By on October 11, 2017

1983 Oldsmobile Toronado brochure pageLast month we featured a Question of the Day about the worst model names ever glued onto the back of a vehicle. Everyone had fun trashing corny, little-known nameplates from here and abroad, as well as the various and oft-nonsensical letters applied to the back of many North American offerings today.

Today we flip this question and talk about the best model names. What’s your selection for the best vehicle names out there?

I’d like to think the best names evoke an emotional response, or at the very least a strong mental image. Hearing the name, one need not consult their phone for a Google Image search — they already know the vehicle in question from memory. Their brain automatically selects their preferred version, in the color of their choosing, and with wheels they like most. (I can’t be alone in doing this, several times a day.) Let’s try one: Testarossa.

Image: Ferrari Testarossa, via Hemmings

What color was the one that instantly came to mind? I’m not sure why it’s always white for me, but there it is. Just like if someone says “Suburban,” I see the following resplendent and shiny vision of two-tone.

Image: 1988 Chevrolet Suburban, image via BangShift

Names like these stood (and stand) the test of time, making them good candidates for best of the best. Whether via sheer longevity or a stand-out vehicle unique in its time, a great car and name combination sticks in the mind like glue. This rings true even if the name uses the maligned formula of jumbling letters and numbers. One more time — Ninety-Eight.

Image: 1969 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, image via eBayWhich names mean the most to you, and qualify as great examples of drawing emotion or vivid imagery with just a single mention? A quick scan of a model name on a written page can transport us to a different time and place, or a world of unique design, metallic paint, and sweeping fenders. Give us your best.

[Images: General Motors, Hemmings, BangShift, eBay]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

141 Comments on “QOTD: The Best Model Names of Them All?...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Ferrari Daytona.

    Corvette.

    Thunderbird.

    • 0 avatar
      Waterview

      Absolutely agree and would add “Barracuda” to your list.

      More importantly, why can’t we buy something as elegant as that Toronado today?

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        because the old men who thought vinyl roofs, pillow seats, and wire wheelcovers were “elegant” back in the ’80s have passed on.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          You could do a Toronado (or Eldo or Riv, for that matter) with sport suspension, alloys, leather bucket seats, etc.

          No one wanted ’em, though.

          The Bro-ham’s time has come and gone.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I love that the add at the top of the page says: TORONADO BROUGHAM COUPE.

            There was only one stinking body style. You don’t have to tack “coupe” on there – there’s no Toronado wagon or sedan to distinguish it from.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, there’s a reason Olds went out of business…

          • 0 avatar

            Was there a Toronado Touring, or was that the Caliente? Not aware of what the Riviera sporty model was called either. Surely none of them got modified to the extent of the Eldorado Touring Coupe.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Corey

            I can’t recall which years their was theoretically a base on brougham Toronado, I doubt any dealers stocked them. Here’s the lineup I remember.

            Toronado
            Toronado Brougham
            Toronado Caliente

            The Rivera was available in a T-type variant with the early turbo 3.8 V6

            I really liked the E-bodys up until the mid 80s downsizing. Although my Dad really wanted a Toronado Trofeo back when Harry Belefonte was shilling for them.

          • 0 avatar

            Ah T-type, that’s it. Can’t believe I forgot that one.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Dan

            You missed XSC which seems to be the trim only equivalent of the T-type minus Our Lord.

            “in addition to the base Toronado Brougham, various trim packages were available under the XSC (1980–81) and Caliente (1984–85) names were offered along with choices of velour, leather upholstery, even sueded leather inserts and digital instrumentation. The XSC offered individual front bucket seats, as opposed to the traditional split bench front seat usually installed. The third-generation Toronado was also made into convertibles by the American Sunroof Company, with a power-operated cloth top. Reclining backrests were an option.[24]”

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I think the Caliente was their version of an Eldo Biarritz. I seemed to remember there was some kind of sportier Toronado, but apparently they didn’t bring one on the 79-85 model. Full bro-ham.

            Dan’s right…the performance variants were the T-type Riv and ETC.

          • 0 avatar
            SilverCoupe

            The sporty versions of early Rivieras were called “Gran Sports,” or GS.

