What’s in a Name: We Love Naming Our Cars |Toronto, Mississauga & Brampton

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Back in the day, my grandpa called his vehicles—all of them—Bessie, while my dad’s junkers all went by the name Betsy. Those are, as it happens, the two most popular names to give your car if you live in North America. No idea what my mother called her sleek green Buick, or if she did call her/him/it anything. Much like ships, we tend to give cars feminine names, or at the very least, refer to our rides as her and she. Horror genius Stephen King made one of his most notorious villains a 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine. Be honest: have you ever looked at a neglected classic car in Toronto, Mississauga or Oakville the same way since? 

For as long as cars have existed, people have been naming their vehicles. Maybe it has something to do with our historic mode of transportation, the horse? You sure wouldn’t dream of climbing on a nameless horse and riding for five hours into the sunset. On your way to a showdown at the edge of town, cowboy? Better call that new ride Trigger to send a message to the bad guys. In the southern states in the USA, turns out Sally is the most popular car name. I’m pinning it on this song right here.

Weirdly enough, eight out of twelve popular car names begin with the letter B. More women than men name their cars, and this does not surprise me. More than a quarter of drivers surveyed in the USA think of their car as a female; women go it a step further and see their cars as "baby" girl. I’ve known more than one Doctor. Who fanatic (both genders) who has called their car (of any make and model) The Tardis, after the famous doc’s time-machine/spacecraft. Men apparently tend to like gender non-specific names in favour of nick-names for beloved Sci Fi characters, Hollywood heroes or cartoon characters. And there might be more than one broken-down, less-than-loved jalopy named (without affection) after a legendary ex-wife or ex-husband. A whopping 36% of the 18-34 demographic name their cars. So much for the myth that they’ve given up on driving.    

My very first car, a Jeep Grand Cherokee Liberty Laredo (I still love saying it) was named Lola LaLiberte. And yes, I did love that car as one loves any gal named Lola, with devotion. Once I settled down and got married, and after Pink, our trusty family SUV was totalled, we adopted Harriet, a dependable little sedan that we came to love, even if she wasn’t easy on the eyes. These days, I’m head over heels in love with Lupe LaLoba, our brand-new Jeep Cherokee. Her Mexican name is lovingly celebrated with a pair of beaded bird ornaments dangling from the rear-view mirror. Apparently I really like “L” names when it comes to my Jeeps. Hey, no one said love was rational!

Need a little help naming your car? You can always Google baby names. The top 20 human baby names in Canada for 2018 include Aarav and Ada. Personally, I’m not feeling either of those for a car, but then names are so very personal and maybe the right car would scream “ADA!” at first sight? Also hot on the baby name front: Arlo, Maverick and Tucker for boys, and Daisy, Hazel and Juno for girls. There’s only one perfect name for this handsome set of wheels, and that’s Waylon, a name also ranking high for newborn Canadian boys. You can’t beat Dodge for pretty dramatic names built into their SRT vehicle branding, but what do you think the best name for this gal would be? 

Carmakers name each vehicle model they produce, and we can all think of some truly comical results from decades gone by. Who can ever forget the very uncomfortably-named Ford Probe? Or Renault’s weird little stab at Euro-humour, Le Car? Then there’s Mazda, with their insistence on the seriously-no-one-gets-it Carol Me Lady compact. With all these corny, creepy and sometimes inscrutable car names from the assembly line, you can sort of see why people rename their cars and trucks in a more personal way. We need a new name for our new wheels, either to reflect our own culture, self-image or just to forget, if only for a moment, that we’re driving a Honda Life Dunk. Oh lord, won’t you buy me, a Hellcat SRT...

Naming inanimate objects is a thing with humans. We name cannons, guns, battleships, steam engines and all manner of machines. Why do some of us feel so compelled to name a hunk of metal, as some would so heartlessly refer to our cars? Maybe for the same reasons we give names to our cottages, homes, guitars and boats: to personalize them, so as to feel a closer connection. If you commute every day, spend hours with your Dodge Journey, don’t you want to call her Donna, as in, “The 400 is a real mess today, is it, Donna?” Wait…you mean to tell me that you don’t talk to your car? You’ve never, guiltily knowing she was overdue for an oil change or an air filter, gasping on her last fifty kilometres, caressed the sun-boiled dashboard and thanked her for getting you to where you need to go just one last (?) time? It can’t be just me that does this sort of thing. Is it? Another big reason we name our cars is because we’re an aspirational species. An aspiring musician I know named his Dodge Charger Elvis. I don’t think it’s always a conscious thing. Maybe I named my Jeep Lupe so I’d be inspired to learn more Spanish? We’d love to hear what you’ve named your favourite cars, past and present.   

What is the most frequently nicknamed car?
The already-has-a-cool-name Ford Mustang gets the most nicknames of any car in North America.

Where can I find a list of cool Jeep nicknames?
The coolest Jeep nicknames are right here, on a site that proves once and for all that Jeep lovers are their own special breed.

Where is Team Chrysler located?
Team Chrysler is located in Mississauga at 777 Bancroft Drive

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