24 April 2013

The Six Coolest Car Names Ever

Shakespeare famously asked, “What’s in a name?”  In the automotive world, frankly, a hell of a lot. It’s difficult to imagine a Corvette called anything else. Yet, it’s not on our list of cool names because prior to its application to America’s sports car, a corvette was a not-quite-a-destroyer type of small anti-submarine boat. The name only became cool after the Corvette became a success (which didn’t exactly happen overnight). Our favorite cool car names are the ones that are inherently cool. Like these six:

  1. Mercury Marauder: The name conjures up bands of roving barbarians. In addition to providing basic transportation, who wouldn’t want a car that’s also proficient at looting and pillaging?
  2. Ferrari 500 Superfast: Even in the early 1960s, using this name took cojones —something that Enzo Ferrari never lacked. It’s almost over-the-top comical, not unlike Wile E. Coyote’s business card, which listed his occupation as “Super Genius.” One can only imagine the response of today’s product liability lawyers to this one.
  3. Ford Mustang: While the association with the car doesn’t hurt, the name Mustang was cool long before the car debuted in April 1964. Whether it’s the war-winning fighter plane the P-51 Mustang or the wild horse (the car was actually named for the former), it’s just plain cool. 

    [Related Article: Misleading Car Names]

  4. Shelby Cobra: As venomous snakes go, Cobras are wicked cool. The whole hood thing, their exotic origins and their highly concentrated venom make your ordinary rattlers and water moccasins seem, well, ordinary. It makes for one of the all-time great hood badges, too.
  5. Plymouth Barracuda: As fish go, after the shark, the barracuda is arguably the most badass. Beautifully streamlined, highly aggressive and possessing a mouthful of piranha-like teeth, it’s possibly one of the most evocative names for a performance car ever. And while Mopar fans worship the way later cars were simply called the ’Cuda, we remain fans of the full name.
  6. Aston Martin Vanquish: Vanquish is generally defined as follows: To utterly defeat; soundly thrash or beat; to overpower, subjugate or subdue. Enough said.

