The baby name Miata appeared in the U.S. data for a little more than a decade, 1989 to 1999, and saw peak usage in the early ’90s:
1993: 19 baby girls named Miata
1992: 17 baby girls named Miata
1991: 25 baby girls named Miata [peak]
1990: 25 baby girls named Miata [peak]
1989: 23 baby girls named Miata [debut]
The inspiration, of course, was the Mazda MX-5 Miata — a lightweight, two-seat, open-top roadster that was unveiled in February of 1989 and went on sale in the U.S. the following May.
The sporty car became popular right away, with the help of enthusiastic reviews like this one from Car and Driver (Sept. 1989):
With the new Miata, Mazda has brought back the simple, honest sports car we feared had vanished forever. No longer will we gaze in frustration at 1960s movies and their rakish Triumph TR4s and Lotus Elans and MGBs. Mazda has resurrected those barnstorming sports-car times in one spectacular, up-to-date package.
According to one source, the name of the car came from the Old High German word miata, meaning “a reward” or “due amount of praise.” Interestingly, the name was used only in the North American market.
The Italian island of Capri has been inhabited for millennia, but very few Americans were naming their babies “Capri” before Ford introduced the Lincoln Capri in the early 1950s:
1955: 6 baby girls named Capri
1954: 5 baby girls named Capri
1953: 7 baby girls named Capri [debut]
The car was on the market from 1952 to 1959 and, as far as I can tell, it was the very first car-inspired baby name to appear in the data. Since then, many different cars have inspired baby names (e.g., Camry, DeLorean, Miata, Porsche).
These days the name Capri is given to close to 200 baby girls per year, which puts it pretty close to the top 1,000.
The origin of the island name “Capri” isn’t known for certain, but it could be derived from the ancient Greek word kapros, meaning “wild boar,” or from the Latin word capreae, meaning “goats.”
Do you like the name Capri? Would you use it for a baby girl?
The baby name Wrangler debuted on the U.S. baby name charts in 1987.
So here’s the mystery: What caused the debut? Was the name inspired by Wrangler Jeans, or by the Jeep Wrangler? Or both?
Wrangler Jeans, which have been around since the 1940s, were available in trendy, tight-fitting “designer” styles during the ’80s (just like Jordache and Murjani). Wrangler commercials from that time period (e.g., 1, 2, 3) all featured the same catchy “live it to the limit in Wrangler” theme song.
The Jeep Wrangler was introduced in 1986. The Jeep Wrangler ads weren’t as eye-catching as the Wrangler Jeans ads, but it’s hard to overlook the correlation between the year the car came out and the year the name debuted, and the fact that new cars with decent names often do inspire baby name debuts (e.g., Chevelle, Allante, Miata).
My opinion? I think both products had some influence here.
A small number babies born prior to 1987 were named Wrangler, and I’m sure a few of them were named with the Jeans in mind. (Favorite example: James Levi Wrangler Dunlap, born in 1984.)
But I think the Jeep Wrangler is what gave the name enough of a boost in 1987 for us to see it on the baby charts.
What do you think?
(Interestingly, the baby name Wrangler was only on the SSA’s list once in the ’80s and a few more times during the ’90s, but it has appeared consistently on the charts since the turn of the century. Its best showing so far was in 2011, with 16 baby boys named Wrangler that year.)
Last month, Joy Lowther of Norfolk, England, went into labor while shopping in a local supermarket. Ten minutes later, she gave birth to a baby girl.
She and her boyfriend decided to name the baby Porsche, as one of their older children is called Mercedes. The other two are Frank* and Alfie — who’s now called Alfa, says Joy, “because the girls are named after cars.”
Joy plans to have one more baby. If it’s a boy, he’ll be called Bentley (a name that’s very trendy in the U.S. right now thanks to reality TV).
*Poor Frank. He’s the only sibling without a car name.
On that note, here’s a question for you: If you had a bunch of siblings (4+) and all but one of you had a name that fit a pattern, would you want one of the “in” names, or would you rather be the odd one out?