Journal: Do You Name Your Cars?

Do You Name Your Cars?

By Michael Banovsky
June 3, 2016
53 comments

I name my cars. I’ll drive them for a while, figure them out a bit, and give them a name that I feel is fitting. Why? Well, it’s far easier to talk to a machine if you’re able to praise or curse it by its first name—“This goddamn 535i” just doesn’t sound as evocative as it should.

The most socialist car I’ve owned, the Citroën 2CV, I’d named Bertrand (after Bertrand Russell, the philosopher.) My Fiat Abarth is Bart (take the “A” and “h” off “Abarth”…) and a Volvo 240 sedan I had for a while was Olaf. In the case of poor old Olaf, he was a $200 Volvo that was fantastic for a few months, until I realized that traveling 200 km (124 miles) every day in a $200 Volvo was both impressive and depressing.

Honestly, it’d seen better days, and Olaf earned his share of expletives due to his unquenchable thirst for fuel and plodding pace—it traveled as fast as an Ikea couch would, carried from your living room to the curb out front.

Early racing machines were often named and not branded—La Jamais Contente (“The Never Satisfied”) is a good example, as are drag racing machines from the ’60s and ’70s. Call me crazy, but I’ll keep up the practice for as long as I’m able to—do you also name your machines?

Photography by Afshin Behnia, Bryan Joslin, Chris Gonzalez, Jonathan WC Mills, and Kika Vigo-Behnia

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Christopher Skjæveland
Christopher Skjæveland
4 years ago

My ’70 Ford Torino Brougham is called “Blue Waffle” since it’s a 4-door model and therefor somewhat unwanted, and it’s blue, as the disease (for the love of God, don’t google it!)
My daily driver, the Hyundai Ioniq EV, I’ve named “Silent Killer”. Completely silent and I think it’s secretly plotting something…. 😛

Majed Mougharbel
Majed Mougharbel
4 years ago

My 1975 Peugeot 504 was named Peusieg, my 1981 Renault 18 was named 670NUP, my 1983 Renault 18 was named I1B (both Renaults were during the Star Wars craze of naming things or people alphanumeric names). My 1998 Rover 620 was named Cashmere as she had Cashmere interior, and my 2000 Rover 75 is named Samarkand as her colors are blue with beige interior (both prevailing colors of the city of Samarkand). All were considered as “She”

Peter J Smith
Peter J Smith
4 years ago

No. It’s a machine. A piece of engineering made of sheet metal, wires, and, glass. It’s not a living thing.

Mark
Mark
4 years ago

Only if they don’t start, then it’s YFPOS.

Claudia Schmitt
Claudia Schmitt
4 years ago

As my cars are mostly italian and i am a big fan of the old Mobsters, they are named Lucky (Luciano), Meyer(Lansky), Frank (Costello) and Bugsy(Siegel) 🙂

Jose Delgadillo
Jose Delgadillo
4 years ago

No, never.

Adam Gompertz
Adam Gompertz
4 years ago

This is ‘Wilbur’ my 1962 Rover P4 – named after William Wilburforce.

alfadoctor
alfadoctor
5 years ago

My two 164Q’sre Nero and Bianca. The spider we have now is Diego . The 76 spider we had was Lola. The Super was Julius. All good Italian names.

Howndog
Howndog
4 years ago
Reply to  alfadoctor

no offense but none of those are Italian names…well maybe Lola?

Victor R Van Tress
Victor R Van Tress
5 years ago

I raced a red Peugeot 505 Turbo in Showroom Stock back in 1987 and named it Red. Then I bought another red 505 Turbo and named it Deuce

Mike Aldridge
Mike Aldridge
5 years ago

Most of my cars have had names with the exception of theCorolla – domestic appliances shouldn’t be named…

Most of my cars have had names. My first – a ’63 Mini Traveller was “Theodore Thunderpants” as it was the noisiest car I’d ever been in. The Cortina GT was “Cordelia” – not sure how that came about. The Volvo 360 was “Thor”, the Hyundai wagon was “The H-bomb”, and my GT30 Subaru was “El Subo”. The current Mondeo doesn’t really seem to fit having a name (see Corolla above!) and the Alfa, well I”m still deciding on that – but it definitely deserves one.