        • 0 avatar
          skor

          The original 1966 Toronado had none of that, it was a strikingly beautiful car, and restored examples turn heads to this day.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Pillow seats still are elegant, but agreed on the wheelcovers, and agree carriage roofs do not mesh well with blobby wind tunnel designs.

          • 0 avatar
            Waterview

            Work with me guys. I get that some of the styling cues lack contemporary appeal, but what car can you buy today that offers “elegance”? The S-Class is probably the closest, and the Continental is an attempt. I just don’t think the 7-Series or A8 offer elegance. Technological wizardry, perhaps, but not elegance.

          • 0 avatar

            I think the S-Coupe is bordering on elegance.
            https://res.cloudinary.com/carsguide/image/upload/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto,t_cg_hero_large/v1/editorial/Mercedes-Benz-S-Class_Coupe_2015-5.jpg

            And I think the V90 has elegance.
            http://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/5/2016/12/2018-Volvo-V90-rear-side-03.jpg

  • avatar
    scott25

    Thought we already had this question.

    Anyways my answers are normally the same, Jensen Interceptor, followed by Plymouth Satellte.

  • avatar
    westside auto

    Bulgemobile Blastfire Firewood Wagon Deluxe.

  • avatar
    VoGhost

    Cadenza. Because it sounds like what your grandparents would call some little-used piece of furniture collecting dust in the corner. Which is essentially what the big Kia is.

  • avatar
    TR4

    “Let’s try one: Testarossa.

    What color was the one that instantly came to mind? I’m not sure why it’s always white for me, but there it is.”

    WTF? “Testarossa” means “red head” in Italian.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Jensen Interceptor

    Aston Martin Lagonda

    Mercury Cyclone

    Nissan Leaf

  • avatar
    DearS

    – Giulia, because it’s Julia but in Italian, sounds sexy.
    – Mustang because P51 Mustang, the GT350R, and the horse.
    – Viper cause they look like vipers.
    – Camry, Corolla, Corona, Crown etc. All mean crown, as in we are number 1 in sales.

    – BMW 745, cause I can pick you up a quarter to 8 in my quarter to 8.

  • avatar

    Buick Riviera sounded and looked cool. Corvette Stingray. Aston Martin Vanquish…

    I also liked the Acura Legend. Why Acura discarded their names for RL and RSX is beyond me – it’s almost as bad as the Acura beak they put on their cars, though I don’t remember if it was the RL, TL, or what.

  • avatar
    MartyToo

    Corvette Stingray because it looked like a Stingray to an 11 year old in 1963 and I really wanted one.

    Testarossa just because.

    And Delta 88. This one because Olds wasn’t happy with a great name. They needed Jetstar and a Starfire and a Dynamic and a Delmont to bastardize the brand. I owned a ’76 Delta until 1995. A heavy duty tank of a car with a pollution fighting strangled and choked 350 V-8. It was a great daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Director Sam Raimi’s 1973 Olds Delta 88: http://www.filmbuffonline.com/FBOLNewsreel/wordpress/2013/04/09/the-classic-sam-raimi-and-the-1973-oldsmobile-delta-88/

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    The pics in this article all have one thing in common: plenty of tire sidewall. Funny, today’s Accords/Camrys have less tire sidewall than that Ferrari. Of all the advancements in modern automobiles, the large wheel/short sidewall is one I don’t care for at all. When you combine the ride quality of this combination with an ever decreasing greenhouse, is it any wonder why people are migrating to SUVs and trucks in droves?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The problem with that statement is the fact that trucks and CUVs are also getting low profile tires. Their overall diameter might be larger, but the wheel sizes are going up accordingly. I blame that Ford Edge ad from a while ago. “Some of my guy friends ask, Are those 20s? I don’t know what that means but I guess it’s cool.” I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to find a Silverado without 20+” wheels. I had to settle for 18″s, and would have taken 17″ wheels if they were available on anything besides a basic work truck.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Eldorado, Impala, Nova, Electra 225, and last but not least Falcon!

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    As a Buick fan growing up I always liked Le Sabre and Electra (with the 225 add-on if you want).

  • avatar
    RHD

    Caption to the picture of the man in a sport coat staring at his watch next to the Toronado Brougham Coupe:
    “Damn! My meeting is starting in five minutes! Where is that tow truck?!”

