Key Terms to Know

DALYCOMPS Automotive Glossary:

To help enthusiasts understand the unique terminology associated with the classic automobile community, we have compiled multiple terminology lists into a single list. We want to recognize,, and Hagerty for their respective contributions to this work.

By the Numbers:

 3/4-race: High-performance flatty cam, suitable for street and strip use.

3-Deuces: Arrangement of three 2-barrel carburetors.

3-window, 2-door coupé: Named for one door window on each side plus the rear window.

5-window, 2-door coupé: Named for one door window and one quarter window on each side plus the rear window.

94’s: “Ninety-Fours”:  Referrers to the model number of Holley carburetors.

97’s: “Ninety-Sevens”:  Referrers to the model number of Stromberg carburetors.


AAR: Acronym for All American Racer Dan Gurney’s Plymouth-sponsored Trans-Am racing team. Plymouth created a 1970 model ‘Cuda named AAR, powered by a 290hp 340, and styled after its Trans-Am racers. Related: Dodge’s similar Trans Am inspired model was the Challenger T/A.

A-400: A convertible two door sedan built by Ford prior to 1932.

A-Body, etc: Manufacturers adopted letter codes to efficiently refer to car families. These are the terms heard most often in muscle car discussions:

A-Body (GM): Intermediates—Chevelle, Skylark, GTO, 4-4-2
A-Body (Mopar): Compacts—Duster, Demon, Dart, Swinger 340, etc.

B-Body: Mopar intermediates—Road Runner/GTX, Coronet/Super Bee, Charger
C-Body: Mopar Full size—Fury, etc.
E-Body: Mopar ponycars—’Cuda, Challenger, 1970-up
F-Body: GM ponycars—Camaro/Firebird

A-Bomb: Any Model A Ford that has been modified.

A-Bone: Model A Ford – 1928-1931.

A-Pillar: The first pair of structural windshield post on most cars supporting the roof and windshield.

Acid dipped: Manufacturing process to lighten batch-built race cars by dipping steel body components into a pool of acidic liquid that removes some of the steel, reducing weight.

Air grabber: Mopar’s term for cold air induction systems.

Air shocks: Shock absorbers with built-in chambers for holding compressed air. Used to adjust a car’s ride height, often needed for clearance with oversized wheels and tires.

Alky: Alcohol fuel used for racing, including methanol or methyl alcohol.

All Weather: An early car term referring to the first convertibles.

Antisway Bar (or Sway Bar): A suspension component, usually on the front suspension but sometimes on both front and rear, connecting the chassis to the suspension to reduce body roll during cornering.

Antique: Commonly used to describe the earliest vehicles, generally those manufactured through 1916. It all depends on whom you ask. Generally, it’s used to mean a car that’s 25 to 30 years old or older, but hobbyists, car clubs, licensing bureaus and insurance companies are all free to set their own meaning of the term. As with the term “classic”, there is no single set-in-stone definition.

Appletons: Fender-mounted spotlights, named for the manufacturer.


B-Pillar: The post between the front and back seat areas on cars. Hardtop models have this removed.

B-400: A convertible two door sedan built by Ford in 1932.

Baby HEMI: Any early HEMI engine, which was produced by Chrysler’s Dodge and DeSoto divisions and had smaller dimensions and displacement than Chrysler’s other HEMI offerings.

Baby Moons: Small, chromed hubcaps that only cover the center of the wheel.

Backhalf: To reconfigure any stock vehicle’s rear components (narrowing the rear-end, adding wheel tubs, etc.) typically for better drag racing performance.

Bagged: Having a custom airbag suspension system.

Balonies: Automotive tires, especially large rear tires used on hot rods or drag racing vehicles.

Bang Shift: To quickly shift a standard transmission.

Banger: A slang term used to express the number of cylinders in an engine (four-banger = four-cylinder, etc.).

Banjo: An early style rear-end that resembles the shape of a banjo.

Baquet: Early vehicle with two rows of seats on the order of a carriage. They typically did not have doors, roofs or windshields. Sometimes called a touring car in the US.

Barn Find: Any vehicle that was stored away in a barn or similar structure for an extensive period of time and then found and restored.

Barn-Fresh: A vehicle, usually an older antique, that is in unrestored condition, looking as if it had just been pulled out of long storage in a barn. It is becoming increasingly popular to restore the mechanics of such vehicles to safe working condition, but to leave the body and interior in this shape, as it documents the car’s original appearance.

Barchetta: Early sport cars designed for racing. They typically did not have doors or roofs.

Basket Case: Any vehicle that was completely disassembled–or needs to be completely disassembled for restoration or modification purposes. (Referred to as basket case because the process often involves gathering and collecting small parts in a basket over a long period of time).

Bateau: The shape of the back end of early race vehicles, such as the Barchetta. It looks like the bow of a boat and is commonly referred to as a Boattail.

Beach Wagon: A term for a station wagon.

Beam Axle: Any automotive front axle featuring the cross-sectional shape of an I-beam.

Bellflower Tips: straight chrome exhaust tips that appear behind the rear wheels and run parallel to the end of the vehicle.

Bellybutton: A somewhat derisive nickname for a small-block Chevy, particularly when used in an engine swap, as in “everyone has one”.

Belly Pan: Metal sheeting underneath a street rod, to streamline the bottom of a rod.

Beltline: The line running around a car’s body formed by the bottom edges of the side windows.

Berline: An early word for a two-door sedan.

Big ‘n Littles: A hot rod or dragster tire combination which employs large rear tires for traction and small front tires for reduced rolling resistance.

Big-block: Generally, V-8 engine families of larger size and displacement than small-blocks. Side note: Pontiac and AMC had no big-block/small-block designations; the same engine block architecture was used for all V-8 displacements.

Billboards: Large, optional graphic decals on the side of a 1971 ‘Cuda.

Billet: Automotive components machined from a single block of metal.

Binders: Brakes

Blackout: Black finish used on body panels—often the hood, grilles, spoilers, and trim—to create a racy look. Patterned after the matte-black hood panels used on race cars to cut down on glare reflecting into the driver’s eyes.

Blower: Supercharger

Blower Drive: The belt and pulleys that drive a Supercharger.

Blown: An engine that uses forced induction, typically via a supercharger.

Blown Engine: A engine that has a Supercharger or a engine that exploded.

Blown Gasser: A supercharged, gas-burning engine car setup for drag racing.

Blue Oval: Ford product (for the Ford badge).

Blueprinting: The act of ensuring the dimensions of the parts in the engine are more accurate and, therefore, closer to the original engine blueprint values.

Boattail: Refers to a vehicle with a V-shaped back end, like the bow of a boat. A common streamline effect used in early race cars, such as the Barchetta. Also known as a Bateau shape.

Bobbed: Shortened Fenders, sometimes applied to a shortened hood or frame rails.

Body-In-White: A bare-bones car, sometimes just a body shell, intended to be built into a race car. Often found with exotic features not available to the public.

Bomb: A lowrider from the 1930s to the ’50s, often fitted with period-correct accessories.

Bondo: Brand name for a body filler, often used as a generic term for any such product.

Bone-Stock: An original, unmodified car.

Bonnet: An English term for the engine hood of a car.

