By on August 9, 2018

2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad, Image: FCA

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your author grew up consuming books, TV, and movies that were already pretty dated by the time the ’80s and ’90s rolled around. How else do you explain his passion for floaty land yachts, mens’ sport coats, and a fairly libertarian attitude towards personal consumption and the role of government?

Oh yeah, life was simple in those pages and on those shows. There was an order to things, clearer divisions between right and wrong, and societies that seemed to be ruled by rational adults. No one died from smoking. Naturally, social problems rarely made it to the forefront. Only greedy, opportunistic criminals threatened the idyllic lives of those living behind white picket fences, or those stoically trudging to work at the plant from their modest urban walkup.

But I digress. We’re talking cars here, and those shows and films revealed a trend among some car owners I couldn’t agree with.

In short: some people name their cars. And I can’t get behind it.

You’ve all been weirded out by the deep, undying love I feel for my 1994 Toyota Camry Coupe and my confessions of guilt for having let it go. I have to live with that. The dreams ended years ago, though the bittersweet memories remain.

Yet even that vehicle — a car so trustworthy I’d stake my life on it, did not deserve a name. But it’s something that still occurs. A car with a name.

I don’t have to search far and wide to uncover instances of this phenomenon, you see. My sister’s brood travels to the store and the campground and everywhere else in a white Dodge Journey named Judy. Granted, it’s not entirely a term of endearment. The name came about simply because the vehicle is large, white, bland, American, and fairly old — so there’s some playfulness going on here. But even this elicits a twinge, deep down in my soul, whenever I hear Judy mentioned.

Could it be because applying a name takes away the vehicle’s core identity? Or is it because humans are just as fallible as machines, and I trust neither? Maybe it’s a sexist thing — I know many men name their cars, but it always struck me as something more commonplace among women. Or is it because I don’t want to grow too attached to a car?

Why I feel such an aversion to this practice remains shrouded in layers of psychology I can’t peel away.

But over to you — have you ever named your car? And if so… why?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

65 Comments on “QOTD: Call Me by Your Name?...”

  • avatar

    My wife named our sedan Steve because it is a bright blue (V6) Avenger. The truck is Mae because that in on the plates.

  • avatar

    We’ve named our cars for years that started back in my family as a kid. When we had kids, our cars started getting named usually after movie characters that fit their looks and personalities. We use their names pretty often.

    Our current cars are a white GMC Yukon SLT named Baymax and our Black BMW 530i named Toothless the Night Fury from how to train your dragon.

    Past cars include, Miss Shiftwell (12 Mazda 5 with the 6 speed), Maximus (05 white Nissan Xterra), Edie the desperate housewife (06 Subaru Legacy Wagon), Olaf (11 white Honda Pilot).

  • avatar

    “You’ve all been weirded out by the deep, undying love I feel for my 1994 Toyota Camry Coupe and my confessions of guilt for having let it go.”

    Believe me, I’m not weirded out at all.

    To answer the question, no I’ve never named them. In fact when I handed over the keys to my Ranger to the new owners 2 days ago, the wife asked if I had named it and it caught me off guard. But they do have genders, mostly driven by my brain thinking half in Russian half in English, and in the Russian language there are three genders for nouns (male/female/neutral). 4Runner/Ranger/Pilot/Lexus were all male words in my mind, Maxima is female, Honda is female. Audi can sort of go either way in my mind, although the diminutive “Audyukha” in Russian is definitely female. Although I know to some of my compatriots, every car is “lastochka” (female swallow bird).

    • 0 avatar

      I too have tended to gender my chariots, but not based on the name – based on behavior.

      I was certain that my old Celebrity was female given that it was a long lived cantankerous old bit$*.

      I am quite certain my Highlander is male by virtue of being “the strong silent type” that shrugs off whatever you throw at it.

  • avatar

    We don’t name our cars. We’ll say “the beemer” or “the van”.

  • avatar

    My wife has named her Mini Cooper “Sir Winston”.

  • avatar

    A sexist thing? WTF.

  • avatar

    In the early 60s, my dad named his 57 Plymouth “Lucifer,” for some obvious reasons. Many years before the movie “Christine.”

