Corvette, Veyron, and Viper: Cars with the Best Names Ever
Some car brand models are more popular than others, and some of them have become so popular that they have prevailed for decades and are identified by only their model names. For example, even people who aren’t car enthusiasts know what you mean when you talk about a Mustang, Corvette or Viper without giving them the manufacturer name. Including these models, we will list 10 cars with names that are so legendary that they are coveted by almost everyone.
The Chevrolet Corvette is an enduring sports car that is built for speed and has been in production since 1953. The name “Corvette” literally means “a small warship that is built for convoy escort duty.” This name was given to fast warships that would join fights in which allies were having trouble.
However, General Motors didn’t name the car themselves. It took hundreds of ideas from consumers. Corvette was submitted by Myron E. Scott, a newspaper photographer who thought that it rolled off the tongue well and would appeal to men, particularly those who fought in World War II. The name has remained popular because of the power and iconic style that the Corvette continues to deliver.
The Bugatti Veyron is a supercar that Volkswagen AG began producing in 2006 to succeed the EB110, which was produced under previous ownership. The company started building concepts in 1998 that eventually became the Veyron, and there were several variations to follow until the model was discontinued in 2014.
The Veyron EB 16.4 was named in honor of Pierre Veyron, a development engineer and test driver for Bugatti. However, he was first introduced to Bugatti vehicles in 1930 as a race car driver, when he won the Grand Prix at Geneva in a Bugatti 37A. The highlight of Veyron’s racing career was winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1939 with co-driver Jean-Pierre Wimille. The Veyron name remains one of the most popular car brand models today because of this history and the fantasy that surrounds the modern variants, which output more than 1,000 horsepower.
As pony car, which is a mix between a personal vehicle and a muscle car, the Ford Mustang has been available to everyday drivers since 1964. One theory is that it was named after the feral mustang horse, and another is that it was named after the WWII P-51 Mustang fighter plane.
Although there is no conclusive documentation about the origin of the Mustang name, the designer John Najjar is quoted saying that he suggested the name to his boss in remembrance of the fighter plane. The idea was rejected, but Najjar suggested the name again in association with the feral horse because it was more romantic, to which his boss agreed.
However, this was originally the name of the 1962 Mustang I concept, which was proposed to compete with the Corvair Monza. Evoking freedom and thoughts of the open road, the Mustang cars that followed in 1964 have remained popular up to this day.
The Dodge Viper is a performance car, and its name is the same as the venomous snake, referencing the look of its front end. It was first revealed in 1989 as the Copperhead concept car, which was conceived as a reborn Shelby Cobra by then-Chrysler President Robert A. Lutz. Dodge decided to produce it in 1991 in response to favorable public reception.
Lutz rejected several names for the production model before settling on Viper. Although the marketing team thought it would be better to conjure the popularity of the company’s past muscle car by naming it the Challenger, Lutz won that battle. Since then, the gadget-laden, high-powered Viper has become associated with the likeness of an untamed creature and taken its place among the most popular car brand models.
As a high-performance sports car with a top speed of more than 200 mph, the Lamborghini Diablo was produced from 1990 to 2001 as a replacement for the legendary Countach. In Spanish, the word “Diablo” means “devil.” The car, however, is named after a vicious bull that the Duke of Veragua raised in the 19th century and that is famous for fighting with El Chicorro in 1869 in Madrid.
Naming the car Diablo continued the tradition that Lamborghini started: naming its cars after fighting bulls. That tradition began after Ferruccio Elio Arturo Lamborghini, the founder of Automobili Lamborghini, became very impressed with the fighting bulls at Don Eduardo Miura’s Sevilla cattle ranch. He even adopted a raging bull in the company logo. With its striking name and head-turning body design, the Diablo continues to be one of the most memorable sports cars in history.
The Pontiac Firebird is a pony car that was produced from 1967 to 2002. It was developed to compete with the Mercury Cougar pony car, which was also launched in 1967. The actual definition of “firebird” is a bird that has bright orange or red plumage. However, it’s unknown if this is what Pontiac and parent company GM were naming the car after or how they came up with the name. During the 1950s and early 1960s, though, GM named some of its concept cars Firebirds. Throughout its production years, the Firebird became a glamour car and the vintage classic that it’s recognized for among car enthusiasts.
As a sports car, the Carrera is a name that Porsche uses to label several models of its vehicles. Used since 1955, the Spanish word “carrera” translates to “race.” The company, however, began to use the name to commemorate its success in the Carrera Panamericana, a border-to-border road race in Mexico that was held during the 1950s.
Porsche started participating in the annual Carrera Panamericana in 1952. Placing third in the race in 1954, Porsche executives were satisfied with the development team’s work. The following year, the company produced the 356 A Carrera. Since then, Porsche’s 904, 911 series and 924 have been given the Carrera name as well. Additionally, it released the Carrera GT supercar from 2004 to 2007. The epic and impressive presence that the Carrera exudes is why the name remains popular even today.
The Shelby Cobra is a British sports car that houses an American engine. The word “cobra” is Portuguese for “snake,” and some languages use it to describe a range of venomous snake species. The car was born from one man’s desire to build his own car and was produced in both the United States and United Kingdom from 1962 to 1967.
In 1961, legendary race car driver and car builder Carroll Shelby contacted British company AC Cars with a plan to the AC chassis with a Ford V8 engine. He started building the car in Southern California, and its name came to him in a dream. During an interview with Motor Trend in 1993, he said that he woke up and wrote down the name. When he awoke the next morning, he looked at it and knew it was right. The first of these cars was a CSX 2000 Cobra, which debuted in New York just two months later. The Cobra line is remembered for its curvaceous, venomous roadster design.
Not yet a GT-class sports car, the Jensen Interceptor was the second car that Jensen Motors produced after WWII between 1950 and 1957. Later, the company reused the name for a genuine supercar that it hand-built between 1966 and 1976. Jensen Motors focused on brake horsepower when it was producing this Interceptor. In 1986, the company was reorganized by a group of investors and named Jensen Cars Limited, at which time it tried to resurrect the Interceptor. The plan failed, and the company was liquidated in the early 1990s.
The term “interceptor” literally means someone or something that catches or stops someone or something else from reaching its destination. In the military, an interceptor is a fast aircraft that repels or stops hostile aircraft. The Interceptor car was named for this purpose. Its hipster design is still popular in the 21st century, and a micro-industry exists that restores and updates the antique cars.
Land Rover Defender
The Land Rover Defender is a British off-road utility vehicle created with outdoorsman in mind, and produced with that name, from 1990 to 2016. However, Defender was a name change from the previous models One Ten, Ninety and 127, which were produced from 1983, 1984 and 1985 respectively. In 1990, the new names became Defender 110, Defender 90 and Defender 130.
The plan to change the numbered vehicle names was the idea of then-product planning director Alan Edis. He came up with Defender during a thorough word association process to distinguish the model from the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover products. The name made sense because Land Rover was in the defense business and the vehicle was meant to defend the company’s leading position in the four-by-four vehicle market. The Defender has and will continue to be a favorite for its no-frills tough and versatile build.
Whether they are fast, just beautiful to look at or built with purpose in mind, these are all cars with enticing names that will resonate through the ages.
Which of these popular car brand models do you like the most?
Which car names do you think should be on this list?
How important is it to you to have a car with a great name?