Fabian Bar
Fabian Bar
6 years ago

Sure I do. I call them Mary Quant (1965 Austin Cooper Mk1), Linda (2012 Audi A1 Quattro), and Emily (2013 Audi Richtig Spass 4).

melanie ylang
melanie ylang
6 years ago

Always! The last three were named for female mythological characters. It helps me create a bond with my car, and it’s great when your friends call them by name also 😀

Fabian Bar
Fabian Bar
6 years ago
Reply to  melanie ylang

I fully agree!

Eduardo Palandi
Eduardo Palandi
6 years ago

just like Sebastian Vettel, my cars have female names. my daily drive (MB CLK 320) is named Kim. my 2-door Volvo Amazon is called Astrid, and my Jaguar XJ40 is called Victoria.

Don Johnson
Don Johnson
6 years ago

Sometimes other people name your car for you. It may not be what you like, but sticks just the same. I had an Alfa Giulia Super back in the late 70s that my sister lovingly named the “Red Brick”. I hated that name but it was original burgundy paint that had faded to a brick color. Even after I refreshed the paint the name stuck, so sad….LOL. I loved that car, drove it over 100,000 miles. Never should have sold it , had tears when I did.

Volker Siegert
Volker Siegert
6 years ago

It depends – the 1996 Mercedes E-Class Convertible needs a name, and it’s called “Juergen”, because it’s so German and reliable as anyone can imagine. Moreover, Juergen is the first name of the company’s CEO back then. Our 1963 Mercedes 220SE Coupe is “Der Opa” (Grandpa) – no need to explain. And the 72 Lancia Fulvia Coupe? Can there be a better name than Fulvia? Definitely not. So she’s “Fulvia”.

Jennifer Meighan
Jennifer Meighan
6 years ago

I definitely name my cars. My Dad did too: his original owner 1965 Porsche 356c is OTTO-get it?
My Mercedes E430 is The General (The Panzer was a little too evocative of WWII but was considered)
My Firebird from the 1980s was dubbed “the disco car” by my brother
The Mercedes Sprinter van is “Yellowstone” due to the custom yellow cyclocross rigging…
Anyhow, I think it’s fun. Cars have personalities. They give us pleasure, safety and transport so why not give a name?

nosstingray
nosstingray
6 years ago

I name them all. Have done so since my first car. Seems like the cars I don’t name never stay around long term and normally do not get the same carrying treatment. Even when looking for the next addition on a list of cars, each one that is seen in person get named at the time.
Delorean is Doc (obvious of course for all the times it won’t start)
’73 Vette Carmen (Big Yellow Banana)
’91 Vette Ruby
Maserati Merak Sophia (beautiful and quick tempered)
Lotus Esprit Mick
633csi – Black Pearl
Early Z28 Mad Max – car looks horrible and needs restoration

James H. Alton II
James H. Alton II
6 years ago

As a rule, I don’t name my cars but sometimes names happen.

Did you know that if you use an English size [3/32”] instead of a metric size [2 mm] cotter pin to connect the handle to the fuel petcock in the footwell of a Porsche 356A it will leak fuel when you turn the petcock to “AUF” [on]? That followed upon some other potential conflagrations in the process of re-installing the fuel tank and my 356A became “Molotov” or “Molly” when she behaves.

In college I had a yellow 1970½ Ford Falcon which attracted parking lot scrapes and dents. It became known as the “Yellow Peril.” (after WWII training aircraft which were yellow).

Sgvette
Sgvette
6 years ago

Never ever. Seems like a very feminine or Euro thing to do. I’ve had a litany of collector cars since the 70s and yes I’ve had a passion for them, but naming them is a little bit creepy.

Future Doc
Future Doc
6 years ago

Absolutely. For me, it has to be organic and named when the car develops its personality with my driving style. For me, it is less about giving it a human name and more like a nickname. The 280Z was “Baby”, a Fit named “Sparky”, the MR2 is “The2”, my Genesis Coupe is called “Fyundai” pronounced Fun-day, like Sunday. I had two white Subarus for a while. To separate them, one was “Ol’baru” and the other is “Nubaru”.

Don Johnson
Don Johnson
6 years ago

I named my 1990 VW Syncro Doublecab “Max Doka” sort of short for “Maximus”. After many off road miles in Mexico and the Mojave it has never let me down. Max, strong and dependable.

Lexter
Lexter
6 years ago

Yup.

