On the face of it, it’s funny how many people give their car a name. A lump of smoky metal you drive hither and thither hardly seems worth investing with a soul and a title, no matter how smooth the ride is, how much power the engine produces, or how great the deal is on its car insurance.
But people do fall in love with their cars and end up giving them a personality – so it’s not just common a VW be dubbed or a Chrysler be christened, it’s something of a recognized tradition. You might not realize it but even Dr. Who’s faithful Tardis has a name: Bessie, to be exact.
So, to celebrate our fine four-fendered friends, here’s a list of the top 5 most famous cars with human names, in no particular order.
1. Herbie the Love Bug
Sure, ‘Herbie’ isn’t exactly a popular name nowadays – it was considered an ‘old uncle’ name even in the first of the Herbie franchises, way back in 1968. Though the little Volkswagen ‘Love Bug’ regularly demonstrates a sprightly impetuousness that’s usually associated with youth, still the name fits: ‘Herbie’ is diminutive and sweet which suits the small, cute but sometimes short-tempered car right down to his 53.
2. KITT from Knightrider
‘Kit’ is usually short for Christopher or Katherine – but in the case of the Hoff’s super-logical supercar, it’s an acronym of Knight Industries Two Thousand. Like the renaissance playwright that shares his name, Kit is sensitive and smart but tough, too – a kit car with a snappy but practical attitude that perfectly matches his moniker.
3. Benny from Roger Rabbit
This smart-talking taxi from Roger Rabbit runs on pure New York attitude – sometimes annoying, ever-sarcastic but certainly a good buddy to have when you’re in a jam (and not only of the traffic variety). Appearing at opportune moments with a quip and an inane topic of conversation at the ready, he’s not afraid to take a shortcut: of course it takes a ‘Benny’ to effectively navigate the bends of Toontown.
The only lady on our list and, as it happens, the only christened car that’s pure, murderous evil. Christine is a vintage Plymouth Fury that’s bought and lovingly restored by the nerdy Arnie – and as an unhealthy obsession blossoms in the breast of the boy, it becomes apparent that his feelings are being fueled by the sinister soul of the car. Christine is not a placid lover: her outrageous jealousy and protective instinct mean a sticky end for several of Arnie’s friends, foes and family members. As the tagline goes, ‘Hell hath no fury…like a 1958 Plymouth.’
5. Henry the Van
This could be seen as a bit of a cheat – Henry isn’t a car and isn’t really famous as such. But, he embodies an important part of the car-with-human-name tradition. He’s the subject of a beautifully sad song by Danny and the Champions of World which laments the timely demise of their faithful tour bus – it splutters to death by the roadside with wounds no van insurance could fix. Even if you can’t drive, you can understand that it’s perfectly encapsulating the sense of helpless but self-aware loss you feel when an old banger finally bites the bullet.
** THIS ARTICLE WAS UPDATED ON 12-27-2017