What started off as a small article in a specialist car magazine has now grown into a larger project for illustrator Helge Jepsen and writer Michael Kockritz.
The pair have uncovered the nicknames of 99 classic and race cars, producing a comprehensive guide to the monikers of these famous motors.
Here is a selection of the best, accompanied by a brief overview of each car’s history.
McLaren M7A – Double Decker
Throughout the F1 World Championship season of 1968, the wing design of this McLaren grew over its front and rear axles, becoming the Double Decker.
This was due to the designers realising the importance of aerodynamics, and making use of downforce – the use of gravity and air resistance, used to press a vehicle to the ground – to go round corners faster.
VW Beetle/Kafer – Herbie
The star of countless Hollywood films since its first appearance in The Love Bug in 1968, Herbie is a Beetle that always bears the number 53.
With magical powers, Herbie can drive itself, scale walls and even wins races against cars that are significantly faster.
The last incarnation of Herbie was in 2005, when Lindsay Lohan played an aspiring racing car driver in Herbie: Fully Loaded.
Trabant 601 – Racing Cardboard
Often seen as a symbol for the failure of East Germany, from 1958 the Trabant was the go-to car for East Germans, with this model, the 601, being launched six years later.
The outer shell was made of Duroplast, a plastic impregnated with resin. This material gave the car the second half of its nickname, Racing Cardboard.
Land Rover SIIA SAS – Pink Panther
Despite its bubblegum exterior, there is a very serious reason for the colour of the Pink Panther.
This Land Rover Series IIA is a military utility vehicle used by the British Army’s Special Air Service.
The model used a pink base colour because this provides the best camouflage in desert landscapes.
The Defender, another make of Land Rover, was also painted this shade.
McLaren M8D – Batmobile
This two-seater racing car was created for the Canadian-American Challenge Cup, a sports car racing competition held only in these two countries.
The McLaren M8D was nicknamed the Batmobile because of its aerodynamic design.
Its streamlined shape was clearly a success because in 1970 Denis Hulme, Dan Gurney and Peter Gethin won nine out of 10 of their races in it.
However, the M8D is notorious for other reasons.
In the same year, team owner Bruce McLaren lost his life in an accident whilst testing it at the Goodwood Circuit, West Sussex.
Alfa Romeo 1900 C52 – Flying Saucer
The small size of this Alfa Romeo meant that many drivers felt confined within its scaled-down proportions.
However, Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, supposedly lauded its quirky design saying, “Whenever I see an Alfa Romeo drive by, I tip my hat.”
Chevrolet 150 – Black Widow
Mechanics Bradley Dennis and Paul McDuffie founded the Atlanta Tune Up Service and despite being sent the cheapest brands of Chevrolet, they soon persuaded the top racing car drivers of the day to drive for them.
Noticing their success, in 1957, the makers of Chevrolet, General Motors, published the Stock Car Competition Guide, an assembly manual for Black Widow racing cars.
The paint scheme for all these cars was exclusively black and white.
Because it was never officially made on Chevrolet production lines, there are no figures for the number of Black Widow cars produced.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL W 198 – Gullwing
This fast, elegant and expensive Mercedes 300 SL showed the world that in 1954, only nine years after the end of World War Two, Germany was still able to build excellent cars.
Beloved by the rich and the famous, this car was dubbed the Gullwing in America, as its opening doors were reminiscent of the wings of a seagull.
Jaguar D-Type – Long Nose
After 1955, all Jaguar D-types were known as Long Nose because the front of the car was extended by 7.5 in (19 cm) to increase their top speed at the La Sarthe circuit, France.
The fin behind the driver was based on aerodynamic research, and drivers reported unprecedented stability.
Although in 1955 the D-type helped its drivers Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb to win at French track Le Mans, this victory was dwarfed by a terrible accident in which more than 80 spectators were killed.
Maserati Tipo 61 – Birdcage
In 1959, Maserati’s design chief, Guido Alfieri, welded 200 individual tubes into a tight lattice. He used this to form the chassis – the under part of a car – of the Tipo 60.
Hence its name: the Birdcage.
With the addition of a three-litre engine, this car would be able to enter the World Sports Car Series, and the Tipo 61 was born.
In 1960, this Maserati won several races across the US and Europe.
These victories continued into 1961 with a driver pairing of Masten Gregory and Lloyd Casner.
99 Nicknamed Classic Cars by Helge Jepsen and Michael Kockritz is published by teNeues.