This has been a fun adventure, so far. I’m glad so many of my readers and friends have had fun with it, too.
I really didn’t do an exact count, but somewhere in excess of 100 name ideas for my van were submitted. The diversity of individuals who submitted names was terrific. Some were current or previous vandwellers. Some were friends I’ve known for anywhere from the past few years to over 40 years. I don’t have a huge family, but even some family members threw a few names in the hat. Many names came in from people I don’t know but who follow me through my blog. The key to all of it was the creativity.
Remember, we’re talking about a four-wheel machine that was designed as a utilitarian mode of transportation. It’s being converted into a cross between a magic carpet and a very compact condo on wheels. It will all at once be converting my dreams of living free into realities and helping others formulate their own dreams of living free.
I am looking for a name that has a connection to the present, but also might hold some degree of nostalgia and, as I graduate in the future to another van type vehicle in the form of a Class B, moderate sized Class C or a small Class A motor home, can carry on the legacy of this first gypsy wagon.
I also was taken by the GMC motor homes built from 1972 until 1978.
And I recently looked at a 1976 FMC motor coach, a gas engine pusher design that was built from 1973 to 1976. Only a few over 1,000 were ever built and reportedly 700 to 800 of them are still on the road. The FMC was considered an upscale 29’ motor home and found favor with racecar superstar drivers like Mario Andretti, major entertainers like Clint Eastwood and Carol Burnett and the late Charles Kuralt’s last “On the Road” coach was an FMC. I came very close to buying a beautiful 1975 FMC at the end of 1979, but I was closing on a new home the same week the coach was offered to me at about half the going price for a used FMC at the time. All my resources were tied up in the house. So, alas, that dream passed.
I’ve owned several vans over my lifetime beginning with a 1965 VW microbus with its 40 hp, air-cooled, lawnmower engine to the current van that will carry the new name. I worked and slept in four of the seven. So, while I was certainly a lot more adventurous when I started out in 1969/70 with my VW microbus as a young, mid-20’s Airman in the U.S. Air Force, the dream of a nomadic gypsy wagon and the freedom of the road has never left. The philosophy of living and working free has simply been resurrected from a nearly 40 year Rip Van Winkle like nap.
So, here I am about 42 years after trading my 1967, sleek, black Mustang fastback for the 1965 VW Microbus (what was I thinking?) with that same sparkle in my eye, dream in my heart and old Willie Nelson’s song, “On the Road Again” on my lips. This is the dream and the romance of the road that I desire to capture with this name. It’s no different then the mariner naming his vessel. This vehicle will become part of me and me part of it. Somehow I feel like the connection will be more intimate then that of a fixed, sticks and bricks house.
So, after mulling over these names for a month and little by little deleting names from the list, here is the short list that seems to meet most of my requirements. I am not going to reveal the source of the names, but I will add my own interpretation.
1. Vanessa – the person providing the name suggested that it sounds sexy, but classy. I have to agree. I don’t know why, I’ve never actually met a woman named Vanessa, but for some reason, I’ve always felt she would be really hot and sexy like the “toon” wife of Roger Rabbit, Jessica. Maybe it’s Kathleen Turner’s sexy voice characterization of Jessica. But, fantasy aside, the name is female and boats often have female names and the word “van” is very prominent. Coincidentally, this is the first name submitted.
2. Vantasia – I like this coined name because it has the word van in it very prominently and it has an obvious connection with the great 1940 animated Walt Disney movie Fantasia. It really allows for a broad spectrum of ideas.
3. Cramalot – I thought this was a very creative idea. It has the wonderful connection to the Legendary King Arthur and the, to date, still mythical castle of Camelot. The unique juxtaposition of cramming a lot into what might be considered a small, mobile castle is interesting.
So far, all of these names can be carried forward to potential successor vehicles.
4. The VANquisher – This name again has a nice historical flair to it and at the same time a kind of mythical, super-hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger, aggressive attitude and with the word VAN very prominent. Interesting!
5. The Nomad Pad – This gives me that laid back, hippie, Partridge Family bus crossover with the Arlo Guthrie “Alice’s Restaurant” VW microbus, folk singing era feel. I’m not sure it’s IT, but I kinda like it.
