Car naming is an automotive topic that has always intrigued me because while giving an official nickname to one’s car may not sound life-changing or extremely news-worthy, it has remained a widespread phenomena over the past 100 years. Raised by a man who always named his cars, I grew up expecting everyone to have a title for their beloved vehicles and was absolutely shocked upon discovering that my family was among the minority in this department.
There is a mysterious bond that forms when you first begin building a relationship with a car. You are both in this together and have to watch out for one another on the congested roadways that slither across America’s beautiful bosom. Along the way you can curse, question, congratulate, and complain to your car because once someone finds a name that sticks, it’s hard to imagine going back to factory titles and viewing vehicles as inanimate objects. Cars breath, bleed, break, get sick, and pass noxious fumes from their posteriors just like any other animal, and without getting too deep into the metaphysical, there is an inexplicable feeling you get when a car can makes you smile every time you see it.
Why the hell wouldn’t someone choose to name their car? After all, it is modern man’s horse and carriage, and what kind of guy doesn’t name his trusty steed? Perhaps it is because cars are not living creatures but mechanical ones instead, and millions of unimaginative Americans are fine with taking the easy path and going along with whatever crappy names automakers have chosen, happily driving ludicrously named automobiles like the Hummer, Gremlin, Fiesta, and Probe.
So in an effort to derail automakers and their obvious attempt at selling us cars with ridiculous or boring names, National “Name Your Car Day” was born. Because if there’s already National “Donut Day” and “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” why not bring out a vehicular entitlement event? But unlike these other two nationally celebrated “holidays,” giving one’s vehicle a name is a long-lasting, truly rewarding experience, as many drivers tailor-make titles that define their car’s “personality.”
Nevertheless, a large amount of people still name their cars here in America, and it would be cool to know what is sustaining this phenomena. Fortunately for us, the guys over at AutoNation have been busy conducting surveys, and in an effort to offer you an exclusive look at what makes “automotive name calling” what it is today, The Cheat Sheet has landed an industry-exclusive look at the who, what, why, and how of the matter.
AutoNation reportedly surveyed over 2,500 people during the course of a week for this study, in an effort to uncover both the most popular car names, as well as the most nicknamed car brands in America. What they found was that classic names for cows and horses have carried on as car nicknames, with Betsy taking first place, save for in the Southwest, where Bertha took the top spot. Remove these two leading titles and the popular names shift a bit. “Bubu” is popular in the Rockies and up into the Northwest, Midwesterners prefer the name “Beast,” Southwesterners like naming their cars “Big Blue/Red,” and the dirty South digs the name “Sally” more than anyone else.
Other findings show that the Ford Mustang is the most nicknamed car model in the nation and that the Honda Civic is the most named car model out on the West Coast — because they are everywhere and bare an incredibly droll title. The top-five car makes people currently name are: Ford, Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, and Nissan, while men tend to name their cars more than women do for some reason. Interestingly, eight out of the 12 most popular car names recorded start with the letter “B,” and of these, the majority are either common names for women or non-gender specific.
Pop culture names that had the strongest presence were actually vehicular in nature instead of gender- or character-based like one might think, so millions of Millenium Falcons, Starship Enterprises, Batmobiles, and Optimus Primes cruise down city streets every day, completely incognito in Mustang and Civic form. Naming one’s car after a sci-fi starship or a robotic alien entity is one of the most immature and awesome things you could ever do to your car, and as a nerd I wholeheartedly support this notion.
This leads us back to why we name our cars in the first place. It isn’t just some harebrained way of setting one’s car apart from the rest of the rabble or getting a laugh out of anyone who climbs into the passenger seat. AutoNation hit the spark plug on the head when it said that “When you choose to name something, more often than not it’s because that thing means something to you. Bestowing a name signifies that importance and closeness, so it’s no wonder why some people choose to dub their cars.” On the flip side, this also speaks volumes as to why most people refuse to name their vehicles. For many Americans, there is no bond or enjoyment when they get behind the wheel, and as an automotive enthusiast, this saddens me to great length.
Many car companies, like Mini, Forbes, and Chevrolet, have gotten in on the action over the years, and with more people entitling their rides every year, there is no telling what will go down this time around. So go ahead and name your car this Friday, folks. It won’t mind. Give it a title that befits both its appearance and personality, and don’t forget to refer to it as such when driving because there is no point in naming a car and then never speaking it out loud. Remember, the names we bestow upon our automobiles say a lot about who we are as people and drivers, and maybe that’s why all of my cars are named after pirate ships.