Car Culture & Entertainment

Fast in Translation: 10 Spanish-Derived Car Names

Want to polish-up your Spanish language speaking skills? Your favorite automotive blog is here to help. We’ll get you started with a list of ten Spanish words you probably already know.

***

10. Mitsubishi Montero

(Image/Redreality, Creative Commons)

In Spanish, Montero is a name given to a “hunter” or, more specifically, someone who helps guide a hunter. The word is derived from Monte, or mountain, which makes sense, because the Montero is an off-road vehicle. In many parts of the world, the Montero was sold under the name Pajero but, when it went to Spanish-speaking regions, Mitsubishi changed its name—for good reason.

***

9. Hyundai Santa Fe

(Image/Hyundai)

Ok, so we’re cheating a bit here, since we’re sure Hyundai picked the name because of the city in New Mexico, not Santa Fe’s Spanish origins (see Hyundai Tucson, Santa Cruz, Kona, etc.). But Santa Fe has a very interesting translation regardless. It means “Holy Faith,” in homage to St. Francis of Assisi.

(Tiburon, or “shark,” gets an honorable mention here too!)

***

8. Porsche Carrera

(Image/Porsche)

Named after the famed Mexican Carrera Panamericana road race, Carrera simply means “race” in Spanish. Porsche typically applies the Carrera moniker to denote the base two-wheel drive 911 models, but not always. And the name is often squished into an alphabet soup of trim and drivetrain designations, like the picture above of a 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet. (But you can just say 911 if you’re in a hurry.)

***

7. Buick Cascada

(Image/GM)

Curiously, Cascada means “waterfall” in Spanish—which is not really the ideal driving environment for a convertible. But it fit in with its Spanish-named stablemate, the Buick Verano (“Summer”). Originally sold outside the U.S. as an Opel, the Cascada was part of the same badge engineering that brought us the fan-favorite Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice twins.

***

6. Nissan Armada

(Image/Nissan)

Perhaps wanting to convey the same intimidating presence as the formidable Spanish Armada carried throughout 16th century, Nissan dubbed its top-tier SUV the “navy.” Originally a trim level on the Pathfinder, the Armada is now its own model based on the Nissan Patrol truck/SUV that’s available in international markets. (Where’s an Oldsmobile Cutlass when ya need it…)

***

5. Isuzu Amigo

(Image/Accord14, Creative Commons)

With a name like “friend,” what’s not to love about Isuzu’s little off-roader? The problem was, Isuzu was a relatively small player in the North American market and the Amigo faced tough competition—including from its larger cousin, the Isuzu Rodeo. It appeared on U.S. shores from 1989 to 1993, reappearing with a second-gen refresh in 1998. In 2001, the Amigo was renamed the Rodeo Sport before saying adios for good in 2004.

***

4. Honda Del Sol

(Image/Honda)

Literally meaning “of the sun,” Honda hoped its new pop-top coupe would recapture the market held by the beloved CRX. While the Civic-based Del Sol only lasted from 1992 to 1997 in the U.S., it was a respectable performer capable of ripping off a sub-15 second quarter-mile. A cult classic now, pristine Del Sol specimens can command a premium on the collector’s market.

***

3. Ford Ranchero

1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero, side view
(Image/OnAllCylinders – David Fuller)

An excellent choice for a vehicle often marketed to farmers, the word Ranchero simply translates to “rancher.” But we’re guessing that, instead of Spanish etymology, the name was more a result of the 1950s’ cultural fascination with cowboys and the wild west. Yet Ford gets a lot of credit here, not only for kickstarting the Ute segment in the U.S., but also inspiring other Spanish vehicle names—which brings us to…

***

2. Chevy El Camino

(Image/OnAllCylinders – Dave Fuller)

Seeing how Ford dubbed its Ute the Ranchero, Chevy marketers took the Spanish thing one step further by simply calling theirs “the way.” GM also gets an additional subtle nod here for naming the El Camino’s GMC cousin the Caballero, a Spanish term of respect meaning “gentleman” or, more accurately, “knight.” (That explains the awesome Royal Knight trim too!)

***

1. Lamborghini Diablo

(Image/Mr.choppers, Creative Commons)

We were exactly today years old when we realized that Diablo was a Spanish word and not Italian (sorry Ducati). But whatever the language, “devil” is appropriately menacing and well-deserved for a car capable of blasting to 60 mph in less than five seconds and topping out at over 200 mph. Just remember though: Italian car, Spanish name.

***

So, are you fluent yet?

Oh, and if we missed any other Spanish-named cars on our list, let us know in the comments below, por favor.

Tags: , , , , ,

One Comment

  1. la paille says:

    camaro

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.