Why do people name their cars?

23rd Apr, 2019

They say talking to yourself is the first sign of madness. Whether or not that’s true, one thing’s for certain – talking to your car certainly isn’t. In fact, naming your car is surprisingly common, and almost everybody knows at least one person who’s done it. The question is, why? Well surprisingly enough, experts think the answer has a lot to do with why humans are the dominant species on this planet. Our ability to recognise sentience in another creature is directly linked to our superior evolutionary intelligence, and is key to our social development as a species. That’s why, subconsciously, we’re constantly making these psychological connections – to other people, animals, and yes, even our cars!

But will that make it more difficult when the time comes to scrap your car? Only you can know the answer to that!

Why we choose names for our cars

Naming our cars isn’t a new phenomenon. After all, people have been giving human names to inanimate vehicles and vessels for centuries. All the way back in the 1500s, Henry VIII had a prized ship he proudly called the Mary Rose, and even today, ships are referred to using female pronouns by default. (Boaty McBoatface, of course, was one recent example to rock this trend.) Cars are especially prone subjects for this sort of anthropomorphism, partially because they have very recognisable faces.

Now, here’s where it gets especially interesting. Our tendency to see faces in things is an innate evolutionary trait, and in fact was once a vital survival skill, enabling us to instantly tell the difference between a likely friend and a likely predator. These days, we’re thankfully less likely to get mauled by prowling jungle creatures on the way to work, so we recognise faces in inanimate objects instead. It’s the starting point for many of the personalities we give our cars, while the time we spend with them help us to further shape our idea of their qualities, behavioural traits, and their likes and dislikes.

Shared experiences can provide a powerful basis for emotional connection, and we go through a lot of experiences with our cars. They can be there on our first dates, our cross-country journeys, our driving holidays abroad. They can be our only companions on long, rainy nights spent on the side of the road, waiting for rescue. Through these sorts of experiences, we project qualities like loyalty, eagerness and grumpiness. And finally, that most famous human-like attribute – unpredictability. The many, many things that can potentially go wrong with even the most reliable of cars all contributes to their air of unpredictability, and it’s one of the core reasons we start to think of them as almost human. After all, how many times have you heard someone talk about how their car ‘doesn’t like’ certain driving conditions?

How to choose your car’s name

Even if you didn’t have a name for your car before you started reading, chances are you now have one in mind already! If you’re struggling for inspiration, though, there are a couple of ways you can get the ball rolling. First of all, take the time to get to know your car. All cars start out as blank slates, and it usually takes at least a few weeks, if not months, to work out the essence of its personality. You could start by narrowing down some of its most basic qualities. Is it male, female, or gender neutral? We’ve all heard people say someone “looks like a James” or “looks like a Becky”. The same can be said for your car.

You could think about the qualities you’ve mentally assigned it already, alongside some of its physical attributes. Is it big and burly, or small and shy? Is it bold and brightly coloured, or more modest and reserved in its colour scheme? Is it sturdy and reliable, or flighty and jittery? Don’t forget, there’s nothing to say you have to have regular names, like Geoff or Ellie, or Minerva. You can look to fiction for inspiration; your little Ford Focus can strike fear into other drivers as He Who Must Not Be Named, or a pristine Nissan Micra can forge a new reputation for itself as the White Wizard. If you’d like, you may even prefer to go even more obscure with names like the SS Freedom, the Joyful Itinerant, or the Stygian Depths of Ennui. Alternatively, you can keep it simple with something like ‘Dad’, for endless farcical potential at home.

What about manufacturer names?

By all means take some inspiration! There are some awesome monikers out there; Viper, Cobra, Thunderbird. Equally though, caution is a virtue, as there are some corkers on the other side of the coin. The Mazda Carol Me Lady springs to mind (yes, it’s real), as does the Honda Life Dunk. We don’t know what it means, but we definitely don’t want our lives dunked, not even by Honda. We’re almost certain that nobody does. That said, of course, it’s all a matter of personal taste. When it comes to naming your car, as long as it’s not offensive, the world is your oyster!

There is one downside to naming your vehicle, though – when the time finally comes to scrap your car, it can make it that much harder to say goodbye. Here at Scrap Car Network, we promise to do right by you and your trusty steed by recycling it efficiently and responsibly, and helping out some fantastic charitable causes as we do so. You can read more about our charitable causes here, or simply enter your car reg and postcode into the fields above to get an instant scrap car quote!