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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Classic and Collector Car Glossary

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ALL WEATHER - An early car term referring to the first convertibles. Commonly used in the twenties and thirties to denote a four door convertible sedan.

ANTIQUE CAR – In automotive terms it tends to refer to a vehicle that was built prior to 1915...

A-PILLAR - The first pair of structural posts supporting the roof and windshield.


BAQUET - the literal translation is 'bath tub'. An 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. Also see Phaeton.

BARCHETTA - Early open top sports car dedicated to racing without doors or a top. Typically with uniform and streamlined bodywork, it could have one or two separate seats.

BAROUCHE- a carriage term very rarely used for automobiles. The driver sat in an open front seat with two couples facing each other inside a closed cabin. There was a folding top over the rear seat.

BATEAU - The shape of the back end of early open topped race vehicles at the beginning of the century, such as the Barchetta. It looks like the bow of a boat and is commonly referred to as a Boat-tail.

BEACH WAGON - a term for station wagon used mostly in New England.

BERLINE - An early word for a two-door sedan.

BOAT-TAIL - The term literally describes the shape of the vehicle’s tail. It refers to a vehicle with a tapered 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.

BODY-ON RESTORATION - Essentially the same as the more familiar ‘frame-off restoration’ but may not be as thorough.

BONNET - The panel that covers the engine - an English term for the hood.

BOOT - The panel that covers the rear luggage compartment - an English term for the trunk.

B-PILLAR - The pair of structural posts following the A-Pillars and front doors.

BRASS CAR - The brass era was named for the widespread use of the fancy brass fittings and brass lanterns that were a natural addition to the new 'horseless carriage'...

BREACK - Station wagon (French)

BROUGHMAN - In early motoring this broad term signified a closed car for two or four persons. In later forms it was commonly used to describe a car with a closed in passenger compartment behind an open drivers 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. When coupled with sharp lines and flat surfaces it may also be called a 'Panel Brougham'.

BUILD - The term refers to a change or variation in the factory procedures, indicated by the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

BULLNOSE - a term commonly used in England during the 1920's to indicate the shape of the front end of a vehicle resulting from the style of radiator which supposedly resembled the nose of a bull. Ex. Bull-nose Morris.

BUSINESS COUPE - A basic low-end, two-door coupe that did not include unnecessary amenities such as a radio or rumble seat. Everyday transport for the middleclass as used by doctors, bankers and salesman etc


CABRIOLET - An early French term meaning folding top or convertible - generally this means a convertible car with windows. Concurrently in the United States, the term used was Convertible coupe. The equivalent in Great Britain was called a drop-head coupe using the term Cabriolet to mean a four door open top car.

CALIFORNIA TOP - A fixed rigid top applied to a touring car replacing the regular folding top, usually with sliding glass windows for weather protection.

CARSON TOP - A custom-made, one-piece, hard or rigid (non-folding), removable convertible top which may be specially made but are often created by removing the original top from a sedan or hardtop. Carson tops are frequently lowered / chopped by 2-3 inches.

CCCA CLASSIC - A term defined by the Classic Car Club of America to include only specific important marques built largely between 1925 and 1948. To read the complete CCCA definition

CHARACTER LINE - A design incorporated into flat panels to give them strength.

CHOPPED or CHOPTOP - the process of lowering the top of a car, usually as part of a customized design.

CHUMMY - In England from 1920 onwards a chummy was used to describe an open top car with two full-sized seats up front with two small 'occasional' seats in the rear.

CLASSIC - The definition can vary widely.. According to the Classic Car Club of America this term refers only to specific or important marques built between 1925 and 1942. Other Consumer Guides place it in the 1960′s. It is however applied today by owners of almost any collectible car that is more than 25 years old.

CLOSED CAR – A vehicle with a hard top.

CLUB COUPE - A two-door hard-top (closed car) 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.

CONCOURS (d'Elegance) - Literal translation, a gathering or show of the elegant. Ex. A vehicle that is described as ‘Concours’ would be considered condition 1++ (A++).

CONDITION NUMBERS - Any set of digits used to rate the overall quality of a car. The one most commonly employed is probably the ‘Six Value Condition Number Scale’. The number ‘1’ would represent a vehicle in excellent condition, whereas the number ‘6’ would define a vehicle suitable only as a parts donor.

CONTINENTAL KIT - A spare tire mounted on the bumper at the rear of the car, usually requiring a bumper extension.

CONVERTIBLE - In short, any car with a top and windows that can be either lowered or removed. Originally, all cars were of this design, but soon the protection of the closed in sedan gained dominance. Convertible coupes had two doors, whilst cars with four doors were called convertible sedans - in both cases four or five people could be seated.

CONVERTIBLE ROADSTER - A convertible is an open car with windows; a roadster is an open car without windows.? 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 or COUPE - A closed car with two doors for two or three people and a roofline that generally curves at the back. A coupe with a small backseat is generally referred to as a Club Coupe.

