Automotive Etymology

Author: Naked Lime Marketing

Date: June 21, 2021


Take the Automotive Etymology Quiz here!


Rocker Panel gets its name because...
Toyota has a pattern of naming its cars after….

Here are just a few examples of Toyota's cars names after Gods and Royalty:
• Camry comes from the Japanese "kanmuri", which roughly translates to “crown”.
• Corolla is the crowning portion of flower petals.
• Yaris comes from the Greek goddess “Charis”
• Avalon is the legendary island where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged
• Tacoma was the previous name of what is now Mt. Rainer. The name has been analyzed from the native language to mean “the mountain that was god” and “mother of waters”.
The Mustang Shelby GT350 got its number from…
The Swedish automaker, Volvo, gets its name from which language?
Volvo in snow in front on mountains
Latin for “I roll” is suiting for a company who started as a ball bearing company and planned on putting their name on anything that rolled, from bicycles to automobiles.
What was the Shaker Hood’s original name?
car hood
With a mouthful like that, it’s understandable that the name was eventually changed to “shaker hood” because of the way it would shake when the engine is under throttle.
The origin of Lamborghini model names can be linked to…
One of the most notable examples of Lamborghini naming their models after fighting bulls is the Lamborghini Diablo (produced from 1990 – 2001) which named after a bull raised by the Duke of Veragua in the 19th Century. Diablo became notable due to his intense battle with legendary bullfighter ‘El Chicorro’ in the city of Madrid, July 11, 1869.
Originally called Willy’s MB, Jeep’s switched its name after…
When did Jerrycan get its name?
jerry cans

This slang term for a gas can originated back in the second World War, when American GIs started using a German-designed fluid canister to transport water and gas from place to place. The German version was far superior to that being used by the Allies, and after a few failed designs of our own, America reverse-engineered the German version and sent thousands overseas to aid in the war. Soldiers recognized this design as being German in origin, and since a slang word for a German was a “Jerry,” it was only befitting to name the canister such.

Legend has it that the Mitsubishi Starion owes its name to what?

Mitsubishi Starion
Admittedly, this one has never been confirmed, but legend has it that Mitsubishi meant to name its new sport coupe the “Stallion” to go along with its Colt. A 1980’s low quality phone call between Japan and marketers in the U.S. allegedly lead to the car being advertised as Starion.

Other theories about the cars origin story is that it was named after the Star of Orion. We may never know for sure.
Which famous racecar driver did McLaren name its new sports car after in 2018?

The McLaren Senna is one of the fastest cars you can buy today, with a 0-60mph time of 2.8 seconds. Rightfully, it was named after one of the fastest drivers of all time. Ayrton Senna drove for McLaren’s Formula One Team from 1988 – 1993, winning three Driver’s Championships and 35 Grand Prix. Senna has been immortalized in the sport after his career was cut short at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994, where he suffered a fatal crash.
Who coined the term “automobile”?
excerpt from notebook

Even though the New York Times popularized the term in 1897, the first use of the word “automobile” was by a 14th century Italian painter and engineer simply known as Martini. The word was created by combining the Greek work “auto”, meaning self, and the Latin word “mobils”, meaning moving. Martini never actually built an automobile, but gave the name to designs he had created for a man-powered carriage with four wheels. Pictured is an extract from a notebook of Francesco di Giorgio Martini, 1470
Where did Enzo Ferrari get the idea for the Ferrari Dino?

Enzo et Dino Ferrari

The original idea for the Ferrari Dino came from Enzo’s son, Alfredo. The car was the first Ferrari model to be produced in high numbers and at a lower than normal cost; this was in hopes of competing with the wildly popular Porsche 911. Alfredo (or Dino for short) suffered from muscular dystrophy, and pitched the idea of the car from his death bed to Ferrari’s head engineer. The car was named after Dino in remembrance.