Name My Minivan

Does your car have a name? Mine usually do. Cars are important to me – they symbolize freedom and loud music, time to think and time to talk, and so much more. Whether it’s writer’s block or depression or a baby who refuses to nap, for me the answer can often be found in a long drive.

Old car, old friend, young me. :)
Riff Raff, spring 1993 (sunroof out). Old car, old friend, young me. 🙂

My very first and favorite car was a 1981 Datsun 510 named Riff Raff (affectionately and aptly named by my friend Flea after the surly butler in The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Riffy was a stick-shift with stained seats and a sunroof that had three positions: (1) closed, (2) open by two inches, and (3) sitting in the passenger seat. I went through four alternators in as many years with Riffy, and when we installed a CD player in it one year, I had to change a fuse out every few hours to keep the music and lights on. He took me to my first job at McDonald’s and to college at UGA. I loved that car.

Alas, not all first loves can last forever. Since Riff Raff, I’ve had a black Acura Integra coupe (named ‘The Blackura’ by a guy I worked with), a Ford Focus wagon that never felt quite right in my hands and ended up choosing my ex-husband in the divorce, a bright blue Honda Civic inadvertently named ‘Ave’ by a very drunk bar patron who was hitting on my friend Jeff, and the Subaru Outback now driven by Hubs. Originally that one was called Ruby the Subie, but now it’s been shortened to just plain Subie. Not super creative for such a great car, I know: I was pregnant with Monkey when we bought it — we were already struggling to name the baby, we couldn’t spare too much energy naming the car.

The minivan - in all its gray suburban glory
The minivan – in all its gray suburban glory

These days, my vehicle of choice is all about my motherly servitude status – a 2011 Toyota Sienna. It carts us to preschool and karate and birthday parties and Publix. It also, somewhat incongruously, takes me to business meetings and writing group. We try not to take it out for date night, but occasionally it happens. To be honest, I never thought I would be a minivan mom. I’ve always prided myself on being a little different, maybe even a little funky for a pasty chunk of a white girl. So the idea of finding myself in the grocery store parking lot, wondering which of the twelve gray minivans is mine… well, it wasn’t appealing. (PS – The first time that happened for real, I almost cried.)

So getting the van was a major concession to practicality, during which I had to leave my ego at the door. Well, the dual, automatic sliding doors and touch-button rear liftgate. They are pretty damn sweet, I must say. Yes, I admit it, now that I’ve traded in what little street cred I might have had for convenience, you’d be hard pressed to pry the keys to my minivan out of my hands. It drives like a luxury sedan, the speakers are actually decent, and there’s Just. So. Much. Room. You won’t believe the crap I can haul around in that thing for days and weeks at a time, without even thinking about it. There could be a colony of bats living in the back and we wouldn’t notice until we actually had to squeeze in the 8-passenger capacity.

For all its features, though, the Sienna is missing one important thing: a name. This is where I need your help.  My cars have always been best loved by me, but best named by others. So please, friends, will you put your minivan name suggestions in the comments? I will choose the winning name on Monday, March 10th, and the winner will get… I don’t know, something cool. Maybe one of those pine tree air fresheners.

Here are some parameters for you: I think the van is female (no stick, duh), but I will consider androgynous or unisex names as well. Innuendo is fine, but no actual profanity or offensive language. This is the name for our family minivan – my kids must be able to say it without getting a note sent home from school. A name can be awesome on its own merits, but I’d be interested in any background you have to support your case. I love literary references, song lyrics, etc. The van is sort of a steely gray and usually very, very dirty. It’s full of cheerios, stale goldfish, baby wipes, hot wheels cars, books, crayons and various detritus. I have two boys. We’re Jewish. We’re into pirates and baseball. We live in a place called Roswell, Georgia. You can take all or none of this into account.

If you read my blog via facebook or email, please visit the original post to comment so the names will all be in one place. If you like a suggestion someone else has made, please ‘vote’ for it by replying to their comment. I don’t promise to go with the crowd’s decision, but I will take your votes into consideration. Everyone who comments or votes by reply to another comment will get thrown into a hat for some sort of vaguely cool March prize I haven’t picked out yet. And… go!

