I don’t really know the process manufacturers follow to name a car, but I’m sure the approval protocol involves a long list of people. CEOs, CMOs, product planners—all have some kind of input in creating the name of a new model. And some carmakers have come up with brilliant names over the years that have helped shape the automotive industry. From menacing names like Huracán to cute names like Beetle, there are many interesting car names in the U.S. and around the world. Here’s a list with 15 cool car names, plus three of the best car names we can find south of the border.
Built between 1990 and 2001, the Lamborghini Diablo tops this list. Its brilliant name means “devil” in Spanish, and with such an intimidating look and a V-12 engine in the back, there’s no denying this is a beast any way you look at it.
Ford F-150 Raptor
The meanest, most menacing off-road truck Ford builds has the right name. The Ford Raptor gets its name from birds of prey and (of course) the velociraptor. Among all of the names Ford considered, this is by far one of the best car names of the industry.
Italian and Spanish names sound better in English-speaking countries, and the Testarossa is no exception. It literally means “redhead” in Italian—the name is inspired by the red finish of Ferrari valve covers—but no matter what color it is, the Testarossa looks handsome.
Porsche 911 Carrera
Carrera means “race” in Spanish, and this Porsche delivers. The name came from the Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico, where Porsche had many class victories. Since then, the 911 Carrera has had a long history of delivering race-like driving dynamics to enthusiasts.
The name Interceptor was originally used in 1950 when British car manufacturer Jensen Motors revealed its second car after World War II. The Jensen Interceptor came back in 1966 as a hand-built grand touring car, with just over 6,000 units produced in a decade. Whether you like its design or not, Interceptor is a cool car name that later became associated with Ford police cars.
As you probably already know, huracán means “hurricane” in Spanish, and a name like that would only suit a handful of brands. Thankfully, Lamborghini is one of those. With its 5.2-liter V-10, 602 hp, and 2.8 second sprint from 0 to 60 mph, the Huracán has one of the best car names, and it suits the car aptly.
Ferrari 812 Superfast
The word “super” makes any name attractive. Especially on a Ferrari. And especially when you attach the word “fast” at the end. The Ferrari 812 Superfast, with 789 horsepower coming out of its V-12 engine, is a super-fast Ferrari and also one of the most interesting car names.
Before the Jeep Gladiator came out, there were rumors about the Comanche name coming back. But we’re happy Jeep went with a different and more appealing classic Jeep name for a truck like the Gladiator. Although it’s not fast like the Raptor, it tackles off-road trails like few can, and it has one of the best car names in the industry.
Land Rover Defender
The Land Rover Defender joins the Jeep Wrangler and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class as the world’s iconic off-roaders, but the Defender has the most interesting name by far. We’re very excited to see the new generation stateside and can’t wait to drive it on U.S. soil.
Even if you don’t know its meaning, the word “wraith” sounds scary. And it is. Although the Rolls-Royce Wraith isn’t as scary as its ghostly name suggests, its iconic suicide doors and body style have made it an expensive luxury car since 2013. And it also has one of the most interesting car names in the industry.
The cute, cheap, and capable off-roader made it to America in 1985, but its production came to an end just a few years later. The Suzuki Samurai didn’t win many battles, but it carried a cool car name that stood out in the industry.
The name is cute. The car is charming. The Volkswagen Beetle has unfortunately ceased production after a long and iconic life. A rear-engine economy car, the Beetle was very tight for five passengers, but its reliability and adorable looks made it popular. In Mexico, the car became widely known as the Vocho, Spanish slang for “bug,” and that’s a cool car name, too.
It’s one of the sports cars we miss the most. The Dodge Viper’s production came to an end in 2017, and it was one of the most fun and affordable supercars in the industry. It also has one of the most brilliant car names ever.
Named after the beloved Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna, the McLaren Senna pays tribute to one of the best professional drivers ever. As Bruno Senna, Ayrton’s nephew, said, “The McLaren Senna honors my uncle because it is so utterly focused upon the driver and their absolute connection with the vehicle. This engagement, these sensory cues that the driver responds to and relies upon, the whole immersive experience, has been at the heart of the development from the very start.”
OK, this may not be one of the most brilliant car names, but I always joke that the Ford Cortina was named after my family. Although the Cortina was named after the famous Italian ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo, its name is among the coolest (for me, at least).
South of the Border Cool Car Names
Not to be confused with the Oldsmobile Toronado, the Chevrolet Tornado is a small utility truck sold in Mexico for light-duty jobs. It’s unfortunate that Chevy Mexico chose a cool car name for such a tiny, nerdy pickup.
For years, the Ford F-150 has been sold as the Lobo in Mexico, but the truck is just the same. Lobo means “wolf” in Spanish, and the name applies perfectly to the F-150. In fact, the F-150 should be called that in America.
The Spanish-brand Seat has a wise nomenclature for its models. Every model is named after a Spanish town—León and Ibiza are two of the brand’s most popular models. The Seat Tarraco, however, is named after the Catalonian town of Tarragona, which is located on the Mediterranean coast, south of Barcelona.