10 November 2015

Location, Location, Location: Ten car names inspired by places

After animals, location names hold a special place in the hearts of automotive marketers. The more prestige or glamour that attaches to the place name, the better, even if the majority of buyers can't find it on the map.

  1. Chevrolet Monte Carlo: Chevy grabbed this chic Riviera tax haven for its new-for-1970 personal luxury car. They went on to use the name for more than 30 years.
  2. Dodge Monaco: Since Chevy had already grabbed Monte Carlo (the name of the city) Dodge settled for the name of the tiny principality in which Monte Carlo is situated. It’s a reasonable certainty that few if any Dodge Monacos have ever been seen parked in front of the famous casino or dropping the rich and famous off at their yachts – if for no other reason than fact that Monaco’s narrow streets would have a tough time accommodating the full-size Monaco, the same car made famous as the Bluesmobile in the movie “The Blues Brothers.”
  3. Chevrolet Malibu: Chevy’s ever-popular mid-size sedan was of course named after the seaside L.A.-area town loved by celebrities and hated by uber slacker "The Dude" in the Coen Brothers classic, "The Big Lebowski."
  4. Cadillac Eldorado: The Eldorado was indeed named after a place, albeit a mythical one. El Dorado was the legendary city of gold sought by countless Spanish conquistadors.
  5. Kaiser Manhattan: The wartime ship-building company-turned-auto manufacturer built the distinctive Manhattan sedan. We’re reasonably sure that it was named after the NY borough, not the cocktail, but given the times, you never know.
  6. Mercury Monterey: Mercury used the name of this historic California seaside town steadily from the early 1950s through the early 1970s, later slapping it on a lackluster minivan before killing off the Mercury brand entirely.
  7. Buick Riviera: Buick certainly hoped to conjure up the glamour of the south of France with its new-for-1963 personal luxury coupe, but in truth it was the second time that Buick has appropriated the name of France’s Mediterranean playground, which is home to places like Cannes, Nice and Sainte Tropez.
  8. Mercury Montego: For no apparent reason, Mercury swiped the name of a resort community in Jamaica.
  9. Renault Floride: Perhaps as payback for Buick appropriating “Riviera,” Renault named its stylish little convertible the Floride, which is French for “Florida.”
  10. Toyota Tacoma: Tacoma lives forever in the shadow of its larger neighbor to the north, Seattle. And while that town is known for grunge music and coffee, Tacoma will forever have the association with one fine small pickup.

