Portofino to Cayenne | Car names inspired by places
There are different sources of inspiration for brands to give particular names to their cars and often they are taken from places across the globe
Names for cars are sometimes plainly utilitarian and these days, they’re more often than not alphanumeric. Many are also named after their founders, automotive geniuses and even racing drivers in case of performance brands. But one of the most common methods is to name a car after a place. Due to our love for road trips, we know the value different places bring to our work and the thrills that come along. So, here’s a list of some special cars sold in India that are named after places, incidentally or directly.
It's not surprising to see Ferraris named after towns or cities. We’ve seen the Modena, Maranello, Fiorano, Italia, California and now the Portofino. We will do a separate story on Ferrari cars only, but for now let's focus on the one that's in production and available in India. Ferrari’s California replacement was no longer named after America's coastal state, but rather a charming village in the Italian Riviera. Thanks to its picturesque harbour, colourful buildings and its historical association with artists, Portofino has become an icon of elegance and exclusivity, much like the car that takes its name.
Cayenne, French Guinea
Internally known as the 955 by Porsche but named as the Cayenne for the world, the SUV incidentally borrows the name of the capital of French Guiana, an overseas department of France on the northern coastline of South America. However, the SUV is in fact named after the Cayenne pepper, a moderately hot spice used for flavour. That said, there's nothing moderate about the Cayenne, and it excels in all departments.
Cherokee, North Carolina, USA
Cherokees are federally recognized indigenous people living in the USA and there are towns named after them in some parts of North Carolina. These towns are nearby the Great Smoky Mountains and if I ever had to visit North Carolina and had a Grand Cherokee at my disposal, I would take it off-roading in the trails that are a part of this range, to exploit its supreme off-road capabilities.
Here’s another incidental name. Mulsanne is a commune in Le Mans but that’s not what the Bentley is named after. The super luxury British saloon is named after the Mulsanne Straight, the longest stretch of Circuit de la Sarthe, around which the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place. That said, Bentley also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times between 1924 and 1930, and the Mulsanne pays tribute to those wins in a unique way.
Cayman Islands, UK
The Porsche 718 Cayman derives its name from the 'caiman' alligator species. But it’s said that the Cayman Islands themselves have been named after this member of the alligator family, much like Porsche’s entry-level sportscar. The islands are a part of the British overseas territory and comprise of three islands in total in the western Caribbean Sea.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
The Hyundai Santa Fe has been around for two decades. It was discontinued in India in 2018 after its competitors like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour caught up and undercut the Santa Fe on the pricing front. But there are rumours that its latest iteration might make a comeback. That said, Hyundai's SUV is named after the capital of the American state of New Mexico, popular for its art galleries, culture and tourism.
Accord, New York, USA
In a press release from 1997, Honda stated that the word ‘Accord’ reflected the brand’s desire for ‘accord and harmony between people, society and automobile’. It's highly unlikely that the marketing guys at Honda knew that Accord is also a small village in New York state. However, there’s barely any information available about this village, indicating that it's probably deserted. No way any Honda Accord owners will even think of it in their lifetime.
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Another Hyundai named after another American city. Isn’t Hyundai South Korean? Well, Hyundai cars have generally performed well in the USA and that probably explains why so many of them are named after American cities. Bosses at Hyundai selected this name because of the outdoorsy and adventurous appeal of the Tucson city that resonates well with the personality of this SUV.