Car names used to be such fun. Manufacturers would clearly spend long days huddled around a bar table dreaming up aspirational names for their new products. It all seems to have changed. Today we have Auris. Focus. Insignia. A6. In a world where rather a lot of things are really quite depressing and bleak here at Great Escape we think our humble car manufacturers, who enrich our lives with their vehicles and marketing, should really be trying just a little bit harder.
To help the creatives along as they assemble the comfy cushions and pin-ball machines of inspiration, here is our top ten of car names. We could easily make it a top 100. We’ve picked our favourites. We’re ready to be shot down.
1. Jensen Interceptor
We have to agree with Jeremy Clarkson, no company has bettered the name Interceptor. It’s the automotive equivalent of Brute aftershave. Whatever an interceptor actually is – and honestly, who cares? – there is no doubt that it should have a thumping great V8 and a lot of leather.
Stick with me on this. If the MGB had been given a proper name would we love it as much? It’s so simple but so right, the single letter denomination characterising the ‘B’s everywhere everyman appeal. Sure, it probably didn’t involve a great deal of creative time, and perhaps if it had it wouldn’t have been very MGB.
3. Trans Am
Never ever in the field of automotive nomenclature have two words summed up a car and culture quite so well. The Pontiac Trans Am is exactly the car you want to be driving when you’re trans-ing America, T-Top roof popped and CB chattering away alerts on every Smokey from here to Alabami. A Trans UK, lets be honest, has less of a ring to it. Even when you’re pootling around Stoke on Trent in your Trans Am this remarkable looking car and its equally remarkable name suggest freedom and carefree motoring like few other four wheelers.
Named after Enzo’s ill-fated son, the Ferrari Dino has a name that is just ridiculously right. Four letters that mean nothing but say everything – Italy, youthfulness, style. Like GTO names that end in ‘O’ generally just work. Except Vito.
Ford has a habit of hitting pay dirt when it chooses real words, although it is also responsible for some memorable clunkers. Of which Probe is just one. But Mustang, so obvious and yet so clever, summed up a moment in time and a car that was so new and different. For Americans, steeped in Wild West history, a Mustang is the wild, untamed horse in the pack. ‘Stang buyers understood that they were buying into the idea of a slightly hedonistic, rule breaking way of life that threw two fingers up at convention. And then they drove to work at the mall.
The history of motoring is littered with three letter acronyms used as car names. In many cases they are simply meaningless. That GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologato is pretty irrelevant when it is pinned to two of the finest cars from Italy and the USA – Ferrari 250 and Pontiac. The Ferrari’s name is of course genuinely descriptive as the car was homologated for racing, the Pontiac is just a marketing gimmick. It doesn’t matter. GTO is a great badge that says nothing and implies everything. Like GTI a few decades later the GTO badge established whatever it stuck to as The Quick One. And as three letters it just works, more so I suggest than GTI. Borrowing it may also have been John DeLorean’s finest moment.
Another utterly meaningless name that fitted an apparent Jaguar policy in the 60s of sticking the first name that came into the tea lady’s head onto the car. Of course we had had the C-Type and D-Type so the name connected the aerodynamic E to a racing lineage but the name itself has no real meaning. And yet nothing else would quite work. Imagine trying to come up with an alternative. Anything more descriptive and less anonymous would detract from the astonishing looks of the car. So E it is. For no other reason than that it is. For the record we think E-Type nabs the honours in a way that F-Type doesn’t quite manage, wonderful car though it is.
Another car name that resoundingly underplays the car it sticks to. The 911 was nearly the 901 and thank goodness Peugeot kicked up a stink because that extra 1 is the difference between greatness and drabness. Like E-Type, 911 means nothing but says everything – it’s simple, flows well and is easy to say.
Alfa Convertible is what it actually says, but in so many ways it says so much more. A Spider is many things to many people – multi-legged arachnid to Brits, multi-coloured milk drink to Australians – but to Italians it spells freedom. Just calling your new car what it is let’s the car itself do the talking.
Ubiquity plays havoc with many things and the name Mini is no exception. BL’s reputation in the car-naming arena is not an illustrious one. Oxford. Montego. Ital. Ambassador. The conglomerate is probably responsible for more than its fair share of woeful names but with Mini it got it right. Ok, so originally it was called the Mini Minor, hardly a stroke of creative genius when it was the small version of the Minor but BL quickly saw the error of its ways and gave it solo status. Mini cleverly played – no doubt unintentionally – on the trend for mini-related things in the 60s (eg the mini skirt and, er, well more mini skirts) and expressed the cheekiness and compactness of the diminutive runaround. It may also be one of the most enduring car names in history – although even the most ardent BMW Mini fan would be hard pressed to argue the name is now anything but ironic.
So, there you have them, our person list of top 10 car names. If you can suggest 10 better ones we’ll give you £100 to spend on classic car hire from our Devon, Cotswolds or Yorkshire sites. There are 5 vouchers up for grabs. Email your list to email@example.com or post them in the Comments field. For more details on what we do visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk