10 Classic Cars Named After Animals

Isabel Armiento
· 5 min read
Considering that humans invented cars to take on the job of animals—most notably, the horse—it follows that many
classic cars
have been named after members of the natural world. In fact, classic automakers often turned to animal names before anything else, seeing the elegance of the panther or the power of a jaguar as coveted attributes in a car.
Of course, some animal names are going to hit better than others. Car-buyers may find some majestic, and others downright laughable. For these 10 classic cars named after animals, you can be the judge.
A Volkswagen Beetle.

You can’t talk about cars names after animals without including the Volkswagen Beetle

This classic car is the ultimate model named after an animal. Launched nearly a century ago, in 1938, the Beetle has been around for several resurrections, including serving as the hippy-era counterculture car, according to
The most well-loved of its iterations is the first, the Type 1, which had more than 21 million models manufactured. Once a fan favorite, the Beetle has fallen out of style in recent years, with VW relying more on nostalgia than novelty to sell its Beetles.
Whether the name is a hit or a dud is up to you. However, at this point, it’s impossible to ignore the impressive cultural resonance taken on by the name of a tiny insect.
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Cheetah GT: Bold and flashy

This 1963 Chevrolet model is named after the cheetah, a good name for a flashy sports car with a bold exterior design. Only 10 of these were ever manufactured, making the Cheetah GT exceptionally rare.
According to Hagerty, the Cheetah GT has a small-block Chevy V8 engine that was so short, the car didn’t need a driveshaft. Designed by race driver Don Edmunds to rival the Shelby Cobra (another iconic car named after an animal), this vehicle has a horsepower of 500 and a speed of 215 mph—suitable for a car named after the world’s fastest land animal.

Ford Puma: Powerful and fun

MORE: 5 Cars From the 2000s That Could Become Classics
This 1997 Ford model was a delightful drive: light, smooth, and fun, outstripping most of the sports cars of its time. With a 1.7-liter 4-cylinder engine, this car lives up to its name: powerful but spry.
The Ford Puma was marketed by a digitally resurrected Steve McQueen, but according to Hagerty, it didn’t need the star power to be a best-seller.

The high-performance Sunbeam Tiger

Made by Roots Motors Ltd., the Tiger is the result of the 1950s Sunbeam Alpine Roadster, combined with a later 4.3-liter V8 engine. The outcome? A sleek, high-performance racing model combined with a powerful motor worthy of the model’s mighty namesake.

Dodge Viper: Frightening and powerful like its namesake

This 1992 Chrysler model is powered by an extremely powerful 8-liter V10 engine meant for the automaker’s super-size pickup truck, and it weighs nearly 330 kilograms.
According to Hagerty, "The Viper was cramped, hot, difficult to drive, and intimidating at the limit. But boy, did it generate a reaction wherever it went." Perhaps it’s fitting that this car is named after a viper—frightening to behold and more powerful than it looks.

Cars named after animals might also have other origin stories, like the Fiat Panda

"Panda'' might seem like a strange name for a car, but this vehicle wasn’t named after the black-and-white panda bear. According to
Hot Cars
, the Fiat Panda bears the name of the Roman goddess, Empanda, who is the guardian of travelers—a fitting name for a reliable vehicle.
This strangely named model went through a series of possible monikers before landing on Panda, however—it began as the Il Zero and was later renamed as the Rustica. The Panda was launched in 1980, and Fiat has sold over 7.5 million units so far.

Nissan Bluebird: Efficient but unloved?

Despite its cute, jaunty name, this car was known for being relatively charmless. The first Japanese car to be built in Britain, this model had stellar reliability and "ruthless efficiency," according to Hagerty, but was generally an "unloved success story."

Plymouth Barracuda: The name says it all

The barracuda is a vicious fish, small but quick with razor-sharp teeth and a nasty bite. This 1964 model was intended to replicate its namesake’s energy and muscle, with six cylinders and a V8 engine.

Triumph Stag: Not so powerful

Released in 1970, Triumph’s Stag was an ambitious model, with a four-seat GT, a roof that was both hard- and soft-top, and a T-shaped bar. The model’s Michelotti styling made for a unique design that caught many car-buyers’ eyes.
Ultimately, however, the Stag lacked the power suggested by its name. With an underpowered engine and lacking reliability metrics, this model was ultimately a flop—a far cry from the majestic stag.

Rounding out the list: Chevrolet Impala

Named after the African antelope, this model is known for its high performance and the impala design on its side.
The Impala’s first iterations came with top-notch features such as the W-series Turbo Thrust V8 and the Turbo Fire V8, as well as a 2- or 3-speed automatic transmission.
Other classic cars have taken inspiration from animal names as well—consider the Datsun Bluebird, the Mitsubishi Colt, and, of course, the Ford Mustang. While many of these names might seem silly, many of them represent the majestic vehicles well—and give them a memorable name to boot.

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