What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. –William Shakespeare
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Last week Sue Coletta wrote a post in which James Scott Bell facetiously commented his dream job would be to be a wine critic. That got me thinking about a vocation I’ve always said was my dream job: naming new models of automobiles.
Driving down the street is like sailing through a sea of fantasia. Those little boxes that are designed to carry people from here to there in various states of luxury have names that have nothing to do with their engineering.
Take the Aston Martin Valkyrie for example. If there were a contest of fantastic auto names, this would surely be the winner. According to Merriam-Webster, the meaning of VALKYRIE is “any of the maidens of Odin who choose the heroes to be slain in battle and conduct them to Valhalla.”
I have to say I haven’t seen any Valkyries driving around in my neighborhood, but I’m keeping an eye out just to see which end of this car is the front and which is the rear.
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Many automakers prefer animal names for their cars. Here are a few:
- Chevrolet Impala
- Plymouth Barracuda
- Dodge Viper
- Mercury Cougar
- Ford Raptor
- Ford Bronco
- Ford Mustang — My husband owned one of these when we were married.
- The Jaguar — I owned a Jaguar XKE when I was young, single, and foolish. To this day, I’m not sure if I owned the car or the car owned me. It seems like I spent a lot of time taking care of its issues.
- Volkswagon Beetle — A hugely popular car that didn’t follow the ferocious animal paradigm.
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Weather seems to be big in car names. Consider these
- Mercury Cyclone
- GMC Syclone — The misspelling was intentional and used to avoid trademark infringement. But who would buy a misspelled name?
- GMC Typhoon – GMC apparently likes weather names
- Oldsmobile Toronado – Toronado is not actually a word, so I assume Oldsmobile was looking for a cool name to conjure up the force of a tornado.
- And then there’s the Renault Wind. I don’t think this one was intended to invoke feelings of a powerful storm:
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Other notable car names:
- Jeep Gladiator
- Dodge Stealth
- AMC Javelin
- Triumph Spitfire
- Acura Legend
- Nissan Armada (One car is an armada?)
- Aston Martin Superleggera (And the name doesn’t have anything to do with legroom!)
- Nissan Maxima – Years ago, my husband and I had to replace an old car, and I had picked out a new Maxima as my car of choice. When I took Frank to the dealership to show him the car, the salesman took great pains and a lot of time to describe all the fantastic features. When the spiel finally concluded, Frank asked about the price. The salesman spouted a big number, then said, “But remember, this is a MAXIMA!” Frank didn’t bat an eyelash, but replied, “Do you have a Minima?”
(In case you’re wondering, we bought that Maxima and kept it for over ten years.)
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Another of the great cars I owned in my life was the Audi A4. Uninspired name. Fabulous car.
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I identify the cars my characters drive. Kathryn in The Watch Mysteries drives an old Maxima. Her boyfriend, Phil, owns a car repair shop and drives an Audi. Cassie Deakin in Lady Pilot-in-Command drives a Mustang. None of the cars in my stories have a personal name, but Cassie’s airplane is named Scout.
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So TKZers: What cars were special to you in your life? Do you identify the cars your characters drive? Do you give them names? If you could give a name to a new model car, what would it be?
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Kathryn Frasier prefers running to driving. You can find her training for marathons in The Watch Mysteries. The ebook boxset is on sale for $1.99