Nigerians have a culture of giving popular car nicknames. Indeed, some of the car nicknames are quite weird and funny.
Sometimes, these car nicknames become so popular that the actual names of the car models are forgotten, rarely remembered or used.
This often leaves one wondering what inspired these nicknames. Mostly, how the car looks, how the car sounds or the calibre of people that drive these cars often inspire some of the nicknames.
In this article, we highlight 35 popular cars that have graced roads in Nigeria, and the sobriquets that they got from Nigerians.
1) Volkswagen Beetle – “Ijapa” or “Tortoise”
The iconic Volkswagen Beetle was quite popular in Nigeria. Its official name is the Volkswagen Type 1 or the Beetle. However, Nigerians preferred to call it “Tortoise” or “Ijapa” (translated, Tortoise in Yoruba). Indeed, the car shares some resemblance with the slow animal.
In the northern part of Nigeria, it also bore the nickname “Kunkuru”. In some part of south-eastern Nigeria, it was called ” Okpokoro Mbe”.
2) Mercedes Benz W114/W115 (1968–1976) – “Murtala”
The Mercedes Benz W114/W15 had a production run from 1968 to 1976. It was popular in Nigerians amongst the affluent and political leaders. It was nicknamed “Murtala” by Nigerians, ostensibly due to the fact that it was the model of Mercedes-Benz that the late Head-of-State, Murtala Mohammed, was assassinated in.
3) Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W126) (1979 – 1991) – “Shagari” or “Concord”
The Mercedes Benz S-Class 1979 was coined “Shagari” by Nigerians. The name was inspired by the fact that it was the official car (model) of President Shehu Shagari in 1979 when he became president. In some circles, it was also called “Concord”.
4) 1980 Mercedes Benz 200/230 (W123) – “Regular” or “Flat Boot”
The Mercedes Benz 200/230 (W123) was quite popular in the late 80s and early ‘90s in Nigeria. It gained a reputation for being durable, and reliable for travelling on rough roads without frequent maintenance.
In the late ’80s the to early ’90s, they were mostly shipped in huge numbers to Nigeria from Germany, where they were used as taxis.
This Benz model was nicknamed ‘Regular’ by Nigerians. It got the name because of how common it was during that period compared to other Benz models. It was also referred to as “Flat boot” in order to differentiate it from the “V-Boot” (Mercedes-Benz W124 E-Class). In some other circles, the Benz 200/230 (W123) was referred to as “German Mistake” because of its reliability.
5) Mercedes-Benz 911 Bus – “Molue”
The modified Mercedes Benz 911 and Bedford vehicles were the most notorious means of mass transport in Lagos. Lagosians nicknamed the vehicle “Molue”.
According to some stories, the name Molue was actually coined from the English word, ‘maul’, meaning ‘handle- roughly’ because of the way passengers scramble to board the bus.
6) Mercedes Benz 190 (1982 – 1993) – “Baby Benz”
The 1982 Mercedes 190 (W201) was quite ubiquitous on Nigerian roads in the 1990s. It was Mercedes-Benz first compact executive car model. In Nigeria, it was famously referred to by the moniker “Baby Benz”, though that name did was not originated by Nigerians.
7) Honda Accord (1985–1989) – “Pure Water”
This Honda Accord had a production run that spanned from 1985 – 1989. In Nigeria, it was a prominent feature on roads then. It bore the nickname “Pure water”.
8) Volvo 200/700 Series Wagon – “Coffin”
The Volvo 200/700 series wagons are known for their ruggedness. They had the projecting so-called coffin-nose and grille. This was perhaps what informed the nickname nickname “Coffin” in Nigeria. This coupled with the fact that it is commonly used as a hearse – a vehicle for conveying the dead in a coffin/casket.
9) BMW – “Be My Wife”
Popular German car brand BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke. In some part of the world, from its acronym, it has been dubbed “Be My Wife”. Some people also call it Big Man Wahala
10) Mercedes Benz W124 E-Class (1985 to 1996) – “VBoot” or “V-Yansh”
The Mercedes Benz W124 E-Class is a mid-sized vehicle platform that was quite popular amongst the affluent in Nigeria in the mid-1980s to early 90s.