  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    Stratos
    Javelin
    Meteor

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Legacy

  • avatar
    arach

    No question about it:

    La Ferrari FXX K

    Ok Look, I know no one wants to choose “new models”, but “La Ferrari” is literally “The Ferrari”.

    And FXX K is… well… have you seen the way the logo is written? I don’t have to be a 12 year old to read that as a censored explicit.

    In other words, an exotic high end automotive manufacturer who prides itself on an exotic car comes out with a car called

    THE FERRARI

    And then decides to come back with an in-your-face probably unintentional explitive on their freaking amazing hypercar?

    I know the FXXK is the successer to just the FXX, but I can’t be the only one who reads it the way I do, am I?

  • avatar
    Dawnrazor

    Pontiac Catalina

    Maserati GranTurismo

    Venturi Atlantique

    Buick Electra

    Stutz Bearcat

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    De Tomaso Pantera and Lamborghini Countach are great names, especially when you know “Countach” basically means “holy sh*t”. Also, AMG Hammer.

    Among the more mundane, I always thought Explorer and Pathfinder were evocative names that are sadly now affixed to unevocative vehicles.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Historically – Almost all the names from the 50s until the mid 70s were pretty good (and I’ll still take the worst ones over the alpha numeric bull**** that passes for model names today.)

    Modern names – Highlander is pretty good (even if it makes me want to say: “There’s Only One…”) Hyundai has a knack for naming CUVs with Western cities, I’m kind of surprised that nobody thought of it before they did. Jeeps vehicle names always just seemed to work regardless of how good or bad the vehicle they were attached to.

  • avatar
    Corners

    Buick Roadmaster!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Unlimited Brougham!

  • avatar
    spookiness

    To me the words Fleetwood Brougham harken back not to malaise-Era shtick but to when “luxury” meant comfort.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Impala, natch!

    Next: Chevelle, Bel Air, Malibu, Fury, Galaxie.

    How often do we have to answer this question?

  • avatar
    Hank_M

    Triumph Spitfire

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Belair, Plus 8.

    on the tough side: 2500, 3500, F250, F350. All denote that you have a rig that can take a beating.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yes at least in the truck world the alpha numeric names had true meaning. Generally I far and away prefer names over numbers but I think its silly that GM went with SILVERADO and SIERRA for all the trucks whether they were W/T spec or fully luxed out.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I’m OK with numbers-based car designations that are logical and identify a technical product. Volvo 242 GT, 245, 264, 744, 745, etc all make sense. But most automakers eventually broke away from that consistent regimen, hence 240, 740, etc.

  • avatar
    alff

    Studebaker Dictator

  • avatar
    skor

    Seville, sounds classy, even though most of the cars the nameplate was attached to were hideous.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Volkswagen Golf. One of the very few single-syllable names. Honorable mention: Mitsubishi Colt, but that’s a little to aggressive for me.

    Citroen DS. “Déesse” means “goddess” in French, fitting for such a divine vehicle. Also: ID, same idea. Honorable mention: Citroen Ami 6, which with an article becomes “la missis”.

    Mercedes SLK, just for the history (even though it was the SSLK back then).

    And of course, sports car names from races or race courses. Carrera, Daytona, Montecarlo, Panamera, etc. — they all sound great and convey the right images.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Crown Royal Saloon G 4000

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My man.

      Nissan Gloria V30 Turbo Brougham VIP

      Sporty AND classy.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        “Nissan Gloria V30 Turbo Brougham VIP”

        Boom!
        https://www.tradecarview.com/used_car/nissan/gloria+hardtop/20174041/

        Check out this ’89 Crown:
        https://www.tradecarview.com/used_car/toyota/crown/21442203/

        Full-boat V8 model… with analog gauges and a column shifter from a taxicab. Must have been a company car.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Mmmm they both even have the obligatory JDM white lacy style partial seat covers. That would be a hard decision, but I think I ultimately would choose the bomb proof Crown with the V8.

          Is that the imported price or price in Japan before shipping? Both are surprisingly pricey IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Price in Japan I believe, but there is of course room for negotiation. They’re both clean, top-trim, low-mile survivors that are eligible for US importation, so that’s part of the priciness. Compare to this 1997 Crown Majesta which won’t be US-eligible for another five years:

            https://www.tradecarview.com/used_car/toyota/crown+majesta/21442435/

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Well, the Gloria’s not low-mileage, but it is about as good as you can expect for a 32-year-old car.

