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Hi I’m John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is Mental Floss on YouTube and did you
know that “Hyundai” means “the present age” or “modernity” in Korean? But the
brand’s car names aren’t exclusively in Korean. For example, the “Tiburon” sports
car is Spanish for “shark.” And who could forget about the Hyundai Pony, which is English
for "pony"?
Anyway, that’s the first two of many car name meanings I’m going to share with you
about today. By the way, I’m going to tell you about car brand names and car model names.
So you can sound like a real expert later. All right, let’s do this.
Volkswagen is German for “people’s car.” In the 1930s, it was actually Hitler who commissioned
Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) to build the first Volkswagen, which we know as the
Beetle. Back then, it was called the Strength through Joy Car but KdF was its German abbreviation.
The KdF was a Nazi program, so after World War II, the car started to be called its nickname:
the beetle. But, it is formally known as the Volkswagen Type 1. How's that for catchy?
While I’m talking about Volkswagen, by the way, in German “Passat” means “trade
wind” and “Jetta” means “jet stream.”
Toyota was founded by a man named Sakichi Toyoda, with a "d" not a "t". Why the letter
switch? Well, it’s a little confusing since we’re dealing with translations here, but
a representative for the company explained that the change had to do with “the number
of strokes to write Toyota in Japanese, eight.” And that’s important because eight is a
lucky number in Japanese culture.
Speaking of Toyota, since the Toyota Crown launched in 1955, Toyota has been using similar
names for other cars. Like the Corolla is named after the ancient crown and Camry comes
from the Japanese word for “little crown.”
Wonder Woman has an idea for a Toyota, the "Toyota Tiara." It's alliterative!
Unrelated, but “Prius” is Latin for “to go before,” which the company chose because
the car was available before, like hybrids were a big deal. It’s like a hipster car.
Side note: In 2011, Toyota invited the public to determine the plural of Prius and voters
landed on Prii.
Nissan came from another company: Nippon Sangyo, which translates to “Japan Industries.”
The first sounds of those two words were combined to give us “Nissan.” And if you’ve ever
wondered why Nissan's luxury line the Infiniti has an “I” on the end instead of a “Y,”
you’re going to have to keep wondering because the Infiniti website states that the name
was chosen in 1987 because the four I’s were considered a “fresh spelling.”
Chevrolet is named after its founder...Louis Chevrolet. So let’s talk about something
a little more interesting, the Camaro. So in the 1960s, representatives at Chevrolet
claimed that “Camaro” was a French word for “comrade.” But it’s not. Now we
may never know where the name "Camaro" truly came from, but we do know that at a press
conference, a reporter asked a company rep what the word meant and the rep replied that
a Camaro is a “small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” Anyway, the Corvette is
a little less ambiguous. It is named after a kind of warship.
Mercedez-Benz is combination of two things: the Benz Patent-Motorwagen and the Mercedes
car. So in 1886, Karl Benz invented the first automobile: The Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Then
in the early 1900s, a company called DMG also invented a car, the Mercedes, named after
the daughter of board member Emil Jellinek. In 1926, the two parties merged into one company,
Daimler-Benz. It was originally named for DMG founder, Gottlieb Daimler, but quickly
switched to the much catchier Mercedes-Benz.
Hard out there for a Gottlieb.
No one knows for sure where the word “Jeep” came from, but most believe it actually came
from the initials: G.P., which can mean either governmental purpose or general purpose. By
the forties, the word “jeep” had come to mean any car that the military used with
four-wheel drive. The trademark for the actual brand name was acquired in the fifties.
By the way, Jeep is owned by Chrysler, which was named after founder Walter P. Chrysler
who, by the way, is buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Yes, that Sleepy Hollow Cemetery,
along with a lot of Rockefellers and Carnegies. You can't take it with you, my friends, but
if could, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery would be the most hopping resting place on earth.
The Aston Martin (2) company had two founders, Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. So now you
know where the "Martin" came from. As for the “Aston,” it’s actually a reference
to a place, Aston Hill in Buckinghamshire, England where Lionel Martin used to race cars.
