1961, abbreviation of mini-car, a small car made by British Leyland (formerly British Motor Corp.). As an abbreviation of miniskirt, it is attested from 1966.
"ancient two-wheeled vehicle used in war, racing, and private life," mid-14c., from Old French charriot "wagon" (13c.), augmentative of char "car," from Late Latin carrum "chariot" (see car).
sleeping car on a passenger train, 1867, Pullman car, in recognition of U.S. inventor George M. Pullman (1831-1897) of Chicago, who designed a railroad car with folding berths.
The Pullman Sleeping Car.—"The Western World." This splendid specimen of car architecture, being one of a number of sleeping-cars to be completed for the Michigan Central road, by Mr. Pullman, has created a great sensation among railway circles east. ... The car itself is admitted by all who have seen it to be, in the matter of sleeping and cooking accessories, and superb finish, the ne plus ultra of perfection. Nothing before has been seen to equal, much less surpass it. [Western Railroad Gazette, Chicago, quoted in Appleton's Illustrated Railway and Steam Navigation Guide, New York, June, 1867]
"that which takes precedence, that which necessarily goes before," noun use of Latin neuter of prior (adj.) "former, earlier" (see prior (adj.)). The hybrid car (with a capital P- ) debuted in 1997 in Japan, 2001 in U.S. and Europe. The name supposedly was chosen because the car was regarded as a predecessor of new types. The classically proper plural of the car name is said to be Priora, but that is for the adjective.
"detached, kept apart," c. 1600, from separate (v.) or from Latin separatus. Separate but equal in reference to U.S. segregation policies on railroads, etc. is attested by 1890 (Henry W. Grady); it was used in 1870s of medical courses for women at universities. Separate development, official name of apartheid in South Africa, is from 1955. Related: Separately (1550s); separateness.
Frequently the colored coach is little better than a cattle car. Generally one half the smoking car is reserved for the colored car. Often only a cloth curtain or partition run half way up separates this so-called colored car from the smoke, obscene language, and foul air of the smokers' half of the car. All classes and conditions of colored humanity, from the most cultured and refined to the most degraded and filthy, without regard to sex, good breeding or ability to pay for better accommodation, are crowded into this separate, but equal (?) half car. [Rev. Norman B. Wood, "The White Side of a Black Subject," 1897]