        • 0 avatar

          Of those two, I’m easily having C R O W N.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Humber Super Snipe. Because its like a Snipe only better.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    The Ferrari 365 GTB/4 was never officially named the Daytona by its manufacturer. That nickname was popularly applied after the fact.

    I vividly remember riding in one back in the early 70’s. We were on the Westway, a short elevated section of urban expressway in West London, and all the other cars seemed to be stuck in reverse as our 12-cylinder bellowed past them. Awesome car! The driver, someone I knew, was later stopped for driving over 160 mph in his Lamborghini Miura, an informal UK speeding ticket record he held for some years.

    The original 250 Testa Rossa (50’s-60’s era, two words meaning “red head”) was so named after its red-painted valve covers. The later Testarossa (one word, 80’s-90’s era) borrowed from that tradition. I think most Ferraris have the red covers now?

    There can be lots of answers to what color you think of for a Ferrari, but I confess that white wouldn’t be one of mine. Beyond the obvious red I like them in the classic Fly Yellow.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Sunbeam Tiger

    Stutz Bearcat

  • avatar
    Hank_M

    Hudson Hornet

  • avatar
    fr88

    The best car names are those that evoke glamorous, sophisticated, and/or exciting places such as Bel Air, Catalina, Monterey, Sebring, Cranbrook, Calais, Parisienne, Biarritz, Seville, Riviera, New Yorker, Newport, Bonneville, Laguna, Ventura, Sedona, Capri. Etc.

    Also great are cars named for animals (real or mythological) that represent beauty, speed and power such as Firebird, Viper, Mustang, Barracuda, Jaguar, Hellcat, Road Runner, Thunderbird, Cougar, etc.

    Horrible names are the meaningless, computer-generated ones. The Asians are the worst in that regard. Corolla, Camry, Tercel, Acura, Optima, and the like. At least many Asian models still have actual names and they haven’t yet sunk to the Euro level of alphanumeric nonsense.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    “The best car names are those that evoke glamorous, sophisticated, and/or exciting places”

    Yes. The trouble is that their use by mass producers like GM is often positively embarrassing: I give you the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    My parents’ Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham Deluxe.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Continental-Mark [insert Roman numeral]

  • avatar
    Loser

    Olds 442 and what it stood for.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    My Fairlady Z. I still have dreams about it.

    My first car, Grand Am, which I liked to call Grande Dame.

    Delta 88 Royale, my parent’s car when I was little.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Now I love Brougham, and Brougham loves me, but looking at that Toro it seems a bit ostentatious now if not ridiculous. Yet I look at ye old CUV and despite superior junk hauling ability it is just as bad, if not much worse than the Toro. Progress?

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    I like guy in the Brougham ad looking at his watch, wondering when is that %&*#!@ tow truck going to get here.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Jordan Playboy – I win.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Machine.
    Marauder.
    Road Runner.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    I’ve always thought the Cressida was a cool car name.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’ve always thought that some variation on the Ford Torino Talladega would be a great name for a larger car built on the Mustang platform. Unfortunately, the Challenger and Charger are probably the last RWD cars that aren’t sports cars or luxury cars.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Mazda Proceed Marvie

    Mazda Bongo Frendiee

    Okay those are just silly

    Eunos Cosmo… now that’s cool, and quite befitting to rotor-powered luxo/sport-spaceship upon which the badge was placed IMO.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Pinto
    Relay
    Q## and QX##
    Hammerhead Eagle iThrust

    Oh, wait, you wanted *best*. Sorry, got that reversed.

    Being the science nerd that I am, I’d like to see more science-y names. Aside from, you know, the automotive suppository that was the Ion.

    Meteor
    Comet
    Nova (with souped up versions being the Supernova, Hypernova and Type 1a)
    Photon/Phonon/Quark/Boson/Neutrino
    Lancia could do one called Entropy.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    (Nissan) Leopard
    (Ford) Taurus
    (Oldsmobile) Cutlass
    (Datsun/Nissan) Bluebird
    (Ford) Thunderbird
    (Lincoln) Continental
    (Buick) Wildcat
    (Ford) Explorer
    (Jeep) Wrangler
    (Ford) Bronco
    (Ford) Mustang

    These are just a few of the names I think give meaning to the vehicles they are/were attached to. Yes, Cutlass was a made-up name, but it became a word with meaning due to some (not all) of the cars it was attached to. The others invoke a positive image, a strong and hard-to-forget name that was pure genius compared to the likes of Q50 or MKS.

