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Story by Lois Grace

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 I would?

You 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.

Dad 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".

And 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 this.

My 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 it seems.

But 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 VOLTSwagen".

Of 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 home.

I 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".


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