10 Vehicles Named After Animals
From the Ford Mustang to the Dodge Viper, explore the vehicular animal kingdom in this special car safari
Choosing what to name a vehicle is an important decision to make during that model’s design process. Names like “Corvette,” “Civic,” and “Mustang” have only become iconic and recognizable due to automakers carefully selecting those titles.
Automakers often obtain inspiration for vehicle nameplates from a wide range of sources. One of the most common of these sources is the animal kingdom. Evoking the names of certain animals often helps motorists envision exactly what they can look forward to when they get behind the wheel of these vehicles.
With so many cars and trucks that borrow names from wild creatures, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Therefore, The News Wheel is ready to serve as your personal guide on this car-based safari of vehicles named after animals.
What’s in a Name?: The Meaning Behind the Names of Dodge’s Vehicles
Considered by many to be the most iconic American automobile, the Ford Mustang changed the scope of the industry when it was first introduced in the 1960s. With the Mustang having created the class of “pony car” vehicles, it should come as no surprise that the model has always possessed a sizable amount of horsepower. That performance has much in common with the unbridled nature of the wild mustang the Ford model is named after.
Few vehicles possess the same performance capabilities as the Dodge Viper. With precise handling and a ton of power under the hood, the Viper snakes along the track, much like its reptilian namesake. Unfortunately, the Viper is on the path to becoming an extinct species, as Dodge is discontinuing it this year.
Although Volkswagen is the largest automotive company in the world, many motorists usually envision only one vehicle when they hear the Volkswagen name: the Beetle. Indeed, this insect-inspired car once dominated American motorways. While they might be more of a rarity now than in the past, there are still plenty around for a good old game of “Punch Buggy.”
The Ford Mustang is undeniably the most famous muscle car to emerge from the 1960s. However, the Plymouth Barracuda actually predated the Mustang by two weeks. Its namesake is just as appropriate as the Mustang’s, as the Barracuda is one of the fiercest and fastest fish in the sea. Although the ‘Cuda hasn’t emerged in quite some time, rumors of its triumphant return are constantly circulating.
The Chevrolet Impala is a perfect example of when a vehicle becomes more well-known than the animal it’s named after. The impala is one of the fastest species of antelopes in the world, reaching speeds of approximately 50 mph. While the modern Chevy Impala might be a bit more subdued than its muscular predecessor, it still has that antelope-esque agility where it counts.
The panda bear is the most iconic animal from China. To find its vehicular counterpart, we instead need to head to Italy, home to the Fiat brand. The Fiat Panda is a compact vehicle perfect for city driving. One might even go so far as to call the Panda “cute,” much like its cuddly namesake.
Most vehicles named after birds adopt the titles of fierce raptors, like an eagle or falcon. However, one of the Buick brand’s most iconic cars is named after a much less terrifying avian example: the skylark. While certainly frightening to a worm or insect, the skylark is a much gentler feathered friend than its predatory cousins, perhaps demonstrating Buick’s desire to bring a dose of subtle refinement to the compact cars of the ’60s and ’70s.
At the start of the 1980s, Nissan was looking to enter into the luxury car segment. In order to do so, the automaker assembled the Nissan Leopard, a Japanese-exclusive sedan that was designed to be both majestic and powerful, much like an actual leopard. While most of Nissan’s luxury endeavors now exist within the Infiniti brand, the legacy of the leopard continues to this day.
While the Hudson Hornet may have only had a production life of seven years, its legacy has lasted much longer than that. The “Fabulous” Hudson Hornet gained recognition during its NASCAR racing tenure and, more recently, from the Cars movie franchise. As Doc Hudson would say, the Hornet floats like a Cadillac, but stings like a Beemer.
Automakers not only use animal names for their vehicles; they often use those names for their own brands as well. Ram might have been spun off from the Dodge Ram vehicle lineup, but it decided to stick with the “Ram” title for its official brand name. That decision makes sense, as the Ram family of pickup tucks embodies the tough and rugged nature of mountain rams.
Buick Name Origins: The Meaning Behind the Names of Buick’s Vehicles
When it comes to vehicle models that are named after animals, this is only a small selection. Feel free to share your favorite animal-inspired vehicle name in the comments below.
Zachary Berry currently resides in the Dayton, Ohio area. However, he enjoys traveling from place to place, as he was born in Oklahoma City and has also lived in Albuquerque and Orlando (such is the life of a military brat). Zachary graduated from Ohio University with a major in Strategic Communication, which is fancy talk for advertising and public relations. Beginning his career at The News Wheel as a lowly intern, he was able to climb his way to the top, eventually claiming his place within the last cubicle on the left. Other jobs that Zachary has held include driving around a safari truck at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When he’s not putting his nose to the grindstone, Zachary enjoys watching and critiquing movies and television. See more articles by Zachary.