Do You Name Your Cars?

Replacing an Old Friend

About a month ago, I was “T-boned” while driving my 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid. A GMC Sierra tried to land in the passenger seat. As predicted, this did not end well for the Accord, and it was totaled. In its honor, I replaced it with a 2013 Honda Accord. I had bruised ribs, after the accident, but we all walked away from it. I kept looking at that passenger door and the deep slit that ran from front to back, and thinking about how my son might have been riding with me that day. And how he probably would have survived, because that door held up and didn’t crumple into the seat. I’m not sure why the airbag didn’t go off, but the important parts of the door held fast. That’s the kind of thing that helps to cement my “customer loyalty.”

Naming Cars

When I was a kid, I named my favorite cars – each had a clear personality in my mind, and I sobbed my heart out when my dad traded in the little red Volkswagen convertible known as “Priscilla Macintosh.” He recently told me that he was sad, too, but that the whole bottom had rusted out and probably wouldn’t hold much longer. Her successor was “Clementine,” and despite the apparent trend towards naming cars for fruit, I distinctly remember it being a less than complimentary reference to the following verse from “My Darling, Clementine”:

Light she was and like a fairy,
And her shoes were number nine
Herring boxes, without topses,
Sandals were for Clementine.

But silver cars never got the good names – my grandparents’ Cadillac, for instance, was lucky to be called “Old Pewter” (Pewter being the official name of the color, “Old” added just for spite, I think). My coworker, Karen J., called what I felt for the Accord “a failure to bond.” It met its demise without a name, and I feel bad. It served me well for nine and a half years, and it didn’t always feel the love. It was a trusty steed, and well worth the money paid for it.

I’d been saying for nearly a decade that my next car would be “Catch Me If You Can, Copper! Red” – a color I made up in my head, but which resembles nothing so much as a bright shiny fire engine. My husband and son were visibly relieved that the Accord didn’t come in that color – but unlike the 2005 Hybrid, did come in a lovely “Basque Pearl II” – a dark, sparkling ruby that takes on a variety of hues depending on the light and shadow of its surroundings.  I was determined that it should have a name, and quickly.

So I turned to the collective wisdom of my Facebook Friends. Their suggestions included women’s names: Ruby, Betty (Page or Boop?), Sally (long and tall?).

A lot of people liked descriptive names and saw the color as something between ruby, blood, aubergine, and purple, with a hint of cinnamon.

One person suggested “Car,” and I had to wonder if they felt as “meh” about red as I felt about silver.

Harold Underdown kindly offered up “The Purple Crayon,” but this is definitely more “ruby” than “purple.” I would definitely drive a purple car – if it was, as my friend Kathy says, “a committed purple.” None of this lavender or purplish blue stuff!

Someone suggested “Prince” (with a nod towards “Purple Rain”), but I had to point out that all cars, like ships, are female.

I mentioned how most of the car names I came up with as a kid involved fruit, and got suggestions like “Blackberry,” “Cherry,” “Plumb,” “The Mulberry,” and “Merlot.” (Hey, Merlot starts life as a fruit.) “Purple Daisy” was in the running, too.

There were a lot of suggestions like “Sangria,” “Plum Wine,”  and “Cherry Merlot” (that’s the car’s secret “stripper name,” of course).

“Sister” came up a few times. “Plum Mover” sounded too much like a plumbing problem, and never seriously made the running. When I mentioned that I’d prefer names that did not suggest a violent demise, like “Crash,” “Boom,” and “Bomb,” someone suggested “Crimson Cradle.” If the car’s rockin’, don’t come knockin’? I nixed it, and they offered up  “Crimson Cruise.”

“Too much like a name for Tom’s next child,” I said. I came up with a few of my own:

Jalokia Jalopy – it’s not really red enough to be a hot pepper, though.
Ruby Jean (inspired by “Aubergina”) – the car, itself, seems to like this one.
Cherry Bing-a-Ling
Cherry, Cherry Bo Berry Banana Fanna Fo Ferry Fee Fy Mo Merry, Cherry… – and suddenly, it has its own theme songs.