  • avatar

    Our kids once dubbed the family Nissan Quest “Satan” based on its license plate, however the name really took hold as the vehicle’s repair history unfolded.

  • avatar

    Not weirded out by your attachment to your Camry at all. Both my wife and I have trouble parting with our cars. So I get it.

    The only car that was ever named was my first car, my 1972 Fury that I still have. I received in in 1981 – it was a retired company car from my father’s company. Some how it got named the “Iacocca” – which made sense from the time period as Lee Iacocca was in the news almost daily. I wanted to get that name on the plates but never did. Later I bought out my father’s lease on his MKVII. I thought of getting “PRE LEE” for the Fury and “POST LEE” for the Lincoln…very few would have got that message, which is what I would have preferred. Never named any other car that I have owned. Sometimes my wife refers to the 92 Home Depot delivery car as the “poverty mobile” but only occasionally.

  • avatar

    My wife’s 15 year old yellow MINI is called “Old Yeller”. Someday we’ll have to take it on a final drive before it is put down.

    When I drove a parchment white Clubman with a black top and black body cladding, it was called “Blacky” (racist!), while the White Countryman was called “Whitey”.

  • avatar

    I tend to call cars by their actual name, followed or proceeded by who it belongs to.

    For example: “Mom, do you want to take your Taurus?” or “I’m going to wash mom’s Taurus.”

    Now that my dad has the 2013 F-150, its no longer “dad’s truck”, its either the Super Duty (for his 1999 F-250) or the F-150.

    My cousins and other family call vehicles by their color and type. Like, “take my blue truck and park it behind the maroon truck.” They can get confused when I use actual model names, the only one they accept and use regularly is “Durango”, for my cousin’s wife(and my close friend’s) first gen Durango. When my cousin had a 1987 Chevy half ton 4×4, they got really confused if I called it “the K10”. Lol. To them, it was just the “black truck” or sometimes he’d say “my four wheel drive”.

    My other friend uses the term “white car” (like she did last night) which annoys me, because she has a white 2005 Mustang GT, a white 2010 Fusion SEL V-6, and her daughter has a newer Accord Sport in, you guessed it, white.

  • avatar

    In high school my cars had names bestowed on them by my friends. I drove a 91 Escort GT which was red, but as you may recall the color had a hint of orange in it. The driver’s door was backed into but the window still worked. So continued to drive it exiting through the window. My friends caught on and did so on the passenger side as well, thus, the car became known as “The General” based on the Dukes of Hazard reference of course. I also had a Volvo 240 Wagon which was silver. It became known as “The Keg” due in part to its color and shape…..and I suppose because of company it kept.

  • avatar

    My cars already have names. One is “Charger” and one is “Roadmaster”. Why change that? I’m not Ellis Island over here.

  • avatar

    The people who know me know I’m far too interested in cars. To throw them off, I go the opposite direction and call them by color.

    “Which car are we taking?”


    “Look at the blue car over there.”
    (Audi R8 V10)

    • 0 avatar

      Do you happen to get annoyed by T.V. shows that call cars by genetic names?

      T.v. cop: “They fled the scene in a black sedan.”

      Me: “It was a Chrysler 300, damn it! What kind of detective are you?!?!”

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, in those situations where detail is necessary and part of the job, they always leave it out. That’s not how police works.

        -genetic names, lol

      • 0 avatar

        John and Corey, this may sound weird…but I prefer generic car descriptions in fiction (books and movie scripts). I prefer to sort of imagine the car myself, and if the book is really old, it gives me some “creative license”. Of course, sometimes it’s important, like the Nightstalker’s yellow Mustang convertible, or the Impala in Supernatural. Or Christine, for that matter, where the description doesn’t feel artificial and is a huge part of the story.
        In Dean Koontz-type thrillers, a long salivating discussion of the car seems really weird, like a Family Guy cutaway. Just say “red convertible” and don’t crush the pace of the story.

        • 0 avatar

          Well, my mind is always going to be on cars, and I love it when reading something like “the professor cranked up his old Saab” instead of “his old hatchback”. It just sets the scene for me that much more, and it satisfies my inner car obsession.

