Acura: Name invented by Honda Motor.
Audi: Latin for August Horch, the founder of Audi.
BMW: Bayrische MotorenWeke, German words for Bavarian Motor Factory.
Buick: Named for its founder, David Dunbar Buick. He built his first gasoline engine in 1899 and the first automobile to be called a Buick between 1899-1900. He incorporated his company in 1903, and it was eventually bought by General Motors in 1908, and was renamed the Buick Motor Division.
Cadillac: Named by founder Henry Martyn Leland, after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the french explorer.
Chrysler: Named for founder Walter Chrysler.
Chevrolet: Named for race car driver Louis Chevrolet. In 1911, William Durant, former owner of General Motors, approached Louis Chevrolet, a famous race car driver, to help design, and promote, a car for the public. The Chevrolet Motor Car Company was incorporated on November 3, 1911, and Louis Chevrolet received just a small amount of stock of the company that would carry his name. Chevrolet would also be purchased and folded into General Motors.
Daimler: Named for founder Gottlieb Daimler. Short for Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft.
Delorean: Named for founder John Zachary Delorean.
Dodge: Named for founders John & Horace Dodge (the Dodge brothers).
Eagle: Named by owner Chrysler
Ferrari: Named for founder Enzo Ferrari.
Ford: Named for founder Henry Ford.
General Motors: Named by founder William Durant.
Honda: Named for founder Soichiro Honda.
Infiniti: Name invented by Nissan Motor.
Jaguar: Named after the animal for its speed and grace.
Lamborghini: Named for founder Ferrucio Lamborghini. Short for Lamborghini Automobili.
Lexus: Named invented by Toyota.
Lincoln: Named in honor of Abraham Lincoln, US President from 1861 – 1865.
Lotus: Named for the Lotus flower.
Mazda: Named derived from the ancient religioin Zoroastrianism, for the god of light. Originally founded by Jujiro Matsuda as Toyo Kogyo.
McLaren: Named for founder.
Mercedes-Benz: Named for founders Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, who used his daughter’s name Mercedes.
Mercury: Named for the Roman god Mercury, who represented speed.
Mitsubishi: Japanese term for “three diamonds” (its logo). Founded in the early 1870s by Yataro Iwasaki.
Nissan: Founded in 1933 by Yoshisuke Aikawa.
Oldsmobile: Named for founder Ransom Eli Olds.
Pontiac: Named for the town of Pontiac, Michigan, USA, which was named after an Indian chief.
Porsche: Name for founder Ferdinand Porsche Jr.
Saab: Short for Svenska Aeroplanktiebolaget, Swedish for “Swedish Airplane, Limited. Saab originally made airplanes for the Royal Swedish Airforce.
Saturn: Named for the planet Saturn.
Subaru: The Japanese name for the Pleiades star constellation (same as their logo).
Toyota: Named for founder Sakichi Toyoda. He changed the spelling to make it easier to pronounce.
Volkswagon: Means “Car for the people” in German.
Volvo: Latin for “I am rolling.”
442: Originally named by Oldsmobile in 1964 to represent its 4 barrel carb, 4-speed manual transmission and dual (2) exhausts. The official definition was changed in 1965 to represent the new 400 cubic inch engine, 4 barrel carb, and dual exhaust.
GS: Gran Sport. Gran Sport and GS were used by Buick in the muscle car era for their A-body muscle car, and as a trim level on their other cars. Presently, several brands use it now as the name of their sportier trims, much like GT.
GTO: Gran Turismo Omologato. It was first used for Ferraris, but was immortalized as a Pontiac muscle car name. It means, in Italian, a race car that has been made street legal.
Mustang: Originally named after the P-51 Mustang (a very successful US WWII fighter plane), confusion within Ford prior to its debut caused it to be associated with the name for a horse. The horse became the logo and the rest is history.
Road Runner: Named after the Warner Brothers cartoon character. Plymouth executives liked the image of speed with playfulness of the bird and paid $50,000 to Warner Brothers to use the name for their budget muscle car.
GT: Grand Touring or Gran Turismo. A term used to describe a car is both functional and sporty. GT has been used by Ford, and others, from the 60’s to the Present as the trim name of a sportier trim. Gran Touring or Gran Turismo is applied to European luxury coupes that are designed for high speed, but with luxury accomodations.
R/T: Road & Track. A term used by Dodge in the muscle car era for their top performance line. Literally, a car meant both for the road and the race track.
RS: Rally Sport. Used by Chevrolet from 1967 to 2002 mainly on the Camaro to denote a special appearance package.
SE: Special Edition. Used by Dodge as a name for a luxury trim, it is used by numerous car makes today on all levels of cars.
SS: Super Sport. Used by Chevrolet from 1961 to the present to denote a high performance trim.