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What’s in a name? When it comes to naming vehicles, the fitting moniker makes a big difference. Automakers have carefully named their historic cars to impart certain qualities such as speed, agility, power, durability, luxury, or beauty. From the Ford Thunderbird to the Pontiac Firebird, names have power. That’s why so many cars were named after mythical creatures and figures over the years.

12 cars named after mythical figures

The following 12 vehicles are a good example of how automobile makers use the power of mythology to create excitement and intrigue. Some of these vehicles have become legends in their own right, making you wonder how big a part the name played.

1. AMC Gremlin 

The Gremlin has become something of a cult classic, not in spite of, but because of, its odd appearance and name. Gremlins are mythical creatures said to sabotage machinery, including crashing airplanes and causing breakdowns. AMC introduced the Gremlin on April Fool’s Day, and while it was a funny-looking car even by 1971 standards, it had good commercial success thanks to its surprisingly good performance.

2. Ford Thunderbird 

The Ford Thunderbird, or “T-Bird,” is one of America’s most iconic vehicles. Introduced in 1954, Volocars reports that the T-Bird was Ford’s answer to the Chevy Corvette. Names that were floated included Beaver and Runabout. Ford held a contest awarding $250 to the person who could come up with something more fitting. Ford stylist Alden Giberson came up with the name and won the prize.

3. Kaiser Dragon 

In 1953, Kaiser Motors introduced its signature Kaiser vehicle featuring a special trim dubbed The Dragon. This came in variations, such as the Silver Dragon and The Jade Dragon. The following year, Kaiser sold the Dragon as an actual model instead of a trim option. Kaiser motors later merged with Willys-Overland.

4. Kia Seltos 

According to Kia, the  Kia Seltos was “Inspired by the legend of ‘Celtos,'” a son of Hercules. The Seltos represents the brave and assertive spirit of Celtos with the ‘S’ in its adapted name implying speed and sportiness.”

5. Nissan Titan

The word Titan denotes great size and strength, and in Greek Mythology, the Titans were indeed giants. The Nissan Titan is a powerful truck known for its towing capacity and spacious, stylish interior. According to The News Wheel, Nissan introduced the Titan in 2003.

6. Pontiac Firebird 

1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am near cricket players in the U.K.
1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

According to Hayes, Pontiac introduced the Firebird as a ‘Classic American sports car’ and competed against the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro. Other names tossed around for the legendary Pontiac Firebird included “Scorpion” and “Banshee,” but Firebird won out. Derived from Russian mythology, the Firebird is often confused with the Phoenix or the Thunderbird.

7. Skoda Yeti

Czech auto manufacturer Skoda introduced the Yeti in 2005, which was well-received as a compact SUV. A Yeti is a large, ape-like creature, also known as the “Abominable Snowman.” Naming its sturdy, functional SUV after the mythological Yeti was a good marketing move that helped consumers understand that this was a perfect vehicle for hauling the family to the snow or other outdoor adventures.

8. Toyota Avalon 

Strength, speed, and power are some of the qualities that mythological names symbolize for most of these vehicles, but in the case of the Toyota Avalon, the quality imparted is luxury. According to Western Slope Toyota, this model is named after the mythical island of Avalon, the burial place of King Arthur. In legends, Avalon is a place of grace, beauty, and abundance.

9. TVR Chimaera

According to Theoi, the Chimaera (also spelled chimera) is a mythological creature known to be a three-headed monster! Nevertheless, the TVR Chimaera is a popular, sporty vehicle that looks nothing like a monster at all.

10. Vauxhall Wyvern 

Vauxhall, one of the oldest vehicle manufacturers in the United Kingdom, introduced the Wyvern way back in 1948. As for its namesake, a Wyvern is a two-legged dragon-like creature featured in medieval folk tales.

11. Volkswagen Amarok

With names like the Beetle, Thing, and Golf, Volkswagen has taken a different approach in recent years. The company named the Volkswagen Amarok pickup truck after the Inuit legend Amarok or Amaroq, a giant, fearsome wolf who hunted humans silly enough to hunt alone at night.

12. Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport 

The Greek God Atlas had the toughest job of all. He had to carry the world on his shoulders. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Atlas is the auto maker’s full-size SUV and also offers the Atas Cross-Sport, a more compact but premium variant.

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