          But, what I was talking about was when the viewer can see the car, it just flows better when it’s referred to in more exact terms. A “black sedan” could be anything from a ’49 Ford to a 2018 Bentley Mulsanne. My mind reaches for it and tries to figure it out (when I don’t see it).

          I remember I got very annoyed when I was watching Law & Order SVU once (I don’t watch it any more), and the wife talked about their stolen Chevy Astro, saying to the husband: “I told you we should have converted that van to bio-diesel!” WTF? Assuming you could do such a conversion, what in the hell would that have to do with it being stolen? Because you would have used an Olds diesel and its notorious unreliability would have prevented it from being driven away? LOL

          Really, it was just said because that was all the rage at the time, people buying old diesel beaters and converting them to biofuel. Its just one example of why I disliked the show, they are all about buzzwords and sensationalism. The more “shock and awe” tactics they used, the more my stomach turned.

      • 0 avatar

        Well actually genetic names does work, or should I say did work back when there were many different body styles of the same basic car. Not so much now that the majority of cars, CUVs and SUVs come in a sole body style.

        But of course the reason that TV shows and movies often refer to the “black sedan” is because they see calling it a black (fill in brand/model here) sedan would be giving advertising away for free. I’m sure it was also to make sure they didn’t cause conflicts with the actual advertisers. Suppose Chevrolet buys and add, they might be less than happy to see that the show mentioned a black Ford sedan.

        But yes as a kid it would annoy me when they said black sedan and in the rare cases where they might say black Chevy sedan be unhappy that they didn’t say Black Malibu Sedan.

        • 0 avatar

          I can see that, and once I noticed on NCIS, besides being obvious that the Dodge cars were product placement, they once had a suspect that had a Mercury Sable. If I remember correctly, McGee was looking for a Taurus, until Abby reminded him that they were pretty much the same car. When they confronted the suspect, it was in a parking lot by his Mercury Sable, and they mentioned it several times by its proper name (instead of “silver late model sedan” or some other vague description) and showed it in several angles.

          I also remember that a couple of Ford Tempos were the subject of a Murder, She Wrote episode, although they never called them by name. There were two Tempos, identical except different colors, parked one in front of the other by a curb in front of the building where everyone had gathered. The owner of one spoke to the driver of the other, and asked did he like the car. His response was that “it was just a loaner” (I’m guessing he meant “rental”), but he really did like it and was thinking of buying one. The other character said he could get him a good deal through someone he knew.

          The two cars were integral to the story, as the murderer/blackmailer was color blind and accidentally put the cassette tape she was using for the blackmail scheme in the wrong Tempo, leading to a series of events that eventually led to her undoing at the hands of J.B. Fletcher, of course. It actually showed the guy inside the Tempo when he discovered the tape and put it in to play it after starting the car. I was impressed that the noises (engine cranking, seatbelt warning chime, etc) were actually from the Tempo, instead of just generic (spelled right!) car sounds most often used in t.v. and movies.

    • 0 avatar

      I often annoy my wife and kids when they ask which vehicle are we taking ? I’ll say the color, or brand when in fact there is more than one that color, then I’ll follow it up with another descriptor which fails to narrow it down any further or doesn’t narrow it down significantly.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      About 100 years ago I had a green Hyundai Accent. It was – and will be – the only new car I ever own. The ‘LamborGreeni’ spent no small amount of its life at fuel cut-off and never had a mechanical issue that couldn’t be fixed with a hammer. That said it was no good in the Winter and was garbage for a gigging musician. The correlation between ‘professional musician’ and ‘cheap car’ should now be obvious.

  • avatar

    I always call my cars by their brand name now – never really, thought about it before. I guess it probably started with the Saturn – who’s going to say “ I’m taking the sl1?”. I guess this is why luxury manufacturers don’t use names – they want you to identify with the brand.

  • avatar

    Our cars have names. It’s a fun little tradition my wife and I have.

    My recent acquisition, a 1990 Pontiac Sunbird LE coupe (with 56,000 original miles) is named “Jolene”, after the Dolly Parton song. We are huge Dolly fans.

