It’s reported that over a quarter of drivers name their cars. I was really surprised by that…I would actually have thought that figure would be higher.
I have always had a name for my car. For the most part the name came quite easily, I didn’t really have to think about. The cars almost named themselves. And they’ve all been girls – except for one; a big tank of an old Volvo that I just couldn’t give a girls name to, so I called him Brutus. I’ve had Evie the Escort (my first car) and Carrie (so named because HBO features on her number plate and that’s the station that Sex and the City was on).
But it got me thinking as to WHY I liked to name my cars. And I give actual proper names, not nick-names like ‘silver bullet’ or ‘easy rider’. Or my personal favourite – the Crudmobile! Nope, I offer an actual person’s name. (I know you’re possibly thinking I’m a little nutty and there’s nothing wrong with that, but just to confirm I KNOW it’s a car, I don’t christen it or anything but I am sad when it dies).
As humans, naming machines goes way way back in history. It even has a name…to anthropomorphize! It’s a way of commenting on the jobs they do and, actually, instilling a bit of trust in them. There was a Howitzer called Big Bertha, Davey Crockett called his Rifles several different types of Betsy and Edinburgh Castle houses the huge Mons Meg cannon.
But history also shows us it was actually way of men yielding control over the machine, and perhaps reflected the standing of women in community in the past. Most machines are given female names; cars and boats are almost always referred to as she; ‘isn’t she a beauty’, ‘she’s working really hard’ or ‘check out her interior’ and so on. How many times have your heard you dad/brother/uncle use a similar phrase. That’s right, naming a car is not reserved for flighty (dare I say blonde) women. Men have been doing it for centuries and still are.
The AA did a bit of research and discovered that 30% of those who did name a car worked out the name from the number plate, while others chose the make/model or colour and a few went for just a name they like. Celebrities featured too, as did the word ‘blue’ such as Bluebell and then, of course, there’s always the grouch who says ‘people who name their cars shouldn’t be allowed on the road’. That’s a little extreme.
But there is something to be said for people, especially young people, naming a car and over 70% of young people who own a car have named it. It gives it a personality, makes it ‘real’. Not in an ‘I’m a real boy Pinocchio’ kind of way but in a way that gives younger, newer drivers a bit of respect and admiration for their vehicles. A car is a dangerous thing and, when misused, is capable of killing a person. If a young diver names their car and that results in them caring for it, looking after it and respecting it capabilities, doesn’t that make roads a whole bunch safer?
Some people spend a lot of time in their cars, schlepping up and down the country and almost living in them and very much depending on them so it’s not really surprising that the car ends up with a name, almost like it’s part of the family.
People talk to their cars …. ‘come on Bluebell, you can do it, if you just get me home I’ll put the good stuff in next time’. I know you’ve done it, you’re sitting their smiling as you read this because you are guilty of chatting to your car.
So if we think it’s part of the family, we talk to it and we perceive it has a personality, why then would we not name our car?
Now I’m off out for a jolly jaunt in Carrie. I might even pop to Oak Road Motor Factors and get her a treat 🚗