One can say a car is a hit in the country when it's given a nickname. For over 50 years, us Filipinos have been giving cars nicknames that cement a car's position in local automotive pop culture.
From box-type to “palikpik”, we run down the popular nicknames Pinoys have given cars over the years.
We start with the most popular brand in the country, Toyota. As far back as the Delta Motors days, Toyotas have been given special monikers by our parents and even grand parents. The car that got the most nicknames is perhaps the venerable Corolla.
Corolla E20 (1970-74)
We kick things off with the second generation Corolla which got two nicknames. For the sedan version, it was known as the 'Peanut' because of its quarter panel as the rounded off rear end makes it look like the said legume. The two-door version, on the other hand, was called the 'Mango'. Like the Peanut, the Mango gets its nickname from the shape of its rear end. Pictured here in yellow, one can see the similarities between the car and the fruit.
Corolla E30 (1975-79)
For the 1975 to 1979 Corolla, the sportiest variant draws its nickname from its trim level, the SR.
Corolla E70 (1980-85)
As for the boxy Corolla, it was also known as the DX, which also got its nickname from the popular variant for the Corolla at the time. The swooping fastback Corolla was also known as the Liftback and packed a more powerful 1.8 liter engine.
Corolla E90 (1989-93)
Us Filipinos would sort of skip a generation of Corolla. While a few E80 Corollas were imported here, these were not popular enough to be christened a nickname. A shame really, because a local release of the iconic AE86 would have been possible. Instead, we move straight to the E90 Corolla, also known as the “small body”. However, that nickname only arrived after the release of its predecessor, the E100. The E90 Corolla was first called the "16-Valve" or "Twin Cam" with some early models proudly displaying a sticker on the rear windshield. While it was only the 1.6 GL that got the (then) revolutionary engine tech, the 1.3 XL and 1.3 XE soldiered on with 12-valvers, but the moniker stuck as the car's popularity grew.
Corolla E100 (1993-97)
In 1993, we got what was perhaps the most popular car of the decade, the E100 Corolla. Described as a mini-Lexus by its head engineer, it appeared significantly larger than its predecessor. It was, perhaps, no surprise that this particular Corolla was called the "Big Body" which, in return, gave the previous generation Corolla another nickname, which was mentioned above. Because of its popularity, even the wheels of the big body got a nickname; the "Lea Salonga" which were equipped on the top-spec 1.6 GLi models. One nickname that didn't catch on as much was Martin Nievera. Like Lea Salonga, he, along with Pops Fernandez, were endorsers for the popular compact sedan. Some may also know it as the "Gary (V) and Martin", after the two popular singers were featured as miniaturized versions of themselves exploring the car (GLi) in an ad. Remember, "Cupholders!"?
Corolla E110 (1998-02)
By 1998, Toyota had changed its slogan to “I Love This Car”, “I Love What You Do For Me” and, of course, “Love. Life”. It was with the the third slogan mentioned where the E110 Corolla got its "Lovelife" nickname. The Lovelife Corolla also saw the first appearance of the name Altis. Intended to be the model above the 1.6 GLI, it had a 1.8 liter engine but the exclusive styling tweaks initially reserved for this model eventually made their way to the rest of the lineup. Because production for the Lovelife and the Corolla Altis overlapped for a short while, the Lovelife also got the nickname "Baby Altis".
Corolla E120 (2001-08)
The 2001 to 2007 Corolla grew rather significantly in size. Unfortunately, the nickname Big Body was already taken. Instead, Corollas from 2001 onwards are simply called Altis, although a rather small Corolla badge is still suffixed to the much larger Altis badge. In enthusiast circles, the first of the millennial Corollas are called the ZZ because of the new ZZ engine family Toyota introduced in the country at the turn of the century.
Of course, it wasn't just the Corollas that got nicknames. In the past, moving up the range meant you can get your hands on the brand's midsize offering, the Corona. That too got a series of memorable nicknames right until the line was replaced with the arrival of the Camry.
Corona T100, T130 (1973-79, 1979-82)
For us Pinoys, one particular Corona remains in our automotive pop culture. In thee mid-70's Toyota launched a rather sleek (for its era) and handsome two door hardtop variant of the square and sensible Corona sedan. It didn't take long for Pinoys to coin a nickname for the coupe, and in 1978 Toyota's basketball star, Robert Jaworski, endorsed the Corona coupe and the nickname "Macho Machine" was born. Technically speaking, it's only 1978 and onwards models that receive that moniker. Pinoys being pinoys, we included the '74 to '78 models as well.
Alongside the Macho Machine was the 5-door Corona fondly called the "Liftback".
Corona T140 (1982-85)
The 80's arrived and just in time for Delta Motors' 25th anniversary. It was swell timing too because the T140 Corona had just been launched. To commemorate the milestone, Delta Motors released a variant of the 1983 Corona called the "Silver Edition", although there were other variants such as the DX. Despite that, the particular era of Corona was nicknamed the Silver Edition, even if you just had a DX. Unfortunately, economic instability during the final years of the Marcos rule led to the closure of Delta Motors which led to a rather short (but successful) sales run for the Silver Edition.
Corona T190 (1993-97)
Like the Corolla, we skipped a generation of Corona and went straight to the T170 series. The T170 series Corona had a short run and it's not known if there were nicknames given to it. Its successor however, the T190, is best known as the "Exsior".
Vios NCP42 (2003-07)
These days, the Vios has now supplanted the Corolla's role as the country's best selling sedan. Unsurprisingly, Vioses have also received nicknames which now span three generations. Who can forget the ad campaign for the first generation model which featured Britney Spears? While we're not sure if the first generation model was nicknamed "Britney", Vios enthusiasts call the 2003 to 2007 models the "Superman", basing its nickname on the subcompact's grill.
Vios NCP92 (2007-13)
The superhero themed nicknames continue with the second generation Vios, sold from 2007 to 2013. Called the "Batman", it again gets it's nickname from the shape of the grill's outline.
Vios NCP150 (2013-current)
Now in its third generation, the current model's nickname is Batman's sidekick, Robin. Like the second generation Vios, the current model gets its nickname from the shape of the grill.
And that wraps up the the popular nicknames given to Toyota's best sellers in the Philippines. Heard of a nickname we might have missed? Let us know in the comments.
Tune in again next time as we run down the popular nicknames from another popular brand in the country, Mitsubishi. This multiple-part nickname series will also tackle Nissans, Hondas, Mercedes-Benzes, Volkswagens, and many more.