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Thread: Car names and origins

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Car names and origins

    Car names and origins
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    Ever wonder where car names -- and the names of car brands -- came from? Some -- like General Motors -- are bureaucratically-derived (the company was formed from several smaller, formerly independent automakers into a single corporate entity). Others -- such as Toyota -- were named after the family that founded them.

    Here are some other car brands you're probably familiar with -- and their origins, which you may not be:

    * GM's Chevrolet division is named after Swiss race car driver Louis Chevrolet; he drove for W.C. Durant -- founder of General Motors. Chevrolet drove a Buick inthe first Indy 500 in 1911. The famous "bow tie" Chevy logo was reportedly inspired by a wallpaper pattern in a hotel bathroom.

    * Lamborghini is named after its founder, Ferrucio Lamborghini -- who reportedly dismissed a complaint about the poor rearward visibility of his low-slung exotic sports cars by stating, "that which is behind me does not matter." The company itself began as a maker of farming implements -- tractors, especially. The company's snorting bull trademark was inspired by its founder's birth sign, Taurus the bull.

    * Mitsubishi is the Japanese term for ?three diamonds,? hence the corporate logo for this Asian automaker. The company was founded in the early 1870s by Yataro Iwasaki; during World War II, it produced the famous A6M "Zero" fighter plane.

    * Audi's "four rings" represent the four original companies (Audi, Horch, Wanderer and DKW) that merged in the early 1930s to become Auto Union, AG. The name "Audi" derives from August Horch; it is actually the Latin translation of Horch's last name -- "listen" or "harken to." The Audi nameplate first appeared in 1910, prior to the formation of Auto Union, AG. In 1969, Auto Union GmbH merged with NSU, forming Audi NSU Auto Union AG -- renamed Audi AG in 1985.

    * Volkswagen is German for "people's car" -- but the original name was to have been KdF-wagen, loosely translated as "strength through joy car," in reference to the Nazi-era social welfare program of which it was to have been an integral part. The primary VW factory in Wolfsburg was named in honor of Adolf Hitler -- who liked to be called "Wolf" by his intimates.

    * Aston-Martin is another amalgamation based on the name of one of the company's founders (Lionel Martin) but not the other (Robert Bamford) combined with the name of a locally famous race -- the Aston Clinton Hill Climb. In the 1960s, Aston Martin acquired the low-volume (but high prestige) Lagonda nameplate and the Aston Martin Lagonda was born. The famous "DB" series cars refer to David Brown, who bought the company after World War II and pulled it back from the abyss of bankruptcy.

    * Volvo means "I roll" in Swedish. The company was founded in 1924 by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson. The first Volvo -- the 1944cc Jakob --, was in production by 1927. By the early '80s, Volvo was building more than 5 million cars annually.

    * Nissan called itself Datsun in the North American market until the 1980s -- although it has been "Nissan" in the Japanese home market since 1934. But the cars themselves were called Datsuns -- a reference to the 1914 Dat 31, the first vehicle produced by the company that would eventually become Nissan. "DAT" is itself an acronym -- representing the initials of the three original investors, Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama and Meitaro Takeuchi.

    * Saab is short for Svenska Aeroplane Aktiebolaget -- and also much more pronounceable to non-Swedes. The company was formed in the late 1930s as an aerospace concern but launched an automotive subsidiary in 1945. The first production Saab, the model 92, did not appear until 1949 however. It featured a transverse-mounted (sideways) two-cylinder engine and front-wheel-drive, very unusual features at the time.

    * Mercedes-Benz' three-pointed star signifies excellence on land, sea and air -- while the company name is a combination of the last name of one of the company founders (Carl Benz) and the first name of the ten-year-old daughter of Emil Jellinek (Mercedes), who had ordered a special car to be built by what was then Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. He named the car after her -- and thus the Mercedes-Benz was born. It is said that the other founder of the company, Gottlieb Daimler, never learned to drive.

    * Mazda began life as Toyo Cork Kogyo, Ltd. -- with the Mazda name first surfacing in 1929 when the "Mazda Go-a" motorized tricycle was first offered for sale. Though not officially acknowledged, many say the name refers to the Zoroastrian god, Ahura-Mazda. The company officially began calling all its cars "Mazdas" in 1934 -- and has done so ever since.

