What Do These Car Names Mean?

We may not know what “MotorBiscuit” means, but there are some odd car names that we do know the origins of. Some have strange names that mean nothing, while others are an alphabet soup of mystery. We won’t cover all of them, but here are a few you may or may not know. 

Camaro

The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro like this one hosted a ZL1, which was the fastest Chevrolet Camaro of the decade.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro | Getty

Chevrolet has been fond of naming its cars beginning with the letter “C.” At least it used to. Chevy has a list of over 2,000 words that began with C, which is culled from names. One of them was Camaro. 

Unfortunately, Camaro means nothing. It was a made-up word that ended up on that list. In fact, it doesn’t mean anything in any language. The marketing peeps told inquiring minds Camaro was a small animal that ate Mustangs. 

Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 Turbo is one of the fastest sports cars of the decade.
Porsche 911 Turbo | Getty

When Porsche introduced the 911 at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show, it was called “901.” Unfortunately, Peugeot had trademarked every three-digit number with a zero in the middle. It didn’t plan on using it, but it didn’t was Porsche infringing on its legitimate trademark. So Porsche replaced the “0” with a “1” and pressed on. Porsche had already produced 82 911 Porsches with 901 on the decklid before being notified by Peugeot. After those, it has been 911 ever since.

Toyota Corolla

Popular cars worth avoiding include the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback | Toyota

Corolla is a word used by botanists that means “the petals of a flower, typically forming a whorl within the sepals.” But it is also Latin for “little crown.” Since Toyota made and still makes its Crown sedan, the Corolla is Toyota’s little crown or Crown. 

Lamborghini

Front angle view of blue Lamborghini Aventador
2022 Lamborghini Aventador | Lamborghini

Lamborghini has always named its models after fighting bulls, which is also its trademark. Aventador was an award-winning bull in 1993. Huracan may sound like the Spanish word for Hurricane, but it is also a famous fighting bull from 1879. Urus only deviates slightly. It is the name of an extinct large species of bulls.

SRT

The Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger are done
A Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock and Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat | Dodge

Dodge, Chrysler Ram, and Jeep use the SRT name for their performance-oriented models. SRT stands for “street and racing technology.” Most SRT models have the Hellcat engine. That was the name of a type of fighter plane used by the U.S. Navy in WWII. 

Mazda MX5 Miata

a red 2013 mazda mx 5 miata, a fast miata that drivers will enjoy
2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata | Mazda

The “MX5” part of the Mazda Miata name stands for “Mazda experimental project #5.” The word “Miata” is an Old German word meaning “reward.” So the Miata is Mazda’s reward for car enthusiasts. 

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

G-Class
Mercedes G-Class SUV | MB

Of course, Mercedes has letter designations for all of its architectures. Its “G-Class” comes from the word Geländewagen, which means “cross-country vehicle.” Eventually, Geländewagen was shortened to G-Class in 1994. 

Chrysler/Plymouth PT Cruiser

PT Cruiser
Plymouth PT Cruiser | Stellantis

There is some conjecture as to what “PT Cruiser” means. Some think it means “personal transport,” while others argue it stands for “Plymouth truck.” Just add to the confusion, internally, “PT” was also the name for the platform the PT Cruiser was built around. 

Tesla 

The Tesla Model 3 has inspired many a Tesla-stan and many Elon Musk super fans.
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

As with Mercedes, and the early days of Ford Motor Company, Tesla uses letters to designate its models. Except for the Model 3, which was originally going to be the Model E. However, Ford threatened to sue since it owned the Model E trademark. So Tesla flipped it around to become Model 3.

So there is the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y. Substituting the 3 for an E, you’ll see the inside joke Elon Musk must surely think is funny. Do you?

Toyota RAV4

red 1996 RAV4
1996 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

SUVs weren’t called SUVs when Toyota was developing its first RAV4. So it tried to define the segment. It decided that “recreational active vehicle with four-wheel drive,” did the job. 

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is one of the best choices among the cheapest used luxury cars.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class | Endri Killo, Unsplash

Originally, a number of models got the “E” designation when Mercedes introduced fuel injection. In German, it is called “einspritzung,” hence the “E.” With the reorganization of its nomenclature, “E-Class” became the middle line of cars between the C-Class and S-Class. 

Ferrari GTC4 Lusso

Ferrari GTC4
Ferrari GTC4 Lusso | Ferrari

Ferrari’s GTC4 Lusso comes from the 330 GTC, introduced in 1966. The “4” stands for it being a four-seater. Lusso means luxury in Italian. And for those with a “T” in the name, that stands for twin-turbocharged V8. 

Volkswagen

Front angle view of Platinum Gray Metallic 2023 VW Jetta compact car
2023 VW Jetta | Volkswagen

The German automaker likes to name its cars after meteorological terms. So “Golf” is for “golfstrom” or gulf stream. Passat means “trade winds” in German. For the Jetta, it comes from “jet stream,” while Scirocco is a Sahara desert wind. 

But that doesn’t solve why the Golf was originally called “Rabbit” in the U.S. Supposedly, the German suits thought it sounded more youthful, which would help it sell better here. 

Audi TT

a gray 2020 audi tt, an impressive and sporty coupe with plenty of efficiency
2020 Audi TT | Audi

This might be the oddest name for a vehicle, at least for an Audi. TT stands for Tourist Trophy, a motorcycle race on the Isle of Man. What’s weird is that Audi has never manufactured motorcycles, and never even raced there. 

TT was the name used by NSU, which won big at the 1954 TT. Both NSU’s Prinz TT and TTS raced with many wins for years after. Audi decided to honor NSU by naming its small roadster concept TT in 1995.  

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