A woman hugs the bonnet of her red car
Vehicles

A guide to naming your car

We look at the tradition of naming cars and where you can find inspiration for the perfect moniker.

By Shell on Mar. 15, 2022

It's not known whether Karl Benz had a nickname for his Patent-Motorwagen of 1886 – generally acknowledged as the world's first practical car – but the tradition can't be much younger than the car itself.

Drive a Mercedes-Benz? Well, it only has the first part of its name because an early board member of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) – one of the companies that merged to make the German motoring juggernaut – gave his racing cars the same name he used for his daughter.

In 1901 he persuaded DMG to build him a "Mercedes" racer and it begat a successful range of production cars with the name. When DMG merged with Benz's car company in 1926, it used "Mercedes" to honour what it considered the most important car in its history.

Household names

Nicknames are inexorably associated with many of history's pioneering cars. Ford's Model T of 1908 was commonly called "Tin Lizzie". The Mini Cooper became known as "The Flying Brick" on account of its racing successes. Volkswagen hadn’t originally called its most celebrated car "The Beetle" – that only happened in the late 1960s when the company officially adopted the public's by-then ubiquitous colloquialism for the car.

Giving your own car a pet name has also become a key tradition of car ownership. Studies across the world suggest a lot of us do it – 61 per cent of respondents to a 2021 carsales survey on the topic said they had given their car a name.

Some of the world's biggest celebrities are dedicated car nicknamers. Barack Obama called his burly presidential limousine "The Beast". Beyonce had a Jaguar she called "Honey Bee", and four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel always names his racing cars – "Kate's Dirty Sister" and "Kinky Kylie" are just two of the cheeky sobriquets he's used over the years.

How to come up with a good name

Adding to the bewildering array of "days" that now pepper the modern calendar, October 2 each year is Name Your Car Day.

If you don't have one for your car or don't know where to start, here are some sources of inspiration to mull over:

  • A simple but time-honoured nickname originator, the colour of your car ("The Silver Bullet", for example).
  • Your car's brand or model name (think "Suzi Suzuki") or even its number plate (think "Chaz" from "CHZ").
  • A name that rhymes with your car's brand or model ("Rhonda the Honda") or a mashup that honours a celebrity you like ("Tom the Cruze").
  • Something that evokes your car's looks, character, or how it makes you feel (Eric Bana is another famous person to use "The Beast" for his car, in this case for his much-loved Ford Falcon Hardtop).
  • Sometimes a fictional character or machine can work ("The Millennium Falcon").
  • Or maybe just any old human name that feels right when applied to a car.

If none of that helps, there are car-name generators on the internet that will do the hard work for you. The main thing to remember is there are no rules when it comes to naming your car – it's about having fun and finding something that means something to you.

Disclaimer

Viva Energy Australia Pty Ltd (“Viva Energy”) has compiled the above article for your general information and to use as a general reference. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken by Viva Energy in compiling this article, Viva Energy does not warrant or represent that the information in the article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use.