3 Dull Sounding Car Names and The Stories Behind Their Origins
What’s in a car’s name? Apparently, a lot. Unless the car’s name is alphabet soup, like BMW’s naming conventions, we can imagine automaker executives and designers throwing names around in a boardroom meeting, trying to think of names like Ariya or BZ4X. Where do they even come up with this stuff?
It turns out that many car names have a lot of meaning behind them – even some of the names sound pretty dull. Here are a few popular but dull car names and the stories behind their origins.
The Toyota Camry is more regal than you think
The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling sedan in the U.S. over the past couple of decades. It packs a lot of value with its superior build quality, excellent comfortability, and outstanding fuel efficiency. But did you know that the Camry has regal origins?
The Camry debuted in the U.S. in 1983, but it wasn’t the first time Toyota used the name for a car. The name “Camry” was rooted in 1979 when Toyota rolled out the Celica Camry. The Celica Camry was a sedan version of the Celica coupe and hatchbacks the automaker introduced in the late 70s. They were only sold in Japan, but when Toyota introduced the Camry to the U.S., it dropped the “Celica” part.
As for the actual car name itself, the word “Camry” is the anglicized form for the Japanese word, “kanmuri,” which means crown. As this Toyota blog notes, the Japanese manufacturer had a knack for regal names at one point, which explains names like, “Corona,” “Tiara,” and “Corolla.”
It also makes sense why the all-new Toyota Crown is back in the automotive market.
The Volkswagen Golf is not named after the sport
It’s natural to think that the Volkswagen Golf is named after the popular sport. But contrary to popular belief, the little hatchback that’s become a staple in the automotive field for decades is not named after Tiger Wood’s favorite pastime. Instead, it’s named after geographic winds.
That’s right, this car is named after the Gulf Stream, which is on par with its stablemate’s names. For example, the name Jetta is German for “jet stream,” Passat means “trade wind,” and Scirocco is named after Sirocco, a Mediterranean wind.
As for any reference to the actual game of golf, like the plaid tartan interior of golf ball shift knob, we can look to a member of VW’s design team. Hagerty notes that Gunhild Liljequist, who worked at the Volkswagen Department of Fabric and Colors, was responsible for coming up with the idea.
“That was a completely spontaneous idea,” Liljequist says. “I just expressed my sporting and fold associations out loud: ‘How about a golf ball as the gear knob?’”
The Nissan Sentra nameplate was lab-grown
As for the tried-and-true Nissan Sentra, this car’s name stems from a lab. More specifically, a San Francisco-based company called NameLab, which provides naming services, developed the “Sentra” naming convention. But what does it mean?
According to Ira Bachrach, a member of the NameLab team, “Nissan wanted consumers to understand that it was quite safe even though it was small. The word Sentra sounds like central as well as sentry, which evokes images of safety.” It’s been over 40 years since the Nissan Sentra originally debuted, and it’s safe to say that it is very safe, so it does live up to its name.
These dull car names have a lot of history
Although there are plenty of dull-sounding names in the automotive market, some of them, like these three, have a lot of meaning behind them. So, the next time you pull up behind a Camry, Sentra, or Golf, you can share your knowledge behind their names with the passengers in your car.