Jesus suggested “Purple People Eater,” which is on the car’s Spotify “Joyride” playlist, and amuses me greatly – purple being my favorite color and all – but by the time it was suggested as a possible name, her official name was pretty well settled in my mind. Don’t you wish some people gave this much thought to what they named their kids?


Wouldn’t that just confuse people, if I started calling it my Blackberry?

“Wait, I thought you had a Windows phone?”

“I thought she had a Slate 7 – that’s Android, isn’t it?”

“Nawww, she’s DRIVING a Blackberry.”

“Holy shi… I’ve heard of riding a broom, is this the high tech version?”

Cars, Like Ships, Are Female

A coworker, years ago, was rebuilding a Fiat. She had a nice, dependable, slightly beat up truck, too. She took some part off the truck and used it on the Fiat (cannot imagine what would’ve been compatible and don’t remember). I told her, “You’d better do something nice for that truck, or it’ll get jealous and stop being good to you.” She laughed at me.

Well, a day or two later, she showed up at the office with one arm horribly, hideously bruised. It wasn’t broken, but she was just lucky. Somehow, she’d been standing by the driver’s side of the truck (door open) in her driveway, and it started to roll. Knocked her down with the door, ran over her arm with the front tire, TURNED when it got to the street, and backed into the front of the Fiat.

I just smiled. From that moment on, she gave me that quizzical, “How do you know these things, you spooky woman?” look. I suggested she go out and buy the truck a treat. She did. It behaved after that, but I think we both knew that it’d probably kill her, next time. It clearly hated the Fiat.

And every woman knows that cars are female. I mean, get real: Woman goes out, car doesn’t start. She tries three times, gives up. Hands the keys to a man – any man. Husbands are best, but homeless guy under a bridge would probably do. Car turns over and purrs. Fact of life.

What’s In a Name?

Shortly after “Plum Wine” and “Cherry Bomb” made the list, I decided to call a halt to certain names. I wrote on Facebook: “I’m actively discarding suggestions that are incompatible with driving: anything alcohol or ‘smash,’ ‘crush,’ ‘crash,’ ‘bomb,’  ‘explosion’ related are not in the running. There is much in a name – as Irma (from A Puppy, Not a Guppy) learns when naming her fish – and I would have this sweet ride last a good long time and treat me right.”

Cherry (or, Ruby Jean)

For a short while, Ruby Jean was the front-runner in the name game. The car, itself, seemed to like it – it had personality. Aubergina felt too regal, too refined. For all it’s little luxuries and it’s gem-like color, this is a fun car, a car that would climb trees, if it could. But then my friend Abhi  suggested Cherry. Others had mentioned that the color reminded them of Queen Anne cherries. One suggested Bing – admittedly, I scratched my head at the Microsoft connection, then remembered it was also a type of cherry.

But what few would know is that my mom’s real first name was Cherry. And as I was mulling the short list in my head, the news came on – a gentleman speaking on transportation safety was wearing a tie dotted with crimson cherries. Sometimes, the universe sends you a mix of subtle and not-so-subtle messages.

I’m listening. The car’s name is Cherry.

A Car Named Cherry A Car Named Cherry - Personalized Dashboard

23 thoughts on “Do You Name Your Cars?”

  1. Of course cars (like ships) are female!

    They are expensive, require attention, and today they have bells and buzzers and lights and stuff to tell you what to do!

    But Cherry is a good name. So is Cherry Stripper.

    But, you see, in the furniture repair and re-finishing business, Cherry Stripper used to be a brand name for a chemical that would remove the finish off furniture, and strip it down to bare wood, to be re-finished.

    And with that comment I better run!

      1. You’ve nevver seen my driving, have you? ;}’
        Inside I am suave, sophisticated, and debonair, a secret agent, for a powerful imperial Princess. A Sean Connery type Bond. In real life, I am the exact opposite.

        But the new car looks great. Of course, we can no longer call you the “Red Lady”. Instead, I guess you are now Madame Egge Plante. Captain of the the Daring Cherry. A Starship of wit, class, wisdom, sarcasm, and literacy!

