What inspire car names? Today we see car names that are based on everything from geography to mythology, animals to sports teams. Looking into this phenomenon reveals fascinating insights into the history of marketing, branding and automotive design – so let’s take a look at some of the major influences behind car names today!
Inspired by Geography
Geographical locations have long been used to name cars. Cadillac, for example, draws its name from the French explorer Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, who founded Detroit in 1701. Other car companies also draw inspiration from countries and regions – such as Honda’s Accord and Toyota’s Corolla.
Mythological figures often make an appearance in car names, with the likes of Mercury, Saturn and Apollo featuring prominently. It’s not just Greek gods either – Japanese carmaker Nissan has a range of vehicles named after legendary samurai warriors.
Animal-inspired car names are common too. Ford’s Mustang is perhaps the most famous example – but there are plenty of others, from Jaguar to Cougar, Cheetah to Cobra.
Car companies have also been known to borrow the names of sports teams in order to give their vehicles an extra boost in the market. Chevrolet’s Corvette, for example, is named after a type of small warship – but it was also inspired by the famous US Navy Blue Angels flight team.
Music and Movies
Music and movies have also had a big influence on car names over the years. Ford famously used the name Thunderbird for its classic luxury vehicle – while Volkswagen’s Beetle was named after the beloved children’s movie character.
Popular culture references have also been used to name cars. Chevrolet’s Camaro, for example, was named after a type of wild horse – but it was also inspired by the hit TV show “The Monkees”.
Technology has also had an influence on car names, with the likes of Audi’s Quattro, Nissan’s Maxima and Toyota’s Prius all taking their names from cutting-edge technology.
Nature-inspired car names are also popular, with vehicles like the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V all drawing their names from elements of the natural world.
Car names can also be used to create a distinctive brand identity. Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle, for example, was designed to evoke a sense of fun and adventure – while Audi’s Quattro was intended to signify power and performance.
Local culture has also been used to name cars, with the likes of Kia’s Sorento and Hyundai’s Santa Fe both drawing on the rich local heritage of their respective countries.
Car companies have also been known to use personal names – either of famous people or simply of those within the company. Chevrolet’s Impala, for example, is named after a type of African antelope – but it was also inspired by the daughter of a Chevrolet engineer.
Numbers and Letters
Numbers and letters also feature heavily in car names. The likes of BMW’s 3 Series, Audi’s A4 and Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class using numerals or letters.
Car names are also popular with color, with the likes of Ford’s Fiestas and Violets, taking their names from hues.
Weather-inspired car names are also common with vehicles like Toyota Storm and Subaru Forester all drawing on meteorological phenomena.
Car makers have also been known to draw inspiration from other concepts for their car names. Examples include Volkswagen’s Touareg (named after a desert-dwelling nomadic tribe) and Toyota’s Tacoma (named after the city in Washington state).
As you can see, there is a wide variety of influences behind car names today. This is from geography to mythology, animals to sports teams and technology to popular culture. These influences provide a fascinating insight into the history of marketing and branding in the automotive industry. So next time you’re looking for a new car, why not take a look at some of these iconic names?