Boost: Intake manifold pressure generated by a Turbocharger or Supercharger.

Boot: An English term for the trunk of a car.

Bored and Stroked: Engines that have had their cylinder walls enlarged and the crankshaft throw modified

Boss: Nickname given by designer Larry Shinoda to competition-oriented 1969 Mustangs, reportedly in tribute to his boss at Ford, Bunkie Knudsen. Small-block Boss 302 Mustang was developed for Trans-Am racing. Big-block Boss 429 engine was put in Mustangs to homologate them for use in NASCAR. Also slang for something good: “That car is boss.”

Bottom End: Refers to the lower portion of a engine and usually includes the crankshaft, flywheel, bearings and connecting rods.

Bottom Out: When the car’s chassis hits the end of its suspension travel.

Box: The transmission, but can also refer to adding reinforcement to the frame.

Brougham: An early motoring term signifying a closed car for two or four persons.  Commonly used to describe a car with a closed in passenger compartment behind an open driver’s seat.

Bucket: Rod with a Model T body also called a ‘Bucket T’.

Buggy Sprung: Suspension based on front and rear solid axels and left over from horse and buggy days.

Bull Nose: Usually refers to a chrome trim piece for the top of a hood.

Bullet Nose: A Studebaker built in the late 40’s and early 50’s.

Bullets: Chromed, bullet-shaped extensions used on bumpers, grilles, and wheels.

Bumpstick: Slang for camshaft.

Business Coupe: A simple two-door coupe, without a rumble seat, built in the mid- to late-thirties. (Also referred to as a Businessman’s Coupe).

Bonnet: An English term for the hood of an American car.

Boot: An English term for the trunk of an American car.

Brougham: Commonly used to describe a car with a closed in passenger compartment behind an open driver′s seat. The term may also refer to any early vehicle with doors and a roof. Also known as a Coupe Chauffeur and a Coupe Limousine.

Build: The term refers to a change or variation in the factory procedures, indicated by the Vehicle Identification Number.

Build sheet: Document generated at the assembly plant showing workers what specific components to install on each car as it went down the assembly line. It is the most detailed record of what is original to the car. Build sheets were a byproduct of assembly, not intended for the public. They were often, but not always, hidden in the car as a way for workers to get rid of them.

Bullnose: The shape of the front end, resulting from the style of radiator.

Business Coupe: A basic, low-end, two-door coupe that did not include unnecessary amenities such as a radio or rumble seat.


C6: Ford code for its heavy-duty automatic transmission, taken from the company’s convention for identifying parts. C6 stands for 1966, the year the transmission was introduced. The lighter-duty C4 was introduced in 1964. Related: Ford’s trade name for automatic transmissions was Cruise-O-Matic (three-speed) and Ford-O-Matic (two-speed).

C-Pillar: The roof support structure posts following the B-Pillars that supports the roof and rear window.

Cabriolet: An early French term meaning folding top, or convertible with windows, but used liberally in the US to meet the whims of manufacturers. The English term is a Drophead Coupe.

California Top: a fixed rigid top applied to a touring car, replacing the regular folding top.

Cam: Short for Camshaft, a engine piece that activates the valves.

Cammer: Usually refers to a single overhead V8 Ford engine.

Carson Top: a solid, removable roof that is covered with a soft material.

Capscrew Rods: Ford’s strongest forged connecting rods, taken from the type of bolts used to fasten the rod caps to the rods.

CCs: ‘39 Ford Teardrop Headlights.

CC-ing: The accurate measuring of each cylinder or combustion chamber to equalize the volume in high performance engines

CID: Refers to “Cubic Inch Displacement” of an engine.

Chambered Exhaust: Renowned optional, low-restriction exhaust system available on certain 1968 and 1969 Camaro and Chevelle models, featuring straight-through mufflers and noted for aggressive, louder-than-normal sound.

Channeled/Channeling: Cutting the floor so the body rests around the frame rails rather than sitting on top of the frame. This gives an overall lowered appearance.

Character Line: A design incorporated into flat panels to give them strength.

Cherry: Like new

Chop/Chopped: Removing a section of the roofline horizontally to reduce its height.

Chummy: An early English term referring to the seating arrangement: two standard seats up front and two smaller, ‘occasional’ seats in the rear.

Classic: As with the term “antique”, there is no single definition accepted by all hobbyists, car clubs, licensing bureaus or insurance companies. Some people use the term to describe a car that falls somewhere between their definition of “antique” and a brand-new car. Others use it to describe specific models — for example, the 1955-1956-1957 Chevrolets are often called the “Classic Chevys”. The Classic Car Club of America has trademarked the term “Full Classic” to describe a car built between 1925 and 1942 and is on its list of acceptable classics. The Consumer′s Guide places it in the 1960′s, however many people think of a classic as any vehicle more than 20 years old.

Clone: Car originally built by the factory as a basic or high-volume model, later modified to resemble a more valuable and desirable model. Example: a base 1969 Camaro built by the factory with a six-cylinder later rebuilt as an SS396.

Close ratio: Specialized type of manual transmission with gear ratios spaced more closely than normal to keep highly tuned engines in the peak of their powerband. Related: Wide ratio, which uses greater intervals between gear ratios.

Closed chamber: Type of combustion chamber with a quench area, a section of the flat part of the head extending over the cylinder. Closed chamber heads are usually used in higher compression engines and are thought to create greater turbulence during the compression cycle. Related: Open chamber heads have little or no quench area, therefore less compression, and make less power.

Club Coupe: A two-door hard-top with a small rear seat.

Coach: A two-door sedan.

Coach-Line: The early name for a pinstripe: a thin line of paint contrasting to the body color.

Coil Spring: Spiral-shaped steel spring widely used on Ford and GM front suspensions and on some GM rear suspensions. Related: Leaf springs, made from long, flat lengths of steel, were widely used by Ford; and Torsion Bars, made from round, straight steel rods (they twisted on one end but not the other), were used extensively by Chrysler on front suspensions and on other cars as trunk springs.

Concours: A term that refers to a car show of very fine vehicles.

Concours d’elegance: A car show, usually open only to higher-end or luxury antique automobiles, held in a lush setting such as a country club. The literal translation is “contest of elegance”. A Concours is typically a show with the most knowledgeable and meticulous judges, where the cars that enter are typically restored to the highest levels of quality.

Console: Stylish structure covering the driveshaft tunnel in bucket-seat cars, often incorporating gauges and storage. Sometimes mispronounced like council.

COPO: Acronym for Chevrolet’s Central Office Production Order, a process of getting nonstandard vehicles built. Intended for building fleet vehicles, it was also used by clever dealers to spec out high-performance cars not otherwise offered by Chevrolet.

Convertible: An open car with windows and a folding soft top attached to the body. A folding, soft top attached to the body (rather than removable). The term and style can be applied to a two-door coupe or four-door sedan. Also known as a Drophead Coupe in England and a Cabriolet in France.

Convertible Roaster: A contradiction in terms. Used by some manufacturers in the 1930s to intimate the feel of a sport car.

Convertible Victoria: A four passenger, two-door, two-window convertible.

