What Did You Name Your Car?
by Sophie Kihm
October 2nd is National Name Your Car Day in the US. There’s no official data on car names, but surveys count Betsy, Sally, Lucy, Bertha, Bessie, Penny, Stella, Katie, Alice, Steve, Fred, and Herbie among the most popular names for cars.
These are old-fashioned names, many of them nicknames, and—with the exception of Alice, Lucy, and Stella—not names that are currently popular for babies. It seems to me that we name our cars similarly to how we name our dogs—mostly short, friendly names, some of them chosen for their so-uncool-it’s-cool quality (like Bertha, Fred, and Bessie), and others for their pop culture references (especially Herbie).
As with naming a dog, naming a car is a time when you can be more creative and adventurous in your choice of name. You may want to choose a name that exhibits your car’s appearance, character, or origin. Character is what I consider in particular when naming a car.
Growing up, my dad loved cars and would periodically bring home quirky old models for us to drive around town. I started naming them when I was twelve years old, when a dark green Defender showed up in our driveway.
My dad had never been prouder of any of his cars. It was his baby, and like a baby, it needed a name. He tasked me, his budding name expert pre-teen with the task. I was allowed to name the car whatever I wanted, but there was one rule—this car was akin to a vessel, and thus, it needed a female name.
I eventually settled on Helga. A sturdy and powerful name that conveyed the strength and intimidation of this beast of a car. Of course, Helga is not a stylish name in the slightest, but that wasn’t the point. The name needed to reflect her personality.
The name stuck, and so did my reputation as a car-namer. We amassed a fleet of cars as my siblings and I grew old enough to drive, and I named them all. The aged five-speed coupe was called Betty. The sleek black station wagon went by Nancy. The clunky, temperamental SUV was known as Gretchen.
When I named my own car at sixteen, I took care to choose a name that both fit my car—a dusty-blue sedan from the 1980s that ran on diesel and couldn’t go over 55mph—and that I loved. I wanted a name that spoke to her vintage style and unconventional nature, but one that had smartness and flair.
Her name was Agatha, a deeply historical name that still felt too fusty to give to a baby girl but was beginning to shed that image. Agatha was an up-and-comer with hipster appeal and sufficient quirk. It had also very recently been given the Wes Anderson seal of approval, as Saoirse Ronan’s character in The Grand Budapest Hotel. This combination of factors led me to believe that Agatha was the perfect name for my car—and so it was settled.
Agatha’s name indeed suited her well. And she was rarely referred to as anything else. My parents, friends, siblings, and grandparents all knew her by name and called her Agatha like it was the most natural thing in the world.
The week I left for college, my dad sold Agatha to a family who had a newly-sixteen-year-old daughter who needed a car to get to and from high school every day, just as I once did. I knew this was coming—I wouldn’t need a car going to college in the city, and besides, this one wasn’t capable of driving on the highway—but I was devastated nonetheless. I cried and begged my dad to keep her around for me, but no such luck. I eventually came to terms with the fact that I would never see my beloved car again. I said a tearful goodbye to her on a bright September morning, and as he prepared to drive her to her new home, I turned to my dad and said, “just make sure they call her Agatha.”
So what did you name your car? Tell us in the comments.
Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sophie lives in Chicago.
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on September 30th, 2019 at 11:47 pm
I have a dark cherry red Kia Sorento named Beverly – she’s named after Dr. Crusher on Star Trek:TNG. My husband and I thought the color looked like a Dr. Pepper can, and that made me think of Dr. Crusher. Hence, Beverly. I had a white Cadillac SRX named Sugar, because she was sparkly white and my coworkers joked I must have gotten a sugar daddy to afford that car (little did they know I bought it used at a great price). Before that I had a navy blue Subaru Outback named Mothership. She was big and tough and was my first Mom Car.
Love naming cars!
on October 1st, 2019 at 12:08 am
Kia Optima named Young Jae Reginald, “Reggie” for short. Originally, my sister and I were just going to name him Reginald nn Reggie, but our mom was adamant that he get a Korean name because he is a Korean car. There was no shortlist for his English name (we knew exactly who he was when we saw him), but the shortlist for his Korean name was as follows: Young Jae (the winner), Si Won, Dae Sung, and Jin Young. (Yes, they are all kpop idols.) Young Jae won because it was the only one our mom could pronounce correctly.
on October 1st, 2019 at 1:34 am
My first car was a white Volvo C30 and I named her Audrey Lucille after Audrey Hepburn and my grandma Lucille. She was a shining bright white and a classic looking car so I thought it fit perfectly! I recently just bought a new Jeep Compass in Redline Pearl and on my way to the dealership to pick up my car, I was thinking of what I wanted to name her. I decided on her name, Rose Helmi (Finnish for pearl) and her nickname is Rosie!
….I think I love names too much lol
on October 1st, 2019 at 8:26 am
My car’s name is Betty, because it’s a white Ford. 😛
on October 1st, 2019 at 8:31 am
My cars have all been given names that are references to film/television.
My first car was a big Mercury Sable station wagon. After being totalled and then resuscitated with the help of my uncle, it earned the name “Millenium Falcon.”
