x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Top 5: Cars named after fish

There have been plenty of vehicles named after wild animals and reptiles, but fish? Here are five vehicles in all their aquatic glory.

Corvette Sting Ray.
Corvette Sting Ray.

Plymouth Barracuda

So the story goes, one of the finest-looking muscle cars of the early 1970s was very nearly called the "Panda". Phew. As a fish, the barracuda is a fearsome predator; as a car it was less so, but when the 1964 original was phased out it became much more muscular and the 1970 Barracuda turned into one of the most desirable American cars of all, some variants having huge V8 power. The oil crisis of 1973 killed it off but it's only a matter of time before the Barracuda name makes an ovedue comeback.

Corvette Sting Ray

Ask anyone to come up with a car named after a fish and this is the obvious one. Unlike the sea dweller, though, the 'Vette's name is split into two and while the bottom feeder was responsible for the demise of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, the car was, and always will be, adored by the world at large. It was often underpowered but always looked exciting thanks to being low slung, having pop-up headlamps and often side exhausts. It lasted two generations, from 1962 to 1982.

Opel Manta

Forget the Ford Capri, this was the car that really got European boy racers excited in the 1970s and '80s. Oddly, it was marketed in the UK as an Opel, while all the other models in the range were Vauxhalls. But this did serve to add a certain appeal, as did the fact that it was rear-wheel drive, meaning it could go sideways even with a puny 110hp engine (in its most powerful street guise). Always good looking, always shoddily built, most of them crumbled into piles of brown powder but find a good one and keep it that way as values are rising.

AMC Marlin

An incredible looking fish, the marlin is also fast, able to reach speeds of up to 110kph. Unfortunate, then, that its four-wheeled namesake was a visual (and sales) disaster that offered precious little in the way of excitement. It was supposed to attract younger buyers who wanted sportiness without premium price tags but failed to capture the imagination of that market. Still, it was good value, well equipped and was one of the first US production cars to be fitted with front disc brakes as standard.

AMT Piranha

Probably the only way you'll ever get to see an AMT Piranha is on reruns of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The show's sleuths needed something pretty futuristic to get about in and AMT was a model-making company tasked with producing a full-sized car for the series. The Piranha got the go-ahead. Several were made as kit cars and still exist but the television car was the most special, with (fake) flame-throwers, laser beams, rocket launchers, smoke machines and machine guns. It was even more scary than the actual fish.