Coupe: A two door closed body type vehicle without a rear seat. A coupe with a small backseat is generally referred to as a Club Coupe that is distinguished from sedan by its sleeker body and shorter roof, and a smaller interior than a sedan.

Coupe Chauffeur:  An open compartment for the chauffeur followed by a closed compartment for passengers. Also known as a Brougham and a Coupe Limousine.

Coupe DeVille: Originally any car with a fixed roof over the rear seat and a convertible roof over the front seat. Commonly used in recent years to describe a roof with the front half covered in fabric to look like the original. Also known as a Town Coupe.

Coupelet: Ford used this term to describe a Model T, two-seat Cabriolet.

Coupe Limousine: An open compartment for the chauffeur followed by a closed compartment for passengers. Also known as a Brougham and a Coupe Chauffeur.

Crank: Crankshaft but can also mean to go fast “Crank on It” or to simply turn the motor over.

Crash Box: A transmission that has no synchromesh. This type of transmission must be double clutched to reduce wear.

Crate Engine: A factory-built, ready to run engine.

Cross bolted: Ford’s method of adding two horizontal bolts through the skirt of the engine block to supplement the two primary bolts of the crankshaft’s main bearing caps. 1963 1/2 406 engines and 427s had cross-bolted mains.

Cross ram: Manifold setup that mounts two four-barrel carburetors, each carb opposite the bank of cylinders it feeds.

Cruise: To drive in a laid-back fashion.

Custom: Stock cars that have had extensive body modifications.

Cutting Coils: A method of lowering a car’s ride height by cutting out sections of the coil springs.

Cycle Fenders: Usually a front and sometimes rear fender similar to that used on a bicycle, which follows the curvature of the wheel.


Dagmars: A styling element conceived of by GM Vice President of Design, Harley Earl, to resemble artillery shells on the front bumper of cars. They were added to give the cars an element to denote speed and power during the 1950s. However, car enthusiasts saw other similarities and soon referred to them as “Dagmars”, in reference to their resemblance to a well-endowed film and television personality of the 50s.

Dago: A dropped front-end.

Date Code: Alphanumeric code that reveals when something was produced. Date codes were applied to most all parts and assemblies such as engine blocks, heads, alternators, carburetors, voltage regulators, and even tires. By comparing a component’s date codes to the car’s build date, date codes are useful in determining which parts are original. Date codes are carefully checked at more stringent levels of show judging and originality verification.

Day-Two: Muscle car modified with speed equipment correct for the period (not contemporary speed equipment), as an owner might have done the day after purchase.

Dealer Supercar: Ultrahigh-performance car modified by a dealer to include equipment, especially engines, not available through normal channels. Prominent superdealers included Nickey and Yenko Chevrolet, Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge, Royal Pontiac, and Tasca Ford.

Deck/Decked: Removing the chrome and handles from the trunk or ‘Decklid’.

Detailed: An automobile that has had its exterior and interior professionally cleaned. No parts are replaced, however, the vehicle achieves a superior appearance.

Detroit Locker: Locking differential (as opposed to the more common limited-slip) that was optional on Fords with very steep axle ratios designed for drag racing.

Deuce: 1932 Ford

DeVille Extension: A sliding roof that covers the front seat.

Dickey: An English term for an external seat in the rear of the car, known in the US as a Rumble Seat.

Digger: Car set up for strong acceleration. A digger was geared for coming off the line hard. Racing from a standing stop was called “from a dig” or “digging out.” Related: A Top-Ender is a car set up for high top speed as opposed to maximum acceleration.

Digs: Drag Races

Dig Out: Accelerate quickly

Digger: A Dragster

Double Clutching: A technique used with older manual transmissions that do not have synchronizers (a “crash box” transmission). The driver puts in the clutch, moves the shifter into neutral, releases the clutch, and then puts the clutch back in and shifts to the next gear. This extra step allows the engine speed to match the speed of the gears, so the shift is smoother and prevents excess wear on the transmission.

Documentation: Generally, refers to paperwork generated at a car’s assembly and sale, proving legitimacy. Documentation increases a car’s value and may include build sheets, window stickers, sales contracts, warranty cards, and reports by respected authorities.

Dog Dish: Nickname for basic, standard hubcaps that cover just the center of the wheel. Also called Poverty caps.

Dog Leg: The corner of a wraparound windshield on a 1950s car. It’s a multi-purpose term, and is also used to describe, among other things, the rear door jamb on the back door of a sedan, a sharp turn on a race course, or a manual transmission where first to second gear is an up-and-over movement of the shifter.

DOHC, SOHC, OHC: Acronyms describing the placement of the cam relative to the cylinders. Double overhead cam (DOHC) has two camshafts, one for intake valves, one for exhaust valves in the head, directly over each bank of cylinders. The reference is per cylinder bank, so even though a V-8 would have four cams total, it’s still called a DOHC engine. Single overhead cam (SOHC) engines have a single cam per bank of cylinders operating both intake and exhaust valves. Overhead cam (OHC) effectively means the same as SOHC, even though the number of cams isn’t specified. Related: 427 SOHC (pronounced like sock) engine, (aka Cammer}, a competition version of the 427ci Ford FE big-block available from 1965 to 1968.

Donor Car: A vehicle used to provide parts and hardware for another project vehicle.

Drag Pack: Ford trade name for an optional package of equipment designed for drag racing.

Drag Plates: Metal plates that have a car club’s name and logo identifying the vehicle and its driver as a member of that club.

Driver: Car not restored to high standards so it can be driven regularly without worry that the wear and tear will depreciate its value.

Drophead Coupe: An English term for convertible. Also known as a Cabriolet in France.

Drophead Coupe: An English term for a convertible.

Dropped: A significantly lowered vehicle.

Dropped axle: A special front axle with its wheel spindles higher in relation to the height of the axle than in a stock unit. The result is a lower ride height.

Dual Cowl: A touring car driver′s compartment with a front and rear seat. It also has a second, folding windshield to protect backseat occupants.

Dual-Point: Distributor with two sets of points. Dual-point distributors let the coil develop greater voltage and were used on many higher-option engines before electronic ignition became common.

Dual Quad: Two four-barrel carburetors.

Dutchman Panel: The metal body piece between the rear window and the trunk.

Duval Windshield: A split V-shaped raked chrome-plated windshield designed by George DuVall


EFI: Electronic Fuel Injection, which replaced the carburetor.

Eight-Lug: Wheel design made by Kelsey-Hayes and offered for fullsize Pontiacs (not GTOs) from 1960 to 1968. The wheels used eight lugs to secure the changeable steel rims to the finned, aluminum centers.

Elephant: A term used to describe the 426ci Hemi used in 1964 or later Chrysler Corporation Cars.

Estate Car: The early version of a station wagon.

E.T: Elapsed time – the time it takes to run a quarter mile drag.


Fade-Aways: Fenders that taper back into the body.

Fat: A over rich fuel mixture denote by excessive black smoke.

Fat Fendered: Street rods with bodies manufactured between 1935 and 1948, named for their bulbous fenders.

Fastback: A car design where the roofline continues in a single curve from the windshield to the rear bumper.

Faux Cabriolet: A coupe built to look like a Cabriolet.

Fencer′s Mask: A term used to describe early radiator grills that look like the mask a fencer uses.