COUPE CHAUFFEUR - Chauffeur driven car with passengers fully enclosed and the chauffeur exposed. Body has rear quarter windows. Also known as a Brougham and a Coupe Limousine.

COUPE DeVILLE - Usually a four passenger two-door car with a permanently closed roof over the rear seats and a removable top covering the front seats. Also known as a Town Coupe. See also Sedanca.

COUPELET - A term used especially by Ford to describe a Model T two-seater Cabriolet.

COUPE LIMOUSINE - Chauffeur driven car with the passengers fully enclosed and the chauffeur exposed. Body has rear quarter windows. Also known as a Brougham and a Coupe Chauffeur.

COUPE MILORD - A four door touring car with a convertible top over the rear seats only. Also known as a ‘Victoria’.

C-PILLAR - The third pair of structural posts, following the B-Pillars, supporting the roof and rear window.

CRUISER SKIRTS - Optional accessory similar in function to fender skirts but are normally longer and fit on the outside of the body of the car. Most often used in customization work.

CUSTOM CAR - A custom car is a phrase that became prominent in American pop culture in the 1950s, and has enjoyed special interest popularity since that time…

CUSTOMIZED - Refers to any modification of a car other than the restoration to the original condition. This may mean something as simple as adding a new engine or power options to changing the car so radically that its original nature is barely recognizable.

CYCLE FENDERS - Free standing fenders that conform to the shape of the tire, like those used on a bicycle or motorcycle. More commonly found on the front but sometimes found on the rear.


- The process of removing the body trim or contour lines from the hood or trunk of a car, usually as part of a customized design.

DeVILLE EXTENSION - A sliding roof over the front seat with side arms that folded back into the remaining roof thus producing a Sedanca configuration in metal rather than the usual fabric.

DICKEY - An English term for an external seat that could be accessed by lifting a forward opening 'trunk-like' lid in the rear of the car - known in the US as a Rumble Seat.

DOGLEG - A popular name applied to the angle created at the door opening by the wrap-around windshields found on many mid to late '50's models.

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.

DRAGSTER - Drag racing vehicles are special in that they are specifically modified to be lighter and more powerful than in their standard form…

DROPHEAD COUPE - British term for the equivalent of the American convertible. Also known as the European Cabriolet.

DUAL COWL - A design of touring car, which saw the cab divided into two compartments with a front and rear seat. It also has a second windshield mounted on a folding Cowl to protect backseat occupants.


ESTATE CAR - A station wagon, or four-door, four passenger car with an extended roof line plus a gate or hatch in the rear for increased cargo capacity.


FAUX CABRIOLET - A fixed head coupe made to resemble a cabriolet.

FENCER’S MASK - The term used to describe a type of radiator grille design from the 1930's which resembled a fencer’s mask for its shape and fine weave of the grille.

FENDER - The part of the body specially shaped to accommodate a wheel and tire (British – Wing).

FENDER SKIRTS - Optional accessory that fits up in the wheel well and covers most or all of the cut-outs in the fenders at the rear wheels.

FINE-LINE - A body stripe (British).

FIXED HEAD COUPE or FHC - A hardtop coupe (closed coupe).

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

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.

FRAME-OFF RESTORATION - A restoration method in which the car is completely disassembled with all parts cleaned or replaced as necessary. This includes the engine and all other mechanical components so the restored car meets the exact factory specifications of the time as closely as possible.

FRAME-UP RESTORATION - A less rigorous restoration than a frame-off in which the car has not been disassembled. Only certain components such as paint, chrome, interior, and maybe some mechanical items having been restored.


GOUTTE d'EAU - A ′tear drop′ body style, tapered to the rear.

GOVERNOR - A device used with the carburetor to restrict the maximum engine speed.

GP - Grand Prix or Great Prize.

GRAN TURISMO (GT) - Gran Turismo is an Italian term commonly used by car manufacturers meaning "Grand Touring"…

GROUND-UP RESTORATION - essentially the same as the more familiar ‘frame-off restoration’ but may not be as thorough.

GT (GRAN TURISMO) - A Grand Tourer is a high-performance automobile designed for long-distance driving…

GULLWING DOORS - Hinged to open vertically rather than horizontally. Two most notable examples are the Delorean DMC and the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.


HARD TOP - A removable top made from fiberglass or steel that replaces the soft-top - usually painted the same color as the body of the car.

HARDTOP CONVERTIBLE - A type of convertible having a removable hard top. Such designs include tops that unfasten and lift off (early Ford Thunderbirds) and the retractables on the late 1950's Fords.

HINGE PILLAR - The second and third pillars that the door hinges are attached to.

HOOD - American terminology for the sheet metal panel covering the engine. Commonly called the bonnet in Great Britain and can also be used to describe a convertible’s soft-top.

