Ever wondered where does your car name come from? First, let’s start with the word “Automobile”. The name Automobile comes from the Greek word, “auto,” (meaning self) and the Latin word, “mobils,” (meaning moving).

The other popular name for an automobile is the car. The word car is derived from Celtic word “carrus,” (meaning cart or wagon).

Below is the list of most popular cars and the origin of their names:

Alfa Romeo – The Company was originally known as ALFA, an acronym for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. When Nicola Romeo bought ALFA in 1915, his surname was appended.


Aston Martin – from the “Aston Hill” races (near Aston Clinton in the UK) where the company was founded, and the surname of Lionel Martin, the company’s founder.

Audi – Latin translation of the German name “Horch.” The founder August Horch left the company after five years, but still wanted to manufacture cars. Since the original “Horch” company was still there, he called his new company Audi, the Latin form of his last name. In English it is “hark.”

BMWBayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). BMW started making planes before moving to cars. And the BMW white and blue logo comes from the Bavarian flag.

Cadillac – named after the 18th century French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, founder of Detroit, Michigan. Cadillac is a small town in the South of France. The company, founded in 1902, was purchased by General Motors in 1909 and survives to this day as a GM brand.


Chevrolet – named after company co-founder Louis Chevrolet, a Swiss-born auto racer. The company was merged into General Motors in 1917 and survives only as a brand name.

Chrysler – named after the company founder, Walter P. Chrysler.

Citroën – named after André-Gustave Citroën (1878–1935), a French entrepreneur of Dutch descent.

Datsun – first called DAT, from the initials of its financiers Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi. Soon changed to DATSON to imply a smaller version of their original car, then (as SON can mean “loss” in Japanese) again to DATSUN when they were acquired by Nissan.

Ferrari – from the name of its founder, Enzo Ferrari.


Fiat – acronym of Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Automobile Factory of Turin).

Ford Motor Company – named after its founder, Henry Ford, who introduced automobile mass production in 1914.

Lamborghini – named after Ferrucio Lamborghini. Lamborghini was Enzo Ferrari’s neighbor and friend. One day he came to Enzo complaining about his Ferrari not handling well, Ferrari’s answer was:” there is nothing wrong with the car, it just needs a good driver”, so Ferrucio Lamborghini got upset and went and opened his own company.

Mercedes-Benz – from the first name of the daughter of Emil Jellinek, who distributed cars of the early Daimler Company around 1900.

Mitsubishi – Japanese for “three diamonds”.

Nissan – the company was earlier known by the name Nippon Sangyo which means “Japan Industries.”


Porsche – named after founder Ferdinand Porsche, an Austrian automotive engineer. The family name may have originated in the Czech name “Boreš” (boresh).

Toyota – from the name of the founder, Sakichi Toyoda. Initially called Toyeda, it was changed after a contest for a better-sounding name. The new name was written in katakana with eight strokes, a number that is considered lucky in Japan

About The Author

Cars and Motorsports have fascinated me since I was a kid. Born in 1968, my hobby for cars and motor sport in general started in 1980. Despite working in the telecommunication sector since 1996, my passion for the sound of engines never faded over the years. I make sure to follow the Local Lebanese motorsport events live and I do my best to watch similar events live abroad whenever I have the chance. I am married with two wonderful kids.

Related Posts