[Update August 2018: My beautiful Vaneschewitz, sadly, was totaled in an accident in May of this year. I have a new car, RUBY the RAV4, who I love, but I miss my unassuming, faithful minivan every day. I still love reading the comments on this post as you guys search and suggest names for your own vehicles. Keep ’em coming!]

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I’m M.J. (Manda) Pullen, an author and mom in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I blog from the front seat of my Stepford-esque minivan about writing, publishing, parenthood, life in general, and the many lessons I’ve learned the hard way. Get my newsletter!

MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a Distracted Writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction -- her latest, SUGAR STREET released on 8/7/18. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

26 thoughts on “Name My Minivan”

  1. L.M. GodinaL.M. Godina

    The Diva

  2. LeslieLeslie

    Bucky Vanderpool

  3. Rob WRob W

    A couple of suggestions:

    ~ Van (or Von) Pullen (like Van Halen – except different, plus it is a music reference)

    ~ Vanischewitz

    ~ Vanderlust

    ~ eVANder

    • CourtneyCourtney

      Lol my son’s name is evander

  4. Faith WilliamsFaith Williams

    My possibly inappropriate suggestion: the Silver Bullet. Could tie in to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, if you feel the need to! Of course, having your kid say something about silver bullets in public could lead to some VERY interesting outcomes!

  5. Sally FeltSally Felt

    The Mothership. (Living in a place called Roswell clinched it.)

    BTW, Faith, I once had a car I called the Silver Bullet. She was a sassy little Honda CRX. Gods, I loved that car!)

    And yes, MJ. I name all my cars. From Ruggles (who I always imagined had an English butler’s voice) to Toots Sweet, to my current love, a bright blue Altima named Bop. I name my computers, too.

  6. Jan LystadJan Lystad

    Every car I’ve ever had has been named for a character from Star Wars. This happened because my first car was named Darth Vader long before I inherited it–it was a navy station wagon with a scary grill on the front and a “sports muffler”–that sounded rather like it’s namesake. I’ve since had Ben (aka Obi-Wan), and my current Rav4 is Leia, because of the tire (bun) on the back.

    For your names: I like the Mothership. Another (tongue-in-cheek) option: the Silver Shadow. Since it is nothing like the sleek Rolls Royce beauty.

  7. JenniferJennifer

    I always name my cars, too (current vehicle is Beatrice. I’ve had Elvis, Agnes, and Marty, too.). But I do also name some other inanimate objects. My computer & iPod both have names.

    I once worked with a woman who called her van VANessa (always written like that). That’s about the best I’ve got…a stolen suggestion. 🙂 (I suppose you could Georgia-ize the idea and go with SaVANnah?)

    Joan of Park? Maybe I should just quit while I’m ahead…

    There’s always Queen Anne’s Revenge for the pirate fans.

    I do like Sally’s suggestion of “The Mothership”…

  8. Minivan MomMinivan Mom

    I am looking to name my newly acquired VW Routan and enjoyed your post and responses, I currently have a Volvo wagon named “Helga” and a Honda Odyssey named “Homer” nothing has jumped at me yet, some one suggested Rudy or mystery machine….

  9. Lathisa GoreLathisa Gore

    I always name my vehicles too!! We’ve had Tia the Kia(Kia van)
    smurfette(bright blue Chrysler 200)
    Louie the liberty(Jeep liberty)
    But now we just bought a new Chrysler town and country van and we are trying to name it but the kiddos can’t agree lol
    My son wants Kirby
    But my daughter likes Vanna.
    Love reading all the suggestions on this post. We are still undecided!

  10. BethBeth

    I’m trying to name our black Honda Odyssey. So far all my great names have been rejected by my husband. Here’s my reject list in case someone thinks they’re great and can benefit from my struggle:
    Harriet (the Honda)
    Charlie
    Jack
    Vinny (Van Go)
    Quincy
    Betty

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