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Automakers have a long tradition of naming cars after animals and fantastical creatures. Some vehicles’ monikers nod to birds, reptiles, fish, and insects. And several are named for spiders. But only one is named after an arachnid that isn’t a spider.

Critter-inspired car names, including 1 non-spider arachnid

Scorpion car names
An emperor scorpion (not a car) | Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

Drive an American highway on any given day, and you’ll likely encounter various vehicles with animal names. If you don’t see a Dodge Viper or Shelby Cobra slithering past, you might notice a Ford Bronco or a Chevy Impala galloping in the lane next to your Dodge Colt. But the Grinnall Scorpion IV is the only car named for a desert-dwelling, eight-legged, stinging arachnid that isn’t a spider. (We’re not counting the Kia Stinger Scorpion because it’s a special edition, the Lancia Scorpion because it’s no longer in production, or the Grinnall Scorpion III because it’s a three-wheeled trike.)

With no doors or roof, the rocket-fast Grinnall Scorpion IV is better suited to the track than the highway. Packing a four-cylinder 1.8 liter Audi turbo engine, this powerful albeit impractical niche vehicle zooms from 0 to 60 mph in a bit over three seconds and easily attains a track speed of 155 mph. Noting subpar handling and a rather extravagant price for essentially a toy, Supercar World gives the Grinnall Scorpion IV 869 out of 1,067 ranking points. Driving Your Dream lists the Scorpion IV at £27,000 (around $32,000).

Carmakers love to name vehicles after all sorts of creatures, and they probably won’t stop anytime soon. Other animal-inspired vehicles include the AMC Eagle, AMC Marlin, Audi Fox, Buick Skylark, Buick Wildcat, Chevrolet Bison, Chevrolet Cheetah, Corvette Stingray, Datsun Bluebird, Dodge Ram, Ford Mustang, Ford Pinto, Ford Puma, Ford Raptor, Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Bobcat, Mercury Cougar, Mercury Sable, Plymouth Road Runner, Pontiac Firebird, Reliant Robin, Studebaker Lark, Stutz Blackhawk, Sunbeam Tiger, Volkswagen Beetle.

A surplus of spiders

Cars named for swift birds, mighty reptiles, and sure-footed animals evoke images of speed, strength, and reliability. Why, then, do so many carmakers opt to christen cars after eight-legged critters that cause some people to panic? The reason might have to do with a miscommunication that occurred in the 1950s.

Noting a remarkable number of convertibles named “Spider” or “Spyder,” Granturismo tells of an Italian journalist at a 1953 car show in New York who, when asked by his editor to describe the then-new Porsche 550 over a transatlantic telephone line, inadvertently called it a “spider” instead of a “speeder.” Fun story, but probably not true.

Granturismo’s alternate explanation was that arachnid nicknames for cars date back to the 1800s when the horse-drawn Phaeton carriage was nicknamed “Spider” due to its diminutive body and thinly spoked wooden wheels.

Whether either of those explanations is correct, the fact remains that many cars carry a spidery moniker.

Road & Track concurs with the second story and says some carmakers, such as Porsche and Ferrari, waver between two spellings. For instance, Ferrari once called its convertible body style “Spyder” but switched to “Spider” when the 488 debuted. However, Porsche retains the “y” spelling for its Boxster models. And Fiat, McLaren, and Alfa Romeo lean toward the more common “Spider.”

Other creepy-crawly car names

By 1955, many cars, including the Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider, were christened after arachnids. Lancia’s model went out of production decades ago. Still, other bug-named vehicles, such as the Hudson Hornet, Hudson Wasp, Dodge Superbee, and Pontiac Firefly, occasionally pop up for sale at classic car auctions.


7 Modern American Cars Named After Animals