      2. 🙂 Yeah, and inside I’m Danica Patrick. I know what you mean. (I claim my lead foot’s the result of being born across the street from the Daytona International Speedway.) I like “Captain of the Daring Cherry.” That’ll work, as will “a Starship of wit, class, wisdom, sarcasm, and literacy” with a “warped humor drive.”

  2. I’m so glad you are ok, but ribs can hurt a lot when damaged! I’m so glad your son wasn’t in the vehicle with you. Gave me chills to read that.

    Cool story and reason for naming your car, ‘Cherry’… but I have to be honest and say that I don’t name my vehicles.

    My husband does though. He even named his motorbike, Raven (black in color).

    Have to add, my husband said, “I would never buy a vehicle that sounds like a bodily function.” (Fiat) Lol.

  3. Indeed – I found that out! Fortunately, the worst of the pain only lasted a week. They didn’t rule out “broken” at the ER, but said that sometimes breaks only showed up weeks later as “healing.” Provided nothing was broken so badly as to be dislocated and poking vital organs, treatment’s the same – anti-inflammatories and painkillers. It hurt worse and worse, until one day it didn’t hurt anymore. 🙂 I don’t even remember it gradually feeling better – just that it stopped hurting at some point.

    You can see a picture of the Hybrid after the accident if you click the link below. The worst of it is the stupid, mental “what if” games we play with ourselves after something like this. “What if someone had been riding with me?” Or, “What if I hadn’t managed to honk the horn and pull around like I did, and plowed into the truck at full speed?” (At least he hadn’t had a chance to get it up to 35 mph yet – he was pulling out of a parking lot. I wouldn’t even have had time to brake.) “What if he’d pushed me into oncoming traffic?” “What if someone had plowed into us both from behind?” So many things could have made this so much worse. I drive by a fire station, frequently, that has a car out front that some teens died in in an after-prom, drunk driving incident. It looks like it’s been through a trash compactor – it no longer bears much resemblance to a car. There are many worse accidents out there, every day.

    That’s really NOT a comforting thought.

    The one thing that’s helping, now, is to be driving a car that’s so much like my last one that it FEELS like my car. That has helped with the tension and nerves. I still flinch when trucks pull out from the right or speed into the “suicide lane” next to me – there are SO many big trucks here in Texas! but it’s not quite as bad as it was in the first month. I’m not quite ready to take it for a spin on the 610 Loop, though.

    1. Sorry about your accident, glad you weren’t seriously hurt. Are you sure your 2005 Honda was equipped with curtain airbags and side airbags? These are the ones that would deploy if you are hit on the side of the vehicle or if the car rolls over. The driver and passenger bags only go off if you are hit head-on or up to a 30 angle from head-on.

      1. I’m not sure, no – I thought it was equipped with the side airbags, and even the dealer seemed surprised that none went off. It looks like it was standard equipment for the Hybrid, but I wonder if – even if it had them – they would only be “on” if there HAD been a passenger on that side of the car? (I can’t see how it would’ve been helpful to me to have them deploy, at the point, since I was the only one in there. It was just something a lot of people have asked, and I don’t have a good answer for it.)

  4. Holly, I hated to hear about your car wreck, but hopefully you are fine.

    It is funny you asked that question because I have an Acura TL and I appropriately named him Mr.Ackwright (play on words)

    I do not normally have cars long enough to get attached, but I love my Acura and it is fast.

    Those are some funny names. Old Pewter. Wow

    1. Thanks, Michael! What a great name for your Acura. Why don’t you normally have cars long enough to get attached? Dare I ask? 🙂

      My husband likes leasing, but I like driving MY OWN CAR. I like keeping them a long time, too – and would’ve hung onto that last one another 3-5 years, at least. (At 9.5 years, it had just barely over 48K miles on it.) I had it long enough that the high tech features of the new one still throw me – like that push button starter. I’m still looking for the keys in my purse… then wondering why and putting them back.

