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Should You Name Your Car?

My first car was a 1981 repo Pontiac Grand Le Mans. By the time it came to me in 1986 it had serious mechanical issues so I named her B*tch. My second car didn’t have a name but a friend named my third car Freda and I’ve christened my 2006 Nissan Sentra “Bernice” because she’s practical and reliable and that’s what “Bernice” says to me. You don’t expect a lot of thrills from someone named Bernice but you figure she’s pretty stable!

Why not have a contest to name your soulless cars; Tom and Ray? Put up a picture of them (all of them) and give the cartalk community the opportunity to name them as we doubt you have!!!

We all know you well enough over the years of listening to come up with some suitable names!!!

and you two can pick the best one that suits the car

I do, but I’m somewhat of an animist, so. My first car was an Dodge Colt that I called Reinhold, after a TV character. My second car was Molly, since it was a red Mazda 323 bought from a company called Brown Motors, since the Unsinkable Molly Brown always wanted a red dress. My current car, a Subaru Forester, is called the Hulk, because it’s big (or at least bigger than my other cars have been) and green.

I’ve also named my bicycles (most notable a cruiser one-speed called Mouse) and my motorscooters (a Suzuki called George, a Honda called Babycakes, and my current Yamaha called Hugh).

Yes, I’m eccentric. And I glory in it!

One of the questions asked Saturday was “Did you ever name your car?” While I didn’t name my car, my friends did. My high school wheels during my senior year in the 60s was a 1954 Volkswagen. In addition to the quaint “trafficators” (lighted stalks which appeared out of the roof supports when the turn signal wand was activated), the accelerator foot-feed consisted of a wheel on pivoting lever.

One of my friends stated “That looks like a yo-yo on a stick!” The name “Yo-Yo” stuck as long as I had the car. I agree with one of the brother’s comments that a named automobile probably receives a little more TLC during its owenership than a non-named vehicle.

Imagine Columbus arriving in the new world sailing on ships designated 1, 2, and 3; or A, B, and C. Or, “Houston, the Lunar Excursion Module has landed.”

Mike Current, O’Fallon, Missouri

You absolutly should name your car. It’s part of the family. How would you like to go around with no name? Also, if you give your car, which is actually like a working pet, a name it will treat you much better. You should also pat your dashboard when you get in and tell your car how good it is. It makes them feel good and they will respond in kind. Also keep your car-pet clean, washed and swept and it will respond by giving you a good ride for a long time. My car is Big Blue, my 3 wheeled recumbent bike is Little Blue and they are best friends.

My parents name their cars but to be politically correctly (apparently they are WAAAAY ahead of their time) they christen their vehicles with both a female and male name. I can’t remember all of them but I do remember “Alice Richard” and “Angela Michael.”

Yes! Every car needs a name, just like people. How would you like to be called homosapien (sp?), make: Italian, model: male, year: 19??, color: brown, hair: black…etc.

We have a white 2004 Honda pilot named: Snowy
and a silver 2007 Honda CR-V named: Zippy
and a red 1998 Dodge V-10 Truck name: Big Red

Thanks for the terrific Question,
DeAnna of Boise, Idaho

I think that many people name their cars in an abscence of another significant accomplishment. You get to name a dog or a baby – both demonstrations of your responsibility and your competancy as an adult. However, if you aren’t yet old enough or responsible enough to have a pet or a child, the next best thing to make you feel like a legitimate person is to name your car – or your cell phone, or your guitar, or your refrigerator. I’m 20, and most of my friends have named their first cars – Bonnie, The Tank, and La Lohan are examples. I imagine that if I had some other, more impressive accomplishment to add to my resume, I wouldn’t feel the need to name the car.

Yes, if the car has some personality! I named my first car, a 1963 Pontiac Tempest that was also my mom’s first car. He was Tyrone Powerless. I didn’t name another car until, in 1984, I bought the car of my dreams, a beautiful Marina blue 1973 VW Super Beetle. I was (and still am) the third owner. Of course he deserved a name. I was working in commercial real estate at the time, and vice president of a company signed a lease renewal. His name was Dudley Beedle. Perfect! My car become Dudley Beetle, and is known by that name far and wide. He sends a box of pears to his mechanic every Christmas, in his name, with thanks for keeping him alive another year. Dudley turns 35 in January, and is still my daily car. I think about getting a modern car sometimes, like one of those cute, cute, cute Mini Coopers, but I can’t sell Dudley without knowing that whomever purchases him would take good care of him, as I do. I send him for a stay at the Beetle spa (my wonderful mechanic’s garage) a few times a year. People smile and wave when I drive by. Dudley’s admirers strike up conversations at the gas pump. What a car! He deserves and has earned his name and my affection for an inanimate object. Irrational, perhaps, but I just love driving around in Dudley, even without an air conditioner in the summer. - Madeleine Crouch, Dallas, TX

We have a blue 1952 International truck, bought from it’s original owner. Well, his wife, that is. We were arguing if it was a boy or a girl and laughing and then we took the tires off to put new ones on and on the inside rim was F. Simms in wax pencil. The name of the original owner. So Frank is our buddy. He is a member of our family and we would never think of selling him, and we do get offers every day. Yes he is a machine but he is like a horse…you know, a friend that gets you there and back. And I had an old white Buick that I named Ruth after a character in a novel (a white dragon). So, do I think cars know or like their name?..No!! Do you think I am crazy?!! I do love your show and I am not remotely mechanicly inclined. Keep it up!!

