Skip to main content

Sometimes a car name serves a practical function, like the BMW 325i. It’s short and only three numbers, but it tells you the size of the car and what type of engine it has. Other car manufacturers go a different route and choose a noun to represent their car, like the Lamborghini Murcielago. 

It could just be a marketing ploy, but Lamborghini also needed a way to convey an expensive, fast, luxurious supercar. Sometimes a manufacturer makes a car that is too ridiculous and names it after a famous racing driver, and it may be because the only way to represent the car accurately is through speed.

2018 McLaren Senna after Ayrton Senna

2018 McLaren Senna at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
2018 McLaren Senna at the Goodwood Festival of Speed | Martyn Lucy/Getty Images

Many have told Senna’s fantastical and tragic story has. Suffice it to say, he was a 3-time Formula 1 world champion from Brazil who raced for Toleman, Lotus, McLaren, and Williams in the 1980s and 1990s. Senna won his championships with McLaren, so it’s not surprising McLaren’s fastest road hypercar shares its name with the Brazilian. With 800 horsepower, the McLaren designed the Senna to provide an ultimate and uncompromised driver’s experience, which reflects Senna’s staunch conviction on the track.

1999 Acura NSX Alex Zanardi: why mess with perfection

It would take hours to express how much everyone loves the Honda NSX. Though not technically a supercar, it had looks that matched (or surpassed) its power and a lean physique. The NSX went a step further with its Alex Zanardi edition. Zanardi is an Italian racing driver currently resting in a medically induced coma following a cycling accident in Siena, Italy. Zanardi won the Cart (now Indycar) championship in 1997 and 1998 and raced in Formula 1 for Jordan, Minardi, Lotus, and Williams. Only 51 NSX Zanardis exist, which used the same powertrain but mated to a six-speed manual transmission. 

2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR honors Stirling Moss

Stirling Moss was a British racing driver who earned 16 wins in Formula 1 from 66 starts between 1951-1961. Known as the greatest racing driver to never win a championship, he raced for Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Vanwall, Rob Walker Cooper, Lotus, and HWM. From 1955 he was consistently in contention for the championship win, placing second overall until 1959 when he finished his final three years third overall. No doubt to commemorate his time at Mercedes-Benz, the SLR Stirling Moss employs carbon fiber construction, thus shedding 441 pounds from the original SLR and boasts 651 horsepower to max out at 217 mph. 

2021 Gordon Murray Automotive T.50s is for Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda was an Austrian racing driver who won three F1 world championships spanning two decades in the 1970s and 1980s for Ferrari and McLaren. His life took a massive turn when he survived a crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 but continued racing until 1985. It’s no wonder the designer of McLaren’s F1 road car wanted to name a track-only version of his T.50 after Lauda. The T.50s Niki Lauda claims 282 pounds lighter than the road version and has 60 more horsepower. Both versions of the T.50 were unveiled at the Goodwood Members Meeting over the weekend. 

2018 Brabham BT62 after Jack Brabham

Brabham BT62 driving on track
Brabham BT62 driving on track | Brabham Automotive

Jack Brabham was one of the most successful Australian F1 racing drivers. He won three championships while racing for Cooper Car Company and his own racing team, Brabham Racing. Jack Brabham’s son David Brabham brought on the BT62. David also raced in F1 in 1990 and 1994. The BT62 weighs just over 2,100 pounds, uses a 5.4-liter V8 making 700 horsepower and aggressive aerodynamics. Brabham is only making 70 examples of the BT62. 

Car makers have been naming cars after famous racing drivers for decades. We will no doubt see a Mercedes-Benz Hamilton or possibly a Ferrari Schumacher. Whatever we get, hopefully, the cars will match the names.


Mercedes 300SL Gullwing: The First Supercar Surprises Doug DeMuro