I’ve always thought that animal names make fantastic car names. They’re visceral and evocative and loaded with personality. If you said you drove a 1985 Mongrel Cheetah, I’d have a pretty good sense of what that car is like. Or a 1998 DNF Bison. Or a 1964 Zintar Sparrow. You get it. Right now, in the jet-pack-image-evoking year 2018, there’s over a dozen cars still named for animals in America. Update: I added a couple more I forgot.
Personally, I don’t think this number is nearly enough. But, for major auto manufacturers at least, this seems to be all we have.
Of this limited set, most are fast, large land mammals, though there’s insects, arachnids and reptiles represented in the mix as well. One’s sorta fictitious, but I’m counting it.
Until recently, we could have counted some snakes in the mix, the Dodge Viper and Cobra variants of the Mustang (a rare two-animal name car!) but 2018 doesn’t offer any more snakes. You can get a Mustang modified into a Shelby Super Snake, but I’m just looking at mainstream cars you can buy off a lot for this list.
Oh, and for the cars on this list, I’ve added hood decals of their animals, because, like the mighty Firebird or a Jeep Golden Eagle, every good animal-named car needs a huge hood decal with that animal.
So, as far as I can tell, if your primary car-buying criteria is that it must be named for a beast, here’s what you have to pick from:
1. Chevrolet Impala
A legacy name from the days of more common animal nomenclature, the Impala’s a pretty good animal to have as any. It is a prey animal, which may be an issue for some, though.
2. Ford Mustang
Possibly the most famous animal-named car available right now, the Mustang’s namesake is an obvious choice for a car that wants to evoke speed and literal horsepower. Also a holdover from the Golden Age of animal names.
4. Porsche Cayman
Cayman (or caiman) is sort of a weird choice, since alligators and crocodiles don’t exactly have the biggest fan clubs in the human world, especially among Floridians who own small dogs. Still, it’s a tough, quick animal, so why not?
5. Volkswagen Beetle
The original Beetle wasn’t officially named ‘Beetle’ at first—it was just Type I Sedan. Beetle was a nickname that stuck, and became ‘official’ sometime in the 1970s. Beetles are tough, capable little bastards, so I think it’s still a good name.
6. Fiat 124 Spider
‘Spider’ or ‘spyder’ is really a name for a type of roadster, generally, but Fiat has it as part of the official name of the car, so it counts. Spiders are lithe and interesting and a little threatening, so I think they work well for a sports car.
7. Ram Trucks
This is the name of a whole division, but that counts. Rams are tough, with big horns. Trucks are tough with loud horns. That works.
Like Ram, this is the name of the company as opposed to individual car models, but, again, I’m counting that. Jaguars are fantastic animals to represent a maker of fast, potent, elegant cars. They’re always in such good shape, too. I’ve never seen a flabby jaguar.
9. Lamborghini Urus
I had to look this up, but an urus is a form of auroch, which is a sort of wild cattle. In the wild, they died out in 1627, but there’s still some in captivity, and soon to be some in the parking lot of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles.
10. Dodge Hellcat
Hellcat is sort of a trim level for a number of models, but, screw it, it counts. Cats are nimble and fast and agile, and if you add ‘hell’ to that, I guess that makes them tough and scary? I bet they’re not thinking of a housecat with horns and sin in its heart, though.
11. Dodge Charger
A charger is a sort of horse! That counts!
12. Porsche Macan
Did you know ‘macan’ was Indonesian for tiger? I sure as hell didn’t, until our own David Tracy told me. Thanks a lot, David. I wanted to get off work, already.
Am I missing any? Probably. Some clever commenter always seems to find something. If so, please, have at it. If not, then, well, let’s hope the industry does better and starts using more animal names for cars.
UPDATE: Yep, I forgot some obvious ones. You reminded me, so thanks. Instead of thanking everyone who suggested these in the comments, please take this blanket, group thanks. Here they are:
13. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
How did I forget this one? It’s not uncommon, and they even have a little sting ray on the badge. Jeez.
14. Ford Taurus
In my defense, everyone forgets there’s still a Taurus (Spanish for bull). I think it’s the second time this week I’ve forgotten about it.
15. Ford Raptor
Oh, right. Raptors are a class of bird! Totally blanked on that one.
16. Jeep [Model Name] Trail Hawk
Hawks can fly, which makes me skeptical they bother with trails, but Jeep does use this name, and hawks are animals, so, there you go.
17. Volkswagen Tiguan
This one is a little odd, since the name is actually a portmanteau of two animals, tiger and iguana, that Volkswagen has been attempting to breed together in their illegal, underground animal husbandry labs. But what the hell, we’ll count it.