Why Do People Name Their Cars After Women?

While sitting here quarantined in my house in Florida because of the Covid-19 virus and tired of landscaping, cleaning, organizing, packing, and about any and everything else one can think of when alone and 1200 miles from home, I received a call from Mary Anne Demo, Executive Director of the Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby Township, Michigan.  In the process of going over Proving Grounds business, the subject of “which Packard did I have in Florida with me” came up.  When I replied “Margaret,” she chuckled and asked, “Why did you name your Packard?”  That answer I will reveal later, but that question got me to think, “Why do people, especially men, name their cars and why usually a feminine name?” A quick look through the Millennium’s version of the Encyclopedia Britannica on Google.com brought up a wide and varied number of opinions as to the origin of this practice.  It seems that this act is practiced by both men and women, even though men are more likely to do this.  Both sexes tend to name their cars after the opposite gender. Maybe we both have a secret wish or hidden agenda.  Since being a man, I will give the male version of why I think we do it and then why I do it. The practice is considered to be a carryover from the sailing days of old where ships were named after women or goddesses.  In the case of naming them after women, it was to honor or pay homage to some influential female of the ship’s owner.  In the case of a goddess, the owner was trying to appease that goddess of ancient times so she would protect his ship as it sailed through the storms and the monster- and demon-laden oceans and seas they traveled. Other opinions are that these ships of old would safely carry their crews in their bellies to far off ports of call and deliver them safely to their destination just as a mother who carries her unborn child until she safely delivers it into the world.  These ships would provide the crew with protection, food, warmth and safety as the crew’s mothers did when they were growing up.  There is also the opinion that in the eyes of men, women and automobiles both share a number of qualities and are many times referred to using the same words.  Now ladies, please do not judge me as being sexist.  I am just relaying what I have read, heard and seen throughout my life of collecting and enjoying the company of one and the ownership of the other.  I have heard cars referred to as having nice lines, beautiful, having great body lines, hot, better looking with the top down and, as Kim Darby referred to John Wayne in the movie True Grit, comfortable.  Also, the more exotic one is, the higher the maintenance cost.  Whether any of these is true is left up the individual reader.  In any case, the practice has carried down for thousands of years and is not likely to change in the future. As for me, I have owned seven 1933 Packards, a 1962 Cadillac, and a 1987 Lincoln throughout my 51 years of owning antique cars, buying my first one at 18 years old, one month before I entered the U. S. Army.  I have named every one of them.  Why? I name them for three reasons: one is for practical purposes, one is to stir up old memories, and one is to honor and pay homage to the person I bought the car from.  Yes, I have bought every car from or by the way of a woman, except the 1962 Cadillac whose owner was a widower.  Now, for the practical purpose reasoning, when talking with someone who knows or has known me for a long time and knows my collection fairly well, I find it easier to refer to any of my given cars during the conversation by using its name rather than its description.  Like this: “yesterday I put the motor back into Fifi” vs “yesterday I put the motor back into my first 1933 Packard 1001 603 Sedan that I purchased in May of 1969 from my aunt and uncle.”  For me it is just easier.  The second reason is when I refer to any of my cars by their names, I mentally see that person, which gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling because in most cases they are no longer with us.  My final reason it is my way of honoring that person and keeping their memory alive.  Like every time I refer to Margaret, there is a Packard aficionado who smiles both inside and outside. Next I would like to introduce you to my stable of beautiful ladies and my one gentleman. To be continued.

On to part 2