It has come to my attention that I
am not (as I originally feared) the
only one on the planet to name my
cars. Over the years, I have taken
lots of teasing about this. Some think
my habit is charming; others want
to know if I name the individual parts
of my cars, like Catherine the Carburetor
or Franky Flywheel. I mean, REALLY.
I wanted to ask this guy if HE named
his kids' parts. You know, like Patty
Pancreas. No? Then why would you think
can tell a lot from a name, and from
as far back as I can remember, our
family cars have had one. Mom and
Dad's first car, a 1948 Chevy, was
named Mortimer. Of course, I wasn't
around then to help name him, but
Mom knew it was a "him"
and chose the name accordingly. Cars
that came after that were just "the
'54 Ford wagon", or "the
Falcon", or "the Jeep".
Of course my sister continued the
"family tradition" by naming
her 1965 Corvair Monza "Bessie".
No one in my family thought it was
strange to do this, even though my
brothers made fun of the rest of us.
That is, until Vernon came home.
wanted a pickup to haul stuff back
and forth from his property in northern
California, and went looking for a
suitable candidate. Once he found
the battered 1959 VW Single Cab, he
knew his hunt was over. My mother
groaned and the rest of us wondered
why he hadn't bought a "real"
truck. One of my brother's friends
took one look at "the Blue Bomb"
(as Dad always called it) and said
"That is the dumbest-looking
truck I ever saw, even dumber-looking
than my Uncle Vern".
the older brother that laughed at
us for naming our machines? He has
a 1966 Chevy pickup that he bought
when I was a teenager (a LONG time
ago) who answers to the name of "Pete".
And, a 1947 Crosley sedan named "Bing".
(Bing Crosley, get it??) But he still
laughs at the rest of us for doing
Vernon is joined by other VW's with
names: a friend of mine in New Hampshire
has "Bob", the Bug, a friend
in our club has Margaret, Blanche
and Roja. Carmencita has "Karmy",
a 1956 Ghia coupe. Michelle had "Sally",
but sold her a few years ago after
buying her new in 1969. Richard has
"Otto". Jan has "Evan",
a Barndoor Panel Van he named for
the man who bought the van new. Every
Volkswagen has a story, and a name
the thing that surprises me most about
this is that it's not always Volkswagens
that get named. Lots of other cars
are christened too. My friend's Saab
was "Saabrina". My own Saab
was "Kimo Saabie" (what
else?). Her new Lexus is still anonymous,
but rapidly leaning towards "Lola".
Even her husband's BMW became (against
his will of course) "Faye",
because of the license plate that
said so. My mother's 240Z is Zelda,
her 1981 Dasher wagon is "Buster",
and her 1982 Rabbit pickup is "Biff".
My sister's Jetta is Ruby, our Dodge
Ram pickup is "Chuck". Before
Chuck we had Dick, and before that
we had Rick. Going way back, Rob's
first VW was Humphrey, which was how
my matching Beetle became Bogart.
And, my VW friend Thomas had a 2012
Toyota Prius, which was called "The
course people name their cars all
sorts of things, things that are not
always flattering or repeatable. I
knew someone who called his old Ford
"Sh---head". Can you imagine?
No wonder the poor old thing didn't
try. How anxious would you be to please
someone that called you that? My own
dad called Vernon "The Blue Bomb",
even though he knew perfectly well
what the truck's name was - it didn't
seem to matter to Vern. I think he
thought it was an endearing term,
kinda like when Dad used to call my
brother "Buckethead". Sometimes,
we humans don't name our cars, they
simply name themselves. When I bought
my '58 Beetle Cabrio, I struggled
with getting his name just right.
I'd throw each one I thought of at
him and it'd bounce off like opposite
poles on a magnet. Nothing worked
until the day I went out, uncovered
him and he said "I'm OSCAR".
If you listen, they'll tell you this
stuff. Geesh, this past weekend on
a short little vacation trip to the
Central California coast, I found
a very cool early-50's Studebaker
pickup (another beast I'd love to
add to my collection someday) in a
field, and he immediately told me
his name was "Woodrow".
I didn't ask him, but he must have
known my habit, and volunteered. If
I could have, I would have stuffed
Woodrow in my purse and taken him
could go on and on for pages with
this, since I now know that I'm not
alone. I've actually thought it might
be fun to keep a little notebook and
jot down the names of people's cars
as I run across them. People I don't
even know will tell me their cars'
names! It's become a side hobby of
this great VW family we belong to.
So, name your Bugs, Buses and Ghias.
They'll thank you for it. Just don't
call them "Sh-Head".