What's in a car's name? © 2022 J. Dean

Why Name an SUV After a Submarine?

That is the question of the day.

John Dean
2 min readJan 28, 2023

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In January 1954, Mamie christened the USS Nautilus, the world's first operational nuclear submarine. The ship served proudly until 1980. The sub is now a museum piece, on permanent exhibit in Connecticut at the Submarine Force Library and Museum. That's why I was surprised by what I found in a parking lot at a shopping mall in Florida.

Photo by Victor-ny via Wikipedia

Despite its name, the Nautilus I saw, captured in the photograph at the top of this article, doesn't look like a submarine. It is much, much smaller. It is also shiner than one would expect a sub to be.

Of course, what I saw was not a naval vessel. It was an SUV named after the USS Nautilus or, perhaps, Jules Verne's Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

The Nautilus at Disney World via Wikimedia

Are you familiar with the SUV Nautilus? Do you know who manufactures it? Perhaps more importantly, what prompted some auto executive to name an SUV after a submarine?

A website, betweentheaxels.net has tackled (or attempted to tackle) the question of what's behind an SUV named Nautilus. They tell us:

The word Nautilus is Latin for sailor, and comes from the Ancient Greek word ναυτίλος (pronounced, roughly, as naftilios).

They admit they don't know whether the Nautilus SUV is named after Verne's Nautilus, but tell us:

Verne’s fictional Nautilus was named after Robert Fulton’s Nautilus, which is widely considered to be world’s first working submarine. Fulton, interestingly enough, was an American, but he lived in France and created the Nautilus under commission from Napoleon Bonaparte.

They also explain:

Scientifically, the nautilus name is used by a species of mollusc (see below) that live in the Pacific ocean. Their natural habitat are the steep cliffs surrounding coral reefs, and they are usually found several hundred (980+ feet) below sea level.

To avoid a possibly tragic misunderstanding, the group advises against attempting to drive the Nautilus SUV underwater. That is good advice.

Do you know who makes the Nautilus, how they came up with the name, and whether you can think of a reason to name an SUV "Nautilus?"

© 2022 J. Dean

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John Dean

Writing on politics, photography, nature, the environment, dogs, and, occasionally, humor. Editor of Dean’s List.