Sssshhhh, don’t tell the boss—we’re clocking out early to take an automotive-themed trip around the globe, and stopping at few of the more well-known automotive namesakes.
Some hearken back to historic racetracks, while others can credit their names to simple scenic beauty. Either way, grab your TripTiks, Dramamine, and neck pillows, because away we go…
Our Top 30 Vehicles Named After Places
30. Lotus Europa
Our journey begins in Europe, with the continent’s etymological precursor, the Europa. Though it can be tied directly to ancient Greek mythology, the car’s cartographical namesake makes sense when you consider that, despite being known for featherweight roadsters, the Europa was Colin Chapman’s take on a Grand Tourer.
Fun fact, “Europa” is also the name of one of Jupiter’s moons. So we’re calling this a two-fer, in radio DJ parlance.
29. Pontiac Le Mans
Now on mainland Europe, our journey takes us to a city in northern France that is pretty much synonymous with endurance racing: Le Mans. The Pontiac Le Mans debuted in 1961 as the top trim on the Tempest compact—before getting upsized to the GM A-Body in 1964 to share the spotlight with another Euro-inspired moniker, the Gran Turismo Omologato.
28. Sunbeam Alpine
Next stop, the French Alps. While most gearheads are familiar with the Ford-powered Sunbeam Tiger, the car was essentially a V8-swapped Sunbeam Alpine. The Alpine name was a tribute to the automaker’s success in the Alpine Rally in southern France and the car itself had been around since 1953. The more common “Series I” models that spawned the Tiger arrived in 1959 and Alpine production stretched to 1968.
27. Ford (a) Torino (b) Talladega
Traveling south from France, we’ll arrive in Turin, Italy—known by the locals as Torino. While the name Torino is a clear nod to Italy, it got a decidedly American twist as the Torino Talladega when the FoMoCo entered the NASCAR Aero Wars of the late 1960s, joining the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II and the Superbird/Daytona twins.
Metti il pedale sul metallo, baby!
26. Chevy Monza
On our way across Northern Italy, we arrive in Monza, home to one of the oldest race tracks in Europe—and curiously the name of a Vega-derived Chevy fastback from the 1970s. Yet the Italian tie-in is no surprise here, and folks say if you squint your eyes a bit, the Monza’s silhouette is pretty dang close to a Ferrari 365 GTC/4.
25. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Long before it appeared on a Jeep hood, Italy’s Rubicon river was immortalized by Julius Ceaser during a maneuver that plunged the region into war around 49 B.C. “Crossing the Rubicon” has since become a popular idiom for off-roaders and political pundits alike to convey a point of no return. (Centuries later, the name resurfaced as the famed “Rubicon Trail” in California—which is probably why it appeared in 2003 on a Jeep Wrangler to denote a more hardcore off-road package.)
24. Mercury Capri
Before we leave Italy, let’s stop by the scenic island of Capri. Located in the Gulf of Naples, Capri has been a resort destination since the time of the ancient Romans. While most Blue Oval faithful will quickly connect the Capri name to the Foxbody based Mercury of the 1980s, Ford actually first used it decades earlier on the Lincoln Capri in 1952.
23. Dodge Monaco
Heading back along the Mediterranean coastline, we come to Monaco—or more specifically, Dodge’s take on the luxury sport coupe christened after the majestic Principality on Monaco. The Dodge Monaco’s first production run lasted from 1965-78. It then reappeared in 1990, this time as a badge-engineered AMC Eagle, only to disappear for good in 1992.
22. Chevy Monte Carlo
No trip to Monaco would be complete without stopping in its most famous region, Monte Carlo. Though it was initially conceived as a luxury coupe alongside cars like the Pontiac Grand Prix, the later G-body Monte Carlo would be one of the last rear-wheel drive V8 holdouts from the musclecar’s golden age.
21. Buick Riviera
Venturing past Monaco, we find ourselves on the French Riviera. Inspired by the picturesque Mediterranean coastal resort towns, Buick’s marketing department felt that Riviera was the perfect name for its more upscale offerings. While it eventually broke off into its own model in 1963, Buick actually used the name Riviera to denote distinct trim levels as far back as the late 1940s.
