Car names: a Volt from the blue

And so it is called “Volt.”  This is Chevrolet’s battery-powered, concept car, disentangled from any encumbering metaphors. Shown at the January Detroit Automobile Show, “Volt” announces itself crisp and clean.  It therefore stands in contradiction to the long American tradition of automobile literary definition. 

Once upon a time Plymouth produced a “Barracuda,” Studebaker a “Dictator," Ford a “Mustang”; and for real hauteur, there was the Chrysler Crown Imperial.

Across the Pacific Ocean, on the island empire of Japan, in the 1970s, were spelled out in English, car models such as these: the Toyota “Chasser Lordly,” the Mazda “Carol,” the Toyota “Sprinter,” and, for sheer roadside comfort, the Mitsubishi “Guppy.”

Perhaps the finest automobile to zoom down a highway has been the Mercedes, named after a company dealer in southern France who wanted to—and certainly did—memorialize his daughter’s name.

The most familial sounding, endearing automobile was, of course, the “Tin Lizzy,”(Ford’s reliable Model T), so named long before automobile advertising on television showed what happens when testosterone and gasoline are mixed. 

Ray Betts