    My daily driver, a 2016 Mazda6 i Touring, is named “Sylvia” after the singer of my favorite country one-hit wonder from the ’80s.

    My wife’s 2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport is named “Chip.” She decided on that name after we watched a marathon of Fixer Upper on HGTV.

    However, we don’t refer to the cars as their names, except for Jolene. We just say “your car” or “my car.” As in, “Are we taking your car or my car?”

  • avatar

    It depends.

    I don’t think I’ve given the cars names in the last several years, although I generally refer to them by their model name. We had a Malibu, a Cavalier, a G6 and two Sunfires when the kids lived at home, I would commonly refer to the Malibu and G6 as the big Chevy and the big Pontiac. My Sunfire GT was tomato red, somehow it eventually was referred to as the Atomic Tomato. My wife hated the Malibu and called it the Old Gray Mare occasionally. She really just wanted to call it gone.

    We usually called the kids’ cars by the kids’ first names; my daughter’s Sunfire and the Cavalier never really got names. But, considering how long we had the Cavalier, it should have been called “Beater Supreme”, as it rarely got love, but kept on chugging along, year after year, driver after driver. Oddly, I did have a twinge of sadness when I gave it to the charity; my kids and I had so much time in that car.

    A couple years back I got a white minivan as my daily; in an homage to the music of the 70’s I called it the Average White Van. But, with just the two of us in the house and no third car (currently), we really call them mine or yours.

  • avatar

    Nah, I find naming cars after people to be weird. The Sienna is called by all its names, Sienna or the Toyota, but we use car or van too. Also known as Mommy’s car. Same applies for the Golf, also known as Daddy’s car.

    My sister nicknamed my white 01 Focus ZX3 “The Egg”. I nicknamed her 06
    metallic orange Eclipse GT ” The Kabocha”, which is Japanese for pumpkin or squash. That’s about it though.

    I try not to subscribe to vehicles being a gender either, but I’ve referred to airplanes and ships as “she” or “her” on occasion. Machines have personalities, if not genders.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if my friends started this or if I did, but about six months ago, my early Cougar DD began getting the nickname ‘Cugat’, I think partly because we share a last name, if not Charo.

  • avatar

    Previously We owned a Caprice, a “W” and an Epsilon Impala. All three were named “The Chev.”. The Monte Carlo was the Monte..

  • avatar

    Almost all our cars have had names, but we don’t name them. Rather, we realize the car’s name. Some have been derived from the letters on the license plate, others as a variation of the make/model name, others from fiction or poetry, one from a child’s mispronounciation, etc. Some names really are too obvious: it makes sense to call your MINI Coutryman Count Ryman.

  • avatar

    I don’t name vehicles, but occasionally one of them will be christened by someone else. I have one bike with a name; “Scooter II.” reason being is that it replaced a V-Star 250 which an acquaintance nicknamed “Scooter” since in terms of size and power that’s what it was compared to his Softail. I think it had like 16 hp which really was scooter-level.

    the bike which replaced it (an FZ-09) inherited the name, but in this case it actually scoots.

    • 0 avatar

      Ha, I called my cousin’s Suzuki Intruder 800 the “Hardly” (it was dressed up in chrome, etc to be a “cruiser”). Fitting, since he replaced it with a Harley trike.

  • avatar

    Of all the dozens of vehicles I have owned over the past nearly six decades (usually two at a time), I have never “named” a single one.

    Also as a male, I have never owned a cat. Coincidence? I think not.

    Now, I have often called one of them a profane name. Does that count.

  • avatar

    I don’t generally give cars names but occasionally some do get or earn a name.

    Years ago our first Crown Victoria was called Vicky or Miss Vicky in more formal settings. Though I’m not sure that really counts as people had been calling Ford Victoria and Crown Victoria Vicky since before I was born and it is just the less formal, or shortened version of its real name which happens to be one of the less common cases where it was a standard given name for females.

    My wife’s current car, a C-Max is called Blobby because it is a nondescript looking little Blob.

    The F-150 is called “the baby truck” or just “the baby” since it is so small, while the F-250 is just “the truck”, “the real truck” or “the pickup”.

