiac Aztek is an infamous corporate misfire denigrated as an “angry kitchen appliance” by Bob Lutz and used as a running joke about middle-class male impotence in a cable drama about methamphetamines.
The soul: the essence of the human, the animus, the boundless spirit. The Kia Soul: an artfully styled Tupperware piece with as much life force as day-old bibimbap.
Little known fact: the name “Allanté” was picked from thousands of computer-generated options by General Motors executives. Because, if you can’t make your product competitive with a Mercedes-Benz SL or Jaguar XJS, you can at least slap on a Continental-sounding syllable mash that Deep Blue finds agreeable.
The Samurai were noble medieval warriors. Some carried swords whose length and sharpness meant that, if inclined, a samurai could skewer himself a three-man shish kabob. The Suzuki Samurai, though capable off-road, had 66 horsepower and was prone to rollovers.
A “legend” is an “extremely famous or notorious person.” Al Capone is a legend; so is Chita Rivera. The Acura Legend did originate the brand, but it’s known for reliability and comfort—not exactly star-making qualities.
The horizon! The wondrous meeting of earthy and sky, sea and air! The point at which the sun sets! Did you know that it’s named after a Plymouth hatchback from the late Seventies?
“Toronado,” while not an actual English word, evokes the windswept Western plains: expansive, robust and littered with tumbleweeds. While the original car might have hit those marks on the nose, by the Eighties, the Toronado was little more than an onshore breeze.
Park Avenue is a might Midtown stretch broken only by the Beaux-Arts grandeur of Grand Central Terminal. If you’ve seen a New York-based movie whose opening shot tracks down an elegant boulevard, you’ve seen Park Avenue. The Buick Park Avenue also has a movie role: as a piece of background scenery in 1993’s Dennis the Menace.

Baby-name books sell millions of copies a year—clearly, we believe there’s much in a name. Parents will often name with aspiration: Kennedy might grow up to be a president, Chastity a nun, Shmuel a first-rate mohel. Unfortunately, prenatal vibes aren’t great predictors of a child’s mature self, which is how you end up with Michelangelo the accountant, or Frank, who can’t give a straight opinion to save his life.

Here are nine other examples of offspring that didn’t live up to their grandiose names.