Car names are fascinating. Historically manufacturers either wanted their family name on the vehicles, for example Ford, Ferrari or Lamborghini, or they wanted a fast animal – Jaguar or Panther spring to mind. In some cases manufacturers were named after notable people: De Soto (after an explorer) or Cadillac (after the founder of Detroit).
Dropping down a level to a particular model, if a car isn’t named with letters or numbers, for example Jaguar XJ6, Ferrari F430 or BMW 760, naming often represents speed – more animal names come to mind as do winds. Here’s a list of winds, where they are – and the manufacturers that used it.
This is a northeasterly from eastern Europe to northeast Italy. It is a katabatic wind – one that drops from a high altitude due to gravity and picks up speed as it goes. It is a winter wind that starts high up in Croatia and Slovenia and heads down over Venice to the Adriatic Sea.
Both Maserati and Volkswagen have used the Bora name for different types of car. The Maserati Bora was a 2 seater built in the 1970s and powered by their V8s of the time – either a 4.7 or 4.9 litre. The Volkswagen was a saloon built from the late 1990s and powered by a range of four, five and six cylinder motors up to about 2.8 litres.
This wind is a warm, dry westerly off the Rockies – in the Pacific Northwest and affects Alberta in Canada too. Like the Bora, it is a wind that drops down a mountainside quickly warming everything as it goes having dropped most of its moisture at the higher altitudes. No cars have been named after it, however, several aircraft and the most famous helicopter of all take their names from this wind.
This is a hot, dry, offshore wind from the northeast in the San Francisco Bay and is another name for the Santa Ana that is in southern California. This is a fairly recent naming and happened in the media after the 1991 Oakland firestorm – the East Bay Hills Fire, which was whipped up by winds from the Diablo Mountains and Valley nearby.
Lamborghini are the most famous user of the name – their Diablo was a V12 supercar built mostly during the 1990s. It was the successor to the Countach. Diablo means “devil” in Spanish – remember that California was settled by the Spanish in the 16th century and then was controlled by Mexico – in what was then New California.
The Ghibli is a fast wind that comes up from the Sahara in northern Africa. It is one of several Mediterranean winds that will appear in this list! The Ghibli, which is the Libyan name for the wind, is sucked up from the desert and then mixes with other wetter winds in the Mediterranean sea. Thus it is a fast wind that is very dry in Africa, causes storms over water as it mixes and then dumps its rain over southern Europe!
Maserati have now built 3 versions of the Ghibli, the first was a 2+2 from the late 1960s using similar engines to the Bora. The second version was built in the 1990s and was a biturbo two door saloon that spawned several other cars and the third version is in production today as a larger 4 door saloon.
Much more than a wind – but a Mayan God of wind! The Mayans believed that Huracan was one of the creators of land and humans and as such through wind and fire had the ability to take it away as well! Huracan is also the Spanish word for Hurricane.
Lamborghini have also used this name for their V10 replacement of the Gallardo.
Another God of wind – from the Quechua people who lived in the Andes. He was believed to manifest himself as a hurricane or whirlwind.
Pagani used this name as the successor to the Zonda only this time using a biturbo AMG V12! Like De Tomaso, the company is Italian with an Argentinian founder: Horacio Pagani.
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that can be found in the Atlantic or north eastern Pacific Ocean. They can be wildly destructive when they hit land after gaining power out over the water. The media love them as it brings with them a constant news cycle – the inhabitants of urban areas affected, hate them as everything gets destroyed.
Jeep had a concept called the Hurricane.
A wind that blows south westerly across the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.
Maserati used this name for a shortened Biturbo Spyder with a fixed roof and powered by the 2.8 litre twin-turbo V6. Only about 250 were made.
This is another name for a Ghibli or Sirocco! The name comes from Egypt and means “fifty”, after the fifty days that it blows during spring time.
Maserati used this name for another mid 1970s 2+2 sports coupe, in fact it replaced the first version of the Ghibli and used the same 4.9 litre V8.
Levante (or Levant)
This is an easterly through the Straits of Gibraltar. It rises near the Balearic Islands and gains force as it is squashed through the Straits. The Rock at Gibraltar often has the Levanter cloud hanging over it.
Maserati’s SUV takes this name. A competitor to a wide variety of no name SUVs such as the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML series, the Audi Q series and the strangely named Jaguar F-Pace.
This is a cool northerly summer time wind in the Adriatic sea. It is an opposite to the Bora and Mistral winds being a mild sea breeze.
Austin Morris built the Maestro, a 4 door mid sized saloon in Britain. It even had an MG version. I suspect that they called it after the word for “master”, although the reference to a mild sea breeze is quite apt – it was a mild, uninspiring vehicle!
This wind is a cold northerly from central France and the Alps into the Mediterranean. Like the Maestro, it is named after the “Master” and is known for being strong thanks to being pushed through valleys that speed it up. It is also known to cleanse the atmosphere and is a reaction to a high coming in from the ocean and a low in the Mediterranean sea. It thus pushes the cooler and cleaner air down across southern France.
Maserati used this name for their 1960s 2+2 that started with a 3 litre straight 6 and finished with a 4 litre. It was replaced by the first series Ghibli! It can be said that this car started the marque’s fascination with wind!