    Occasionally we call the MKZ “the Zed” since were are not that far from Canada and in years past I’d see the TV commercials for the Nissan “Zed X” vehicles.

  • avatar

    Reading these names has reminded me why I hate it when people name their cars. Often the names are super cringy. And I avoid cringy situations – all of them. Puns, corny wordplay, sappy romantic movies, teachers trying to be cool, people stating their car’s name.


  • avatar

    There were only a few named cars in the family:
    -“Icky” was the gray ’83 Buick Century T-type sedan my mom drove when me & my sister were preschool thru middle-school age
    -“Dippy” (short for “dippy little car”) was the gray ’86 Pontiac Grand Am coupe my dad bought for $600 in 2000, my sister drove it when she was home from college a few summers then it got sold to a neighbor family looking for a car for their teenagers after my sister got a better car and didn’t need that one anymore.

    Otherwise, being on a farm there were too many vehicles around to name, so most everything went by make, model or color with a few instances where the differentiation was if the vehicle was my dad’s or my grandpa’s (mostly those were them both simultaneously owning the same model of a tractor.)

  • avatar

    I absolutely name my cars and bikes, usually with a regional name based on the car and always a female name.

    ’95 Riviera S/C – Alexandra (smooth name to match the car’s demeanor)
    ’02 Civic Si – Fuyumi (translates to “winter beauty,” February built date)
    ’12 Ruckus – Haruko (FLCL reference for the scooter)
    ’00 F-250 7.3 – Orianna (looked like it should be named Orion, female version sounded nice)
    ’96 Vulcan 500 – Quorra (breathed new life(heart) into a half-missing bike as a project)
    ’13 Abarth Cabrio – Athena (cool name, counterpart of Minerva which has the nickname Minnie/MINI as nemesis)

  • avatar

    My car names:

    2005 VW Phaeton – Princess Phuriosa
    1995 3000GT VR4 Spyder – Black Widow
    2012 Kizashi – Kizzy Hizzishi

    (Yes, I was one of the complainers’ yesterday on the lack of VR4 love, thanks for the picture shout-out!)

  • avatar

    Been awhile, but…

    1954 Chevy – Louie (as in Chevrolet)
    1967 Plymouth Fast Top Hardtop – The Reaper (back when that song was out)
    1971 Gremlin – Bunky Bug
    1985 S-10 – S Truck (yeah, really imaginative)
    1966 Dodge Dart – Dartface
    1957 Chevy – Tusk. Because when the original No-flame six threw a rod, it sounded exactly like the breakdown in Fleetwood Mac’s song of the same name.

    • 0 avatar

      That reminds me, I have called my cousin’s 1995 Z-71 “Louie” before.

      I called my other cousin’s 2002 Crown Vic “Queen Victoria”, they just called it “granny car”. My dad called my moms former Grand Marquis the “cruise ship”.

  • avatar

    I never used to, until I got married..

    My wife had an Explorer un-affectionately known as “Mhore”, short for Money-*hore. I traded that in on an ’05 LGT right quick after getting married as it started making strange sounds from the transmission after I shifted into 4×4 mode once. The LGT became known as “Momo”, since it’s right there on the steering wheel. My wife nicknamed her Mazda 3 “Benny”, because it always printed “Hello!” on the radio when starting up, and she was taking some german lessons with the repeated phrase “Hallo, Benjamin!” at the time.

    Mazda 3 -> ’08 Grand Caravan became Hemi, because the “has that thing got a hemi in it” was all over the media during that time, and because our surname shares the first 3 letters of Hemi.. the ’15 Town and Country is white and reminded us (2 kids included at this point) of the general stormtrooper look in “Force Awakens”, so he became “Finn”, although use a lot less than Hemi or Momo.

    Momo’s still looking for a successor.. Whether another Hemi (Charger SRT), or a Q50 / Stinger (names TBD), still not sure..

  • avatar

    Nope. No names for vehicles or bikes. When I was still married the Sienna and F150 were known as “the truck” and “the van”. My bike is just that; “the bike” or “the 400”. That was no different when I owned several dirt bikes and street bikes along with “the truck”.

    The local Jeep club guys have names on their rigs and call them by those names. I’ve looked at some instagram and facebook posts and it is creepy to see people talking about a machine like a person.