HORSELESS CARRIAGE - a term defined by the Horseless Carriage Club of America applying to cars built before 1915 (See also Antique).

HORSEPOWER - a unit of work. 550 foot pounds per second or .745kw

HOT HATCH - A hot hatch is an informal or slang term for a high-performance derivative of a three (or sometimes five) door automobile…

HOT ROD - A wide range of home made and backyard maintained vehicles from the 1930's through to the beginning of the Muscle Car era…


KIT CAR - This refers to a reproduction of an existing automotive design sold as a kit that the builder assembles themselves.


LANDAU - Originally a limousine with an open drivers 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.

LANDAU TOP - A roof style characterized by a (usually small) rear section being covered by vinyl fabric or otherwise set apart.

LANDAULET - A Landau limousine in which the section over the passenger / rear seats also opens or folds down.

LAND YACHT – An oversized luxury car, especially the huge chrome laden finned vehicles of the late 1950's early ‘60’s.

LATCH - The mechanism that grabs a striker to hold a door closed.

LEAD SLED - The process of smoothing and shaping body contours to remove lines between panels and minor imperfections. Often this would result in radically changed body shapes. Today plastic filler is used but originally lead was employed, hence the name ‘Lead Sled’.

LIGHT - A small window as in sidelight, quarter-light, skylight etc

LIMOUSINE - A chauffeured sedan designed for passenger comfort, often with a longer wheelbase and usually with a division between the driver and the passengers. The rear compartment has luxurious features with separate controls for heating and the opening and closing of the glass or wood division.

LOWERED - The process of lowering the chassis of a car, usually as part of a customized design.

LOWRIDER - Lowriders are very often classic cars from the 1950s which rode low to begin with…


MARQUE - A make or brand of car.

MATCHING NUMBERS - A set of numbers on a car which specify and can be used to verify the originality of the components of a car ranging from color to the engine.

MM (MILLE MIGLIA) - A one thousand mile Italian road race that took place from 1927 to 1957.

MOTHER-IN-LAW SEAT - a single sideways-facing rear seat. - usually found in coupes or cabriolets.

MUFFLER CUT-OUT - a valve located on the exhaust pipe between the engine and the muffler. When opened it allows exhaust gas to pass directly to the open air which makes a great noise and slightly increases power.

MUSCLE CAR - A muscle car is an automobile with a high horse power engine, modest weight and capable of producing high levels of acceleration…


NEW OLS STOCK (NOS) - New parts made by the original manufacturer at the time of production that were never used.

NOSED - The process of raising a small peak (nose) in the center of the hood of a car, usually as part of a customized design.


From the time of purchase or manufacture. A car that is ‘all original’ is one that contains only parts contemporary to its time (came with the car or NOS) with no substitute or after-market parts.

O.E.M. - Original Equipment Manufacturer. The term is generally used to distinguish between parts made by the original builder and the aftermarket.

OIL CAN - A condition where a dent in a body panel will ′pop′ in and out like the bottom of an oil can.

OPERA COUPE - a two door closed car with a small folding seat beside the driver. This allowed easy passage to a rear seat for two, usually offset to the right in left-hand drive cars.



A car that is suitable only for stripping it for its parts. Such cars are often wrecked, incomplete and do not run. Such a car would normally have a condition number of ‘6’.

PHAETON – A four door opened top touring car. French term taken from the Greek "Phaeton" who drove the chariot of his sun-god father, Helios.

PICKING-OUT - a molding color in contrast to a body color.

PINSTRIPE - A thin line of paint contrasting to the body color - originally called a coach-line.

PONY CAR - The pony car is a class of automobile launched and inspired by the Ford Mustang in 1964…

POST - The fixed column between the front and rear side windows of a sedan. The post is not present in a hardtop.

PRO STREET - A customized automobile designed for very high-performance and racing.

PROJECT CAR - An essentially complete usually running car that is capable of being restored. A project car usually has a condition number of ‘4’ or ‘5’.


A small triangular window between the windshield A-pillar and front door window, or between the rear door window and C-pillar. Also known as a ‘wind wing’.


A slang term for a convertible top made out of fabric. Also known as a soft top.

RETRACTABLE - A car having a mechanically retractable hardtop such as the late 1950's Ford Skyliner.

RIB - A bow made of metal or wood that makes up part of the frame for a convertible top.

ROADSTER - Is the North American term used for a 2-seater lightweight car without a permanent top…

Metal tubing fashioned in such a way to protect the occupants in the event the car should roll over.

An external seat that could be accessed by lifting a forward opening 'trunk-like' lid in the rear of the car - the British call it a ‘Dickey’.

RUNABOUT - A small light two-seater vehicle. Runabout was mainly an American term to indicate a very basic and cheap small open car.

