Naming Your Car

Welcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and see what interesting things we can find. Today we’re heading out to the highway, parking lot, or your garage and thinking about cars. How many of you auto owners have named your car?

I recently purchased a new car to replace my 13-year-old Honda Civic, which was named Keiko. Now I’m looking for a nickname for my Toyota Camry. So how does one choose a name?

Here are some ideas:

Proper name. You can pick a first name for your vehicle. Cars are often considered female, though not always. Where I live, proper-named cars often sound like Southern belles: Bessie, Mary Beth, Emma Lou. If you’re looking for inspiration, though, you can check out the Social Security Administration’s website with the most popular baby names for any year from 1880 to the present. If you named your car Sophia or Jacob, then it’s right up there with the top baby name for 2012. Now you might recognize this car with a proper name:

Herbie the
pic credit: Loadmaster (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Color. You can consider the color of your car when naming it. You can opt for a straightforward reference to its hue, like calling the car Scarlet or Ebony. You can use it in the description with another word, like Gray Ghost or Green Machine. The color also might inspire a connection to another word, like a black car that you name Licorice or a red car that you refer to as Apple. One interesting example I found on the Internet was a man who owned a pink car; he named it Floyd.

How it looks. There was a guy at my high school who drove a vintage truck. It looked similar to this, and everyone called it The Goose.

1954 Chevrolet Pick-up Truck
pic credit: Andrew Duthie from Nashville, TN, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

Then there was my high school friend whose car was completely falling apart, and she referred to it as the Bomb. (Truly, we had no idea when that thing might go kaboom!)

So the way it looks could inspire a name–anything from Monster to Snug Bug to Bruiser. Whatever represents the appearance of your car can become its name.

How it drives.

Greased Lightning car
Greased Lightning from Grease

Why, this car could be systematic
Why, it could be Greased Lightning!

C’mon, you had to know that was coming. If you never saw the 1979 classic movie Grease, you may have at least seen Pixar’s Cars with Lightning McQueen. How your car maneuvers–or how you wish it would maneuver–might inspire the perfect name for your vehicle. Maybe you’re driving the Bullet or the Beast or even Pokey.

Famous rides. Your car can conjure up a familiar name–a famous ride of one kind of another. It could be a horse like Trigger or Black Beauty. Or watercraft like the Love Boat or the Titanic.  Or maybe a spaceship like the Enterprise or the Millennium Falcon or Firefly (the ship was actually the Serenity). Plenty of cars are named for famous rides in real life or in fiction.

Another famous car. I already referred to Greased Lightning, T-bird Kenickie’s refurbished car. But there are a few other cars you might recognize and want to borrow their sweet name for your own vehicle. Let’s take a look:

Knight Rider car, KITT
KITT from Knight Rider
Christine from Christine movie
Christine, from the movie of the same name
General Lee, Dukes of Hazzard
General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard
Batmobile from original TV series
Mystery Machine, Scooby Doo
The Machine Mystery from Scooby Doo

Of course, you can call your car anything you want. It’s not like your automobile will object to being named anything from Fluffy to Mrs. Danvers.

So have you named your car? What other tips do you have? And if you want to suggest names for my car, go right ahead!

39 thoughts on “Naming Your Car

  1. No, I’ve never named my car but because we have a GMC Yukon and a huge GMC truck, we named our little VW Passat the “baby car”. So that’s what we say: “I’ll drive the baby car to the store”. Not very inventive.

  2. My car in high school and college was The Little POS. It was a horrible little car that would die anywhere–even when I was driving 55 down I-45 (back when the speed limit was 55mph!) I loved that car. Hated it, too.

    How about “The Transporter”? (I have a thing for Jason Statham movies–bad dialog and everything.)

        1. Okay, I checked his filmography. I’ve not seen any of those movies. I guess I should put this on my watch list. (My hubby will be happy.) Thanks!

  3. These days any car that’s not an SUV could be called “Tiny.” Back in the 50s when I started driving, we had REAL cars instead of all the baby versions made now.

  4. Right now I’m driving “Big Blue” I believe Carri used to drive “The Silver Bullet” You should ask her about the “Catfish Teague” wagon!

    1. I WILL! “Catfish Teague”? Hilarious.

      One of these days, our kids will be grown and out of the house…and I hope to drive Silver Bullet then. I’m going to be one of those middle-aged women with a sports car convertible. 🙂

  5. My car is RedHot. 🙂 Before that, I drove a Firebird called Moltres (named after the Pokemon legendary bird of fire). One of my coworkers drives a Camry we called the Linch Bus, because it seemed he always drove when we used to go out to lunch a lot. Not sure if that helps you, but good luck!

