Did you ever stop and realize that virtually everything on earth has a name? And that means that in most cases, there is a story behind the name.
Take automobiles for instance. Some time back, Mental Floss put together a list of how car companies got their names. See how many you know.
Nissan is not a Johnny-come-lately addition to automakers. In fact, the company has been around since 1914, when it was first known as DAT — the first initials of the three founders family names. Yoshisuke Aikawa, a Japanese businessman founded an industrial holding company and Nippon Sangyo, which bought DAT. The car maker was later known as Nissan — an abbreviated version of the Nippon Sangyo name.
Chrysler is named after Walter Chrysler who rose to the top of Buick Motors way back in 1919. He bought the floundering Maxwell Motor company and started making Chryslers in 1924. It only took one year for the Maxwell to all but disappear in favor of the Chrysler.
Buick is named for Scottish immigrant David Dunbar Buick who started making cars in 1902. They were great cars with their overhead valve technology. But the company couldn't regularly make production deadlines and was constantly looking for new financial backers. Eventually the company was sold out from under Buick to General Motors founder William C. Durant.
Chevrolet was named for Swiss racecar driver and mechanic Louis Chevrolet who had teamed up with William Durant when creditors forced Durant out as boss at GM. Working together with Durant, they developed the company known as Chevrolet. They did well and Durant had enough money to regain control of GM. Chevrolet eventually sold his share in the company that bore his name to Durant.
Dodge took its name from brothers John and Horace Dodge, gifted machinists who owned a bicycle shop in the 1890s. Eventually, they formed a company that made transmissions for Olds and Ford. In 1913, they started their own car-making company and were soon the second best selling auto company in the U.S.
Mercedes is named after the daughter of Austrian entrepreneur, Emil Jellinek, who ordered 36 cars from the Daimler company. He told Daimler that he would place the order if they were named after his 12-year-old daughter, Mercedes. Daimler agreed and the luxury car line was born.
On a personal note, I spent time at the Mercedes operation in Stuttgart, Germany. This was a trip for reporters and others in advance of Mercedes building its assembly plant in Vance, Alabama, not far from Tuscaloosa.
During our orientation at the company headquarters, we were told that the automobile division of Daimler made up only a small portion of the company. They said the vast majority of their vehicles are buses and heavy trucks. I was genuinely surprised. I thought they just made luxury vehicles.
Honda vehicles bear the name of founder Soichiro Honda. He was a brilliant mechanic who started the Honda Motor Co. Ltd in 1946. Initially, Honda built small motorcycles. By 1963, Honda introduced its first production vehicle — the Honda T360 pickup truck. As Bob Dylan sang, "times they are a changing."
Volkswagen is German for "people's car." How would most of us have gotten around during our early years of driving if it hadn't been for the VW bug? Over the years, I owned four of them and loved each one of them.
Where else could you get a car that was so inexpensive, yet so incredibly reliable?
Cadillac vehicles get their name from a French explorer. In the early 1700s, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac. I'm sure glad the car makers opted for the shortened version of his name.
By the way, the above-named explorer is credited with founding Detroit in the early 18th century. How apropos, don't you think?