RUNNING BOARD - A strip running between the fenders and below the doors of early autos used both as a step up into the car and to wipe the mud from one's feet.


A closed automobile having two or four doors.

SEDANCA – An early body style in which the top extended for a quarter of a circle and covered only the passengers in the rear seats.

SEDAN DELIVERY - Essentially a station wagon closed behind the front seat resembling a small panel truck.

SEDANETTE or SEDANET - A two-door sedan having a slanted back with the rear window and trunk along one unbroken curve. This name for the early streamlined design is most often used for Buick and Cadillac models, but similar designs of other makes are known by various names such as "Aero" (Chevrolet), "Jetback," "Streamliner" (Pontiac), "Torpedo," and simply "fastback."

SHAVED - The process of smoothing lines by removing the body trim or contour lines of a car which would include filling any holes - usually as part of a customized design.

SIDE MOUNT - A spare tire mounted on the side of a car, normally on the fender just above and behind the front wheel.

SHOOTING BRAKE - This is a European term commonly used to describe a car that is a cross between a two-door sports coupe and an estate car. Originally, a car built for wealthy hunters, it now refers to custom built luxury cars like the Bentley.

SOFT TOP - A slang term for a convertible top made out of fabric. Also known as a ‘Rag Top’.

SPORTIF - a very tight or narrow type of Phaeton.

SPORT COUPE - a closed coupe with a cloth top and sometimes landau irons resembling a convertible.

Is the European term used for a 2-seater lightweight car without a permanent top...

SS or SUPER SPORT - A sporty designation used by General Motors.

STATION WAGON - a utility car built of wood, typically with four doors and a rear door or tailgate.

STRANGLER - a carburetor choke.

STREET ROD - A customized and usually modernized automobile designed for show or pleasure driving - often built from a classic car.

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.

SUBURBAN - A seven passenger model vehicle / limousine.

SUICIDE DOOR- A rear hinged door, typically for the front seat. So named because at speed any chance opening would cause the door to whip backward with great force.

SUPERCAR - Is a term generally used for a high-end sports car, whose performance is highly superior to that of its contemporaries…

SUPERLEGGERA - Super Light (Italian).


TAILGATE - The rear door of a station wagon.

TARGA - a two door coupe with a removable roof panel.

THREE POSITION COUPE - A Coupe de Ville which may be presented as a either a fully closed coupe, a deVille Coupe with the front section open or a fully collapsible convertible.

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 / interior of a vehicle from the elements when the top is down.

TORPEDO - An early touring car, like the Phaeton and Baquet with a long wheelbase. Usually with flat panel’s low doors and sides that offered no protection from the weather.

TOURING CAR - A four door open car without windows. US equivalent of the European 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. Also known as a Sedanca deVille or Town Brougham.

TRAILER QUEEN - A term used for a collector car that has been restored and is transported to shows in or on trailers with little or no mileage on the odometer.

TRUNK – The rear storage compartment, known as the ‘Boot’ in Britain.

TUDOR SEDAN - Ford's term for a two door.

The first twelve cylinder engine introduced by ‘Packard’ in 1915.


- Refers to a vehicle frame that runs under the axles.

UNIBODY - ′Uni′ stands for ′unitized′ and refers to a body and frame that are manufactured as one component.


- It’s commonly held that the period from 1888 – 1904 defined the veteran car era…Click Here

VICKY or VICKIE - A nickname for a ‘Victoria’ mostly used by Ford over the years, but applied to a few cars by other companies such as Packard and Chrysler in early years. The shortened form is most often used for models cirça the 1930's.

VICTORIA - A close coupled two door sedan or an enlarged coupe with a rear seat - an ‘Opera Coupe’. Also a four door touring car with a convertible top over the rear seats only. Known in France as a ‘Coupe Milord’.

VINTAGE CAR - A vintage car is commonly defined as a car built between the start of 1919 and through to the stock market crash at the end of 1929… Click Here

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.

VIS A VIS – A French term generally used to describe a seating arrangement where the passengers sit facing each other.


- A patented body in which wooden frame members were joined by metal strips preventing the wood from touching and squeaking.

WINDOW STRAP - 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. Predecessor to the window crank.

WINDSCREEN - The front window of a vehicle. British term for windshield

WINDSHIELD - The front window of a vehicle (British – windscreen).

WING - British term for fender.

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.

WINTER FRONT - A patented name by the ‘Pines Co’ for a radiator cover with louvers that can be opened and closed to control air flow that enables regulation of the engine temperature.

WOODY or WOODIE - Originally referred to vehicles incorporating natural finished wood as part of the vehicle structure. Now more commonly used as a slang term for a vehicle with wood covering part of the body.

WRAP-AROUND WINSHIELD - A type of windshield design found on many mid to late 1950's cars on which the vertical post on each side were ‘swept back’ to a vertical or a reversed position in an attempt to improve visibility.


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