Then I owned a Honda Accord that had been bought new by my grandparents when I was six, passed down to my mother when my grandma died in my senior year of high school, and then passed to me. She didn’t come with a name, but her age was starting to affect her performance, so she was named Phyllis – a great car name and a reference to a moment on The Office, when Andy Bernard shouts, “I don’t trust you, Phyllis!”
My last two cars have both been named in reference to the show Psych. Much like Burton Guster’s faithful Toyota Echo, my Nissan Sentra was called “The Blueberry” for its deep blue color. And my current car (a gunmetal Nissan Versa Note) bears one of the flashy nicknames given to Gus by Shawn in a long-running bit – Sh’dynasty. (That’s spelled S-H-Comma-to-the-top-Dynasty.)
on October 1st, 2019 at 9:51 am
My family have always named cars. I passed my driving test last year and my silver Toyota’s name is Felix. It has ended up fitting him really well because my boyfriend and I lived in separate cities and he was going through a tough time so for a while he was our only way of seeing each other – hence, my little car has, indeed, been our fortunate one 🙂
My family are avid car collectors/fixer-uppers so currently we have: Pandora (silver Mercedes), Coco (blue Mercedes), Wilfred (blue Skoda – I picked this name! He was almost a Harry), Hector (green Jaguar), and TC (purple Ford) – short for “Tiny Car.” I love it when they bring a new one home to tinker with because there is always a very serious discussion about what to call it!
on October 1st, 2019 at 9:52 am
My first car was really old and run down so that was Edith
Then I had a Prius which is pretty hipster so that was Indie
Then my electric car is very modern looking so that’s Enzo
I also named my boyfriends car Daniel because it’s just a classic car
on October 1st, 2019 at 10:55 am
My mom’s first car she owned herself was a Connecticut blue Pinto we named Harry Jerome Silverstein. We generally called him Harry Jerome.
My first car was a 1967 midnight blue Pontiac LeMans that I named Jim, after James T Kirk. My first family car was an old woody station wagon we named Belle. Then we had a giant Buick LeSabre named Casey, after Casey Stengel.
Currently I own a bright blue Ford Focus. My readers held a contest to name it after one of my fictional characters, so the car is now Joao da Costa, and we call it da Costa.
on October 1st, 2019 at 2:03 pm
I have a blue Mazda called Starbug and my husband drives a grey Corvette called Jean.
on October 1st, 2019 at 2:29 pm
My car is D’artagnan because I love, love the character from The Three Musketeers. He’s a spunky red Chevy HHR.
My parents definitely had a mini van named “Old Betsy” at some point in my childhood :’)
on October 1st, 2019 at 9:34 pm
My first car was Bob (named by my parents).
My second car is Clara, who now belongs to my 16yo sister. I named her off of a whim. She just felt like a Clara!
My current car is Augusta. It belonged to my grandparents before me so they gave me a list of family names to choose from. Augusta was my ancestor who was born on the Oregon Trail!
My parents always name their cars and often times, the names are puns. They had Tom (Celica), Lloyd (named after Lloyd Carr), and currently have Henry (the Ford). Their other car is Dysnomia, named after a moon of Eris. My youngest sister was 7 or 8 at the time and was obsessed with all things outer space so the name was her idea.
on October 2nd, 2019 at 11:16 am
I named mine Marie. Pretty pedestrian, I know, but it was after the X-Men character.
Pamela Redmond Said
on October 2nd, 2019 at 12:06 pm
My daughter and son-in-law have an old blue Volvo they call Blue Shagu (or maybe Shagoo??). Its nickname is Shaggy. This is the first time I’ve ever had a relationship with a car that had a name and I have to say, it does increase my affection for the Shagster.
Clare Green Said
on October 2nd, 2019 at 12:39 pm
Great stories! My car is Terry. It had to begin with T, like the registration plate, and a solid middle-aged man name felt right.
on October 2nd, 2019 at 8:52 pm
My Mercury Mariner is named Mabel
on October 2nd, 2019 at 10:42 pm
My cars have been Carolina (Car-oh-line-uh) because she was Carolina blue and Zelda which is a teal colour. But is acrually naned after Zelda Fitzgerald.
on October 6th, 2019 at 10:56 am
Names that my family’s cars have had: Blackie, James, Elphaba, Willy, and Drax. My parents always ask me to pick out a name every time they get a new car! It probably helped kickstart my name obsession.
on October 6th, 2019 at 5:51 pm
My sister’s (formally family’s) orange G5 is Jack, short for Jack-o-lantern, and my Honda Fit is Bennet
on October 22nd, 2019 at 8:06 pm
My ’94 Jeep Grand Cherokee is named Roxanne, because I liked Roxy but I had just finished a production of Chicago and didn’t want the comparisons. If people ask, I say it’s based on the song by The Police.
Our family always named our cars, and I’ve listed as many as I can remember:
The Green Monster (after Fenway Park), Red Molly, Humphry (though my dad insists it’s called “The Swamp Monster”), Kit, Daisy Mae, and now an unnamed white jeep (I want Stephen, my mom refuses, and my dad doesn’t care. It got in an accident a few weeks ago, so we’ve stopped our arguing until it’s fixed)
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