Does a car deserve a name? And if so, should it be male, or female? And, come to think of it… do people who name their cars actually take better care of them?
Those were the profound questions we contemplated this week on Car Talk – all thanks to Robert in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, who found out, much to his dismay, that his new used truck was named “Mark”! You can hear the call right here.
We argued that cars, as soulless mechanical devices, hardly merited names. And, as Ray pointed out, he'd seen many a car with a name arrive at the garage looking like, well, an unmitigated trash heap!
But, we're eager to hear from you. What do you think? Are we wrong? Share your comments, below. Thanks!
Tom and Ray
Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers
Well it depends on how attached you are to your baby. Our baby takes us everywhere and in all kinds of weather. We spend hours in her since we do deliveries; yes she is a her. She got a name almost as soon as we got her (SK, abbreviated) and though at times; she has alot of junk in her; she is still our SK and anyone hurting her has to go through us first!!!
Yes, it is stupid to name cars.
My current car’s name is Princesa. Gotta call them something when you’re talking to it. We keep our cars a long time generally and take good care of them. They also take good care of us.
Only some cars require names. We had a 1965 Ford F100 flatbed, painted white and mostly Bondo, that we called Moby Dick. Our daughter drives a 1984 Volve 240 wagon with a deer-skull wired to the grill, and its name is Skeletor. None of our other cars seemed to need a name, though.
I think that cars are such an intricate part of our daily lives that we develop attachments to them. I know I spend so much of my life in the car, that a lot of time, the name comes from an experience we have together. Growing up, my mom and I’s car was named Leslie (96 Nissan Maxima). Mom still has Leslie and we have a lot of memories with her. The car I have right now is called Shrek (99 ML320 Mercedes) and that is because when the sun casts a shadow in front of the car when you drive, it looks like Shrek’s head. Square with little rear-view mirror ears. But its not a rule to name a car, but I don’t think its a bad idea.
I’m a female (obviously) and have named two of my cars: the first, a Neon, Ignignokt (after the ATHF character) and the second, an Altima, Naobi. I loved my second car dearly, but she was killed in an accident (not my fault!) only a month after her purchase. Since then, I haven’t named my Subaru wagon (though I’m convinced it’s male).
I think naming cars is a way to build comradery with an inanimate object- in hopes of building a mutually beneficial relationship. In my case, it’s only served to bring heartache
But if it makes you feel safer, or take more responsibility- why not?
Peace, and don’t drive like either of my brothers.
I agree that cars and trucks are simple, soulless, utilitarian machines that deserve no name. I have owned three trucks and have not named any of them.
However, my 1946 Farmall A tractor is named Henrietta, which is a completely different situation, she actually does have a soul.
I got my wife a 2002 Mustang for her 44th birthday last year. Sandy, my wife named her bright white baby, “Eleanor”.
The name Eleanor of course comes from Nicholas Cage?s movie, ?Gone In 60 Seconds?, where the car that was always ?elusive? was a Mustang (I think a ?67) that he called ?Eleanor?. My wife had wanted a Mustang for many years. She (my wife, not Eleanor) passed away this summer :(, so I have adopted Eleanor and drive her with pride!
Yea, I have names for cars of mine, but there not Male or Female, they are little thinks about the car that i pick out to call them. I have a Audi A4 and call it Quattro, i also have a 87 VW GTI that is baby blue with sparkles (i paid $200) i call Bubbles. My friend has an 81 Hoodride Jetta Diesal that we call Rusty. The names turn into inside Jokes.
SHOULD YOU? Who cares? Will you? probably. If you’re a girl. I’ve never “named” one, but I’ve called a few a few things.
My current vehicle, a '92 Ford TempoPinto, and most commonly referred to as the Rattmobile. My last one, a baby pick-up (GMC S-15) was the Mudd Dukk.
But I’ve never “named” one, or even referred to one as Shirly, or Mary, or even ED the bad parker. mostly.
I let my 2 year old name the minivan, Rocket, after the “little einsteins” rocket ship, it’s now easier to get her to go places in “Rocket”. My wife named her subaru, Ruby, after the color of paint, and most of my family has named a car or two. Not every car should have a name, if the vehicle deserves a name it will suit the personality of the car.
Cars are the closest thing to a living being created by man. Cars are born, breath, consume, dispose and die. By naming a vehicle you’re personifying nothing but metal and with that name the car is actually given some bit of a soul. My first car was a '91 brown, wood paneling, dodge grand caravan, the family car passed down to the young ones and I remember naming it Warren Grizzly because Warren Sapp and Grizzly Bears are both big, brown and mean. Unfortunately by naming this hunk of metal I gave it a life that inevitably would come to an end, which it did. Whether it’s got a name it will die one day. I think a name makes it interesting and gives us humans comfort but at the same time grief and sorrow when it’s time to see it leave.
