- Automobile History
10 Classics Car Names and their Origins
What's in a name?
The majority of classic car manufacturers and their marques are normally named after the company founder.
Everyone is familiar with Enzo Ferrari, what would Henry Royce have been without Charles Rolls and David Dunbar Buick, all world famous for vintage cars. After owners, the places the cars where manufactured is also a popular choice,
Vauxhall from the district in London where the company was originally founded. The Pilgrim fathers on the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth Rock, despite the Chrysler logo, did not give rise to the well known Chrysler marque but a simple agricultural brand of string. While an American, Wilbur Gunn, from Ohio called his vintage vehicles after the river flowing through the town of his birth – Lagonda.
Here are some of the more exotic stories behind a few household names in classic cars.
Alvis – A British car manufacturer whose name was created by shortening aluminium to AL and adding VIS the latin for strong.
Cadillac and De Soto, both American car companies who chose explorers for their inspiration. Frenchman, Antione Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac discovered the famed “Motorcity of America”, Detroit. While Spaniard, Hernando De Soto again gave his name to an adventurous brand of motor vehicle.
Jaguar – This sleek, speedy cat was originally a brand for the Swallow Sidecar Company more commonly known as S.S. but this was considered to be a poor name after World War Two and synonymous with Hitler’s troops. So they adopted the name of their already famous feline instead.
Lincoln – Named in honour of American President, Abraham Lincoln. The lifelong hero of Henry Leyland, the company’s’ founder. For many years the Lincoln became presidents’ choice of car.
Mercedes – While trying to break into the French car market, Daimler and Benz agreed to name their new series after the daughter of Emil Jellinek, one of their distributors who aided them overcome French bureaucracy.
Pontiac – As reflected in the badge mounted on the front grille of their cars until 1956, Pontiac was a Native American chief who organised one of the largest stands against colonial invasion.
TVR– When Wilkinson started his company he quite simply took three letters from his first name to form this classic brand – TreVoR. I am not so sure the Trevor would have had quite the same impact.
What’s in a name? You just never know.
- Main Page - Wikicars
Excellent info on all car manufacturers.