  • avatar
    King of Eldorado

    In 1979 I bought a red ’73 Renault 12 wagon that My friend called “The Red Menace” for reasons unknown: it wasn’t in terrible shape or any less safe than many other cars back then. I eventually started calling it that myself. Later I had a LR Discovery II with the custom plate “El Disco,” which I had to explain to everybody.

  • avatar

    I’ve never really been a fan of naming my cars because I don’t feel that kind of affection for a machine, and automakers are already kind enough to name them. Just strikes me as something goofy that women with “fur babies” do.

    However, I do have an exception. My Dodge B-van high top camper. Its named Uncle Rico.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Of course. And too many to mention, but only the vehicles that have ‘earned’ it. Usually try to pair the name to the car’s ‘personality’ or looks, often using the name of a TV character.

  • avatar

    I have before. Most all of my rides have been pretty distinctive and very reflective of my personality. My screaming yellow lifted ’00 TJ was ‘The Beast’. My ’05 Rumble Bee was ‘The Bee’. My current Challenger is ‘Spectre’ for its vague resemblance to the car/character from the Twisted Metal video game.

    Ive never given one of my rides a female name though. I can see that for something with a feminine shape like a Corvette or a Miata. But lifted Jeeps, Dodge trucks, brawny muscle cars evoke images of a tall and strapping man. The type of woman personified by any of these vehicles isn’t exactly a sexy one….

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Name a car? Whaaaaaat?

  • avatar
    Funky D

    We have done this for a long time. Growing up, we had the “Mean Green Machine” 1977 Ford Econoline van which my dad had customized.

    When I married and lived out, we continued on with the tradition. Currently, we have Clifford (the big red Avalanche), Benny the RAV4 cab, Heidi (VW Eos) and my sons white VW Cabrio he dubbed Boo (being the Mario fan he is).

  • avatar

    My Civic CRX was Cedric and my current Civic is Cecil.

  • avatar

    I had a 1996 Ford Taurus named Cooper. I don’t recall the reason for this name. He just looked like a Cooper I guess. Haven’t named another since then because I didn’t want to jinx future vehicles. Cooper had some issues.

  • avatar

    No one has named their cars Elio and Oliver yet?

  • avatar

    I’ve never named the cars I’ve owned, but I have a friend that does (and the guitars he owns also). I usually refer to them by the model name – Shelby, Escort, Stratus, etc. – sometimes by color or kind – blue car, station wagon. That doesn’t mean I don’t get attached to them over time as I tend to own a car until it becomes unsafe to drive due to compromised structural integrity or experiences a mechanical issue making it not worth repairing. Good question, Steph.

  • avatar

    We affectionately called our old Suzuki XL7 “Suzie”.

    We still miss it and want another one, but the first-gen ones are now old and mostly beat-up. We wouldn’t touch a 2007+ XL7 because of the timing chain issues and the cheap GM underpinnings.

  • avatar

    My 2012 Titanium focus hatch was named….Titan.
    My wife’s 2011 SRX Cadillac is named Mocca for its color, Mocca Steel.
    Silly? Maybe, but who cares.
    My Subaru SVX’s never got names, don’t know why.

  • avatar

    I called my blue/silver 1984 Honda CRX “Nike” as a nod to a girl who told me my car looked like a running shoe.

    Back in the late ’70s, a couple I knew bought a nice and clean yellow ’66 Plymouth Fury III. As we drove around in the car with me in the back seat (passing around a joint), the husband told me the car needed a name. I thought for a minute and blurted out “Yellow Submarine!”. Bingo – the car had a name.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • conundrum: China needs to tap American knowhow to build run of the mill EVs? A ha ha ha. Right. They have several...
  • conundrum: China needs to tap American knowhow to build run of the mill EVs? A ha ha ha. Right. They have several...
  • spookiness: This. Gotta pull up that ladder now.
  • Crashdaddy430: I agree that the new grill looks much better on the Ridgeline than here. They should’ve left it alone...
  • dwford: The BBB bill is a cobbled together mess of sops to individual members of Congress. When a bill that is...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber