CALL OF THE WILD: Celebrated Vehicles with Animal Magnetism

Credit: Original article published by Barrett-Jackson.

Animals and automobiles have gone hand in hand since the car replaced the horse, and we all became obsessed with horsepower. It’s only natural that the animal kingdom would be a source of inspiration for the names of some of the most celebrated cars throughout history.

Evoking specific animal names allows drivers to envision exactly what they can look forward to behind the wheel. For example, get in a vehicle named Jaguar, Tiger, Cheetah or Cougar and you can expect to drive something fast, agile and sleek – much like the felines from which they draw their names.

Some creatures have so much power and craving for freedom that they can never be tamed – which is precisely how some automotive manufacturers market their cars. An excellent example of this is the popular Ford Mustang, with the embodiment of freedom embedded in its DNA, as well as the Ford Bronco. Other powerful vehicles with animal names that fall into this segment include the Chevrolet Impala and the Dodge Ramcharger.

If reptiles are more your speed, you’ll likely gravitate towards the Shelby Cobra or the Dodge Viper, each as powerful and quick as the snakes for which they are named. From the insect world, there is the iconic Volkswagen Beetle and the formidable Hudson Hornet.

Automakers have even looked towards the sky for name inspiration. Drivers could feel as free as a bird flying down the road in an AMC Eagle, Plymouth Road Runner, Ford Falcon, Stutz Blackhawk or Buick Skylark.

Not all inspiration comes from creatures on the land or in the air. Automakers also have also turned to the sea with names like the Corvette Stingray, which bears a striking resemblance to its aquatic animal. There’s also the Plymouth Barracuda, the AMC Marlin – and who could forget Moby Dick, the whale-tail Porsche? That, in fact, brings us to our next segment: mythical creatures.

Some automakers have produced vehicles with an essence only a mythical creature could embody. Examples include the AMC Gremlin, Ford Thunderbird, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Super Bee and Ford and Shelby’s Super Snake. While Chevrolet says Camaro means “friend,” there have been other reports that the term also referred to a “small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” For this reason alone, it is included as a mythical creature in this collection.

History has seen a veritable automotive zoo of mammalian, reptilian, oceanic and mythical creatures – and the 2023 Palm Beach Auction, April 13-15 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, will certainly offer its share of the animal kingdom.

Pictured above is a 1969 Chevrolet Yenko COPO Camaro that features the COPO 9561 L72 427/425hp period-correct, date-correct high-performance engine and COPO 9737 sports car conversion packages. Of 201 Yenko Camaros built in 1969, this is one of 34 Fathom Green cars and one of 28 with a period-correct, date-correct Muncie M-21 4-speed transmission. The COPO 9561 package also features heavy-duty springs, a special 12-bolt 4.10 posi-traction rear axle and heavy-duty ring, pinion and axle shafts. In addition to a copy of the COPO connection vehicle verification paperwork, this Camaro comes with an NCRS shipping data report showing original and selling dealer information, and MCACN Concours Gold Certification.

This 1966 Ford Mustang custom fastback was professionally built, with the body completely stripped and several modifications made to the style of the body. It is finished in Orange Glow with Platinum silver stripes. The interior includes a black and orange theme with bucket seats. Power comes from a fuel-injected Carol Stream, IL, built Ford 347ci V8 stroker engine with Trick Flow aluminum cylinder heads and a FAST ignition system. The engine is mated to a 4-speed automatic 4R70W transmission from Performance Auto with a simple shift control system, paddle shifter and floor shifter.

This 1969 Chevrolet Camaro is powered by a date code-correct 427/425hp engine with a CE 512 block, built up to correct specifications. Behind the engine are the original Muncie 4-speed manual transmission and the original rear end. The original VIN and data body tags are in place. The exterior is finished in Rally Green and equipped with the stinger-type hood with white graphics, rear deck spoiler, small Harrell-built front tag and Harrell body emblem identification, 427 chrome displacement front fender callouts, and SS trim on the outside. The interior features bucket seats, a Hurst shifter, an SS steering wheel, a column-mount Sun tachometer and a chrome bezel auxiliary gauge cluster.

This 1968 Shelby GT350 fastback has been restored to factory specifications. It is Shelby production serial number 03421, with only 1,253 GT350 fastbacks built in 1968. This Shelby is powered by a 302ci V8 engine with a 4-barrel carburetor. It one of 29 1968 GT350s equipped with factory air conditioning for the model year and one of 80 produced in factory Acapulco Blue during this year. It features power steering and a factory black knit interior with bucket seats and a console. This fastback retains all its original equipment from the factory and is documented by its Deluxe Marti Report.

This well-preserved example of a 2009 Dodge Viper ACR is VIN 500 of 660 total Vipers built in 2009. It is powered by an 8.4-liter V10 SFI engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. It features a dual side exhaust, an anti-spin differential rear axle and a 3.07 axle ratio. The air intake cover is autographed by race car driver and engineer Big Daddy Don Garlits. It rides on new Continental ExtremeContact tires. Inside, this vehicle features a tilt steering column and a radio with a CD player. It comes with all-original documentation, including an ACR owner’s manual. 1,000 miles.

This 1972 Plymouth Barracuda was built by Undercover Restorations in Merritt Island, FL. Under the hood is a 425h 6.1-liter HEMI V8 engine mated to a T56 Magnum 6-speed manual transmission. Spent gases exit through long-tube headers and a full custom stainless-steel side-exiting exhaust system. The horsepower is put to the ground through a Dana 44 held in place with an independent rear suspension. The front has a custom K-member equipped with power rack & pinion steering, polished suspension and adjustable QA1 coilovers. Stopping is courtesy of power-assisted big red Brembo brake calipers at all four corners. This Barracuda rides on a custom-made set of CCW wheels wrapped in Hankook tires. The body is finished in two-tone Sublime Green and Metallic Pearl Black with the AAR stripe painted on the side with ‘Cuda lettering at the rear.