Ian's Rant 01 – Similar Car Names

Car names

Ian takes a stab at how the automotive industry invents their car names.

Some Common Car Names

  • Toyota: Corolla, Corona, Cressida, Celica, Caldina;
  • Holden: Camira, Calibra, Captiva, Cascada;
  • Mitsubishi: Cordia, Carisma;
  • Ford: Cortina;
  • Mazda: Capella;
  • Porsche: Carrera;
  • Cadillac: Catera;
  • Chevrolet: Corsica;
  • Chrysler: Centura;
  • TVR: Chimaera;
  • Hindustan: Contessa;
  • Seat: Córdoba;
  • Kia: Cadenza;
  • – Plus some two syllable car names –
  • Ford: Cobra;
  • Opel: Corsa.

Notice the similarity?

Is there some deep psychological connection with the sound of the word "CAR"? Or did the car manufacturers simply ride on the success of each other's best selling models by choosing similar sounding names?

I fed the same 3-syllable "C-something-A" criteria into my trusty word-processor and – out of the hundred or so suggestions – narrowed the field to the following suitable car names to look out for in future:

  • Cabana"Shelter at beach or pool". Perfect name for a camper-van.
  • Caldera"Deep cauldron-like cavity on summit of volcano". Name sounds good anyway.
  • Camellia"Flowering evergreen". Perhaps suitable for a flower delivery van?
  • Canasta"Card game resembling Rummy". Should appeal to the gamblers amongst us.
  • Canberra"Political capital of Australia". Great for government limousines.
  • Candela"Unit of luminous intensity". Again, it sounds good.
  • Cascara"Bark of buckthorn". Eye of newt? Maybe better for a broomstick?
  • Cassata"Ice cream with fruit and nuts". Okay, you know where I'm heading here...
  • Chihuahua"Very small smooth-haired breed of dog". For those small cars with an annoying bark.
  • Chinchilla"Breed of domestic cat or rabbit". Remember the furry dashboards back in the 70's?
  • Chlorella"Unicellular green alga". Scum and low-lifes should relate to this.
  • Churinga"Sacred amulet of Australian Aboriginals". Why not? – we've desecrated everything else...
  • Cicada"Transparent-winged shrill-sounding insect". VW Beetles should have been called "Cicadas".
  • Cingula"Ridges round bases of tooth crowns". Obviously only Dentists would see the humour here.
  • Clepsydra"Ancient time measuring device worked by flow of water". Only name more obscure than "Cingula".
  • Copula"Verb 'be' ". Sounds like the perfect name under which to resurrect the old Shaggin' Wagon.
  • Corella"White long billed cockatoo". Advertising could use the "Take flight..." or "Nesting..." approach.
  • Cornea"Transparent part of eyeball". Naturally, a car with excellent visibility is the key here.
  • Corpora"Bodies or collections of writings". I felt this had a "corporate" sound to it.
  • Coryza"Nasal catarrh". (*snort*) Sorry, I started getting desperate at this stage...
  • Credenza"Sideboard or cupboard". A more descriptive name for light commercial vehicles.

– Ian Fieggen, 1999

(Update 31-Oct-2015: Added Holden Cascada)
(Update 08-Jan-2018: Added Kia Cadenza)

Similar Car Names Feedback

"Just wanted to point out how close you were with the car names: Kia makes a car called a 'Cadenza'. Not quite 'credenza', but close enough in my book."

– Thorvald M., USA, Jan-2018

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