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Kapiti News - 2021-10-13

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What does ‘Jimny’ really mean?

Book Review

We’ve only known Suzuki’s tiny SUV as the “Jimny” in its last two generations but, in fact, the name was used right from the start in Japan, with the first-generation model in 1970. And it’s a pretty weird name, right? Familiar now but a bit of a head-scratcher when you think about it. Especially as Suzuki has never really offered an official explanation of where it came from. There are three popular versions — two The Good Oil would argue are apocryphal and a third that makes perfect sense. So we’re starting with the fun ones of course. The first is rather cartoonish. Many have genuinely argued that the name is a reference to Jiminy Cricket, from the Walt Disney movie Pinocchio. It fits thematically — small, smart — and there is precedent with Japanese carmakers lifting names from Western popular culture. You might have heard of the Nissan Fairlady. The second oft-repeated one has slightly racist overtones to 2021 ears. It goes that on a trip to Scotland in the 1960s, Suzuki executives were quite taken with the name “Jimmy” and decided to use it on a vehicle but misheard/ mispronounced it. There is precedent for this sort of thing, too. You might have heard of the Mitsubishi Starion. The third is surely the truth. The Jimny was conceived as a downsized SUV from the start, at a time when the Jeep brand was close to a proprietary eponym. So the first generation Jimny carried the model code LJ, for “Light Jeep”. The second was SJ, for “Suzuki Jeep”. It stands to reason that Jimny is simply a mashup of “mini Jeep”. It also stands to reason that Suzuki wouldn’t want to publicise that, as there’s a little thing called copyright — about which Jeep became rather hard-nosed from the 1990s onwards. But you shouldn’t let legalities get in the way of a great name.

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