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Gurgel Itaipu (wikipedia.org)
94 points by rmsaksida on Dec 8, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 34 comments



I'm always saddened to remember the fall of Gurgel. Had they achieved their goals, Brazilian economy could've benefited immensely.


Didn't they only exist because Brazil was mostly closed to imports at the time?


Gurgel had existed for a long time making small cars, off-roads and dune buggies. Other small manufacturers existed and still do.

They wanted to build cheap cars and take advantage of a lower tax rate for small cars. When they were the most successful, a strike of the customs officials broke their supply of parts from Argentina. Then the federal government and the state government of Ceará reneged on their financing deals. This might have been because of lobbying from the big 4 (Fiat, GM, VW, and Ford), but I don't know if this has been proved.


I think that's not entirely true. All city cars were still all made by foreign car makers. I think Gurgel only tried to make city cars around the 80s and they wanted to go electric (given how much energy became available to the country after Itaipu was built). I wouldn't say they didn't benefit on high import taxes, but they were truly trying to make something good and new.


In German, “Gurgel” translates to gargle (imperative singular) or throat (used colloquially, as e. g. in “grab them by the throat”).

I wonder what other brands translate to ridiculous, non-brand-y words in other languages.


RaboBank, here in New Zealand, translates to something not really nice in Brazilian Portuguese (rabo means tail, but is common slang for ass/arse).

Bunda, jewel store in Australia, literally means butt in Brazilian Portuguese (not slang).

Not really a brand I think, but the Tintin character also means male genitalia in Japanese. (it's also common in Brazil to toast with drinks saying "tintin / chin chin" because of the sound that glasses make, which gets a few jokes among the Brazilian-Japanese community.)


Gurgel was the name of the founder. João Augusto Amaral Gurgel. https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jo%C3%A3o_Augusto_Amaral_Gurge...


The Chevrolet "Nova" has a different name in Latin countries. In Spanish "No va" means "not going", obviously something you don't want from a car.

The Mitsubishi "Pajero" is called "Montero" in Spanish speaking countries. Again in Spanish, "Pajero" means "wanker".


> The Chevrolet "Nova" has a different name in Latin countries. In Spanish "No va" means "not going", obviously something you don't want from a car.

Naah, that is a myth that has been debunked some 20 years ago:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/chevrolet-nova-name-spanis...

It is curious how it still surfaces from time to time.

The Pajero is instead a known "brand blunder":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand_blunder


> The Chevrolet "Nova" has a different name in Latin countries. In Spanish "No va" means "not going", obviously something you don't want from a car.

Urban legend: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/chevrolet-nova-name-spanis...


> in Latin countries

If you mean “in Spanish-speaking countries”, alright. In Portuguese “nova” just means “new”, just as French's “nouveau” or Italian's “nuova”.


The joke still work - maybe not in french tho. In lot of languages variations (like dialects) “nova” can be heard or played as “it does not work”.


> In lot of languages variations (like dialects) “nova” can be heard or played as “it does not work”.

I'm skeptical of that. "go" isn't really idiomatic for "work" in English, and in Romance languages, you're going to use the local variant of "marcher" (literally "to walk") or "to function" to refer to technology working, so I suspect using the literal translation of "to go" is going to be a very strained idiomatic relationship at best.


Audi e-Tron:

> The name e-tron is very similar to the French word étron (meaning turd), causing some ridicule of the e-Tron in France [...] [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audi_e-tron_(2018)#Marketing


On a similar note, Toyota had a performance division called Toyota Racing Development, called TRD for short.

In Australia, they even turned it into a full-blown marque for a few years, so it was actually possible to buy a TRD Aurion or TRD Hilux. And, yes, fans of their competitors did indeed call them TuRDs.


The brand name for Kia motor cars in Israel are pronounced "ka-ya" rather than "ki-ya" (and promoted that way by the importer/distributor), because the latter sounds too close to the word used for "barf" and especially the way kids often say it.

The name of Microsoft's iPod competitor "Zune" is pronounced the same as the modern hebrew noun for "fuck"/"copulation", which is especially fitting given that you were able to "squirt" songs.


"ŠKODA" in Czech means pity (as in "you bought a ŠKODA? Oh, that's a pity"), damage or harm. Didn't stop it from selling pretty well.


The Honda Fit, or Honda Jazz in Europe, is a small car with a roomy interior. Honda was quite close to marketing it as Honda Fitta, before realizing that in Scandinavian languages, that's a vulgar word for ladies' private parts.

Together with the marketing slogan "Small on the outside, big on the inside", it would have been particularly hilarious.

Btw, Gurgel translates to gargle in Swedish, too.


The Citroën Evasion had to be renamed Synergie for the UK market, because while in French évasion means "escapism", in English it brings connotations of tax evasion.

Citroën had this problem a lot with their vans: they also have a commercial van called the Jumpy, which obviously isn't something you want to say about any vehicle, so it was changed to Dispatch for the UK. And they have a larger van called the Jumper, which was changed to Boxer, probably because "Jumper" also carries criminal connotations in English (bail jumper, stile jumper, etc.).


The Toyota MR2 had difficulty selling in France because MR2 is pronounced a lot like merde, which means "shit".


The Ford "Probe" didn't sell all too well in Germany, because "Probe" means "trial" in German (and also "sample").


Ford especially seems unfortunate with their model names. Another example is Ford "Kuga". The word literally means "Plague" in many Slavic languages.


Also, unfortunate associations with little green men and the probes they purportedly... well, you know.


Chana motors changed their name to Changan in Brazil as Chana is slang for women's private parts.


Looks like you could replicate that with a golf cart, some sheet metal, and a press brake.


This is probably posted here because of some similarities with Tesla's Cybertruck (namely, the square angles in an electric car).


Wonder if it was for ease of manufacturing (less need to form the metal sheets) or for styllistic reasons.

The Citicar / Comuta is similar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citicar


In Gurgel's case I think it was both. On the one hand, it was styllistic, because all their cars had that look, from minicars to trucks. Even their logo looked as blocky as their cars. See for example the X15: https://i.imgur.com/vLiH8I1.jpg

On the other hand, they were made from fiberglass or "plasteel" (a composite of fiberglass and steel), and I'm not sure how mouldable that material is.


Not metal, all Gurgel vehicles were made of fiberglas.



On that note, the car Cybertruck has been compared most to after the DeLorean is probably the Comuta/Citicar (with one well-know Comuta-owning youtuber being invited to the Cybertruck launch, to which they brought their Model3 truck conversion).

From the Gurgel wiki description:

> its specifications were comparable to similar models of the time (see CitiCar).

I wonder which came first.


I think this 1978 design was much closer to the current Cybertruck: https://archive.org/details/penthouse-1978-10/page/n139


> I wonder which came first.

The citicar was produced from '74 while the gurgel was only presented in '74, and never actually commercialised.

I expect the specs they're talking about were mostly bound by battery technology.


Or Cheese Louise




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