  6. My first car was an old Mercury Sable I named Tallulah Love. My Nissan is much tinier and more modern, so she needed a quirky best friend name – hence Dionne (from Clueless).

    You should’ve posted a pic of your car. I still like Beatrice. Trixie is a good one. And I like Diana’s “The Transporter”.

    I see a character of yours naming their car in one of your future books. 😉

  7. Love the pink car named Floyd. How clever.

    My first car was called Baby Bug because, you guessed it, it was a VW beetle. Since then I have not named my cars. Although my last one was affectionately known as “that little piece of s*^@.” I no longer have that vehicle, for obvious reasons. Now I drive a Nissan Rogue and I just refer to it as, well, The Rogue.

    Fun trip down memory lane though. Loved the General Lee.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  8. The first car I bought, instead of inheriting hand-me-downs from family members, was a Volkswagen hatchback. It was black and I called it the Cockroach. Next car was Baby Blue (blue Datsun hatchback). Then I stopped naming them until the car before the one I have now. It was one of the first Rav 4’s. Small and not very powerful, basically a compact car pretending to be a SUV, so I called it Wannabe. Now I drive a really big van. Haven’t named it but maybe I should. ‘Houseboat’ comes to mind. It feels like a house on wheels.

  9. Great Post, Julie. Jason Statham <–he's serious eye candy 🙂 My boys are Scooby-Doo crazy. So, of course we have a mystery machine in the house or should I say a time machine, lol.
    I haven't named my cars and now I see that I've totally missed out. Looking forward to hearing what you pick.

  10. I named my parents cars several years ago, and they both have very unique personalitys that even my friends are fondly aware of. We have Dodge, who’s a Dodge Grand Caravan. I know it’s unoriginal but I think it’s a good name since the people who drive him dodge in and out of traffic, usually haphazardly. Like dodging the bullet. Luck. Moving on.
    We also have Lex, shortening of Lexington, who’s a Lexus LS 430. That one is slightly more original? (I’m kidding myself)
    My best friends car is a Jeep Grand Cherokee named Tibby, shortening of Tiberius (James T. Kirk anyone?)
    I’m finally getting a car, a honda accord. I’m not sure on which color is being chosen for me. I know if it’s white it’ll be Annabeth but if it’s gray…. I’m stuck 😡 still searching for the perfect name.

  11. My old cars were Pita ( pain in the a**) which was silver, my blue one was Bessy, and green one was Mary Jane 🙂 which all of these cars were older cars that liked to fall apart on me haha but NOW as of tomorrow I will have a brand new 2014 Ford Explorer Sport w/ecoboost!!! Im so excited!! But of course I have to name it! Its a metallic black color. And for once Im stumped idk what to name it! Please help! Not black betty. two friends already named their car that lol

    1. Hmmm. Black Ford Explorer Sport? If you wanted to go with the color, you could go for Black Widow or Black Stallion. If I come up with anything better, I’ll let you know. Good luck!

  12. We have always named our cars. Currently we have a land Rover Defender called ‘Kitty’ as in Kitty soft paws from Puss in Boots (the defender has a soft top black roof) and we are just selling our Citroen Picasso, aptly named Pablo. The next car is an S type Jag, i’m collecting it this weekend so i need to drive it and decide if it’s a male or female car! Choosing a name is important as it sticks in our house for the rest of the time we own the car!

  13. My first car was a 2000 Nissan Sentra an I called her Silver, she was totaled my senior year of college which made me so sad because I had so many fun memories in her and she was still runnin great! Next, I bought a 2005 VW Jetta and called her le jetta (said in a fancy accent). Yesterday I traded her in for a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe and I believe I am going to call her Matilda because she is magical to me. 😉

  14. I have an Indigo Blue Lexus SC430 named “Saffire.” Previous names: 2002 Blazing Yellow Mica (black interior) Mazda Miata named Bumblebee, 97 Mazda Miata Montego Blue (looked different colors in different light named Chameleon.

  15. I just bought a 2008 Miata. The color is called Highland Green, medium dark green metallic. I’m trying to think of a name. Since I’m into martial arts I thought maybe an asian name that stands for a positive attitude or discipline :).

    1. My husband would probably suggest “Grasshopper” since that’s green and the nickname Master Po uses for his student in the Kung Fu series. You can also google Japanese names for ideas. Best wishes!

  16. Growing up, my mom drove a ’72 Cutlass Supreme she had named “The Green Breast”. Good name for it too, as everything about the car was beastly. The shade of green, the amount of rust, the sound of the engine, the ungodly amount of coolant, oil and gas it consumed not to mention the amount of exhaust gas that leaked into the interior!

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