Fear Wheel Drive: The Top Ten Most Frighteningly Named Cars


The vampire of creeping political correctness continues to suck the life out of what passes for modern culture; not even automobile names are immune.

From Corolla to CTS to the cold hard numbers denoting BMW's and Benz's offerings, today's vehicle names don't do much to speed the pulse. It wasn't always this way, however, and to prove it here are ten scary car names that really got our hearts pumping.




Dodge Demon


The Dodge Demon was a performance version of Chrysler's compact Dart sold only in 1971 and 1972 – only the debut model featured “cute” devil-with-pitchfork logo badging and nameplates.

Chrysler formally dropped the demon name and image in 1973 after receiving complaints from Christian groups. (frighteningly named car image via Custom_Cab)  




Kaiser Dragon


Here's an oldie but a goodie: the Kaiser Dragon was sold in 1953, though it didn't sell very well with a mere 1,277 finding buyers. Featuring loads of luxury accessories and 24-carat gold plated nameplates, the Dragon was surprisingly sluggish for such a grandly-named automobile, taking all of 15 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60mph.

With competitive Buick models boasting V8 power compared to the Dragon's anemic inline six, not even an exotic “Bambu” vinyl roof or a bold, fire-breathing name could turn the Dragon into a showroom winner. Kaiser Motors wouldn't survive past 1955 and overpriced oddities like the Dragon were a big reason why. (frighteningly named car image via DW425)  




AMC Gremlin


A gremlin is defined as a mischievous creature with a propensity to sabotage mechanical constructs, contraptions and conveyances. Fans of the old Twilight Zone TV series may recall a gremlin tormenting an airline passenger played by William Shatner.

It would seem naming a car “Gremlin” would only be asking for trouble yet the clever minds at AMC did just that – the distinctively styled & striped Gremlin coupe was sold from 1970 through 1978.  (frighteningly named car image via Rob Hartog)  




Stout Scarab


The 1936 Stout Scarab doesn't look very scary unless you're somewhat beetle-phobic... and if you're not, watching the 1999 flick The Mummy should do the trick. Unlike the scarabs in the movie, real scarab beetles held sacred by the ancient Egyptians preferred eating dung to human flesh. Thank goodness for small blessings.

As for the innovative (for its time) Stout Scarab, only nine vehicles were manufactured by the by Stout Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, between 1935 and 1946. The earlier models featured more scarab-themed styling and trim. Just tell the dealer Imhotep sent you. (frighteningly named car image via Conceptcarz)




Ford Probe


The Ford Probe was sold from 1989 through June of 1997 and regularly appears on ad-hoc lists of “worst car names”. We're including it in this list of frightening car names because Probe IS a scary name, especially if you're driving one to a proctologist appointment. Then again, if you ARE a proctologist, preferably one on his/her way to Probefest...

On the bright side, the Probe was one of the only Fords recommended by Consumer Reports as a good used car buy, so it's got that going for it, which is nice. (frighteningly named car image via Darren Walsh




Studebaker Dictator


Calling your car a “Dictator” takes moxie. Doing so in the dark days before World War II takes the cake. To Studebaker's credit, they discontinued the Dictator name in 1937 after a ten-year run... not quite the thousand-year reign other dictators typically aspire to.

Curiously, the Dictator was Studebaker's low-price model – buyers wiling to pay more opted for the Commander or President series. In Europe, the Dictator was a no-go from the get-go; Studebaker marketed them under the “Director” moniker. Perhaps they should have gone that route in the Hollywood-lovin' USA, dubbing their model lines Director, Producer and Best Boy. (frighteningly named car image via Alden Jewell)




Mercury Marauder


The Wiktionary defines “marauder” as someone who engages in banditry, piracy, looting, robbery, and theft... ideally, all of the above. It also signifies a car made by Mercury, who dubbed some of their models Marauders on no less than three separate occasions between 1963 and 2004.

Naturally, any car carrying such a potent nameplate had better live up to it and indeed, Marauders were some of Mercury's most powerful vehicles. Powerful perhaps, but frightening? Maybe only to your insurance agent. (frighteningly named car image via RudeDude2140a)




Hudson Hornet


The Hudson Hornet was sold from 1951 through 1957, the final three years under the auspices of American Motors when it was basically a badge-engineered Nash. Hudson Hornets were famed for their optional Twin H-Power engines, at the time the largest displacement (308 cubic inches or 5.0 litre) six-cylinder auto engines in the world.

Having Twin H-Power under your Hornet's hood served to frighten off most V8 challengers; having an actual hornet's nest under your Hudson's hood was even scarier for owners conducting an overdue oil change. (frighteningly named car image via Adam Swank)




Skoda Yeti


Meet the Skoda Yeti... well, maybe not on a cold dark night in the mountains during a blizzard. Czech-based Skoda Auto builds the Yeti – also known as the Abominable Snowman – in six different European and Asian countries where the small SUV has been generally well received.

In fact, Top Gear Magazine rated the Yeti as their Family Car of the Year for 2009 so it seems it's not all that abominable. Will we ever see the Yeti in North America? Possibly, though photos are expected to be blurry and out of focus. (frighteningly named car image via skodafabiacar@yahoo.in)




Rolls-Royce Ghost


Rolls-Royce has a long history of supernaturally-named models including the Spirit, the Wraith, the Phantom and the Silver Ghost. Inspired by and in homage to the legendary Silver Ghost produced from 1906 through 1926, the modern Rolls-Royce Ghost debuted in 2009 at the Shanghai Motor Show.

Still going strong in 2014, the Ghost Series II features re-designed LED headlights with whiter, brighter light... Casper would approve. (frighteningly named car image above via Turbozens, at top via Street Legal TV)