My 1981 Corolla wagon was named Sunny, my old Impreza was named Blue, and my current car – Golf R – is named Ringo.

Davide Tonizzo
Davide Tonizzo
6 years ago

In Italian, the automobile is a feminine noun so I’ve named my cars with girl’s names, always in the nationality of where “she” was born. My Citroen was Giselle, my Volkswagen, Heidi, my Mazda is Minako.

Fabian Bar
Fabian Bar
6 years ago
Reply to  Davide Tonizzo

Dear Davide. I follow the same pattern. Altough Heidi is Swiss. Cheers from Switzerland.

Tim Williams
Tim Williams
6 years ago

I haven’t named my cars, but they do end up with project names on the motor forums: right now, we have Mr White (partly because he’s not Mr Orange from Reservoir Dogs), Mrs White (you can probably guess why…), and British Racing Brown (because he’s always dirty).

Laur Florescu
Laur Florescu
6 years ago

Yes. My 323ti is called Timi and my father’s Mondeo estate is Burro (farting donkey from a bad comedy movie)

Matt Tiene
Matt Tiene
6 years ago

Been driving a 2008 Jetta 2.5 for about a year and a half. Named him Oliver a few days after I got him. Seemed to fit his plucky “lap-dog” attitude.

Steven Jepson
Steven Jepson
6 years ago

I’ve been naming my cars since I can remember. I think my first car ( a ’68 Barracuda) was named Phoenix.
The current cars in our stable are an ’81 Lancia Beta Zagato named Fenice (Phoenix in Italian; I saved her from a crusher, and I’m an opera singer), an ’89 Dodge Lancer Shelby named Redwing (GT, likes to soar), and a ’15 Jeep Cherokee named Duress (we bought it new ‘under duress’ – our Grand Cherokee crapped out during a trip, and the dealership couldn’t fix it!).

Linda N Brian Schick
Linda N Brian Schick
6 years ago

My Toyota Yaris is named Fuji after the character on McHale’s Navy.

Pablo Rodríguez
Pablo Rodríguez
6 years ago

I use to drive sport italians, so they take humble names ( I don’t want to look pretencious!), like ” the little one”, or ” the midget” cause they are loud enough ! Regards !

Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč
6 years ago

Wow, nice Beta! How is that car? I know about one for sale, not much money, but it´s attractive….

Stephan P
Stephan P
6 years ago

BRZ is named Zetto, Z in Japanese . Nobody around here knows what the Fulvia is. Its called Fragile, references it’s Italian origin and comes from a movie called Christmas Story. The LandCruiser is called ElCee
A few others don’t have names.

Collin Scott
Collin Scott
6 years ago

I have named my Delorean “Timey Tim”.

Art Cervantes
Art Cervantes
6 years ago

Definitely! Naming a car is a great way to capture a car’s personality in one word. My wife and I connected early on in our relationship over naming cars haha. She named her Honda Civic Hybrid Harriet, due to her subdued nature and…her GPS navigation voice :). My 993’s name is Stellina because she is a compact and shines both in the way she drives and because her Ocean Blue Metallic sparkly. Our i3’s name is WALL•E

Nom DelaNom
Nom DelaNom
6 years ago

Not names so much as titles. Black Jaguar XJ6 series 3 – The Equalizer. White Jaguar XJ-S coupe – The Saint (which is a bit like calling a tall man “Shorty”). My wife’s white Jaguar Vanden Plas – Blofeld’s Cat. I don’t speak to them other than to say “good car” or “bad car” but we refer to them by title: “What car do you want to take? The Saint? The Equalizer” “Well, I’d like to actually get there, so how about Blofeld’s Cat?”

Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč
6 years ago

By the way, Michael, when would you write something about Citroen 2CV? I really love this car and want to buy one sometimes, so you could write something mroe about it, like former owner of 2CV. 🙂

Henry Louis Gomez
Henry Louis Gomez
6 years ago

I don’t usually name my cars but my 1966 Dodge Polara does have a name. My friend and partner in the adventure of buying and restoring it came over to see it when the truck arrived with it. My friend came with his wife and when she took one look at the car and said, “That’s a Cacharro!”