Fender: The part of the body specially shaped to accommodate a wheel and tire.

Fender Skirts: Body panels that cover the rear wheel wells.

Fill: Filling body seams with lead or body filler to lend a smoother appearance to the car.

Filled Roof: A roof that has a welded steel panel instead of the original wood-and-fabric insert.

Fixed Head Coupe: A hardtop coupe.

Flamed: Graphic representation of flames usually starting at the front a working towards the back of a hot rod.

Flame Throwers: A device to ignite unburned gases leaving the exhaust system.

Flathead: An L-head or side-valve engine, including the highly popular Ford Flathead built between 1932 and 1953. An engine with values in the block, rather than in the cylinder head.

Flatty: See Flathead

Floor Pan: This just means the floor of a vehicle.

Flopper: Drag racing slang for a Funny Car.

Force Air: Oldsmobile’s trade name for cold air induction.

Fordor: A name used by Ford for a four-door sedan in the 1930s and 1940s.

Four Banger: A four-cylinder engine.

Four Barrel: A four-cylinder engine or a type of carburetor.

Four-Bolt Mains: Use of four bolts instead of the customary two to add strength in holding the crankshaft’s main bearing caps to the block. The extra strength resists engine failure at high rpm. Engine blocks with four-bolt mains are considered a premium for high performance.

Four-On-The-Floor: The common term for a four-speed manual transmission with the shifting lever mounted on the floor rather than on the steering column.

Frame: The steel structure that supports the body, engine, suspension and drive train.

Fencer’s Mask: A term used to describe early radiator grills that look like the mask a fencer uses.

Frame-Off Restoration: This is a restoration in which the entire vehicle is completely disassembled, all parts cleaned, rebuilt or replaced as necessary in order to meet the original factory specifications as closely as possible.

Frame-Up Restoration: This type of restoration is not as detailed as a frame-off, but usually involves restoring the paint, chrome, interior, and mechanicals without completely dissembling the car.

French/Frenched: Usually refers to recessing the headlights and removing the seam of the headlight trim ring, but can apply to other recessing. Trim that has been incorporated into the body, usually referring to headlights or tail lights.

Front Clip: Either the front-end sheet metal or the section of frame in front of the firewall.

Fuel Injected: A mechanical device that ‘injects’ or introduces fuel into a engine.

Full Race: High-performance flatty cams, suitable only for strip use.

Full Tree: In drag racing, a full tree has the three amber lights on the starting line Christmas Tree light sequentially, top to bottom, prior to the green light that starts the race. A full tree is the traditional start for street classes that stock and near-stock muscle cars race in. Related: A Pro Tree lights all three ambers at once and is used by more modified classes.


Gasser: Car used in gasoline-only drag racing classes in the 1960s (as opposed to alcohol or nitromethane fuels), where the front end of the car is raised along with the motor. Characterized by a body that sits well above the front wheels. Distinct from Hi-Boy.

Gear Box: Transmission

Gennie: Genuine

Ghost Flames: See Flamed, only these flames are usually the same color as the body only a few shades lighter or darker.

Gingerbread: Dress-up equipment that doesn’t add to performance.

Glass: Short for fiberglass.

Glasspacks: Loud aftermarket mufflers, which typically use a straight-through perforated tube wrapped in fiberglass.  Inexpensive, low-restriction muffler popular in the 1960’s, named for the fiberglass packing that provided minimal noise reduction. Popular brands were Thrush and Cherry Bomb.

Goat: Pontiac GTO

Governor: A device attached to the carburetor to limit the engine’s speed.

Goutte d′Eau: A ′tear drop′ body style, tapered to the rear.

Grab Rails: Handles mounted on the body to help passengers enter the vehicle, usually a rumble seat.

Gran Sport (GS): Buick’s popular designation for its high-performance models.

Gran Turismo (GT): An Italian term, commonly used by US manufacturers, meaning grand touring.

Grill Shell: A decorative trim that goes around the radiator usually on cars built in the early 1930’s.

Gran Turismo (GT): An Italian term, commonly used by US manufacturers, meaning ′grand touring′.

Grocery Getter: A mild street rod that is used for a run to the store and back.

Group 19: American Motors’ line of over the counter, high-performance parts.

Gullwing Doors: Gullwing doors are hinged to open vertically rather than horizontally.

Gutted: A rod with its interior removed.


H-Pipe: Exhaust pipes rear of the exhaust manifolds with a connecting, or balance, tube between the left and right sides to balance the pressure on each side. Related: X-Pipe serves a similar function in an X shape.

Hair Dryer: Slang for turbocharger (for the shape of the casing).

Hairpins: Radius rods.

Hammer: Same as Chop

Handeler: A rod that is easy to drive.

Hardtop: An automobile designed to look like a convertible but having a rigidly fixed, hard top.

Hard Top: A removable top made from fiberglass or steel and usually painted the same color as the body of the car.

Haze-The-Hides: To spin and smoke the rear tires.

Header: Specialized exhaust manifolds that help reduce exhaust back pressure therefore increasing power.

Heads-Up: Drag racing term for non-handicapped racing (where both cars start at the same time) as practiced among muscle car drivers in the 1960’s.

Hemi: Short for hemispherical, a high performance engine produced by Chrysler with hemispherical heads. The name given to Chrysler’s roundish-shaped combustion chamber and, by extension, the engines fitted with heads containing those combustion chambers. The chamber’s center spark plug, spacious room for big valves tilted towards their port, and symmetrical, unobstructed shape make it ideal for combustion. Developed for aviation engines during WWII, Hemi engines grew in power through the 1950’s, peaking with the production of the street Hemi in 1966 through 1971.

Related: ShotgunCrescent are terms Ford used to describe the hemispherical combustion chambers in its Boss 429 to carefully avoid any reference to Chrysler’s engines.

Hides: Tires

High-Back. Seats with taller backs to function as headrests.

Highboy: A rod with no fenders or running boards and the body place high on the frame rails.

High-Rise: Manifold design with taller, more vertical ports, reducing the angle the airflow must turn before entering the combustion chamber.

High Tech: Rods that combine customized bodies with billeted or steel dress up parts.

Hinge Pillar: The second and third pillars that the door hinges are attached to.

Holeshot: Getting ahead of the other guy at the starting line of a dragstrip.

Honeycombs: Pontiac’s optional cast-aluminum wheels introduced in 1971.

Hood: The American term for engine cover. In England the hood is called a bonnet and a convertible top is called a hood.

Horseless Carriage: According to the Horseless Carriage Club of America, this term applies to vehicles built before 1916.

Horseshoe Shifter. Chevrolet’s floor shifter for automatic transmissions, roughly resembling an upside-down letter U. Used in 1968-1972 Chevelle and Camaro, 1968-1969 Impala, and 1970-1972 Monte Carlo. AKA: Staple shifter.

Hot Rod: A wide range of homemade and backyard-maintained vehicles from the 1930’s through the 1970’s that has been modified for more power or speed.

Hood: The American term for the engine cover. In England, the hood is called a bonnet and a convertible top is called a hood.

Hopped up: Stock engine modified to increase performance.

Hot Licks: Flames or custom paint on the exterior of a car.