It was these races that actually inspired Lionel and Robert to start building cars of
their own in 1914. Because, you know, they wanted to win the races.
Mis Piggy must be driving an Aston Martin because she's beatin' that Fraggle Rock one
in his carrot car.
Another company named after a place is Pontiac. This name actually dates back to the late
1800s, when the Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works Company was doing great business in the city
of Pontiac, Michigan. Now of course they're no longer in the wagon works business, they
also are no longer in the car business.
In the early 1900s, August Horch was squeezed out of his own car company, called Horch.
It was like an Eduardo-from-The-Social-Network situation. Or the real life guy who that happened
to with actual Facebook. Anyway, he ended up starting his own new car company and this
time, smartly, he didn't call it "Horch," he called it "Audi." But he still kind of
named it after himself because the name Horch is similar to the German word for “listen,”
so he picked a name meaning “listen” in Latin. Speaking of which, “Volvo” means
“I roll” in Latin.
Saab Group is a Swedish company that develops aircrafts. But in the 1940s, they decided
they wanted to be in the car business, which is why we know the name best as a car brand.
BUT, weirdly enough, the name Saab actually originates from the Swedish words for “Swedish
Aeroplane Company” (Svenska Aeroplan AB) which is abbreviated to S.A.A.B.
Basically when you buy a Saab, you're buying a plane. A really, really unreliable plane.
Sorry Saab. Did they sponsor this video? No? All right.
The constellation Pleiades is a cluster of stars that’s also part of the Taurus constellation.
In Japanese, the word for Pleiades is “Subaru.” The Subaru logo of six stars is also an allusion
to that constellation.
There are a few car names that are actually acronyms. I already told you about the Bavarian
Motor Works in our acronyms episode. But did you know that the Italian company Alfa Romeo
came from an acronym for the Italian words for Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company.
Add its founder, Nicola Romeo, and we have the Alfa Romeo. Fiat now owns that company,
which is also an Italian acronym meaning Italian Automobile Factory of Turin.
Now of course we all know who Henry Ford is, innovator, captain of industry, virulent anti-Semite,
but I’m going to finish up with a few other brands named after people.
We have founders like: Soichiro Honda, David Buick, Ferruccio Lamborghini, and of course,
Enzo Ferrari. And then there are the combinations of names: Frederick Henry Royce and Charles
Stewart Rolls gave us the Rolls-Royce. His name was Rolls, it was inevitable that he
was gonna get in the car business.
And a gentle reminder to our Japanese and/or Italian viewers: mispronouncing things is
my thing.
And finally I return to my salon to tell you that the Cadillac is named after Detroit founder
and former Louisiana governor, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac. And yes, I
did have three years of high school French. In fact, the famous Cadillac logo is based
on his family’s coat of arms.
Thanks for watching Mental Floss here on YouTube, which is made with the help of all of these
nice people. Every week, we endeavor to answer one of your mind-blowing questions. And this
week’s question comes from Richard Luciano who asks “What is the original method and
date of making popcorn anyway?”
Well, Richard, popcorn goes back so far in time that it’s hard to tell. Like we know
that popcorn was being eaten in ancient Peru, maybe even as early as 4700 BCE. I mean, that
was before people had ceramic pots, so they probably just roasted corn cobs over fire.
But on the upside, they didn’t have to go to the movies and pay $17.50 for a small popcorn.
If you have a mind-blowing question, please leave it in comments and we'll endeavor to
answer as many as we can.
Thank you again for watching Mental Floss on YouTube and as we say in my hometown, don't
forget to be awesome.
Oh, P.S., Me From the Future Here, fire are you seriously buffering? Anyway, today's video
is brought to you by Audible.com, a site that allows you to download audiobooks of your
favorite books anytime you want. If you go to Audible.com/mentalfloss now, you can get
an audiobook for free, including one of my books, like The Fault in Our Stars, soon to
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You can find out more at that link below and thanks again to Audible for making this video
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32 Car Name Meanings - mental_floss on YouTube (Ep.203)

2837 Folder Collection
稲葉白兎 published on January 17, 2015
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