Now a bit of explanation. My buddy and I are both Cuban-Americans. Our parents fled Cuba when Castro took over and turned it into a communist dictatorship. We’re very patriotic Americans but our Cuban blood flows through our veins and Cuban slang flows from our lips. My friend’s wife is also Cuban-American and so when she let loose with the word Cacharro we all laughed hysterically. In Spanish a Cacharro means an old pot or pan. It’s used as slang to refer to things that are junky and old. In Cuba the vintage cars that are held together with rubber bands and chewing gum are referred to as Cacharros.

Now the car has been fully restored but the name stuck.

Sean Fandam
Sean Fandam
6 years ago

My little red Fiat 124 Sport Coupe racing car bears the name Mephisto – a diminutive reference to the cacophonous aeroplane-engined Fiat Mephistopheles.

Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč
6 years ago

Our Citroen Evasion is just “Citrón” – lemon in slovak. You know, how we figured it out. 😀

We were calling our old Škoda 130 “Autošunka”, what means something like “Autobacon”. Bacon (šunka) is being used in slovak (and czech) language like slang term for crap. And it definitely was a crap – however I liked it.

I don’t have my own car today. I call some cars by names, some not, so I have to wait for some. 😀

Vintage Son
Vintage Son
6 years ago

I do, but only if I’ve had them quite awhile. No vintage right now, but my Legacy earned the name Merope, one of the 7 stars in the Subaru logo.

Kevin Lynch
Kevin Lynch
6 years ago

The simple answer is YES. Generally, for me there has to be a magical or memorable moment that occurs and the name comes to life – you can’t just pick up a book of names like a first time parent and expect to find the soul of your car in the pages. My current ’68 Porsche was named while getting service at Benton Performance, where we were laughing about the punch list to get it done, and John B. said something to the effect of “when this is done, it’s going to be a Bahama Yellow hammer…..the Bahammer”, and it stuck. Sometimes you are handed a name, my first car was a well loved ’68 bug, the family had called it “Puffy”, I guess as in Puff the Magic Dragon, I spent years trying to unstick that one and couldn’t. Patience for those without a name, it will happen, just be open to it.

Dennis White
Dennis White
6 years ago

Alfa 2600- The Red, Alfa GT Junior- The Mouse, Porsche Carrera- The Poosh, Dino GT4- Nero, Maserati QP- The Beast, and my wife calls me l’idiot for having all these cars!

Joshua Seidenberg
Joshua Seidenberg
6 years ago

My 328 GTS is licensed as “Padrona” which is mistress in Italian. No real name.

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss
6 years ago

We always name our cars. Bathsheba, Ernie, Anna, Chip, Vera, Yoda, Victor, Mr. Tuffy, Fabreeze, Sampson, Trudy (Gertrude), Pearl, and Prince.

Axel Larsson
Axel Larsson
6 years ago

I have a sparkling black 1999 Audi A4 named Luna.

Javier Lentino
Javier Lentino
6 years ago

My Alfa Spider is named Rafaella, after the I1970s Italian Singer.
My 1961 VW Beetle is named Fritz; and Luigi is my Fiat Millecento

Bobby Pridgen
Bobby Pridgen
6 years ago

I had a 1998 electric blue Ford Ranger. I drove it for 10 years through high school and college. I would still be driving it if I had not been rear-ended. I felt like I could go anywhere in that thing. I called it “Cochise”. It was the boss.

Now I drive a 2012 Jeep Compass that I refuse to name. I learned long ago not to name anything you don’t plan to keep.

Maxime Veilleux
Maxime Veilleux
6 years ago

I call mine ”The red lumber” because the definiton is so accurate.

: move in a slow, heavy, awkward way.

Evan Bedford
Evan Bedford
6 years ago

I call my 1979 BMW R65 “the old Russian tractor”, since that’s what her gearbox is like.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
6 years ago

Yup . Each and every one of them exotic or daily driver depending on the cars country of origin or what its overall personality seems to be . The list over the years includes Badger , Franz , Lynea , Odiferous , Poppy , the Brat , Iris etc.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
6 years ago

My Dad always named his cars mainly so as my step mother would know which car they were going out in. Her eyes would glaze over at the mention of 330GTS or 365GTC4 etc; when asking what car they would going out in but instantly understand when the names Oli (black 330GTS named after her black cat) or Iver (365GTC4 named after its Rosso St Iver paint shade) were said.

My wife has named the Daytona the Mistress and that name has kind of stuck and here daily drive Smart ForFour Prime has been named Smarticus Prime!