Paws-power – the best cars named after cats
Paws-power – the best cars named after cats
Happy International Cat Day! Pet owners adore their moggies, but it’s fair to say that a great number of car owners do as well. In fact, there are few animals which have given so much to the motoring community, and we’ve rounded up some truly meow-vellous examples below.
We’re not kitten you, these fur-midable motors live up to their monikers and prove to the legions of dog owners that cats are truly the superior animal. After all, nobody would buy a Ford Corgi, would they?
Sit back, stretch out and cough up a dead bird while we take you through the best cars to be named after, inspired by or simply look like cats.
Initially the Swallow Sidecar Company, and then S.S Cars, the company built their first car under the Jaguar brand in 1935. Today, it offers two incarnations of the big cat logo – the classic ‘Leaper’ and the more striking ‘Growler’, which you’ll find adorning the grille of every modern Jag. Though the firm’s cars are virtually unrecognisable from the very first Jaguars, the company’s ethos of space, grace and pace is alive and well.
Matra isn’t exactly a well-known name anymore, as the French brand was absorbed into Renault in 2003. But when functioning, it built some staggering cars. The Bagheera – whose name will be familiar to anybody who’s seen the Jungle Book – is a striking three-seat sports car that well lives up to its panther namesake.
This is one go-anywhere feline. An evolution on the Land Rover Defender, the Bowler Wildcat was available with a 5.0-litre V8 engine and a variety of hardcore off-road mechanicals, which helped it to conquer any terrain it encountered. Its origins in the Dakar Rally mean that it has been tried-and-tested in the harshest of environments, and made the Wildcat one tough moggy indeed.
Dodge Challenger Hellcat
If you’re after all-out power, then look no further than the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. It produces over 700bhp, thanks to a supercharged Hemi V8 engine. It’s all packaged up in a square, squat body that evokes all of the looks of a classic muscle car. This is one cat which few other cars will be able to out-pace.
The snazzily-named Panther was a British firm that liked to do things a little differently, often adding luxury fittings onto existing cars. The Six was rather different – an insane six-wheeled supercar with an 8.2-litre V8 engine, ridiculous luxury trimmings and some seriously bold claims of a 200mph top speed. Sadly, only two were ever built, and the record was never verified.
You’d forgiven for having never heard of the Nissan Leopard — having been designed specifically for the Japanese market — but it had a real pounce about it.
Based on the Nissan Skyline (not the ultra-fast GT-R though, sadly), it was designed to chase the tail of the Toyota, er, Chaser. Although sales in it its home country weren’t terrible, it could never really claw its way into a lead over a respectable 19 years and four generations of production. Maybe some leopard print would’ve helped shift some…
The Vauxhall Corsa might not seem the greatest place to start when building a small coupe named after a Tiger, but the Tigra actually managed to elevate itself over its rather humble underpinnings. Throughout two generations it remained sharply styled and rather popular, though it never rivalled the Ford Puma for driving dynamics.
This particular cat-named car has humble beginnings, having been based on the Sunbeam Alpine roadster. The tiny four-cylinder engine in that reserved machine never had the roar you’d associate with a real performance machine, but that all changed when the legendary Carroll Shelby got his hands to it.
Out went the little motor and in came a 4.3-litre Ford V8 offering plenty of purr in the tiny package — creating the Sunbeam Tiger. Although it never gained the fame of the similar Shelby Cobra, this cool cat offered serious performance and easy modability — making it a favourite with hot rodders at the time.
Ford’s previous big coupe – the Probe – had not been well received. Contemporary road tests named it too soft, too stale and too American. The Cougar was to be the remedy to that, and it did a good job indeed.
Though we’re sad that the Probe’s pop-up headlights disappeared, the sharply-styled Cougar was excellent to drive and showed that Ford could still produce a large coupe that drove well.
While the Puma was hardly purr-fect with its notorious rust problem, it was light on its feet and looked smart as well. And for those wanting a more angry kitten, Ford offered a limited edition ‘Racing’ version – developed by the Ford rallying team.
The Plymouth Prowler is an odd looking thing, right? Part car, part drag-racer, it looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. However, with a powerful V6 engine under the bonnet, this is very much a car of reality and even featured useful day-to-day touches like keyless entry and air conditioning. Mean and paw-pussful looking, there are few cars that look quite like the Prowler.
The Leon name, just like the rest of the Seat range, is named after a locale in the manufacturer’s native Spain. However, since the Spanish word Leon translates to Lion, this in – in a tenuous sense – a car with a feline alias.
While the Peugeot moniker comes from the distinctly un-feline founder Armand, the brand is very much associated with lions thanks to its highly-recognisable logo.
The original Peugeot lion looks significantly different from today’s equivalent, with the logo depicting it on all four paws, walking on an arrow. This version was phased out in 1912, and the most recognisable Peugeot lion arrived in September 1975. The brand likes to pay homage to its lion heritage through its modern cars, which feature tail-lights designed to look like cat’s claw marks and often a trim level named ‘Feline’.
This may be a stretch, as the humble electrically-powered Leaf has absolutely nothing to do with cats, felines or moggies. Although under the skin lies a lithium-ion battery – or Li-On, for short.
… we’ll show ourselves out.
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