I have to tell you about our beloved farm truck. We had an 89 F350 4X4 flatbed with a 460 gas hog engine, 5 speed transmission, and 4:10 rear ends that had approximately 325,000 miles on it when we finally sold it at my folks’ retirement sale. It had come off a ranch in Texas in 1990 with completely smashed doors and front panels (it had lost a bull fight). We seldom drove it that it wasn’t attached to either a 30 ft. flatbed gooseneck trailer with 1500 gallons of water and lots of farm crop protection paraphenalia on it, a 28 ft. stock trailer loaded with cows, or a massive piece of farm equipment slugging down the road in 3rd gear. It spent a lot of time with the transfer case in low range in off-road duty. It had a heavy duty bumper, and a brush guard on the front. But, the most important job of this truck was as a drivers’ training vehicle. Both of my petite, blonde girls (5’3"/104# average) knew they had to be able to successfully meet Mom’s driving test requirements before I would even discuss obtaining drivers’ permits with them, let alone a license. That meant they had to be able to drive the manual transmission smoothly both on the farm and on the blacktop (did I mention that the synchronizers weren’t good, so double clutching or power shifting was somewhat mandatory?), they had to demonstrate correct and safe procedure for changing a tire on said beast, and they had to change its oil and grease it. It also had the interesting habit of stalling out if it wasn’t handled with TLC. For some unknown reason, the girls named it Jezebel. They cried when we sold it, and both of them treasure the pictures of them with it. There is just no explaining girls and their trucks. (By the way, most of our farm fleet had names over the years, mostly related to color or some feature such as Old Orange or the Twin Screw, and yes, all motorized vehicles were referred to as “she”.)

Yes, if it is personal to you. Feeling poetic after I inherited a Lark, I named it “Hark-Hark.” I traded it for a '66 Volvo 122 that I named “King Gus” for Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus (and because my family name is King). My small daughter named our '60s Ford station wagon “King of the Road.” She also named my '73 Volvo 1800ES (that I still have)“Tiger” because it is orange with black interior. I stopped naming cars when I bought my first new car, A '70 Ford Galaxy 500, that I figured would last me forever but started immediately to give me trouble, and I stopped being personally involved with my transportation. I didn’t mind giving it up as part of my divorce settlement. I did, however, name a Black colleague’s long white Lincoln “The Great Emancipator.”
My wife and I are habitual listeners to “Car Talk,”
Al King

We have traditionally named vehicles that have a lot of character after the person we bought them from or based on something about their personality…sometimes they weren’t named for a number of years until their personality emerged. Examples are: Clyde (an old motorhome-named for the memorable seller). Pedro (our 4-wheeler)-named a hispanic name because he works so hard. Our old Nissan pick-up was named Pepe for the same reason. My husband just bought an old camper for hunting and decided her name would be Cheryl after his long-time customer who sold it to him. I do see why vehicles are named but don’t have a preference over male or female. New cars would be more difficult to name I think because they are too perfect and new…they have to develop an attitude first. By the way my husband is a mechanic and long-time owner of a tire and auto shop in the currently famous alleged gay senator’s state of Idaho. We get a real kick out of your show. Thanks…keep it up!!!

Listening to today’s show, I was fondly reminded of my beloved 1974 red Super Beetle VW which I affectionately named - Beauregard.

Living in Cambridge, MA at the time, I recalled many a time that I would be driving up the Rt. 2 hill, and if I only managed to reach 60 mph just at the start of the hill, I would encouraged Beauregard with the exhortation: Come on Beauregard, giddiyap, giddiyap, giddiayp!!! It usually worked,except the time the %*@%# VW dealer forgot to change the condenser during a full tuneup - ahyah!

Good memory though!

– Tom

I’ve had 12 cars in life and I have not named any of them, however one of my cars did name itself. It was a 1965 Ford Custom. One day the ‘Cus’ broke off and it became Tom. It was not long before my friends and I referred to the car as Tom. Even my mechanic called it Tom. After I sold it I went to see my mechanic about another car and he mentioned he saw Tom the other day and wondered how he was doing.

