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.
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