There are so many cars out there, both current and discontinued, that keeping track can be a bit difficult, since not every nameplate sticks in your head like a Toyota Corolla. Many get their names from rather bland origins, such as project names, but others have a bit more flavor and meaning. Just saying you own a Dodge Demon can spark a fire inside you, reminding you of what it feels like to be behind the wheel, and letting others know just what kind of car owner you are. Similarly, owning an Aston Martin Vanquish makes it very clear that you won’t settle for less than the best, while a Ferrari 812 Superfast basically tells you what it is all about.
Still, there are plenty of vehicles with more interesting names, based on mythology, world history, cosmology, or epic literature. So, if you ever feel that your Toyota Camry or Honda CR-V doesn’t quite stand out from the crowd, here are a few of the more eccentric cars that have made a name for themselves in the USA over the years. Sadly, they are not all currently available, and those that are, are generally quite price prohibitive.
Nevertheless, you can pick up a Chevy Corvette or Ford Mustang without breaking the bank. Each draws its name from military nomenclature. The former from the navy and the latter from the airforce. Thus, it comes as no surprise that they are super-powered machines with aggressive styling and a reputation for thrill-seeking. But, these are still rather tame in comparison to some of the more outlandish models.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” is such a good phrase to describe this classic sedan. It was all about striking before its rivals even knew what had hit them. It looks cool and elegant, despite its enormous size, but it was a king of the NASCAR track. It hung around for a few years, presented as a sedan, a coupe, and even a convertible with hard or soft tops.
By no means a popular car, or even a good one, the Prowler definitely stands out for its unique design. Hunkered low to the ground, the roadster has large rear wheels and smaller front wheels, bringing to mind the image of a cat about to pounce. It’s almost a pity that it went the way of the Dodo.
Though it may not sound particularly unusual, the Camaro has an interesting origin story. It was designed to go up against the Ford Mustang, so when asked what the name meant, the Chevy explained that a Camaro is a creature that hunts and kills horses. Naturally, this is nonsense, since no such creature exists. Furthermore, the Mustang is named after an airplane and not an equine creature. Nevertheless, it is an interesting tale that goes to show just how far some automakers will go to prove their competitiveness.
AC Cobra & De Tomaso Mangusta
Another pair of rival automobiles, each draw their name from the natural world. The Cobra is one of the most dangerous snakes in the world, and often regarded as the most vicious, striking quickly and often without cause. This roadster was all about power and lightweight fun, and it earned its name in the hall of fame.
The Mangusta translates as mongoose, which is actually one of the Cobra’s very few natural predators. It was clearly envisioned to go up against the AC and decimate it, but the dream of its makers never really came to fruition. Still, it’s an interesting rivalry and it shows just how aggressive the automotive industry can be – pithy, too.
Quite a few interesting vehicles bear the Rolls name and proudly fly the Spirit of Ecstasy wings upon their hood, but the Phantom is perhaps the most highly regarded. The name creates an air of mystery while maintaining its elegance. Just as you’d dress up to go see the Phantom of the Opera, so too does this enormous sedan demand a certain degree of reverence. It has the power to earn it, that’s for sure, with 563 horsepower developed by its twin-turbo V12, but that ominously inviting exterior is what really sets it apart.
The name of a company rather than a specific model, Vector drew from aeronautical designs when creating its cars. Each looks like a jet fighter somehow transformed to function on land. Sleek but jagged lines made up the bodies, with a broad wing upon the tail. The wheels were housed in elegant arches, while the sides of the cars flared out slightly as if like wings. To be specific, a vector is a scientific term for a force that has both direction and magnitude, and while that may sound pretty cool, the models were hardly as exciting with names like the W2, W8, and WX-3.
Not every name is a winner
Though most cars have names meant to appeal to the masses, or boast their strengths, or even subtly hint at age-old rivalries, some are just plain silly. These are the kids that get picked on at school thanks to their misguided parents, and while it may be cruel to laugh at their misfortune, we just can’t help ourselves.
Nissan Homy Super Long
Essentially a minivan, the Super Long lives up to its name by stretching out further than any traditional rival. In a sense, it is a practical car, with loads of space for crew and cargo. However, it is pretty boring to look at, which is where the Homy comes in. The name is actually incredibly accurate, but that doesn’t make it any less silly.
This is actually a superb vehicle, which any car enthusiast would be lucky to own… but that name. It’s like naming your child Steven when your surname is Stevenson, since LaFerrari literally translates to “the Ferrari.” It’s almost sad that the people who designed such a magnificent sports car seemed to have completely run out of creative inspiration when it came time to slap a label on their masterpiece. But, if you can overlook this foolishness, there really is nothing else to fault here.
Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard
The Japanese company has long since withdrawn its presence from the USA, but everyone can appreciate a botched christening. In every sense, the vehicle was a simple SUV, but clearly Isuzu had grander aspirations, if not good taste.
But it just goes to show that we are not all the same, and our sensibilities differ. We may find many of these names rather comical, but it helps to remember that many cars made in the US are rebranded when they are sold overseas. Not everyone has the same taste, and that’s not a bad thing.