Hot Rod: A vehicle that has been modified to improve its appearance or performance and most times both.

Huffer: Supercharger

Hydro: Automatic transmission (derived from the name Hydromatic, a GM transmission used in the 50’s.

Hydraulic Lifter: Type of lifter using engine oil pressure to maintain proper valvetrain clearance. Hydraulic lifters do not require the periodic adjustments that solid lifters do. Related: Solid lifters need manual adjustments, but are associated with more powerful, higher-revving engines.


 In-The-Weeds: A really low vehicle.

Indian (aka: “Tin Indian”): Pontiac (for the grille badge)

Igniter: The engine’s ignition system.


Jimmy: Acronym for a GMC vehicle, can also refer to a Blower or Supercharger.

Jug: A carburetor

Juice: Fuel, Electricity or hydraulic fluid.

Juice Brakes: Hydraulic brakes, as opposed to mechanical ones.

Junior supercar: Muscle car typically powered by a small-block engine, developed to offer muscle car styling and performance without triggering surcharges from insurance companies. Among them: Olds Rallye 350, Heavy Chevy (Chevelle), Yenko Deuce.


Kit Car: This refers to a reproduction of an existing automotive design sold in various stages of production to allow for completion and customization as a kit that the builders assemble themselves.

Kemp: A rod with a customized body.

Knock Offs: A special wheel system that is held in place with one large, quickly removed nut.


L-engine codes: Chevrolet V-8 engines (and some from other GM divisions) are most commonly identified by an alphanumeric code, typically starting with the letter L. Among the most common in muscle car circles:

L34: 350hp 396 (360hp in 1966 Chevelle)
L35: 325hp 396
L71: 435hp 427 3×2 tri-carb
L72: 425hp 427 four-barrel
L78: 375hp 396 (425 hp in 1965 Corvette)

L79: 350hp 327 (325 hp in 1968 Chevelle)
L89: Aluminum head option for L78 396
LS5: 360hp 454
LS6: 450hp 454
LT-1: 360hp 350 (330 hp in 1971 Z28)
L88: 430hp 427 optional in 1967-1969 Corvette
ZL1: 430hp aluminum 427 optional in 1969 Camaro

Lakes: The dry lakes in and around Southern California where hot rodders raced their cars.

Lakester: Originally a term to describe a hot rod modified for racing on dry lake beds; Lakesters evolved in a specific, streamlined class of cars with exposed wheels.

Lakester Headers: Exhaust headers that end near the rear cowl to allow exhaust to exit near the front edge of the door. They often include a bypass to route exhaust under the car through mufflers.

Lakes Modified: A radically modified racer designed for racing at the dry lakes.

Lakepipes: Side-exit exhaust pipes located under the rocker panels. Exposed exhaust pipes with block-off plates that divert exhaust back through the muffler.

Land Yachts: A term referring to oversized luxury vehicles of the late 50s to the early 60s, usually referring to the chromed, finned, oversized vehicles of the late fifties to early sixties.

Landau: Originally a limousine with an open driver′s compartment, front and back seats facing each other, and a two-part convertible roof (like a Brougham). In recent years US manufacturers used the term to describe a cloth-covered fixed top.

Landaulet: An early Landau-style limousine with a convertible passenger compartment.

Latch: The mechanism that grabs a striker to hold a door closed.

Laughing Gas: Slang for nitrous.

Leadsled: A lowered, late-forties to early-fifties car with molded body seams, and altered appearance, traditionally done with lead. The archetypical lead sled is the 1949-1951 Mercury.

Lean It Out: To alter the fuel mixture to improve engine performance and use less fuel – done to extreme will fry your engine.

Lightweight: High-powered yet lightweight muscle car with minimal content, made for racing. Normal basic equipment (heater, sealer, insulation) is left off, and the cars are built with special weight-saving body parts like fiberglass or aluminum fenders, hood, bumpers, and doors. Lightweights were made in small quantities, usually between 50 and 100 units, and sold to select teams for racing.

Limousine: A specially built vehicle designed for passenger comfort and a professional driver. The wheelbase is longer than the original vehicle and the passenger compartment is isolated from the driver by some form of barrier. It can contain most anything the owner desires, such as TV, wet-bar, exotic music system, communications, etc..

Locker: A type of differential that helps prevent tire spin and distributes the engines torque evenly to the rear wheels.

Long block: A replacement engine including the crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, heads and head gaskets.

Loud Pedal: The accelerator pedal

Louie: A left hand turn (see Roscoe)

Louvers: Vents or slots cut in and raised in various body panels especially the hood and trunk areas.

Lowboy: A rod that has no fenders or running boards that is lowered over the frame (channeled).

Lowered: A vehicle that sits lower than stock height through suspension or frame modifications.

Lowrider: A vehicle that has been lowered by a hydraulic suspension system that can bring the ride height up in order to drive it.


M-transmission codes: Muncie (and some Saginaw) transmissions commonly found in muscle cars were coded starting with the letter M:

M20: Wide ratio four-speed manual
M21: Close ratio four-speed manual
M22: Heavy-duty close ratio four-speed manual, aka: Rock Crusher

Mag: Short for a wheel made with a Magnesium alloy – can also mean Magneto, a self-contained ignition system.

Max Wedge: Family of 413/426ci Maximum Performance Wedge Mopar engines produced in 1962-1964. Named Super Stock in a Plymouth and Ramcharger in a Dodge, Max Wedges were rated at 410 or 420 hp in 1962, 415 or 425 hp in 1963-1964.

Marque: A model or grand of automobile with no specific meaning. Also: A model of automobile that has been recognized as a world-class car.

Matching Numbers:  A restored or original vehicle in which all serial numbers (VIN, engine, body, transmission, rear end) can be researched and identified as being 100 percent correct for that specific vehicle.

Max Wedge: Family of 413/426ci Maximum Performance Wedge Mopar engines produced in 1962-1964. Named Super Stock in a Plymouth and Ramcharger in a Dodge, Max Wedges were rated at 410 or 420 hp in 1962, 415 or 425 hp in 1963-1964.

Merc: Mercury

Mill: Engine

Molded: Filling and reshaping body panels and seams.

Moons (or Moon Disks): Plain flat chrome or aluminum disc hubcaps, originally adopted by land speed racers. Smaller examples are “baby moons”. Named for Dean Moon.

Mopar: A Chrysler product.

Mother-In-Law Seat: a single seat attached to the back of a two-seater car. The forerunner of the rumble seat.

Mountain Motor: Large-displacement engine. Named for their size, and for being constructed in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. In organized automotive competition, the term commonly references a V8 engine displacing more than 500 cubic inches; informally, a V8 engine displacing more than 560 cubic inches.

Mouse/Mouse Motor: A small block Chevy engine manufactured from 1955 to present day; nickname for a small-block Chevrolet V-8.

MSO: Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin, a document supplied with a new car when it left the factory that was exchanged for a title when the car was sold. A car “still on MSO” was never sold and/or titled.

Muscle Car: A North American intermediate or mid-sized car with large displacement V8 engines produced between 1964 and 1972 (with a few exceptions).


Nail Head: 1950s-60s Buick V8 engine, so names for their small-diameter valves whose stems point straight up.

