Pinoys have a funny way of naming things, including all the weird and wonderful nicknames they've given to cars over the years. Obviously, some of those nicknames are based on popular trim variants of the car. People still call sixth-generation (1995-2000) Honda Civics “SiR Body,” while pre-millenium Honda City sedans will forever be known as “Type Zs.” Others are based on advertising campaigns or sentiment, like the Ford Escort “Brenda.”
Then there are the names that come, seemingly, from out of nowhere. Here we list some of the more memorable zingers Pinoys have come up with over the years:
The Volkswagen Beetle has no shortage of nicknames. But its local name, kuba (hunchback), took on a special meaning to many '70s and '80s kids who played the pendong game, where the first one to spot a Beetle was given full authority to slap his playmate on the head as hard as possible. Back in those days, there were so many Beetles that playing this game could be potentially life-threatening. Many friendships were strained or lost due to this nasty, nasty game.
Mercedes-Benz cars have been in the Philippines a long time. Long enough for the mythology of wealth and status upholding the brand to take root. When you say chedeng (short, obviously, for Mercedes), you're talking about wealth and style. Early chedengs included the pagong (turtle) 180D, so named because of its shape and the palikpik (fin) 190D, named after its fin-tail appearance.
The two-door Toyota Corona of the '70s was a dashing, debonair and, dare we say, sexy car. That alone would have earned it the nickname “Macho Machine.” Toyota sealed the deal by having basketball star Robert Jaworski endorse the “Corona Macho Machine.” The name stuck.
Where the previous Lancer had any number of nicknames - L-Type, Bar-Type, or I-Type based on taillight shape, the 1981 car was simply called the "Box Type" because it looked like a box. That's it, really.
Debuting in 1989, the Box Type's successor boasted such modern features as electronic fuel injection and an aerodynamic body shell (inspired, in part, but the wildly popular Galant). As part of the aerodynamic package, you got sleek headlights, too. Hence the singkit (slanty-eyed) moniker.
'Small Body / Big Body / Lovelife'
Continuing Toyota's Macho theme is the 1993 “Big Body” Corolla. So named because it was...well, big. As compared to the previous Corolla, known as the “Small Body” but only after the Big Body came out. The name became permanent when Toyota shrunk its successor to a more manageable size, leaving the Big Body as the biggest of the '90s. That successor became known as the “Lovelife,” from Toyota's successful ad campaign touting its enhanced safety features. Yet another case of a manufacturer inadvertently nicknaming its own product.
'Lancer Itlog / Pizza'
Mitsubishi's stylistic choices in the '90s continued to inspire ever sillier nicknames. The itlog (egg) got its name from pill-shaped taillights with dominant amber side-repeaters. A bit of a stretch, we'll admit. But when the 1997 “Lancer pizza” came along, there was no doubt whatsoever how it got its name. Even though the front-end styling was generically handsome, the pie-sliced shaped taillights were absolutely delicious.
'Ray-Ban / Shark'
In 1994, following the popular GTi-era Galant, Mitsubishi strode out in a new, bold direction with sleek, aerodynamic styling, an optional V6 engine, and a sophisticated new multi-link suspension. Of course, what stuck with most people were those gigantic taillights, which looked like a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses. The model that followed continued with the sleek styling, and got the sexier moniker—“shark."
Isuzu's Alterra was an anomaly amongst pickup passenger vehicles. While most manufacturers shorten their pickups when converting them into seven-seaters, Isuzu simply slapped a body on a full-length D-Max and called it a day. This gave it incredible interior space, but also saddled it with a boxy shape resembling a karo (hearse) more than anything else. As these get cheaper secondhand, we've no doubt a lot of the older ones will eventually be put to such use.
Yeah, this one doesn't need an explanation.