31 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Tom Johnson Mahomet, IL November 15, 2015 at 20:04
    Pontiac Bonneville
  • 2
    jchilds Rainy PNW November 15, 2015 at 12:58
    There's Ford's very nice concept car Thunderbird Italien.
  • 3
    Jeff Lexington, NC November 18, 2015 at 17:13
    What about the Dodge Aspen?
  • 4
    jim oswald Catalina AZ. November 18, 2015 at 17:24
    (1) Ford "King Ranch Pick" up Trucks, etc. (2) Pontiac "Catalina " for Catalina Island / Catalina Mountains in AZ.
  • 5
    William Taylor Denver November 18, 2015 at 17:36
    I can't believe you missed out on my absolute favourite car named after a place, specially a recent one. How about the Lotus Evora (a city in Portugal, in case you didn't know)
  • 6
    Paul Los Angeles November 18, 2015 at 18:04
    Referring to #2 The Dodge Monaco. Saying that they "settled" for the name "Monaco" infers that they did not have a choice or would of preferred the name "Monte Carlo". The fact is that The Dodge Monaco went into production with that name Six Years before the Monte Carlo debuted. The Monte Carlo was not thought of until John Z. DeLorean was transferred to Chevrolet and created it as a counterpart to his beloved Grand Prix.
  • 7
    Doug Bryant Mo November 18, 2015 at 18:13
    Dodge Phoenix, Chev Colorado,Chev Tahoe,Chev Bel Air,Dodge Daytona, Buick Park Avenue, Dodge Aspen, Dodge Dakota, just to name a few more................... db
  • 8
    john California November 18, 2015 at 18:39
    You can add Torino
  • 9
    Bill Vellner Redford, MI November 18, 2015 at 18:55
    Let's not forget the Corvair Monza.
  • 10
    Steve Greer Goshen,In. November 18, 2015 at 19:46
    What about Pontiac Catalina. A great car name for years!
  • 11
    BJC007 Los Angeles Area November 18, 2015 at 19:55
    You forgot Chevy Bel-Air, Pontiac Catalina, Pontiac Bonneville, Toyota Avalon, Dodge Ram Laramie, Chevy Cheyenne, Chevy Colorado, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Durango, Chrysler Park Avenue, Plymouth Belvedere, etc etc
  • 12
    RJ West MI November 18, 2015 at 20:27
    What - no Plymouth Belvedere?
  • 13
    Sam Lincoln, Nebraska November 18, 2015 at 20:44
    Actually, the name "Monte Carlo" was not already taken when Dodge decided to name its full-sized sedan "Monaco". The first Dodge Monaco came out in 1964 as a 1965 model. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo was introduced five years later.
  • 14
    brian white springfield ohio November 18, 2015 at 20:55
    Ford Torino Italy?
  • 15
    Peter NJ November 18, 2015 at 21:36
    Dodge Daytona ?
  • 16
    Jim Ontario November 18, 2015 at 22:05
    And don't forget the Rolls-Royce Corniche and Camargue
  • 17
    Jeff G Florida November 18, 2015 at 22:07
    Ford Fairlane - Ford's Fairlane Manor in Dearborn Chevy Delray - Delray section of Detroit
  • 18
    John Chicago November 18, 2015 at 22:24
    You forgot to mention the Ford Torino, which was named after the city of Turin, Italy.
  • 19
    Craig Calgary November 19, 2015 at 13:25
    How about a Bentley Mulsanne or Azure?
  • 20
    Neil Russell Statesboro, GA November 19, 2015 at 01:45
    Lest we forget the AMC Matador Barcelona.
  • 21
    Steve Cramer OR November 19, 2015 at 15:08
    Chevrolet BelAir should not be overlooked as it has the connotation of expensive taste.
  • 22
    Mark N Atlanta, Ga November 19, 2015 at 06:08
    What an odd choice of ten, when there are so many more, Cadillac Fleetwood, of Fleetwood Pa. Cadillac SeVille and Calais, Pontaic Bonneville, Catalina, Packard Caribbean. There are at least a hundred cars named after place, that are more important cars, more obscure places, and more note worthy.
  • 23
    Brian Santa Rosa, CA November 19, 2015 at 21:34
    BMW Bavaria!
  • 24
    Carl Novak Chicago November 19, 2015 at 10:33
    You forgot my favorite, Pontiac Catalina.
  • 25
    philip de schauwer oceanside, california November 19, 2015 at 00:55
    How about " Biarritz " ? . Named after the famous beaches along the coast of France Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.
  • 26
    Chris CA November 19, 2015 at 12:56
    A colleague and myself (both in the auto industry) had a two hour drive back from a client in rush hour traffic and were talking about all the different cars named after "a location." We decided to take turns naming cars that were after a location to exhaust the list. It took us nearly the entire drive before we were stumped. There are that many of them. Although, I do admit that the "locations" became more remote as we went, culminating with Jowett "Jupiter" and Ford "Galaxy." He's still sore that I wouldn't give him credit for Mercury "Comet."
  • 27
    Ken SW Florida November 20, 2015 at 06:44
    How about VW Brasilia? I bet you never came up with that one!
  • 28
    Keith Johnson Gaffney, Sc November 20, 2015 at 08:49
    How about the Chevy Biscayne and Vega (a star).
  • 29
    John Grudzien southeaster lower Michigan November 22, 2015 at 13:28
    What about the Ford Fairlane...named for Henry Ford's estate in Dearborn, Mi.?
  • 30
    Sam Lincoln, Nebraska December 3, 2015 at 16:48
    Don't forget the Pontiac Lemans, which started out as an upscale Tempest and finished its existence in a most undignified manner: as a badge-engineered Daewoo. The name deserved better than that.
  • 31
    tim salem oregon August 29, 2016 at 21:49
    thanks everone! on a mission!

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