  5. Ah, I forgot that bit…there is likely an occupant classification system in the passenger seat. This tells the restraints control module if a person is in the passenger seat. (or if there is a baby seat, or an object). (Yes, I work in automotive restraints, LOL!)So, now you have an answer!

    1. Thanks, Laura! That’s a good answer, because like I said, I can’t imagine it being more than another annoyance had it gone off, under the circumstances – BUT, can you imagine how livid I’d be if my son had been sitting next to me and it had actually malfunctioned, and not gone off?? He was very pleased with all the safety features of my new car.

    2. So you’re: Danica Patrick.
      I had more bat girl or cat woman in mind. Wonder woman, maybe, but who the HELLA wants an invisible car? The grey one was very visible, except to the pickup truck driver. Maybe he was trying to pick up a hot babe, and had no other idea as how to get introduced? I know. He’s not your type!

      YOU claim your lead foot’s the result of being born across the street from the Daytona International Speedway.

      Howl! So how to you explain my friend Lesley’s lead foot? (She drives a standard, because automatics have no get up and go. She scares the Heck out of me, but is accident free, and is an ace driver. Oh she has had accidents, the other people hit her — and plead guilty! Donkeys!) Or my nieces’s lead feet? I’d comment about my sister but at the ripe old age of 60 some, she has slowed down a tiny bit.
      I claim I got mine from my mum. When she drove, she DROVE!

      YOU like “Captain of the Daring Cherry.” That’ll work, as will “a Starship of wit, class, wisdom, sarcasm, and literacy” with a “warped humor drive.”
      Definitely the Warped Humor Drive. Warped, but amusing, witty, bright, charming, funny, and cheering. As in often cheers me up.
      We could also add biting, sarcastic, and dangerous. But, Maybe I better not….
      The Red Queen has already decided my head is an un-needed option to the rest of me. Of course, several other people, want the head first. As a candy dish. Bon-bon, anyone? One has said it would be the first time anything would be inside it! Chocolate Bwaiiins! Yummy!
      I am so sweet….!!!
      And humble, too!

  6. I didn’t know that people were naming their cars! That’s great 🙂 I am a baby name researcher myself so found this post really interesting, thank you !

    1. Well, I’m sure you can do much more damage picking out the wrong name for a child, Amanda! 😉

      I’ve named cars for over 40 years. But it’s like the characters in my book – I can propose names, but they name themselves. They accept or reject the names. It fits or it doesn’t. The trick is to listen.

      1. The trick is to listen…I never thought it like that. Maybe you are right, but the problem is that most people run so much in their lives that they forget to sit down, relax and listen….thanks for adding a new view, much appreciated.

  7. I don’t name my car, but my grandmother did. The only car that we ever named was our Mazda GLC when I was growing up–Grand Little Car. I do talk to my car, however. Does that mean anything??

    1. Next time you’re talking to your car, Ruth, ask it what it’s name is. You might just be surprised.

      I ran all these suggestions by the car (yep, even “Prince,” though if a car could stick its tongue out… its reply was, “Razzberry Beret, maybe!”)

      🙂 Seriously, if it has enough personality that you talk to it, I’ll bet it already has a name, if you listen.

  8. Well, I also use to name cars. Even my car’s name is blueny because his color is blue and it’s small one. Just perfect for me.

    1. I like mid-sized cars. I’m always torn between my desire for small, economic, and maneuverable – and BIG, SAFE, TANK. (Part of me wants a Hummer with machine-gun mounts. A video game company was giving one of those away, years ago, and I’ll admit that some small part of me wanted to win it – until the saner part realized that would just scream, “GAME ON!” to some folks with real guns.) But given how my last car was demolished by a monster-sized pickup truck, and how much folks love pickup trucks and SUVs around here, driving a little car is just scary. I drove a bright RED Geo Metro, once – a rental – and three trucks tried to change lanes on top of me on the Beltway. A good strong wind almost blew me off the elevated portion of the road, too. I need something…heavier. More noticeable. 🙂 And this one, at least, has econ mode. I get pretty good mileage with it.

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