Now, let’s head to the States…
20. Chrysler Newport
On our return trip across the pond, we land at Boston Logan and begin a trek down the U.S. Atlantic coastline. But first—a stop in The Ocean State.
While folks often think Chrysler named it after the beach in California, the car actually hails from Newport, Rhode Island. Thanks to Newport’s reputation as an affluent East Coast hotspot, Chrysler thought it was an apropos name for the upscale trim on its Town & Country coupe way back in the 1950s. Sadly, the Newport faded away as an R-body sedan in the early 1980s.
19. Chrysler New Yorker
Heading south, we again look towards Chrysler and the city that never sleeps. In Mopar terms, the New Yorker began in the 1930s as the “New York Special Series” under the sub-marque Imperial before officially becoming a Chrysler model in 1946.
The New Yorker was available as a coupe, sedan, convertible, and even a wagon. Whatever flavor your choose, it’s a great way to cruise the Big Apple before hopping through the Holland Tunnel on our way south.
18. Studebaker Daytona
With New York in our rearview, we eventually come to the Sunshine State.
And we’re not riding in a Dodge or even a Shelby here—nope, we’re doing some top-down cruising in a classic Stude. Since the name Daytona is so closely associated with racing, Studebaker used it to denote top luxury/performance trims—and it was even available on its Wagonaire station wagons.
17. Chevy Delray
Continuing south along Florida’s Atlantic coast, we sojourn in Delray Beach with a classic, albeit short-lived, 1950s Chevy. Originally a economy-minded trim package on postwar coupes and sedans, the Delray evolved into its own model for 1958, replacing the 150 at the bottom of Chevy’s lineup under the Bel Air and Biscayne.
But that move would be its last—the standalone Delray was gone for good in 1959.
16. Packard Caribbean
While we’re down here it’s just a short plane hop to the Caribbean Islands and full size Packard comfort. Introduced in 1953 and enduring until Packard’s demise in 1956, the Caribbean leaned hard on luxury with features like posh interiors, power windows, and big engines—including Packard’s famous 359ci straight eight.
Just enjoy the beach now, because we’re heading to cooler climates…
15. Ford Fairlane
Home is where the heart is, so midway through our journey we find ourselves in Dearborn, Michigan visiting the estate of Henry Ford—which you know better as “Fairlane.” Launched in 1955, the Fairlane eventually slotted in between the larger full size Galaxie and aforementioned Torino before the nameplate disappeared in the early 1970s.
14. Pontiac Laurentian
Now let’s dip across the northern border with this Canadian-market Pontiac Laurentian. Named in part from the Laurentian Mountains in southeastern Quebec, this unique Pontiac was based on GM’s full size platform that underpinned cars like the Impala. Far more than a simple badge swap though, the Laurentian received several unique features to differentiate it from U.S. domestic cars.
13. Dodge Dakota
Time to go west, across Ontario and back into the United States via North Dakota. And we hitch up a local steed in the form of Dodge’s midsize pickup. Nestled between the smaller compact pickups and the half-tonners, the “Goldilocks” Dakota re-energized the truck segment and spawned a Shelby variant, a convertible(!), and the rowdy 5.9L Dakota R/T…Yee-haw!
12. Dodge Aspen
Yes, it’s our favorite musclecar named after a tree—but spoiler alert, it was actually named after Aspen, Colorado and the next logical stop on our tour. The Chrysler brass felt that giving the Aspen a cool, outdoorsy-sounding name would help lift Aspen sales, but the nameplate disappeared after a brief four-year production run.
11. Chevy & GMC Trucks
From Cheyenne, Wyoming to Scottsdale, Arizona and Mt. Denali to the Sierra Mountains, the GM marketing folks threw a lot of darts at a map of the western U.S.A. to come up with names in its truck portfolio—and we’re not counting general ones like Suburban and Canyon. In fact, we could easily make a separate list with all the trucks/SUVs from GM (Yukon, Colorado, Tahoe, Acadia, and Rainier come to mind), but we’ll make it a single stop on our tour here.