I have always named my cars because they seem to have personalities. There was “Greenie” the Willies sedan whose battery exploded one hot day on the Mojave desert due to internal and ambient heat (I had neglected to make sure there was battery fluid; was able to smoosh the pieces together and get home!), “Modine” the 1949 Plymouth who was a cream puff, etc, etc. My husband and I (he’s actually worse than me) also anthropormorphosize our animals. Now that I am sans car I’ve taken to naming my bikes. Maude who is reliable and sturdy and “the truck” which is a Mt. bike with paniers.
What’s in a name…??
Psychologists tell us that nicknames and pet names build intimacy in families.
While I am in fundamental agreement with The Guys regarding naming vehicles, can we all agree that it would always be preferred to nickname “prestigious” cars? “I say, dahling, shall we take Suzy?” is so much more palatable than “I say, dahling, shall we take the Mazerati?” Especially since “prestigious” cars tend to have complicated pronunciations …
When my husband inherited enough money to buy the waterski boat of his dreams, it seemed only fitting to name it after his benefactor. It works to our advantage when he explains that he must take an afternoon off work to “spend some time with my dear Aunt Kathryn”…
Regarding cars, we own a 1995 Toyota Previa in a now-discontinued turquoise color. It has, not a human name, but a nickname. If you could see it, you would understand why it is known far and wide as The Big, Green Jelly Bean, or “Jelly Bean” or sometimes simply “The Bean”.
I’ve only named one car, my first. She was a 1966 red Barracuda with a little 286 cu. in. V-8. That engine wouldn’t qualify her as a muscle car, though she would, and regularly did, 90 mph. I bought her in June, so I named her Gemini, quickly shortening it to Gem. Though that’s the only car given a name I always think of my cars as females. I regularly talk to them at crucial times such as avoiding accidents or rushing through traffic when late (“Stay with me, Baby”).
However, I always think of my pick-ups as male. Is that sexist or what!!! What a culture.
P.S. My favorite car was a little 1986 brown Jetta. With its invisibility to cops, short turning circle and instant acceleration, we were commuting demons. Yes – another Jetta looney!
Before history, man created spritual beings to explain the unknown. Names were given to these spirits; sacrifices were made; offerings made in hopes of rain, children for labor,etc. Non-engineers are people who see cars as possessing spirits hence they give them names, make sacrifices and offerings in hopes that these necessary to life things keep functioning for them. You as an engineer do not accept the unknown as an explanation. You have an answer for car problems…that’s why we listen to your show. You do not name your vehicles. Mark is a fine name for a Ford 250…he’s big and strong and can carry heavy things…kind of like a big Swede. We just acquired a pretty little blue Sonata and promptly named her Moonlight…Moonlight Sonata. The name fits, I will take care of her, sacrifice whatever is necessary to keep her running. Gender depends on the character of the vehicle. We used to name horses that pulled wagons. Why can’t we (non-engineers) name our vehicles? Names help us non-engineers understand and care for our vehicles in our own way.
We have had 19 cars over the 45 years of our marriage and have named every car except for one - a Chevie hatchback - first year of their front wheel drive - can’t remember the model name - which was known only as “The Malevolent Blue Slug.” Didn’t keep that one long, a real lemon.
Two reasons for naming: 1) cars have personalities and genders and 2) we have often had 3 Toyotas at a time and it was much easier to say one name than to have to say “The 1994 Corolla” each time you referred to the car.
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Of course you should name your car! Anything that is likely to make you drive more carefully is a good thing. If your car has a name and personality and is part of your family, perhaps you won’t cut that person off next time you’re about to miss your exit, or do 50 in that 35 zone and risk damaging your poor child, um, car by hitting some inconsiderate pedestrian.
You guys (Tom and Ray) have arbitrarily decreed that cars have no souls.
I love your show, but y’all (I’m from KY) are not the arbiters of spiritual truth. Who is to say that cars have no souls?! Ever heard the story of the Velvetine Rabbit?
Maybe we should all start giving our cars names “just in case” they find us again in hell.
I have never before named a car until I decided to buy a new mini cooper. The dealer told me I could give the car a name so that the car could get notifications of service, etc.
I named the mini – Gary (as in Gary Cooper). Gary helps me ease out of awkward social situations – couples events where I’m treated oddly because I’m single; social events where everyone is talking about their significant others; really boring ‘fix-ups’ —by being able to say – “Gary is waiting for me, I’ve got to leave”; or, “Gary and I have plans for the weeknd”, or, “Gary is taking me to the movies on Sunday”.