Directions: Terms of Endearment

Directions: Terms of Endearment

I’m sure many of you understand that when you are servicing some customers’ vehicles, it’s more than just their mode of transportation. It’s their “baby,” “darling” or ”buddy,” and to those owners, their vehicle is considered by them to be “alive.” So you probably already know that these customers are going to expect that you give their vehicle extra TLC.

But did you know that there is an actual clinical term for suggesting human characteristics for an inanimate object like a car? It’s called anthropomorphism. And for some drivers, a car or truck technically may be inanimate, but their owners don’t necessarily perceive them that way.

A recent Ford Motor Co. newsletter addressed the issue of anthropomorphism, saying cars are considered personal objects and are a source of personal pride. Some experts agree. “I think that many of us spend a lot of time with our cars, not just driving/riding in them, but keeping them running, and counting on them to get us places,” said Ed Liebow, senior research scientist and associate director at Battelle’s Center for Public Health Research in Seattle in the Ford story. “Many important things happen to some of us in cars — relationships begin, grow stronger, end — we listen to the radio or sound system and associate what we hear with powerful emotions. In short, our cars are not just utilitarian appliances. They occupy meaningful places in our lives. And despite being mass produced, they are individualized.”

So, I asked around the office if any of my co-workers had names for their rides. One publisher (name withheld) had this to say:

“My Miata’s name is on the license plate — Fre2Fly. That’s the way it makes me feel when I get in it and when the opportunity presents itself, i.e., open two-lane blacktop with twists and turns, long straight-aways, that’s the way I drive it — hard and fast and usually with my favorite tunes playing from the iPod,” my co-worker explained. “It’s pure ‘turnkey’ escapism from the day’s frustrations, anxieties and worries.”

And an editor of one of our sister publications revealed that during his high school years, the family had several named vehicles — The Black Widow (a black Impala), The Avenger (a white Impala that used to be a security guard car) and a ’74 Camaro. “Though I can’t repeat what I called it,” he explained.

Continuing my “research,” I visited a few automotive Internet forums to see how “personal” other drivers out there have become with their vehicles.

On THE H.A.M.B. — a community forum “dedicated to spreading the gospel of traditional hot rods and customs” (www.jalopyjournal.com/forum) one adamant poster wrote that he doesn’t trust anyone who doesn’t have a nickname for their custom car. “If they don’t, they aren’t that attached and just see it as a pile of parts or perhaps something they can sell for cash later. It’s just a damn car to them.”

Another wrote that he gives all his cars names, “Otherwise they just don’t listen.” Remembering back to my college days when my unnamed AMC Spirit failed to start at the most inopportune times, I understand completely where he’s coming from.

Switching over to a Scion forum site (www.scionlife.com/forums), I found others had some clever vehicle names (and peculiar circumstances for the given name).

“My favorite car name was my friend’s grandparents’ minivan,” one poster wrote. “They called her Effie Lee. I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time, then one day my friend points to the hatch door. There are two badges: EFI – LE.”

Another revealed that his car is Roxy. “It’s short for Roxanne. “I’ve always wanted to date a redhead named Roxanne, so now my friends all think I do.”

The owner of a Phantom Grey xA refers to his ride as “Jack, as in Jackrabbit, cause it’s fast and peppy… my little car reminds me of a rabbit, with it’s ‘ready to hop off the line’ stance.”

So what about you? Does your car have a name? If so, e-mail us a photo of the vehicle and let us know what type of car is it and how you arrived at the name. I need it for my “research.” Send it to [email protected]

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