Of course you should…

Just like you’d give your horse, dog, cat, and pet gerbil a name…

And because you DO establish a relationship with your car, it’s better to have a name for it as you ask it to do things, like start up and run, make it up the next hill, to stop at the bottom of the next hill, etc…

As to gender, or even if it’s a “people” type name, it’s all in the moment of inspiration of what comes top mind…might even involve some ESP…that’s right, your car might be trying to TELL YOU what it’s name is (it’s possible)…

I had a 1956 Dodge Town Panel truck that was named Moonshine, a 67 Mercedes named Chewy, a 69 Chevey C20 truck named Tugboat, a 55 Olds Rocket 88 named Judy, 51 Pontiac named Penelope, and a 82 Jeep Wagoneer Woody named Woody, amongst many others…so not all my car names are human type names…

To answer this, I must tell a story . . .

“she’s a gem”

She?s a gem!, PaCharley gushed, as he looked in amazement at the results of my emissions test today. A ?91 with zero CO emissions detected?who would have thought . . . yeah, my new car gets a perfect score in my book, too!
So it was decidedly unpleasant, to say the least, to have unexpected sudden engine death this month. My bank account was already squealing at me, after months of scraping by on random part-time jobs picked up as I found them. And now, when I was happily, if somewhat anxiously, focusing all my energies on work again, I suddenly had to be distracted by the hunt for a new car, and by the questioning of What could I have done to prevent this . . . What if I had checked the levels again after the coolant light went off? . . . Did I kill my car in my ignorance? . . .
I did not think I?d be in the market for another car for years yet, and spent a week on the verge of tears?and yes, occasionally in tears?after it happened.
But today I was ever so thankful that it had. Today PaCharley accompanied me on lunch-break car errands, as we transferred the tags to my new car. I too often rush through life duties, frantically trying to get everything taken care of. But when I am mindful enough, I see the beauty of moments like this.
Because of my car ?incident,? I was forced to accept help. I had to humbly admit to myself, and to others, that I needed help finding a new car. And PaCharley got to make use of his great car-sleuthing skills, finding not just a car that I can afford, but the car that is, for all practical purposes, my dream car. It is a treat to once more drive a Toyota?a car that feels like it was made for me, a car that is efficient, that I feel good about driving, and that I know the engine of well enough to maintain on my own. I love the feeling of self-sufficiency that such an efficient, simple, and economical vehicle offers. I love driving a straight shift again. And I really love ?car talk? with my PaCharley.
?Yes, of course she?s a gem, Pa Charley?you found her for me! . . . You know, I haven?t named her yet. My old Toyota had a name?remember? Hubcaps Noirs. But he was a boy, with his stylish dark red coat of paint. This is most definitely a girl . . . just look at her!?
Pa Charley chuckled, and then commented again on how proud the woman who sold her to me had been of her ?baby???Icy blue pearl,? was the color, she had told him, when describing over the phone this car she had bought new when she was in college and had driven loyally ever since.
?That?s it, PaCharley?Pearl! That?s her name!!? . . . of course she was Pearl. How could I not have seen that already? I grinned and patted the steering wheel fondly, already talking out loud to my car in my usual nutty fashion.
Yes indeed, Pearl is a gem :slight_smile:

I’m female, and I’ve never considered naming a car. They’re not animate! Tho’ I had a roommate in college who had a circa 70’s black Monte Carlo he aptly named La Puta Negra. So I agree with the writer who said it depends on the car.

Oh, and no, a name wouldn’t change how I take care of my cars.

I don’t think you should name your car.

However, I understand the naming of the car thing. My grandfather named his first car in 1924, but then they were still probably known as “horseless carriages” and “tin lizzies” where it was reasonable to refer to your horse as “lizzy” or “dobbin” and therefore your transportation always had a name.

He called his Ford Model T, “Betty”, but she broke his forearm with its backfiring or kick on the retarding of the spark when you had to crank it. The crank kicked back and broke his forearm (getting him out of his chemistry final – right handed and all). So, I would say naming the car didn’t do him much good, because she got jealous that day that he was trying to get to his fiancee at Smith and she threw him off.

I think WWII probably also added to the naming trend in cars, but for today’s mass production and disposable economy, then it is as foolish as trying to name your Orange Juice container. Get a horse if you want to name something that moves you.

Well, it is totally a personal choice, and I don’t believe every car has a name. I have named some of my cars, and not others. It’s a car personality thing -some have personalities and some don’t. My current car is Miss Kitty (Gunsmoke). She is a '99 Hot Red Pontiac GrandAm.

Male/Female? Some cars are girls and some boys, type of car of course. No way is a Hummer a woman!!!

And no, how well you take car of your car has nothing to do with naming it or not - that’s determined by ones money and car maturity.

Thanks! Elisabeth, Providence, RI