6. The Roamad – Now, I thought this was cool. The word “roam” morphed into the word “nomad” to result in a coined word – Roamad. It’s descriptive and fills most of the requirements including that it can pass on to successor vehicles.
7. Promad – this is another coined word that combines my self-proclaimed title as a “professional nomad” into a single word. It’s interesting, but I’m feeling like it’s more about describing me then the van.
8. Mini-McVansion – This one caught my imagination as soon as I saw it. There is so much that is said by this name. First of all, McVansion is a wonderful, in my opinion, satire on the oversized homes, many of which are now sitting with foreclosure signs on them and we’ve affectionately dubbed “McMansions.” That word was inspired, of course by McDonalds with their billions and billions sold. So, instead of a mansion, it’s a van . . . sion. Modifying with the Mini- upfront further puts everything into perspective. It’s very creative. It lends itself to at least a couple nicknames like “Minnie” and “MickeyV” or even “MinnieV”. Certainly it can carry through to successor vehicles. But, I wonder if it may be a bit faddish – in other words, will it maintain its meaning five or ten years from now when the “McMansion” moniker and fad may have passed. Will anyone remember what a McMansion was.
9. McVansion – This is obviously a spinoff on the previous name with the obvious elimination of the Mini- I like it because it’s shorter, still carries much the same satire and counterpoint to the McMansion idea, but it eliminates two of the possible nicknames, which doesn’t bother me all that much. I have the same questions about the faddish aspect.
10. Vanmanos – Yet, another interesting play on words, in this case a Spanish word, vamanos. The most common translation of the word that I can find is “let’s go” or “let’s get out of here.” Well, turning the first syllable into van - manos, in my interpretation means, Let’s go Van. More loosely it could mean “this van is on the go.” Again, a coined word that I believe has some potential in this context.
11. Star Cruiser or
12. Star Cruzer – It’s the same idea with a slightly different spelling. These go off in another direction. There is a Star Trekish, futuristic feel to this possibility. I’m personally drawn to the Cruzer version mainly because it’s different. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but I have always enjoyed the Star Trek series, its sequels and the movies. I’m also a Star Wars fan. I’m not overly obsessed by either series, but I do enjoy them. Since I have had a hand in video production during my media career, I’m sure I’m attracted to these TV/movie series by the special effects and production qualities. There is something futuristic and maybe a bit kitschy. Will it hold up?
So, those are the 12 names I’ve narrowed it down to at this point. The “shortlist,” if you will. There were a lot of other names, but they just didn’t seem to have the panache I’ve been looking for. I gave all of them some consideration. Each time I’d look out at the van or take a drive in it, I’d imagine how it would feel having the particular name I was considering affixed on the vehicle. I thought about it as someone naming a boat and painting that name on the stern would consider a name. Would it present the image I’m after. Would I feel confident giving someone an “elevator speech” about the meaning of my van’s name and my lifestyle? An elevator speech, by the way, is a short, 30 to 60 second, typically, an introduction that a sales person or someone having a very limited period of time, like the time you spend in an elevator, has to introduce himself or herself and make a memorable impression on someone they don’t know.
So, I’m going to put this back out to you all to help me narrow it down to three names out of the twelve names I’ve listed. Actually, four of the names are really closer to two names since there are either a simple spin off or a spelling modification. Use my earlier prelude into introducing these names and my explanations of how I interpreted the names to assist you in your decisions. Obviously, those of you who submitted the names listed will most likely vote for your own name, as would I. So, I’m going to ask everyone who wants to vote to select three of the twelve names and submit them. I’ll tally the votes and let you know which were the three names that received the most votes. Please only vote one time.
Again, if you’d like to help me select the final name for my van.
- Select the three names that you like best.
- Use only the number assigned to each name, don’t spell out the name
- Send the three numbers to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org OR leave the three numbers as a comment to this blog post on my blog site
That’s it. I’ll accept these votes until midnight Eastern Time (9 PM Pacific Time) Friday night June 8th.
Then I’ll tally the votes and let you all know the top three names. After that I’m not sure if I’ll select the name or I’ll allow you to vote one more time for THE name out of the three that will become the name of my van.
I’ve never used such a democratic process as I’m doing with this van naming before. I’ve always been a benevolent (at least I think I was) dictator. But, I’m having a great time with this process and I hope you’re having fun helping me with this process. And, again, thanks to everyone who has been playing along.