During that period, it earned the nickname “V-Boot” or “V-Yansh”. The inspiration for that nickname was from the V-shaped outline of the boot.
11) 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback – “First Lady”
The 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback was quite popular in the early ’90s in Nigeria. It was an elegant car to drive then. It later acquired the nickname “First-Lady”. This was probably because it was the car of choice by females at the time.
12) Toyota Starlet (1984–1989) – “Feeding Bottle”
It could not be determined how the 1984–1989 Toyota Starlet got the sobriquet “Feeding Bottle” from Nigerians. Perhaps it has to do with its small size or its feeding-bottle-shaped outlook.
13) 1990 Honda Accord – “Halla” or “Skirach”
The 1990 Honda Accord was another legend that graced roads in Nigeria. The car represents the fourth-generation of the Accord. It was extremely popular during its run in the country.
In Nigeria, the car was fondly dubbed “Halla”. It is unknown why and how it earned that nickname. It was also named “Skirach” in some quarters.
14) Honda Accord, Europe Spec (1993 – 1998) – “Bullet”
The European model of the 1993 Honda Accord was fondly called “Bullet” by Nigerians.
This nickname was informed by its sleek bullet-shape.
15) Honda Accord Europe Spec (Facelifted) – “Tiger Face”
A facelifted version of the 1993 Honda Accord (Bullet) was introduced in 1996. Nigerians nicknamed it Tiger-face due to its brutish outlook.
16) 1991 Mercedes-Benz S-Class – “Beast”
The 1991 Mercedes-Benz S500 was famously referred to as the Beast. That reference was due to its intimidating presence on the road back then.
17) Toyota Camry 1991 – “Orobo”
The 1991 Toyota Camry is a mid-size car. In Nigeria, it goes by the nickname, “Orobo”. Car nicknames
Orobo is the Pidgin word that is used to describe something that is fat or thick. Apparently, the car earned that name due to its obvious thick outlook. That is, compared to previous editions.
18) Honda Accord US Spec (1993) – “Bull-Dog”
The Honda Accord 1993 is the fifth-generation of the Accord produced for the North American market.
The car gained a lot of popularity in the late ’90s and early 2000s in Nigeria. It was dubbed “Bulldog” by Nigerians.
19) Mercedes Benz E Class – W210 (1996 – 2003) – “Opolo Eye (Oju Opolo)” or “Frog Eye”
The Mercedes Benz E Class -W210 had a production run from 1996 to 2003. Its circular headlamps made it outstanding. It became the signature of the E-Class range for a long time.
In Nigeria, it was called “Opolo Eye”, or “Frog eyes”, a reference to how it’s headlamps are huge and staring.
20) 1997 Honda Accord US Spec – “Baby Boy”
The 1997 Honda Accord was available as a four-door sedan or a two-door coupe.
It achieved great popularity in the early 2000s in the country. It was famously nicknamed “Baby Boy” by Nigerians. The nickname was derived from the 2001 movie “Baby Boy”. The movie featured Tyrese Gibson whose character used the car prominently.
21) Honda Accord, Europe (1998 – 2002) – “Honda Adidas”
It is unknown how the European spec of the 1998 Honda Accord got its nickname in Nigeria. That notwithstanding, it was famously referred to by Nigerians as “Honda Adidas”.
22) Toyota Camry 1997 – “Pencil”
The 1997 Toyota Camry model came long and slim as opposed to the thicker look of the 1995 model (“Orobo”).
Also, the tail-lights came slim, or pencil-shaped. All these, perhaps, formed the reason why the car was nicknamed “Pencil”.
23) BMW 3 Series (1998 – 2006) – “COJA”
The BMW was the official car for the 8th All Africa Games that was staged in Nigeria in 2003. 900 units of the BMW were supplied for the event. The event was tagged “COJA” formed from the Commite’ d’Organisation de Jeux Africaine (COJA). Hence, the car was nicknamed COJA.
