Roc and vol in the passing lane

Ever wonder where the names of cars come from? No? Well, no prob, I’ve done the wondering for you.

Sources for some names are obvious. Ford seems to like wild horses, perhaps because they connote freedom. Names like Bronco, Maverick, Mustang, and Pinto. Pontiac tends to name its cars after races or racing terms, implying power and speed. They’ve given us the Bonneville, Grand Am, and Trans Am, along with the old muscle car, the GTO, which stands for “Gran Turismo Omologato,” an Italian racing term.

Some manufacturers have named their models after fleet or powerful animals, like Chevy’s Impala, Mercury’s Cougar, and the one-time American Motors’ Eagle.

Other car makers have opted for the concept of really good neighborhoods, like Chevy’s Bel Air, Chrysler’s New Yorker, and Cadillac’s Coupe de Ville.

Camaro introduced the IROC, pronounced “I-rock” in 1985. IROC is an acronym for “International Race of Champions.” Volvo means “I roll” in Latin. Roc and vol.

I have a weak spot for German imports: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and my grandfather, Hiram Edgar Shade.

Audi is Latin for “Hark!” BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works. The founder of Mercedes was an early car racer. He painted his daughter’s name – Mercedes – on his cars for good luck. When he decided to produce racing cars, he stuck with that name.

My grandfather Shade (originally Schaede), was once President of the Baptist Ministers’ Association of Western Pennsylvania. He was often powered by a two-horsepower Evinrude outboard trolling motor on Keuka Lake. “Evinrude” comes from inventor Ole Evinrudstuen; “Keuka” is Iroquoian for “canoe landing.”

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One Comment on “Roc and vol in the passing lane”

  1. ClaudesMom Says:

    Sorry but “Iroquoian” is not a language. Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora are all Iroquis languages but are distinct. Please be more specific.


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