10. Pontiac Bonneville
After our whirlwind truck stop above, we find ourselves in Bonneville, Utah—home of the legendary Salt Flats, land speed racing, and eponymous Pontiac full size cars. While many folks recall the Bonnevilles of the 1960s, which helped modernize Pontiac’s signature split grille look, the name was originally launched as a high-performance trim on the Star Chief in 1957.
9. Jeep CJ Laredo
While it’s admittedly a long haul from Utah, we simply had to swing through Laredo, Texas on our road trip. The Laredo package added some luxury bits like chrome accents and leather seats to help push the utilitarian Jeep CJ more mainstream—paving the way for the commercial success of later Wrangler models.
8. Toyota Tacoma
Not to be outdone by its domestic counterparts, Toyota got into the truck name game in 1995 when it rechristened its North American pickup the Tacoma. Thanks to Washington State’s mountains, lakes, and natural splendor, we couldn’t think of a better way to start the home stretch on our road trip as we head down Highway 101.
7. Mercury Monterey
Because of the Golden State’s place in automotive pop culture, this road trip ends in California—with our first stop in Monterey Bay. The Monterey was born in the early 1950s and became a bit of a chameleon for Mercury, adapting over its lifespan to denote budget, mid-tier, and luxury trims/models.
It was one of Mercury’s longest-running nameplates too, before the Monterey was replaced by the Marquis in the mid 1970s.
6. Chevy Malibu
Continuing down the California coastline, we’ll start hitting the beaches and suburbs around Los Angeles, beginning with a stop in Malibu. Though most gearheads know of the name’s origin as a trim level on the Chevelle during the 1960s, folks often forget that the Malibu became its own model in the 1970s—and ironically, it replaced the Chevelle entirely in Chevy’s midsize lineup.
5. Pontiac Ventura
We’ve got a pair of Pontiacs coming up on the California horizon. First up is the Ventura, named after the popular surfing destination, Ventura Beach. Originally a trim package on the Catalina, Pontiac moved the Ventura to its own nameplate in 1971. Sharing GM’s X-body with cars like the Chevy Nova, the Ventura soldiered on until the end of the decade.
Fun fact: The legendary GTO faded away as an option package on the Ventura in 1975 before returning as a rebadged Holden Monaro in the early 2000s.
4. Pontiac Catalina
Famous for its wine mixers, the Island of Santa Catalina is also the namesake for several full size Pontiacs. Like many names on this list, the Catalina first bowed as a trim level in the early 1950s before moving into a standalone nameplate a few years later. Following a similar arc as the Malibu above, the Catalina was downsized in the late 1970s before disappearing entirely in 1981.
3. Chevy Bel Air
Back on the U.S. mainland, we have to make an obligatory stop in the affluent Bel Air suburb of Los Angeles. Seeing as the Bel Air neighborhood is a haven for TV and film celebrities, it’s perhaps fitting that the Bel Air is one of Chevy’s most famous models. Yet after its halo years between 1955-57, the once-posh Bel Air was diminished in the 1970s to an austere base package destined for fleet sales.
2. Chevy Chevelle Laguna
One of the more obscure nameplates on this list, our road trip takes us to Laguna Beach, California, just south of Los Angeles.
The Laguna showed up in 1973 on Colonnade-era Chevelles to slot above the Malibu as the top trip level. You could get the Laguna as a coupe, sedan, or a wagon—but things got really interesting in 1974 when the Laguna Type S-3 became Chevy’s homologation special for NASCAR. You can read all about the Laguna Type S-3 here.
1. Cadillac Eldorado
As sort of a portmanteau of El Dorado, our road trip concludes with a final top-down cruise through El Dorado county, California in a classic Cadillac. After that, we can travel to South America and begin an epic quest to discover the legendary Lost City of Gold…
…Or maybe we can just head back to the office and let our boss take a break. Whatever.
And that’s it, our tour is done. While we would’ve loved to visit places like Sebring, Florida or Baja California, we’ve run out of vacation days.
But maybe we make plans for another trip next year? And perhaps we’ll hit up some destinations for you two-wheel fans out there. We could start in Lake Elsinore, California, head back to Utah, then return across the Atlantic for some mountain-hopping through the Alps, Himalayas, and Urals?
We’d love to hear your travel agent’s recommendations, so give us your best destinations in the comments section below!