Facebook Answer of the Week: Heated debate over the coolest car names


What’s in a name?



Depends on your point of view, really. At least we’re assuming that’s the case, since few of you actually made a case for your nomination when we asked our Facebook audience, “What’s the coolest car name?” For those of you who did, we thank you.

Chad Clark obviously put some thought to it. “Cobra would be good if it didn’t have the distinction of looking like a large-mouth bass. Corvette is amusing since it has a dirty meaning in Bulgarian [editor’s note: OK, truth be told, we Googled this and the only thing we know for sure is that HR will soon ask about our search history]. I think I have to go with Cheetah despite the car being far from catlike looking. The thing was fast and crazy at least. That or Hellcat, since at least it describes it well.”

Offering a bit of history with his answer, Ward Meunier said, “Ford Motor Company paid Triumph Motorcycles to use the Thunderbird nameplate. Just as Plymouth paid Warner Brothers $60,000 to use the Roadrunner name and another $5,000 to develop the “meep meep” horn sound. Pontiac paid, I believe, either BSA or Norton motorcycles, to use the Firebird name.”

Bill Swiss made a good point — even if he didn’t come right out and say it: The cars in your garage can certainly influence your answer. “We are blessed to own four Thunderbirds and two mid-year Corvette Sting Rays. But the best name for me is a Dodge Phoenix. My first car.”

Jim Horn gets an A for effort since he backed his answer with some reasoning. But his preference for a particular brand is obvious:  “Dictator. Indicative of Studebaker’s dominance in forward-thinking engineering during the ’40s and ’50s.”

Of course, the jokesters showed up right on schedule, too. Ben Updegraff loves the Volkswagen Passat because there’s a naughty three-letter word in the middle of it. Gary Mabee added a four-letter word that may also make people cringe: Yugo. Frank Fijalkowski had trouble keeping a straight face when he wrote, “Pinto… LOL sorry.” Matt Huybrecht believes the coolest car name belongs to the Porsche 911 because “names are dumb.” Travis Kerns agreed, sort of, when he wrote “442.” And Chris Maidment made us laugh, even if he didn’t mean to. He nominated “Bricklin” — the last name of the guy who built the car.

Some of you steered off course by offering names you hate. Scott Berelson nominated “Sprite, Probe, Electra,” then wrote, “Worst is Nova” — probably referring to the long-held belief that the word offends Latinos, although snopes.com says otherwise. Todd Gilding followed Scott’s lead by asking, “Can we all agree that Biscayne has got to be in the top ten worst?” John A. Hajeski attempted to restore order: “Chevy tried to pick names of famous scenic locations. Biscayne Bay is one of the nicest locations in Florida.”

Most of you went short and sweet. John Cattoni wrote, “I think Mopar has the best names,” and he wasn’t alone. Among the nominations: Barracuda, Roadrunner, Super Bee, Charger, Fury, Demon, Dart and Crossfire.

You also nominated animals (Thunderbird, Hornet, Hawk, Firebird, Falcon, Mustang, Maverick, Stingray, Wildcat, Tiger, Jaguar and Cobra) … and names inspired by air and space (Spitfire, Galaxie, Star Chief and Starliner) … and names that represented authority or strength (Boss, Ambassador, Judge, Marauder, Vanquish, Interceptor, Fury and Cyclone). Actually, you nominated pretty much everything that happened to come to mind, from imaginary to odd to just plain fun to say – like VelociRaptor, Avanti, Veritas and this beauty: Brougham de Elegance.

Two of you went with the Tucker Torpedo, even though the car is officially named the Tucker 48. Torpedo was just its nickname, but it IS a good one.

Perhaps we should defer to Roger Ali Rivera, who consulted a higher authority — or at least someone fluent in ancient Roman languages — before nominating the Celica Supra, which he claims is “Latin for From Above the Heavens.” We’re not sure if Roger has his facts straight, and snopes.com was not helpful this time around, but at least he has us looking up.


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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.


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