NOS: Nitrous Oxide System – mucho big horsepower.

N.O.S: New Old Stock and refers to parts that are the original parts supplied by the vehicle’s manufacturer, and have never been used.

Nerf (aka: Nerf Bars): used to ward off tires in open wheel racing cars – also refers to little bumperettes.

Newstalgia: Refers to a rod style that mimics the 50’s and 60’s and employs modern power plants, components and body panels.

Numbers-Matching: A car’s engine and other drivetrain components are original to the car, as proven by date codes and identification codes stamped into those components that match the car body’s VIN.

Nosed: Chrome details and trim removed from the hood and smoothed over.


 O.E.M. (aka OE): Original Equipment Manufacturer. The term is generally used to distinguish between parts made by the original builder and the aftermarket. For restoration, OE parts are usually preferred over aftermarket or reproduction.

Oil Can: A condition where a dent in metal will ′pop′ in and out, like the bottom of an oil can.

Open Element: Type of air filter common to high-performance cars that eliminates the housing around the filter element and exposes the element directly to air rather than ducting it through more restrictive housings and snorkels.

Opera Coupe: A two door hardtop with a small folding passenger seat, for easy access to the rear seat.

Original: contains only parts originally installed on the car or NOS parts from the manufacturer with no substitute or aftermarket parts.

Original miles: Honest number of miles a car has traveled. If an odometer has been replaced, rolled back, or broken, a car’s original miles are no longer known.

Overbore: An engine block that has had its cylinder bore enlarge because it is badly worn or the owner wants more power.

Over-the-Counter. Parts sold through the manufacturer’s parts network but not necessarily installed as original equipment.

Overwind: A bad thing and means to run an engine faster in RPM then its designed limits.


Pancaked: Hood modified to a lower profile.

Panel Delivery: An early commercial vehicle with two doors in the front for people and two doors at the rear of the vehicle for cargo.

Peaked: A molded accent seam on a hood.

Pearl: Paint with reflects ‘Mother of Pearl’ iridescent colors.

Phaeton: Refers to an open vehicle where the rear seat area is extended for added legroom or for an additional row of seating – typically used in ticker tape parades. Apparently comes from the open chariot Phaethon that the son of the Greek sun god Helios drove.

Phone Booth: A ‘28 or ‘29 Model ‘A’ closed cab pickup.

Pinstripe:  Long narrow painted stripes usually running the length of a hot rod that is a contrasting color to the body color; originally called a coach-line. May also be done with narrow plastic (gulp) tape.

Pinched: To narrow the front frame to match the grill shell.

Pink Slip: Before the days of automobile titles, the portion of a California car registration that conveyed ownership was colored pink.

Piped: Narrow, padded pleats used to trim the interior.

Pit Pins: Quick release pins that hold body panels in place.

Pizza Cutters: Narrow front wheels and tires used to reduce rolling resistance on drag cars.

Pony Car: Long-hood, short-deck sport coupes such as Mustang, Cougar, Camaro, Firebird, ‘Cuda, Challenger, and Javelin. Name is derived from the Mustang, which created the category when it was introduced in April 1964. A small, compact performance-oriented vehicle.

Porcupine: Enthusiast slang specific to the big-bock Chevrolet for its arrangement of intake and exhaust valves operating on different angles, a departure from the Chevrolet small-block’s valves, which were all in the same plane. Other engines using a similar valve arrangement (e.g., early Mopar 318, Ford 351C, and 429) do not use the term porcupine.

Ported: Intake and exhaust ports that have been enlarged and polished to provide maximum flow through the heads.

Posi-Traction” Chevrolet trade name for its limited-slip differential. Though technically Chevrolet-specific, the term is used generically to refer to limited-slip differentials of other manufacturers. Related: Limited slip differential names by brand:

AMC: Twin-Grip
Buick: Positive Traction
Dodge/Plymouth: Sure-Grip
Ford/Mercury: Equa-Lock/Traction-Lok/Detroit Locker
Oldsmobile: Anti-Spin
Pontiac: Safe-T-Track
Studebaker: Twin Traction

Power Pack: Chevrolet name for an optional package on 1955-1957 V-8powered models that bumped horsepower a bit. The term has come to encompass similar upgrades from other manufacturers, incorporating mild packages like a four-barrel carb, dual exhaust, and perhaps a slightly higher compression ratio.

Post: The pillar located behind the front door on sedans.

Power Parker: People that arrive as early as possible to events and shows to get prime parking spots, usually frowned on by hot rodders.

Powerplant: Slang for an internal combustion engine.

Pro-Street: A hotrod made to look like a drag racing car; large rear tires, large engines and lots of chrome and AN fittings are typical.

Pro-Touring: A classic car, often a muscle car or pony car, that has been modified for improved road-course performance.

Project Car: A vehicle that is in restorable condition.

Puffer: A supercharger

Puke Can: A radiator overflow tank used to catch coolant.


Quarter Window or Quarter Light: Also known as a wind wing. A small triangular window between the windshield A-pillar and front door window, or between the rear door window and C-pillar.

Quick Change: A rear end that allows for rapid changing of rear end gear ratios.


Rails: Refers to the frame side rails on cars.

Raked: A rod that has been lowered in the front or raised in the back.

Ram Air: Intake systems with ducting to draw air from outside the engine compartment.

Ram Rod 350: Oldsmobile’s top-option 350 engine, featuring an upgraded camshaft, larger valves, and 325 hp. After 1968 it was known as the W-31 350.

Rat: A Big Block Chevy V8 engine e.g.: 396, 400, 427, and 454 cid.

Rat Rod: A style of hot rod that imitates the early rods of the 1940s-60’s, featuring an unfinished, rough, or patina appearance. A traditional hot rod missing chrome trim is not a rat rod.

Reacher: A dependable street rod.

Recall Wheels: Nickname for option code W23 Cast Center Road Wheels manufactured for Chrysler by Kelsey Hayes for 1969-model cars. These wheels were recalled by Chrysler just days before the 1969 models went on sale due to the risk of the lug nuts loosening while the car was in operation. Despite the recall, some of these wheels did end up in public hands and are now highly collectible.

Redline: Threshold of rpm above which the manufacturer advises it is unsafe to operate the engine.

Relieved: Materials removed from the deck surface of a flathead engine to help improve flow from the valves to the cylinders.

Replicar: A completed reproduction of an existing automotive design.

Repop: See Repro

Repro: Reproduction parts to match or replace NOS parts. Similar terms include repro, repo.

Restamp: Altering the identifying codes stamped into an engine block to make it appear original to a car it didn’t originally come in.

Restification: Term coined by this magazine, which means upgrading with better OE parts from other years to keep a stock look while improving function. Examples: quick-ratio steering boxes, bigger brakes, lighter water pump/fan.

Resto-Mod: Car combining elements of both restoration and modification. A resto-mod is typically based on a cosmetically restored stock body but often has more modern running gear, larger wheels and tires, upgraded brakes, etc.

Resto-Rod: A street rod with a stock appearing body.

Restored: To return a car to its original showroom condition.

Rib: A bow shape of wood or metal that supports a convertible top.

