Classic Car Language 101: Understanding Automotive Lingo

 

 

One of the best ways to gauge the popularity of a classic car is whether there's an aftermarket for its body style. You've probably noticed that "car people" seem to have their own language, and understanding them may occasionally require an interpreter. Automotive lingo certainly isn't intuitive, but with a little time and effort, you can become fluent in the native language. Here are some common car terms to help you get started.

 

  • Classic Cars -- There doesn't seem to be a consensus when it comes to the definition of classic cars. The Classic Car Club of America identifies them as fine or distinctive cars manufactured between 1925 and 1948. However, a broader definition, which is widely accepted among car clubs, collectors, and hobbyists, is: vehicles 25 years and older, which no longer depreciate in value.
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  • Muscle Car -- Some believe the GTO was the first muscle car, but others argue that early Chrysler 300s were the first cars to flex their muscles. Regardless of which car was the first, it is widely accepted that medium-size cars built in the '60s and early '70s, that have high performance engines and light-weight bodies, are muscle cars.
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  • Hot Rods, Street Rods -- Enhanced for speed, a hot rod or street rod is a heavily-modified car or truck. These vehicles usually have all-new custom interiors, new V8 engines, and an abundance of chrome.
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  • Restomod -- A classic car that has retained its general appearance, but has been updated with a multitude of modern parts, such as improved suspension, electronics, new drive train technology, and creature comforts.
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  • Pro-Touring, Pro-Street -- If a vehicle is pro-touring or a pro-street, then it has received performance enhancements to make it extremely fast, but still legal to drive on the street.
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  • Clones, Tributes, Continuations -- Clones, tributes, and continuations are all terms to describe vehicles that have been modified from stock configurations to resemble a special model edition for that vehicle. Two examples of these vehicle types are: creating a Shelby look-alike from a base mustang, and modifying a standard Road Runner into a Superbird.
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  • Pony Cars -- The original pony cars were Ford Mustangs, but other high-performance vehicles, such as Barracudas and Camaros, are also considered pony cars. Typical characteristics of these American four-seater sports cars are long hoods and short decks (trunks).
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  • Chopping , Channeling -- Removing a section of the upper part of the vehicle's body to achieve a narrower window opening is called chopping. Lowering a vehicle's body without changing the suspension is called channeling.
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  • Lead Sled -- Chopped and channeled 1949-1951 Mercurys, or similar cars of that era, are called lead sleds. Lead was used as a body filler to customize the sheet metal prior to painting, so these cars were nicknamed lead sleds.
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  • Fuely -- A fuely car is one that uses fuel injection instead of a carburetor to regulate gas supplied to the engine.
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  • Deuce Coupe -- A Deuce Coupe is a customized 1932 Ford two-seater.
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  • Three on the Tree -- When a car has a three-speed transmission lever mounted on the steering column, it is said to have three on the tree.
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  • Rag Top -- A convertible car is otherwise known as a rag top.
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  • Blown (i.e., a blown vehicle) -- If a supercharger has been installed between the fuel delivery system and intake manifold of the motor, then the vehicle is referred to as Blown.
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  • Woodie -- A vehicle of choice for surfers on outings to the beach, a Woodie is a '40s or '50s station wagon, with exterior wood trim.
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  • T-Bucket -- A T-Bucket is a Model T Ford that has been stripped of fenders and engine cowling, and has been upgraded with a V8 engine.
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  • Suicide Doors -- Doors that are hinged toward the rear and open facing forward are called suicide doors.
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  • Frenched Headlights -- Headlights that have been customized by recessing the lens inside the headlight bucket are referred to as Frenched Headlights.
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  • Dual Quads -- If an engine has two four-barrel carburetors, then it has dual quads.
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  • Six Pack -- A vehicle has a six pack if it has three two-barrel carburetors installed on its engine.
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  • Tubbed Out -- A car has been tubbed out if a major modification has been made to the rear wheel wells so that very wide tires can be installed.
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  • Trailer Queen --Cars driven sparingly, and only for very short distances, are called Trailer Queens. Typically, these vehicles are transported by trailer, whenever possible.
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  • Matching Numbers Vehicle -- For the purist, to be a matching numbers vehicle, original, factory-installed components would have to be in chassis. A somewhat looser definition for a matching numbers vehicle would be one that has the correct, matching date code stamped on both the drive train components and the chassis.
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1955 Blown T-Bird Convertible

 


1932 Ford Deuce Coupe

 


Ford T-Bucket

 


1950 Mercury Lead Sled with Frenched Headlights