Does This Simple Search Reveal Which Car Brand Has The Dumbest Owners?

The trick revolves around the use of the word "bumber." Not "bumper." Bumber.

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Enthusiasts of one particular car make are really only certain of three things: their chosen brand is the best, the people who prefer some other brand are drooling sub-morons, and there’s no way in hell they’d ever drive a Saturn. Every brand has its share of the aforementioned drooling morons, but is there any way to tell who has the most?

There just might be, and it’s simpler than you’d think. This method isn’t exactly the most rigorous, strictly scientific method, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t at least an interesting concept. The essence of this quantitative-moron-evaluation system is based on a surprisingly common misspelling of the word “bumper.”


I can’t take credit for this theory or these results. A Jalopnik reader named Jason Barker developed the system and ran the initial tests, then provided me with the results. Here’s what he did: he searched Google using this search criteria:

[car company name] + “bumber”

The key, of course, is the non-word “bumber.” I didn’t realize this, but it is a truly alarmingly common misspelling of “bumper.” It’s so common people are asking sources on the web what the words “bumber” and “bumber sticker” means, because they’ve seen it used so often that they can’t believe it’s just a misspelling of “bumper.”


This site estimates that at least 3% of people searching for “bumper sticker” use “bumber sticker.” That’s a lot of people.

And, importantly, “bumber” isn’t a simple typo like “teh” or “pron.” Look at your keyboard – the ‘B’ and ‘P’ keys aren’t anywhere near one another. If someone is typing “bumber,” it seems to be intentional.


How this happens, I have no idea. Have they never seen the word “bumper” in print? I mean, it’s not like “bumper” is such an exotic car part term; it’s named exactly after what it does: bump. Really, “bumper” is an incredibly simple, almost childish name for something, like if we called the accelerator pedal the “goer” or the headlights the “lighters.”

It also doesn’t seem to be a word in any major language, so proficiency in English doesn’t seem to be a huge factor, though it may well be at play. The ‘B’ and ‘P’ sounds are both stop consonants, or plosives, where the lips close to stop airflow. The big difference is that ‘b’ is vocalized and ‘p’ is not (but it is aspirated), and in practice the two sounds are fairly distinct.


I mean, how often do English speakers confuse ‘lumber’ with ‘lumper?’ Or, bat/pat, or nap/nab or whatever? ‘Bumber’ is weird, right?

So, yeah, I get why Mr. Barker would equate the usage of “bumber” with someone who is, um, maybe not the brightest bulb in the taillight.


So, here’s the results, in handy chart form:


... and here’s the numbers:

Volkswagen 359,000
Chevrolet 292,000
Lincoln 253,000
Cadillac 245,000
Lamborghini 241,000
Saab 240,000
Buick 240,000
Rolls-Royce 230,000
Bugatti 221,000
Ford 209,000
Toyota 194,000
Honda 186,000
BMW 152,000
Tesla 135,000
Nissan 134,000
Jeep 123,000
Audi 102,000
Mazda 98,900
Mitsubishi 95,800
Hyundai 87,700
Dodge 79,900
Subaru 73,600
Kia 72,800
Mercedes-Benz 71,600
Volvo 67,400
Lexus 62,500
Porsche 61,000
Land Rover 57,700
Jaguar 51,600
Ferrari 49,400
Acura 46,200
Bentley 34,100
Infiniti 32,800

Wow. I’ll admit, as a lifelong Beetle owner, I’m pretty mortified to see Volkswagen at the top of that list, and by such a significant margin. 359,000 results? Jeezis.

I am quite surprised to see longtime professor’s car Saab sixth with 240,000. It’s also interesting to see that class and wealth don’t seem to be as much of a factor as you’d think, with Rolls-Royce getting more results than Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz in a near dead heat with Kia.


Of course, a lot of those Rolls-Royce results could be non-Rolls owners seeking a Rolls-Royce-like ‘bumber’ for their shitbox; I’m just not sure. I also got some pretty different results when I tried these same searches, so we should accept this as just one dataset, and determined researchers should give it a try on their own.

I am happy to say that a search of Jalopnik only turned up 14 “bumbers,” which is a relief.


Bumber. Maybe it’s not the most exhaustive metric to evaluate auto-enthusiast stupidity, but I hope that if I ever refer to the chrome bars at either end of my car as “bumbers,” it’s because I’ve just received either a lightning strike or a 2x4 to the face.