Roadster: A two-seater to a ‘Phaeton’ with a removable top, no roll-up side windows, and the windshield could fold down. An open vehicle with a bench seat in front and a rumble seat or luggage compartment in the rear.

Rockcrusher: Muncie M22 4-speed transmission so called because of the audible differences in operation between the model M-22 and its lower strength but quieter cousin, the M-21.

Rocket: Oldsmobiles, their early V8s.

Rod: A short for Hotrod or Connecting Rod

Roll Bar: A special cage made of round tubular steel and designed to protect the vehicle’s occupants in case of roll over.

Roll Cage: See Roll Bar

Rolled: Bumper or gas tank removed and replaced with custom panel that “rolls” under.

Rolled & Pleated: deluxe interior sewn with padded pleats.

Roller: A chassis that is completed enough to be rolled around on its own. Can also refer to a type of camshaft that uses roller lifters.

Roll Pan: Smoothed out panel that replaces the bumper and rolls back under the vehicle.

Roscoe: A right hand turn (see Louie)

Royal Bobcat:  Pontiac that has either been super-tuned by Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan, or had a super-tune kit from Royal Pontiac installed. A Royal Bobcat was often designated by the Royal Bobcat sticker derived from the 1962 Grand Prix logo, a badge of honor among Pontiac enthusiasts.

RPM: ‘Revolutions Per Minute’ or how many rotations an engines crankshaft completes in one minute.

Rubber Rake: A rake is achieved using big tires in the back and little tires in the front.

Rumble Seat: An open, fold-up rear seat located where the trunk would be. The English call it a Dickey.

Runabout: A small, open vehicle.

Running Board: The metal strip running between the fenders and below the doors of early autos and trucks used as a step or to wipe one’s feet before entering the vehicle.


Saw: See Chop

Scallops: A graphic in the shape of a long narrow triangle usually starting from the front of a hotrod.

Scatter Shield: A protective enclosure at the rear of the engine to protect the driver in case a clutch explodes – also used on transmissions.

Scoop: A device mounted on the hood to force air into the engine at higher speeds.

Scrub line: The lower edge of the car’s wheels. Frame and suspension components should not be below this line, as they can contact the pavement in the event of a flat tire.

Section/Sectioned: To remove a band of metal from around the middle section of a vehicle to reduce its overall height.

Sedan: A two or four door vehicle with a rear seat.

Sedanca: An early body style with a convertible half-top that only covers the rear seat.

Sedan Delivery: A two-door station wagon with solid body panels instead of windows on the sides at the back of the car.

Service Parts: Line of factory-original parts sold through a dealership’s parts counter that are fully correct for originality but may differ slightly from parts installed at the factory. Service parts may have a different finish, part number, date code, etc.

Shaker:  Hoodscoop mounted to the engine that protrudes through an opening in the hood and moves, or shakes, with the engine independently from the rest of the car.

Shaved: Door handles and body trim that have been removed and smoothed over.

Shoebox: Nickname for 1955-57 Chevrolet cars and 1949-54 Ford cars.

Short Block: A replacement engine block containing the crank, connecting rods and pistons, but without heads, manifolds or external components.

Shooting-Brake: Originally, a car built for wealthy hunters, now refers to custom built, luxury cars like the Bentley.

Sidemount: A spare tire recessed into the front fender.

Six-Pack: Three two-barrel carburetors.

Skins: Tires

Skirts: Short for Fender Skirts which cover wheel well openings in customs and hotrods.

Slammed: A vehicle or hotrod that is as close to the ground as possible without contacting the ground.

Slap Stick. Mopar trade name for its ratcheting floor-shifter for the TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

Sleeper: A vehicle that doesn’t look as fast as it is. Plain-looking, unassuming car that, by its mild appearance, conceals the fact that it is very high powered. Also: Q-ship.

Slingshot: A front-engine dragster.

Slushbox: An automatic transmission.

Smoothy: A hotrod that has had all raised portions of the body removed including moldings and sometimes chrome.

Snail: Slang for a turbocharger, or sometimes a centrifugal supercharger, due to the shape of both the turbine and compressor housing.

Soft Top: A slang term for fabric convertible top. Another slang term is rag top.

Souped (aka: Souped Up): Hopped up, performance improved (more common in ’40s and ’50s).

Speed Shifting (aka: Powershifting): Shifting a manual transmission while keeping the engine at full throttle.

Split Window: Usually referring to the rear window, this window has two planes of glass with bodywork in between.

Sport Coupe: A two-door convertible.

Spots: Short for a spot light, also refers to disk brakes.

Spyder:  A small roadster, such as the Porsche 550 and Toyota MR2.

SS or Super Sport:  A sporty designation used by Chevrolet’s primary term for high-performance models, beginning in 1961.

Stacks: Short for Velocity Stacks which are used on carbureted and fuel injected engines.

Stage 1: Buick term for its optional, more powerful engines.

Staged: When a car is positioned at the starting line of a dragstrip.

Related: Pre-Staged is the light that means you are almost to the starting line.

Station Wagon: A four-door vehicle extended for a third seat or luggage area, with a rear door or tailgate.

Steelies: Solid, stamped-steel wheels.

Step Plates: Pads mounted on running boards or fenders to keep the paint or rubber matting from becoming scratched or dirty.

Stereo stripes: Muscle car slang for the dual body stripes on 1968-1971 Chevelles.

Stick Shift: A floor mounted gear shift lever.

Stove Bolt: A six-cylinder Chevrolet engine, introduced for 1929; the basic design was used in cars until the 1960s, and until the 1980’s in some trucks. Also called the “Cast Iron Wonder”, it got the name from its bolts, which resembled those used on stoves.

Strangler: Slang for a carburetor choke.

Street Machine: A street-legal modified car or truck built in 1949 or later.

Street Rod: A street-legal modified car or truck built in 1948 or earlier.

Stretched: A vehicle with a body that has been stretched to lengthen the overall size of the vehicle or to accommodate.

Striker Pillar: The pillar that the door striker is attached to.

Striker: A post or pin that a door latch mechanism grabs to hold the door closed.

Stroker: An engine equipped with a longer then stock crankshaft throw with modified length connecting rods.

Stuffer: Supercharger

Styled Steel Wheels: Upgraded, more stylish wheels made with stamped steel centers as opposed to cast alloy or machined from aluminum.

Suburban: A seven passenger model vehicle produced by General Motors.

Suede: Primer

Suicide Door: A rear-hinged door, typically for the front seat. It earned the name due to the chance of it opening at any speed would cause the door to whip backward with great force.

Supercar: Premium muscle cars with the biggest, most powerful engines.

Supercharger: A mechanical device designed to force air into an engine at higher then atmospheric pressure.

Super Duty: High-performance Pontiacs built by the factory for stock car and drag racing in 1960-1963. Also applied to high-performance versions of the 455ci 1973-1974 Firebird.

Super Stock: Multiple meanings: Drag racing class for cars closest to stock configuration; Plymouth trade name for its 413-426ci Max Wedge engines of 1962-1964; optional Oldsmobile wheels.

Survivor: An original, unrestored, unmolested vehicle that is in good enough condition to be used as a model for the restoration of a similar car. The term “Survivor” is a protected trademark; caution must be exercised referring to a vehicle as a “Survivor” without authorization.


