Ever Wondered How These car Companies Got Their Names? This Is How

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Naming is quite a tedious task because the name once given, will have to be carried on for a long time. That is the case with automobile companies as well. Before the name Nissan or Toyota or even Volvo was official, did you ever think how did the brand come to such a name?

Here is how 10 of these automobile companies got their names.

1. Nissan

Nissan started off life as DAT Motorcar. The name was derived from the company's three founders' initials, and when they made their first car, it was called Datson, which later came to be known as Datsun. Later, Yoshisuke Aikawa, a Japanese businessman who founded the Nippon Sangyo venture bought DAT and later, Nippon Sangyo name came to be abbreviated as Nissan.

2. Toyota

Toyota was actually not even called Toyota, nor did it make cars. When the company started, it was called Toyoda Automatic Loom Works by the Founder, Sakichi Toyoda in 1926. Later, Toyoda's son, Kiichiro started making cars under a separate motor division and it soon took off.

Coming to the name bit, the company held a competition to design a new logo and the family chose Toyota over Toyoda since it sounded stronger. Also, Toyota required 8 brush strokes instead of the 9 needed for Toyoda, and 8 was considered a lucky number in Japan.

3. Chrysler

Now this is quite a story. Walter Chrysler was actually a railroad mechanic, but was better as a machinist. In 1911, he became the production chief for Buick and a few years later became the Head of the company. He later left Buick and tried to take over Willys-Overland Motor Company and failed.

He later bought a controlling interest in Maxwell Motor Company with his money he had earned and introduced a car called the Chrysler in 1924. A year later, the Maxwell name faded away in favour of Chrysler.

4. Honda

Honda's story was quite straightforward. Soichiro Honda, the founder, was a mechanic by profession and started the Honda Motor Co. Ltd to build small motorcycles. By the 1960s, Honda was one of the biggest motorcycle makers in the world, and during 1963, the company introduced its first production four-wheeler, the Honda T360 Pickup.

5. Buick

David Dunbar Buick, a Scotsman, had an efficient way of manufacturing enameled cast-iron bathtubs. He later started building engines and after failing once, he tried again in 1902 with the Buick Manufacturing Company. The cars were good and the technology in the engine was far superior compared to others at the time. Then came trouble again.

He could not make and deliver cars on time. He always needed more cash from investors and eventually, his company was sold to General Motors. Later, in 1908, Durant, the Founder of GM gave Buick a severance cheque worth USD 100,000 and Buick invested that in an oil company and failed again.

Buick tried his luck in the automobile industry in 1920 and failed. Later, he joined as the instructor at the Detroit School of Trades, and to his bad luck, he was demoted as a receptionist and eventually died in 1929, with no money.

6. Chevrolet

Now this is a good read if you believe in Karma. William c Durant, the Founder of GM was forced out of his own company like how Durant forced Buick out of his own. But Durant was determined and joined hands with Swiss race car driver Louis Chevrolet and started building cars under the Chevrolet brand in 1911.

Soon, he had enough money to take control of GM again, and in 1917, GM acquired Chevrolet. Louis on the other hand was not as successful as Durant, and had even sold his share to Durant in 1914. Even his racing career was quite okay, but he was never successful financially. He later joined Chevrolet as a consultant.

7. Dodge

Dodge's story is success all the way. John and Horace Dodge, brothers, both good machinists, started a bicycle company in the 1890s. The brothers then sold that business and started making gearboxes for Olds Motor Vehicle Co and Ford. In 1913, they left their jobs as suppliers for Ford and pursued their dream to build cars and when they did, it became the second best selling car in America.

8. Mercedes-Benz

We have heard the story many a times, but there's no harm in repeating it since it is an interesting one. Emil Jellinek, an Austrian businessman bought Daimler cars to race in Europe. He also had a number of Daimler cars he loved driving, and when he raced, he raced under his 12-year old daughter's name, Mercedes. He later ordered 36 cars on a condition that the cars be called Mercedes to which Daimler agreed, and thus the name.

9. Volvo

Volvo basically translates to ‘I Roll' in Latin. The company started off as ball bearing manufacturer called SKF and later trademarked the ‘Volvo' name in 1915. Later, the company put the Volvo name in anything that rolls, like bearings, bicycles, and automobiles. The Swedish company started its car manufacturing business in 1926.

10. Cadillac

Cadillac is one of the oldest carmakers in the world, based out of the US. The company was named after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who founded Detroit, Michigan. The Cadillac crest is based on his coat of arms. The company was founded from the remains of the Henry Ford Company in 1902, and later, General Motors purchased Cadillac in 1909, by when Cadillac was established as a luxury carmaker in America.

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Story first published: Thursday, July 28, 2016, 16:38 [IST]
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