If you like to name your car, you're not alone
Recently, I wrote a column about my brother's habit of naming cars. It turns out he's not alone. Many of you name your cars despite the fact that when a mechanical object breaks, talking to it will not coax it into working again. Similarly, when something runs well, a compliment will not ensure its continued operation, even if you call your car by its surname.
But such logic falls flat when it comes to cars. After all, we love them so much, we name them like family pets.
Donna Lemoine of Virginia Beach, Va., does. "My dad was raising three small girls on his own," she wrote in an email. "Getting a used or new car didn't come easy."
But once he did get a new ride, she said that her and her sisters would name it, from Rufus the Renault to Charlie the Corvair.
"Most of our cars were male, but when I purchased my first car, a powder blue Mercury Comet, I named her Mary."
These days, Donna drives a Toyota RAV4 named Ruby.
Not everyone gives their vehicle a normal name. Sometimes, names are given out of frustration. Just ask York Winston of Chesapeake, Va., whose family member named her car after an environmental catastrophe.
"When my oldest daughter was in high school, she had a 1983 Oldsmobile that leaked so much oil, we called the car the Valdez."
M.D. Ridge of Norfolk, Va., hasn't named any cars, but those around him have, usually out of a similar sense of annoyance. "A guitarist friend ... had a huge Chevy station wagon named Squeak, for obvious reasons, but it could carry masses of guitars, amps and road gear."
Ridge's brother was a bit more straightforward. "Back in the '60s," Ridge writes, "my brother had a disheveled Volvo named Ebba, after a Swedish girlfriend."
No word on how his girlfriend felt about sharing a name with an automobile generally viewed as boring, sturdy and safe.
For some, logic has little to do with their car's name.
Ken Stadden, who read my column in his newspaper in Lancaster, Pa., falls into this category. He and his wife inexplicably named their 1986 Saab 900 Turbo Dune Buggy and their 1988 Dodge Raider Raider Heimer. A 1991 Saab 9000 Turbo was named Dune Buggy Junior.
Still, like the Staddens, I think the best names are those that display a sense of humor. Their blue 1998 BMW 328i was named Frau Blue Car. (For those of you who have not seen the Mel Brooks film "Young Frankenstein," well, you've missed the joke.)
I admit, this whole business of endowing cars with human attributes may seem a bit silly. After all, most people just prefer to call their cars reliable, fuel-efficient, fast, handsome or comfortable.
And if you do, while I admire your logic, I might politely suggest that you lighten up a little.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Larry Printz is automotive editor at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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