Why Do We Name Our Cars?

Gladys. Yolanda. Cooper. Carmen. Jane. After some quick Facebook research it became really obvious that offbeat, old school female names are the most popular car names (no offense to the real world Gladys and Yolandas). Yet according to Namely-Yours (a website with more name-related information than you ever wanted to know), naming your car after a male or female name is actually the 2nd most popular trend in car naming. Yes, people apparently study this kind of thing.

The number one trend? Naming the car based on color. Examples based on the site’s surveys: Pepper (“It looked the color of a Dr. Pepper can”), The Green Goddess, Little Cucumber, The Jackolantern (“An orange van. The antenna on the roof is the stem”), Beryl the Yellow Peril, and The Buttermilk Biscuit. Personally, I doubt that naming a car The Jackolantern will make a neon orange van more attractive, but it adds personality I guess.

Namely-yours’ second trend, naming cars after human names, involves such gems as “Chadillac” and “Wilma” (explained by the surveyor as Will-ma-car-start?).

Jenny Johns, a Cincinnati/Dayton area photographer, explains that her Honda CRV named “Jane” has an actual story behind the name. At a Kanye West concert, the performer kept talking to this fake “computer screen” behind him that he called, “Jane.” He always asked Jane for advice and yelled things to Jane.
“So naturally my boyfriend and I always yell at my car and GPS, calling it Jane,” Johns says.

Other trends included naming the car based on appearance (i.e. “The Fat Car”), based on make or model (i.e. “Musty” for a Mustang), and finally based on performance, or lack thereof (i.e. “Putt Putt Bang”).  Reverend Payne, a Ford-life featured driver, called his old Mercury Mystique, the Mercury “Mistake.”

So why do we feel the need to name our cars, especially when they have perfectly good names already given to them at birth? Maybe it’s because we like to think of them as living things, so that when they break down it’s easier to place blame. “Come on, Gladys, get moving!” Or maybe it’s because we spend so much time in our car, that we feel it necessary to introduce ourselves properly. If there’s any question that we spend more hours in our cars than our houses, I have only one question…Does your house have a name? I didn’t think so. Name on, car owners.