The Passat is a medium strong, constant blowing wind at sea in tropical areas. It is a trade wind – and is the German word for it. The top and bottom of the world have westerlies that are quite fierce and stormy. The trade winds in the middle allowed ships to be pushed typically eastwards to access spices and other valuable commodities.
Volkswagen used a local word for their saloon built for the last 40 years. It is a mid range family vehicle. I remember when the Passat was launched in 1973 – as a family we would travel to the Alps in summer and I remember seeing the new cars.
The Roaring Forties are the westerly winds that helped Europeans discover Asia and Australia! The name refers to the westerlies that run along the 40th parallel passed the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Go too far south and you enter the Furious Fifties!
There is a replica of the Ford GT40 built by Roaring Forties in Victoria in Australia using modern technologies.
The Shamal is a summer northwesterly wind blowing over Iraq and the Persian Gulf states. It can be quite violent and cause massive dust storms. Shamals can be either a summer or winter version and head down from Turkey and are caused by two jet streams meeting due to atmospheric conditions – the northern jet stream moves south towards the southern jet stream. The pressure in between causes the Shamal.
Maserati replaced the Khamsin with the Shamal – based on the series two Ghibli! There is an old saying in Britain that if you are “three sheets to the wind”, you are drunk. Maserati designers were certainly “three winds to the sheet” – drunk with excitement over their evolution! It was a good choice of name because it was a lightweight powerhouse with a 3.2 litre biturbo V8 producing 320hp and no driver aids, so it needed a competent pilot! Only about 370 were produced.
This is another name for a Ghibli! A southerly from north Africa to southern Europe. The name is derived from Spanish or Greek origins.
Volkswagen have built three versions of their sports 2+2 using this name. All cars have shared running gear with various iterations of the Golf, although the Sirocco is a much more sportier 2+2. The series 2 was replaced by the Corrado – a car that I thought was a great design, especially with the automatic rear wing!
This is a strong offshore wind off the California coast near Santa Barbara. Residents know when a Santa Ana wind is coming because the Sundowner precedes it! The coast here is east/west rather than north/south and carries winds off the mountains like a Bora – heating up as they go, which doesn’t help during the wildfire season.
Mazda used the Sundowner name in some markets for the rebadged B Series light truck which was in essence a Ford Courier or Ranger. American Motors used the name on their Pacer for a special edition designed for Californian emissions and safety rules in 1975.
A wild and windy storm – made famous by Shakespeare!
Pontiac and Tornado (see below) used this name for cars. The Pontiac version shared a platform with Buick and Oldsmobile. The Pontiac version used a design by John DeLorean and was optionally fitted with a version of the Buick 215 cubic inch V8. There were four generations – all badge re-engineered cars.
Everyone has seen a tornado on the news or film – it is a wildly rotating air mass sometimes called a twister. Tornado is derived from the Spanish word for thunderstorm.
Ford built an FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles) F6 saloon in Australia called the Tornado. Chevrolet used the name on a light truck and there was a British car company called the Tornado in the 1960s who produced the Tempest and Typhoon models using Ford components. Benelli used it for several motorcycles from Italy.
This is a cold northwesterly from the Pyrenees or northeasterly from the Alps to the Mediterranean and similar to a Mistral. Tramontana is the Italian name for Tramontane which is the actual name of the wind and means “beyond the mountains”, a reference to where it comes from!
There is a Spanish sports car company named after this wind who produce a Mercedes-Benz V12 powered inline 2 seater inspired by a jet fighter or single seater racing car using techniques and concepts from F1.
A typhoon is another name for a hurricane and can be found in the north western Pacific Ocean.
The typhoon name has been used a lot by the military for aircraft and other equipment. The FPV F6 ute in Australia and GMC also had a truck named after it. Rambler built a special version of their coupe and in the UK, Armstrong Siddeley also built a coupe called the Typhoon. Even Piaggio built a scooter named after the wind, although I suspect that it wasn’t as quick!
A Zephyr is a very light west wind, similar to a Maestro. The name derives from the Greek God of the west wind – Zephyrus. He was responsible for the winds that signified Spring time – a new beginning each year. There are many Greek legends about his life – some would make you blush!
There have been trains, planes and automobiles named after Zephyr. The Ford family including Lincoln and Mercury have used the name. I remember the British Ford Zephyrs from the late 1950s and 1960s – the Z cars with the Zodiac. Kawasaki have named a range of naked sports bikes after the wind as well.
On the eastern slope of the Andes in Argentina flows the Zonda, another downwards, dry but warm wind like the Chinook, Santa Ana and Sundowner winds. Like the others it is called a foehn wind. The Zonda (a Spanish word) comes in during the afternoon using polar maritime winds to load up and drop moisture up in the Andes before drying and heating up as it flows off the mountain range.
Pagani have used this name for one of their extreme supercars, like the Spanish Tramontana using a Mercedes-Benz sourced motor, this time from AMG.
We know that winds can be fast and destructive – and many cars on this list can also have these attributes. The world would be a poorer place if all cars had bland made-up names.