Except that in this blog I was going to tell you why these famous Japanese car models and more are not wacky at all. They’re not titteringly amusing in the slightest but are instead steeped in common sense and implacable Japanese logic.
I was going to tell you about the Nissan Gloria. Formerly the Prince Gloria, it originated in the 1950s when cars were still rare and expensive and the Prince car company was the official vehicle supplier to the Japanese Imperial Household. Prince gifted a car to the then crown prince – later to be Emperor Akihito – for his wedding and another for his anniversary.
It stands to reason, then, that an outward-looking company would give the model an appropriate, grand, joyful and, yes, glorious-sounding name that the rest of the world would understand. It wasn’t named after a Loose Women presenter.
The Isuzu GIGA 20 Light Dump? Well, it’s a small commercial vehicle, and there are countries in the world where the word ‘dump’ is as shoulder-shruggingly innocent as ‘spunk’ is in Australia. The Isuzu is, in effect, a small dump truck. There’s a Mazda Titan Dump, too. Guess what? It’s bigger.
The Bongo Friendee, I’ll admit, gave me more trouble. But the Bongo, a van, is a lightweight, tightly skinned piece of equipment that serves the community, just like a bongo drum: simple tools, like instruments, used for the enrichment of community.
A Bongo van with lots of seats or a camp bed? Well it’s an even more communal Bongo. A Bongo for friends. A Friendly Bongo, or a Bongo Friendee, if you will. Precisely nothing odd about that at all.
Which brings me to every internet forum’s favourite wacky Japanese car name, the Nissan Pantry Boy Supreme. I had assumed it was a small van beloved of caterers – certainly, the internet told me so – and, as such, Pantry Boy would, similarly, be a perfectly sensible, logical name. For a van used to deliver ingredients to small restaurants and caterers: things brought to you from a pantry. It’s the Japanese equivalent of a bread van. It’s entirely rational.
Except that I couldn’t find a picture or specification for the Pantry Boy anywhere, so I asked the good people of Nissan Europe about it. They were aware of the Pantry Boy but couldn’t find anything on it. So they asked their Japanese colleagues, who shrugged and said the equivalent of “never heard of it, mate”.
The thing is, the Nissan Pantry Boy Supreme does not exist. It never has. There is a Toyota Deliboy (which is what you’d think it is) but the Pantry Boy Supreme is not it. Someone just made it up.