 T-Bucket: A short, fenderless opened Model ‘T’ body hotrod.

T-Handle: Type of handle for a shifter, designed to be easily and firmly gripped. Commonly manufactured by Hurst or other aftermarket company.

Tach: Short for Tachometer and a device to read engine RPM.

Tailgate: The rear door of a station wagon.

Targa: A two-door coupe with removable hard top panel(s) over the front seat.

Teardrops: 1939 Ford taillights, which have become very popular on custom hot rods.

Three-Angle: Way of grinding valve seats that adds a third machined surface to the traditional two. Three-angle valve seats have more smooth area for improved airflow.

Three-On-The-Tree: Refers to a column mounted three speed transmission shifter.

Three Position Coupe: A Coupe DeVille with a roof that can be closed completely, similar to the DeVille extension, or opened completely like a convertible.

TorqueFlite:  Mopar’s trade name for automatic transmissions. A-904 was the lighter-duty model, A-727 heavy duty.

Tonneau: Originally the rear seating area, but now the term is usually used to refer to a rear storage area.

Tonneau Cover: A fabric cover to protect the Tonneau area of a vehicle.

Torpedo: An early touring car, like the Phaeton and Baquet.

Touring: See ‘Phaeton’

Touring Car: A four-door open design that has no windows or top, like the Baquet.

Town Cabriolet: A town car that can be opened like a convertible.

Town Car: A chauffeur driven car with the passengers fully enclosed and the chauffeur exposed, like a Sedanca, DeVille or Brougham.

TPI: Tuned Port Injection

Traction Bar: Aftermarket device for rear suspensions that limits how far the axle housing can counter-rotate in response to heavy engine torque.

Trailer Queen: Derisive term describing highly restored show cars that are not driven regularly (or at all) to preserve their pristine appearance, with little or no mileage on the odometer.

Track T: Model T roadster built in the style of a dirt track race car.

Trad Rad: A street rod built in the styles of the 50’s and 60’s rods.

Tranny: Short for Transmission

Tribute: A vehicle that has been modified to resemble a more desirable or historically significant vehicle.

Tri-Five: Nickname for 1955-57 Chevrolets.

Tri-Power: An engine with three two-barrel carburetors.

Triple deuce: Generic term for three two-barrel carburetors. Related: Tri-CarbThree-Twos3×2, Tri-Power (Pontiac), Six Pack (Dodge), Six Barrel (Plymouth).

Tub: A touring car or Phaeton can also refer to enlarging the wheel well size to accommodate very large tires, usually in the rear.

Tubbed: To increase the wheel well size to accommodate very large tires usually at the rear axel for drag-racing or Pro-Street cars.

Tuck and Roll: A cool style of upholstery.

Tudor: Ford name for a two-door sedan.

Tudor Sedan: Ford coined the word “Tudor” to mean two doors.

Turbo 400/350. Shortened from Turbo-Hydromatic, a GM term for its three-speed automatic transmissions. The Turbo 350 was a lighter-duty transmission, the Turbo 400 more heavy duty. Related: Powerglide was a GM two-speed automatic.

Turnkey: A finished hot rod built by a professional shop and requires no additional work.

Trunk: Rear storage compartment.

Twin Six: The first twelve-cylinder engine produced by Packard.


Ugga-Dugga: A unit of torque as applied by an air impact wrench, so names because of the sound it makes.  Slightly less accurate than a freshly calibrated torque wrench.

U-Joints: Short for Universal Joints and these are located on each end of a drive shaft.

Uncorked: Running without mufflers.

Underslung: Refers to a vehicle frame that runs under the axles.

Unibody Construction: Refers to a body and frame that are manufactured as one component.


V-Butt: When the center windshield strip is removed on cars of the 30’s and 40’s and the glass is cut so it butts together.

Valve Float: Condition in which, at high rpm, the valves cannot fully close because of their rapid back-and-forth movement. Besides making compression impossible, a valve remaining partially open risks contacting the piston and triggering catastrophic engine failure. Greater valve spring pressure or mechanical (solid) valve lifters are the common remedy.

Vicky: See Victoria

Victoria: A sporty two-door sedan body that featured a different rear body panel style. A touring car with a convertible top over the rear seat.

VIN: This is an abbreviation for the Vehicle Identification Number, the car’s identification that carries its serial number, model, year of manufacture and basic equipment information. The vehicle serial number that is stamped onto the vehicle, usually under the windshield post, the driver’s door post, or on the firewall.

Vintage – A term open to broad definition: 1) Vehicles manufactured between 1916 and 1924 in stock or unmodified condition. 2) Sometimes defined as vehicles manufactured between 1915 and 1942. 3) A touring car with a convertible top over the rear seat.

Vis-à-vis: The term means face to face and refers to the seating arrangement in the passenger compartment.


W-Head: A nickname for the General Motors W series engine 348-409 cubic inch, manufactured circa 1958-1964.

W-Machines: Oldsmobile’s term for premium high-performance models:

W-30 (1966-1972)
W-31 (1969-1970; Ram Rod 350 in 1968)
W-32 360hp 400 (1969-1970)
W-33 390hp 455 option for 1970 Delta 88
W-34 400hp 455 option for 1968-1970 Toronado

Wedge: A type of Chrysler engine with wedge shaped combustion chambers in the heads.

Weymann: A patented method for building out of wood and metal, while preventing contact and squeaks.

Wheelie Bars: Rods that extend from the back of a car and are connected to wheels to help keep the car from flipping backwards during sudden acceleration.

Wide Whites: Wide whitewall tires

Window Strap: Predecessor to the window crank. A strap attached to the base of a window allowing the window to be pulled up. The strap has a series of holes that can be hooked on an inside pin to hold the window at various levels.

Windscreen: An English term for windshield.

Windshield: The front window of a vehicle. Also known as a windscreen.

Wind Wing: A small triangular window between windshield A-pillar and front door window, or between the rear door window and C-pillar. Also knows as a Quarter Window or Quarter Light.

Wing: An English term for fender.

Winter Front: A radiator cover with louvers that can be opened and closed to control air flow, thereby controlling engine temperature.

Wires: Wire spoke Wheels

Woody: Originally referred to vehicles that incorporates natural finished wood for structure of exposed body panels of wood but now is a slang term for a vehicle with wood covering part of the body.

Wraparound Windshield: A 1950’s styling cue where the windshield glass was curved into a relatively sharp angle, with the edges protruding past the hinges on the front door. The point is commonly known as the dogleg. Most owners of these cars go through a learning curve when it comes to getting into the car, since it’s very easy to bang your knee against the dogleg.

Wrinkle Walls: Drag racing slicks.


X-Member: The center portion of a frame where the frame rails meet or cross.


Y-Block: A cylinder block with deep pan rails, commonly used with Ford’s replacement to the Flathead.


Z/28 (aka: Z-28Z28). Originally Chevrolet’s RPO code for the equipment package to homologate the Camaro for Trans-Am racing. Has evolved to denote high-performance models in the Camaro lineup.

Z’ed: Frame rails altered in a Z shape to lower the front of a hot rod.

Zoomies: Open headers that exit at the side of a vehicle and are pointed upward.