x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Top 5: Cars named after animals

From insects to racing hounds, here are five of our favourite vehicles that took their names, and inspiration, from the animal kingdom.

The Triumph Stag was an icon of the 1970s.
The Triumph Stag was an icon of the 1970s.

AC Cobra

The AC Cobra is possibly the most macho thing ever to run on four wheels. Originally designed as a successor to the pretty AC Ace, the Cobra emerged after American Carroll Shelby wanted a small, lightweight and powerful racing car to take on Chevrolet. The mighty Cobra did just that, and enjoyed some spectacular race wins, including at Le Mans. It's a widely held belief that, when testing the car on a UK motorway at 300kph, AC's engineers were responsible for the government implementing a 70mph (112kph) speed limit.

Ford Puma

In the early 1990s, Ford in Europe was in a mess, with a range of cars so dull that loyal customers deserted the brand in droves. Then along came the Focus, Ka and the sporty Puma, each redefining how small cars should drive. Small, light and futuristic, the Puma won over critics and put Ford back on the map. It's also noted for starring in one of the greatest television ads; when a digitally resurrected Steve McQueen drove one through the streets of San Fansisco, albeit at a less frantic pace than in the Bullitt car chase.

Triumph Stag

Hairy chests, mullet hairstyles, flared trousers, medallions and Triumph Stags - the 1970s man-about-town cut quite a dash. And while those questionable fashion icons faded over time, the Stag has quietly become a sought-after classic. Styled by Italian Giovanni Michelotti, the Stag featured a rollover roof bar connected to the windscreen with a T-bar to satisfy the US safety police. But its downfall was a specially (but under) developed V8 engine that proved woefully unreliable. Today, loyal enthusiasts have sorted that bit out.

Volkswagen Beetle

Did you know the original Beetle could float on water thanks to its sealed floor pans and quality of construction? We didn't, either. But what everyone surely knows is that it was conceived by Adolf Hitler, designed by Ferdinand Porsche and sold in the millions. In fact, it was in continuous production between 1938 and 2003 and a colossal 21,529,464 were built. Quirky, classic styling, reliable air cooled engines and enough room for a family of five, no wonder it was a such a hit.

Greyhound Bus

Yeah, we know. Greyhound is a company and they used loads of different buses. But come on, is there a more fitting icon for the freedom that Americans hold onto so tightly? Greyhound was responsible for a huge amount of young travellers getting to know the States in the 1950s, thanks to the special unlimited mileage offer of "99 days for $99", which works out at Dh2,800 today. And the silver liveried coaches have featured in countless Hollywood films, cementing its position as a household name worldwide.