List: Top 11 Animal-Themed Vehicle Names of All Time

By Winding Road Staff

July 17, 2008


#11 AMC Eagle Large, strong, and appropriately applied in airbrush on truck windows or cross-stitched on your aunt’s sweater, the eagle is about as good as it gets for built-in symbolism. With a large wing span, miles-long eyesight and a strong, curved beak for tearing apart flesh, how could AMC ever go wrong when building a car with the Eagle name? Don’t get us wrong—we love lifted all-wheel-drive vehicles, but there’s nothing in the way of overlap between the two. And other than the Talon, the Eagle brand never did anything for us, either.


#10 Fiat Panda Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the Fiat Panda in 1980 to be cheap, basic and easy to maintain. The name Panda couldn’t be more fitting—don’t the bears consume 99% of their diet from bamboo alone? Seems simple to us. The black-and-white bears fall from a higher spot on our list due to their occasional mean streak.


#9 Buick Skylark The small passerine bird species migrates south during the winter, which matches quite well with the demographic of the Buick buyer. But, the Skylark is only native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa, making its connection to the U.S. market iffy at best.


#8 Plymouth Roadrunner While the Plymouth V-8 street machine employed the Warner Brothers-licensed decals and even the “beep beep” horn, it’s hard to find a connection between the cuckoo bird and the car. The bird stays mostly on the ground to chase after its prey—very much a shared characteristic of its muscle car brethren, but let’s be honest: the roadrunner is a rather limp-wristed bird to match to a muscle car, no?


#7 Ford Bronco Definition: “An untrained horse that habitually bucks.” Sounds about right to us.


#6 Jaguar (the entire lineup) The big cats are known for their speed and their unique method of killing: biting their prey between the ears to crush the brain. While we can’t find any examples of Jaguar’s cars doing the same, it is fitting that the cat is a threatened species and its population figures are dwindling. Perhaps all Jaguars should move to India for protection.


#5 Ford Falcon Falcon might be the best name a car company could ever use for a vehicle—consider that the Perregrine falcon is believed to be the fastest animal on earth, reaching speeds of over 120 mph when dropping from the sky to snatch prey. Unfortunately, Ford never built a vehicle for the American market which realized the winged awesomeness of the Falcon name. Although the original 1960 model was successful, it was essentially a no-frills compact car. Ford of Australia has kept the name alive in an interesting sedan variant, but we hope Ford in the U.S. takes another look at this great sky hunter.


#4 Dodge Viper Vipers are known for their long fangs, which allow the predator to hold tight to its prey and inject it with venom. We feel this is almost a perfect match of its vehicular cousin, what with the sports car’s ability to hold the road with its wide stance. It’s almost perfect, save one fact: the snake is discounted for its weak digestive system—something we could never say about the Dodge.


#3 Volkswagen Beetle Small, round, and plentiful, the Coleoptera insects tend to feed voraciously when they emerge as larvae from their eggs. Veedub owners could claim the same about the diminutive car’s appetite for oil and sundry fluids.


#2 Hudson Hornet Hornets are the largest of the wasps, known for a rather portly vertex, or area behind the eyes, and rounded gasters, or that big bubble abdomen section behind a wasp’s waist. Likely due to the period in which it was designed, the Hudson Hornet has a lot of the same going for it—classic bulbous 1950s design, including enclosed rear wheels and a step-in passenger section. Side note: hornets are part of the genus Vespa and therefore would have made an excellent name for the Italian scooter brand of the same name. Non scherzo!


#1 Ford Mustang The small, wild horse of North American origin is perhaps the best ever match to a vehicle brand name. Congress recognized Mustangs as “living symbols of the pioneer spirit of the West” in 1971, something we hope the Ford Motor Company will continue to be able to say about their 2+2 for years to come.

#11 #10 #9 #8 #7 #6 #5 #4 #3 #2 #1

Manufacturers have long relied on symbolism to push their metal on the public, hoping to create a long-lasting connection between their vehicles and a commonly understood concept. No stronger does this play out than in the name of the vehicle itself, where car makers have looked to animal names to imbue a set of characteristics not captured by the spec sheet alone.

In our roundup of the best animal-themed vehicle names of all time, we took a tact that few list mavens have ever taken before with this popular pub topic: which vehicle / animal combinations actually match? While we’d all love to give the #1 slot to the Volkswagen Tiguan for ingenuity (it’s the manic crossbreed of a tiger and iguana), the vehicle has little to do with either. Take a look at our above list and let us know in if we completely let you down by sending the Stutz Bearcat packing.