24) Toyota Camry (2000 – 2001) – “Drop-Light”
The Japanese manufacturer Toyota sells the Toyota Camry internationally since 1982, spanning multiple generations.
The 2000-2001 edition of the Toyota Camry was nicknamed “Drop-light” by Nigerians.
The nickname was informed by how the shape of the rear lights appears to slant downwards at a point.
25) Toyota Corolla (2003) – “Bank Type”
This 2003 Toyota Corolla type was made for Japan, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa market. It was the preferred choice as pool cars or official car by banks in Nigeria. This made it to be popularly known as Bank Type Corolla.
26) Toyota Camry (2003) – “Big Daddy” or “Big For Nothing”
The 2003 Toyota Camry model was a status symbol at a point until someone decided to coin an unflattering nickname for it.
This Camry was referred to as “Big for Nothing”. The car derived the nickname probably because of its large size that did not appeal to many Nigerians. Or maybe it was the interior that did not impress as expected.
Another name for it was later coined – “Big Daddy”. This named was probably coined in order to redeem the car from the demeaning name, “Big For Nothing”.
27) Toyota Hiace (2004 – 2019) – “Hummer Bus”
The Toyota Hiace has become the most popular bus in Nigeria used for interstate transportation. Over the years, this Toyota model has been tested and trusted. The introduction of The Fifth-Generation Hiace in 2004 saw the model being nicknamed “Hummer Bus”.
28) Honda Accord 2003-2005 – “End of Discussion”
The 2003 Honda Accord became a hit after the commercial to promote it came on. The advert tagline was, “The new Honda Accord, End of discussion”. So that was how it’s now-famous nickname was birthed. Car nicknames
29) Honda Accord (2006-2007, Updated) – “Discussion Continues”
The 2006 – 2007 Honda Accord models was an updated version of the 2003 edition. This model was the successor of the Honda Accord or ‘End of Discussion’. So it naturally became the “Discussion Continues”.
30) Toyota Avalon (2007) – “Long John”
The Toyota Avalon is a full-size car produced by Toyota. The 2007 model is the third-generation of the series that begun in 1994. Car nicknames
In Nigeria, it is nicknamed “Long John”, ostensibly due to its long stretch.
31) Toyota Camry (2007 – 2011) – “Muscle”, “Spider” or “Voltron”
The 2007 Toyota Camry was a hit in Nigeria. The car featured well-defined bulging curves on the exterior.
The muscular look made Nigerians nickname it “Muscle”. The nickname “Spider” and “Voltron” were also used in some quarters. Car nicknames
32) Honda Accord (2008 – 2012) – “Evil Spirit”
For some weird reason, the 2008 – 2012 models of the Honda Accord was coined “Evil Spirit”.
33) Coupe (2-Door cars with rear seats) – “Yeri n beto (Move, let me spit)”
In south western part of Nigeria, 2-door cars – or coupe are also sometimes jokingly referred to as “So ki n so” (Translated from Yoruba to mean, Alight, so I can exit the back seat).
34) All SUVs – “Jeep”
In Nigeria, Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are wrongly named “Jeep”. This has been a decades-long practice. Are you among those that use the generic name “Jeep” instead of “SUV”? We want you to know that Jeep is an American automobile manufacturing company that produces 4×4 sport utility vehicles like the Wrangler, Cherokee etc. For example, the vehicle in the first picture is a Jeep but the Range Rover in the second picture is not a Jeep.
In the Eastern part of the country, SUVs are dubbed “Okwu oto ekene Eze”.
35) Transporter – “Danfo”
The first Volkswagen transporter van rolled off the production line in Germany on March 8, 1950. Several generations of it have emerged. In Nigeria, it is widely used for commercial transportation. It goes by the nickname, “Danfo”. This nickname is also ascribed to several commercial buses in Lagos.
Would you like to add any nickname(s) to the list? The comment section is all yours.
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