    * Lexus doesn't mean anything, specifically -- nor can its origins be traced back to the name of a founding father. Some hold that it is a neologism created and intended to evoke the positive connotation of "luxury" and "elegance" (very much as "Acura" seems to suggest precision). Many people don't realize it, but the Lexus brand name was at first only used in the export markets of North America, Europe and Australia. In the Japanese home market, Lexus model were still just Toyotas until as recently as 2005.




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  2. #2
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Volvo means "I roll" in Swedish.

    Swedish.....Methinks you mean Latin
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  3. #3
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Saab is short for Svenska Aeroplane Aktiebolaget --

    the aircraft factory is at Linköping. Alongside they have a Saab 340 mounted on a pedestal.
    Scared the crap out of me the first time I saw ...a foggy night as I was driving south. All I saw was this interior lit aircraft shape...took a couple of seconds to realise it wasn't actually flying!!
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    Volvo means "I roll" in Swedish.

    Swedish.....Methinks you mean Latin
    And you'd be right!

  5. #5
    jillsuncle
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Prelude

    Prelude to what? Chrysler Cordoba - rich Corinthian leather! It requires no explanation now that it is flattend in a junkyard.

    Nissan Murano? What tha Hell is a Nissan. How about a Datsun F-10 - Now that is a FLY ride!

    A Lotus Europa - Eric I thought I made it clear we need leg and headroom.

    My favorite: Toyota MR2 The name says it all. midget class on the SCCA.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Quote Originally Posted by jillsuncle
    Prelude

    Prelude to what? Chrysler Cordoba - rich Corinthian leather! It requires no explanation now that it is flattend in a junkyard.

    Nissan Murano? What tha Hell is a Nissan. How about a Datsun F-10 - Now that is a FLY ride!

    A Lotus Europa - Eric I thought I made it clear we need leg and headroom.

    My favorite: Toyota MR2 The name says it all. midget class on the SCCA.
    I much preferred "Datsun" - remember? Son of Dat....

  7. #7
    jillsuncle
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    Re: Car names and origins

    How about a Lotus Elite with a turbocharged 4-banger that will only set you back 60 or 70K? The Europa was actually a very cool car. Just a bit small.

    V >

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Quote Originally Posted by jillsuncle
    How about a Lotus Elite with a turbocharged 4-banger that will only set you back 60 or 70K? The Europa was actually a very cool car. Just a bit small.

    V >
    I think you can still buy a Lotus 7 in homebuilt form; been awhile since I've seen one, though. For thrills, it's right up there with an AC Cobra... maybe more so!

  9. #9
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I think you can still buy a Lotus 7 in homebuilt form; been awhile since I've seen one, though. For thrills, it's right up there with an AC Cobra... maybe more so!
    See:

    http://www.uscaterham.com/home.html

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Car names and origins

    I think you can still buy a Lotus 7 in homebuilt form; been awhile since I've seen one, though. For thrills, it's right up there with an AC Cobra... maybe more so!

    Westfield Cars also make similar vehicle ......An old Compuserve member...I met him when living in NZ shipped his to NZ and drove around the country in it....brave guy considering the roads and weather.....from memoryhis travelling buddy dinged it in the South Island .
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  11. #11
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    I think you can still buy a Lotus 7 in homebuilt form; been awhile since I've seen one, though. For thrills, it's right up there with an AC Cobra... maybe more so!

    Westfield Cars also make similar vehicle ......An old Compuserve member...I met him when living in NZ shipped his to NZ and drove around the country in it....brave guy considering the roads and weather.....from memoryhis travelling buddy dinged it in the South Island .
    forgot to add the link..........

    ]http://www.westfield-sportscars.co.uk/
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  12. #12
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    Re: Car names and origins

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    Westfield Cars also make similar vehicle ......
    I've heard Westfields described as 'like a Caterham without the handling'! There are literally dozens of what are known in the industry as LSIS (Lotus Seven-Inspired Sportscar) kits on the UK market, from cheap & nasty up to genuine Caterhams. For me, the Westfield falls between two stoools - it's not cheap & it's not a Caterham.

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