37 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Robert New Hampshire May 1, 2013 at 15:27
    All good names, I also believe the Plymouth Road Runner should be listed.
  • 2
    Jeff Benedict Port Ludlow, WA May 1, 2013 at 17:02
    One of my favorite names which wasn't mentioned was the Studebaker Dictator. In production from 1927 to 1937, it previously was named the Studebaker Standard Six. Imagine- going down the road in your Dictator! However, due to world politics of the time, it was quite an unfortunate choice for Studebaker and was changed in 1937. Nobody wanted to be reminded of Mussolini or Mr. Mustache and people were turning away from the car in droves... Not the best move for the South Bend manufacturer.
  • 3
    richard sanderson chicago and phoenix May 1, 2013 at 17:22
    Enjoy your list of great names. I'll add a few that come immediately to mind that create a great image thru word association: RR 'Phantom', 'Phanton Corsair', Dodge/SRT 'Viper', Chrysler/DeSoto 'Airflow', DeSoto 'Adventurer', Plymouth 'Fury', Bently 'Mulsanne', Hudson 'Teraplane' (a separate marque), Cadillac 'ElDorado', Chevy 'Nomad', and even the Stutz 'Bearcat'. Of course, the opposite is true, where a name or symbol detracted from the car's image: Acura 'Vigor', Renault 'Alliance', Cadillac 'Cimarron', and a lot more !
  • 4
    Bob Howe Texas May 1, 2013 at 18:09
    I personally like Impala. Not just because I happen to have a 1963 sport coupe, but I have always liked the name.
  • 5
    John P. Buban, Ph.D. Seattle WA May 1, 2013 at 18:27
    You had to mention Wilie E Coyote in your description of the Ferrari. This brings to mind the Plymouth Roadrunner (a swift running crested bird of SW North America). It was a fast no nonsense car, especially with the Hemi engine, and the roadrunner always beat the coyote (in the cartoons at least). Its dressed up model, the Satellite, held the land speed record for its class in 1966. It is hard to be cooler than that.
  • 6
    T.R. Evans Clarkston, MI May 1, 2013 at 18:32
    While I was involved in naming many of the Chrysler Corp. products, I was not involved in naming the Plymouth Barracuda. It is such a great name and emblem I would have been proud to be involved in its creation. There were two full size models (15' long) made to tool the original fish. The designer and modeller in the Ornamentation Studio gave me one of them. It is painted in a burnished argent finish and is is now 48 years old and still in perfect condition. I had disposed of many pieces of Chrysler memoribilia over the year but kept the Barracuda because it is so unique..
  • 7
    Gary El Dorado Hills, CA May 1, 2013 at 19:55
    How about the Jensen Interceptor?
  • 8
    jim smith san jose May 1, 2013 at 23:19
    I have a 65 Mercury Marauder, cool to see it getting some props.
  • 9
    CDK NJ May 1, 2013 at 23:57
    Always liked the Marauder, cool name. Remember the first ones in the '60's. Nice tribute to a marque no longer with us.
  • 10
    Bill W. CA May 2, 2013 at 13:51
    The Corvette Stingray isn't bad either.
  • 11
    Roscoe Griffin Missouri May 2, 2013 at 13:56
    Road Master. It says it all.
  • 12
    manny long island ny May 2, 2013 at 14:03
  • 13
    Steven B Alabama May 2, 2013 at 15:00
    In a funny way, I like my Plymouth Scamp! It's cool!
  • 14
    rolliedemay newark May 2, 2013 at 05:44
    Car names of great history that have also been lost to time....Galaxy, Fury, Bel Air, Thunderbird, Golden Hawk, Nova, Teraplane, and many others. Now we have meaningless numbers. When you had a Galaxy, everyone knew you had the top of the line.
  • 15
    k m s brownsburg IN> home of nitro ally May 2, 2013 at 18:14
    my first sca race car was a 1966 formula S baracuda . it was my daily driver My. girls had to manewver around the roll cage to get in and out of the back seat . my shop on gasiolene ally just finnished the replacment a red1966 formula s its at hammer art on main in speedway getting the cage installed its may in indy time to cruse
  • 16
    Cal Rochester, WA May 2, 2013 at 18:19
    Triumph Spitfire. It really was a car that didn't live up to it's cool name.
  • 17
    Manfred Hill Texas May 2, 2013 at 07:10
    Allways liked the mopar names.... FURY , DEMON , DART , DUSTER , and you cant skip the VIPER in your list!!
  • 18
    Rick Woodstock, NJ May 2, 2013 at 07:10
    The Willys Overland JEEPSTER has been my favorite car since the first car in 1974 to present ... Iconic Jeep look with a flair!
  • 19
    Greg Dockter Bismarck ND May 2, 2013 at 19:32
    Hey friends, what about THUNDERBIRD!!!!
  • 20
    Robert Spinello NY May 2, 2013 at 08:21
    VEGA - the small Chevy was named after the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. How cool is that, and it sounds cool.
  • 21
    Ralph Alabama May 2, 2013 at 21:38
    What happened to the GTO?
  • 22
    Wayne G Wisconsin May 2, 2013 at 10:12
    While the name is cool, the car must also live up to the cool name or they both become duds. Case in point: Mustang = cool, Pinto = very uncool.
  • 23
    Mel Fratzke Greenvill, NC May 2, 2013 at 22:48
    AVANTI -- Italian word for 'forward.' In April 1962, the Studebaker Avanti set the land speed record for a production car -- better than 171mph. Still an extremely cool looking car. There were over 100 on the field this past summer at South Bend, IN.
  • 24
    Richard Carlson Minnesota May 2, 2013 at 00:03
    great magazine
  • 25
    Frank D Warren, Mi May 2, 2013 at 12:29
    How about.......Ford Elite
  • 26
    John Petersburg, VA May 3, 2013 at 16:13
    DeTomaso Mangusta. What could be cooler than that?
  • 27
    Jerryn Minnesota May 3, 2013 at 18:30
    I would like to here more about the dodge Charger,it is still going strong on new cars. I have a 1966 Charger. I would like more history on the Charger, back when it first started with NASCAR.
  • 28
    dave lancaster imperial beach, ca May 3, 2013 at 20:05
    love the barracuda & fury, have one of each. weird how the barracuda previewed 2 weeks before the mustang, but the mustang outsold the bacaruda...........loyal mopar freak!!!!!!!!
  • 29
    Michael Bradberry South Bend, Indiana May 3, 2013 at 21:11
    I have always liked Jensen Interceptor. Very cool.
  • 30
    Mel Fratzke North Carolina May 3, 2013 at 21:19
    'Avanti' -- Italian for 'forward' -- is still a very cool name and still a very cool car.
  • 31
    Eddie Cooper Burlington Ky May 3, 2013 at 22:32
    CHARGER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The name just sound tough...And I also happen to have a 68 that I am just about to complete the restoration on.
  • 32
    Jack Weiszer Portage, MI May 3, 2013 at 23:54
    No one has mentioned Corvette, Mako Shark and Sting Ray? They should be 1, 2 and 3.
  • 33
    db W.MI. May 4, 2013 at 00:08
    If you do "trucks" list...Speedwagon is my favorite.
  • 34
    Gseago GA May 12, 2013 at 16:10
    Since it's celebrating it's 50th Anniversary I have to add the Buick Riviera.
  • 35
    Jim Larson Waterford Mi May 16, 2013 at 20:13
    Seems that Pontiac 'Grand Prix' name didn't make the list,either? It [was] the oldest running car name. Yes, maybe because I have a 1963.
  • 36
    Pat Cauley Gaithersburg, MD June 8, 2013 at 13:00
    Give it up for the Rocket 88. Great name. Great led sled. Great tunes.
  • 37
    Mega Swagger SC January 24, 2016 at 18:30
    Mines Peggy! Other fab ones that my friends have are white lighting, Demetrus, and I'm trying to find my other friend one :/

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