How did The Cars get their name?

In Boston, Ocasek and Orr, along with lead guitarist Jas Goodkind, formed a Crosby, Stills and Nash-style folk rock band called Milkwood. After Milkwood, Ocasek and Orr formed the group Richard and the Rabbits, whose name was suggested by Jonathan Richman. The band included Greg Hawkes, who had studied at the Berklee School of Music and had played saxophone on Milkwood's album. Hawkes left to tour with Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture, a musical comedy act in which Mull played a variety of instruments. Ric Ocasek and Ben Orr then performed as an acoustic duo called simply Ocasek and Orr at the Idler coffeehouse in Cambridge. Later, Ocasek and Orr teamed up with guitarist Elliot Easton (who had also studied at Berklee) in the band Cap'n Swing. Cap'n Swing also featured drummer Glenn Evans, later followed by Kevin Robichaud, and a jazzy bass player.

After being rejected by several record labels, Ocasek got rid of the bass player and drummer and decided to form a band that better fit his style of writing. Orr took over on bass and Robichaud was replaced by David Robinson, best known for his career with the Modern Lovers. Robinson had also played in DMZ and the Pop! Hawkes returned to play keyboards and the band became "The Cars," a name suggested by Robinson, whose sense of fashion would have a strong influence on the band's image.