    • 0 avatar
      brakeless

      I thought Cutlass was a kind of s-word.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I just looked it up, evidently it is a type of sword. Huh. Learn something new everyday, I guess.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutlass

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          It was predated by the Navy’s F7U Cutlass fighter/bomber, built by Chance Vought. The Cutlass had a weird nose-high landing profile, which made carrier landings a challenge, while the lack of thrust from the Westinghouse J46 engines made takeoffs a challenge. “Naval aviators called the F7U the ‘Gutless Cutlass’ and/or the “Ensign Eliminator” or, in kinder moments, the ‘Praying Mantis\'”:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vought_F7U_Cutlass

          The sword reference is also in the name of one of the characters in the movie “Pirates! Band of Misfits”, Cutlass Liz.

  • avatar
    brakeless

    Escort, because I do enjoy the company of one.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    328! of course.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    Canyonero!

  • avatar
    MeJ

    I’ll go with Corvette as well. The Corvette Stingray sounds just about as cool as the car is.
    Someone mentioned Highlander for a new model, I kind of dig that too.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Plymouth had one-a quasi muscle car with a gigantic rear spoiler- “the Judge”!

  • avatar
    Yaris Revenge

    Lamborghini Diablo
    Oldsmobile 442
    Suzuki Samurai
    AMC Javelin
    VW Fox

    The model name should be short, easy, and catchy.

    Hall of Shame Award goes to the Chevrolet Citation

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Studebaker Golden Hawk, Studebaker Avanti, Rambler American (it was an all American compact one of the first to popularize compact cars), Mercury Cougar (sleek and fast like a cat), Nash Ambassador (good name for a more luxurious car), Plymouth Fury, Mercury Montego, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix, Chrysler Fifth Avenue (good name for a luxury car), Imperial (a luxury car fit for Royalty), Rolls Royce Silver Ghost and Silver Shadow (the name just oozes luxury), Pontiac Catalina, Oldsmobile Starfire, Pontiac Parisienne (just sounds luxurious), Chevy II (good name for a compact Chevrolet), International Travelall, and Ford Mustang (wild and fast like the horse it is named for).

  • avatar
    la834

    Packard Caribbean, IH Scout, Chevrolet Biscayne

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “What color was the one that instantly came to mind? I’m not sure why it’s always white for me, but there it is. Just like if someone says “Suburban,” I see the following resplendent and shiny vision of two-tone.”

    The thing that I miss is the jumpy “Suburban” emblem on the back, with the letters in alternating up-and-down superscript and subscript.

    https://i.ebayimg.com/thumbs/images/g/kv4AAOSwvX9Z1Elz/s-l225.jpg

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The Studebaker Dictator! The name was dropped abruptly during 1937, for obvious reasons. Dictators were sold as “Directors” in some regions, notably in Western Europe, and British Empire countries. The Dictator name was replaced by the resurrected Commander name:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studebaker_Dictator

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    The best name has to be Denali. It’s perfect and attached to the perfect vehicle(s).

    IMO the most clever name ever used on a vehicle is the Volkswagen Touareg. The Tuareg berbers are a formerly nomadic people that lived in the Sahara. What a fitting name for an SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      But then Volkswagen wants people to pronounce it “Tour-egg” instead of “Twah-regg”, and even made a lame attempt at humor in the launch commercial, with people trying to pronounce the name (one guy even correctly pronounces “Twah-regg”).


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Scoutdude: I don’t know that they wouldn’t be in the lead without the Hybrid version as many would have...
  • JMII: Lincoln? What’s that? Oh you mean Fords with more chrome and bigger wheels. Caddy at least has unique...
  • ajla: The Koreans and Jaguar have what you want.
  • brandloyalty: Power door locks and windows certainly add conveniece and have become acceptably reliable. Power locks...
  • mason: I’ve suffered through 3 cracked manifolds on the wife’s 08 4.6. it’s simply maddening.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States