Guide to Classic Car Terminology

Even the most seasoned car enthusiasts don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to the terminology we use while restoring our rides. Here is our list of the most commonly used terms, but we may have missed some, so don’t hesitate to let us know—just drop us a note at and we’ll add it to the list.


  • 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; so named for one door window on each side plus the rear window.
  • 5-window: 2-door coupé; so named for one door window and one quarter window on each side plus the rear window.
  • 94s: “Ninety-fours”: a reference to the model number of Holley carburetors.
  • 97s: “Ninety-sevens”: a reference to the model number of Stromberg carburetors.


  • A-400: A convertible two-door sedan built by Ford prior to 1932.
  • A-Bomb: Any Model A Ford that has been modified.
  • A-Bone: Model A Ford, 1928–1931.
  • A-Pillar: The side windshield post on most cars.
  • Alky: Alcohol fuel used for racing, including methanol or methyl alcohol.
  • Antique: 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-400: A convertible two-door sedan built by Ford in 1932.
  • B-Pillar: The post between the front and back seat areas on cars. Hardtop models have this removed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Beach Wagon: A term for a station wagon.
  • Beam Axle: Any automotive front axle featuring the cross-sectional shape of an I-beam.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Billet: Automotive components machined from a single block of metal.
  • Binders: Brakes.
  • Blower: Supercharger.
  • Blower Drive: The belt and pulleys that drive 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.
  • Bobbed: Shortened Fenders, sometimes applied to a shortened hood or frame rails.
  • Bondo: Brand name for a body filler, often used as a generic term for any such product.
  • Bone-Stock: An original, unmodified car.
  • Boost: Intake manifold pressure generated by a Turbocharger or Supercharger.
  • Bored and Stroked: Engines that have had their cylinder walls enlarged and the crankshaft throw modified.
  • 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.
  • Bonnet: The hood over the front engine, often used with European cars.
  • 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.
  • Bucket: Rod with a Model T body, also called a “Bucket T.”
  • Buggy Sprung: Suspension based on front and rear solid axels, 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 ’40s and early ’50s.
  • Bullets: Chromed, bullet-shaped extensions used on bumpers, grilles, and wheels.
  • Bumpstick: Slang for camshaft.
  • Business Coupé: A simple two-door coupé, without a rumble seat, built in the mid- to late-thirties. (Also referred to as a Businessman’s Coupé).


  • C-Pillar: The rear pillar of the roof support structure.
  • Cabriolet: A convertible with windows.
  • 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.
  • CC-ing: The accurate measuring of each cylinder or combustion chamber to equalize the volume in high-performance engines.
  • CCs: ’39 Ford Teardrop headlights.
  • Channeled: 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.
  • Cherry: Like new.
  • Chop/Chopped: Removing a section of the roofline horizontally to reduce its height.
  • CID: Refers to “Cubic Inch Displacement” of an engine.
  • 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 that’s on its list of acceptable classics.
  • Club Coupé: A two-door closed car with rear seat.
  • Coach: A two-door sedan.
  • 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.”
  • Convertible: An open-top car with a folding roof and side windows.
  • Coupé: A closed car with two doors and a smaller interior than a sedan.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Deck/Decked: Removing the chrome and handles from the trunk or “Decklid.”
  • Deuce: 1932 Ford.
  • Dig Out: Accelerate quickly.
  • Digs: Drag Races.
  • Digger: A Dragster.
  • Dog Leg: The corner of a wraparound windshield on a 1950s car. It’s a multipurpose 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.
  • Donor Car: A vehicle used to provide parts and hardware for another project vehicle.
  • 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.
  • 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 Quad: Two four-barrel carburetors.
  • Dutchman Panel: The metal body piece between the rear window and the trunk.
  • DuVall Windshield: A split V-shaped raked chrome-plated windshield designed by George DuVall.


  • EFI: Electronic Fuel Injection (replaces the carburetor).
  • ET: Elapsed time—the time it takes to run a quarter-mile drag.
  • Elephant: A term used to describe the 426 ci. Hemi used in 1964 or later Chrysler Corporation Cars.


  • Fade-Aways: Fenders that taper back into the body.
  • Fastback: A car design where the roofline continues in a single curve from the windshield to the rear bumper.
  • Fat: A over-rich fuel mixture denoted by excessive black smoke.
  • Fat Fendered: Street rods with bodies manufactured between 1935 and 1948.
  • Fender Skirts: Body panels that cover the rear wheelwells.
  • 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.
  • Flamed: Graphic representation of flames, usually starting at the front and 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.
  • Flatty: See Flathead.
  • Floor Pan: This just means the floor of a vehicle.
  • Flopper: Drag racing slang for a Funny Car.
  • Fordor: Ford name for a four-door sedan.
  • Four Banger: A four-cylinder engine.
  • Four Barrel: A four-cylinder engine or a type of carburetor.
  • Four on the Floor: Floor-mounted shifter coupled to a four-speed transmission.
  • Frame-Off Restoration: A restoration project in which the entire vehicle is completely disassembled with all parts cleaned or replaced as necessary, so that the restored car meets the original factory specifications as closely as possible.
  • Frame-Up Restoration: Not as detailed as a frame-off restoration, this process involves restoring the paint, chrome, interior, and mechanicals to original specifications without complete disassembly of the car.
  • French: Usually refers to recessing the headlights and removing the seam of the headlight trim ring, but can apply to other recessing.
  • 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.


  • 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 Highboy.
  • 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.
  • Glass: Short for fiberglass.
  • Glasspacks: Loud aftermarket mufflers, which typically use a straight-through perforated tube wrapped in fiberglass.
  • Goat: Pontiac GTO.
  • Grab Rails: Handles mounted on the body to help passengers enter the vehicle, usually a rumble seat.
  • Grill Shell: A decorative trim that goes around the radiator, usually on cars built in the early 1930s.
  • Grocery Getter: A mild street rod that is used for a run to the store and back.
  • Gutted: A rod with its interior removed.


  • 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: A body design for metal roof cars that eliminates the B-pillar.
  • Haze the Hides: To spin and smoke the rear tires.
  • Header: Specialized exhaust manifolds that help reduce exhaust back pressure, therefore increasing power.
  • Hemi: A high-performance engine produced by Chrysler with hemispherical heads.
  • Hides: Tires.
  • Highboy: A rod with no fenders or running boards and the body place high on the frame rails.
  • High Tech: Rods that combine customized bodies with billeted or steel dress-up parts.
  • 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 ’50s).


  • In the Weeds: A really low vehicle.
  • Indian (also Tin Indian): Pontiac (for the grille badge).
  • Igniter: The engine’s ignition system.


  • Jimmy: Acronym for a GMC and 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.


  • Kemp: A rod with a customized body.
  • Kit Car: A reproduction of an existing automotive design, sold in various stages of production to allow for completion and customization by the builder.
  • Knock Offs: A special wheel system that is held in place with one large, quickly removed nut.


  • Lakes: The dry lakes in and around Southern California where hot rodders raced their cars.
  • Lakes Modified: A radically modified racer designed for racing at the dry lakes.
  • Lakepipes: Side-exit exhaust pipes located under the rocker panels.
  • Land Yacht: A large luxury car, usually referring to the chromed, finned, oversized vehicles of the late fifties to early sixties.
  • 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.
  • Lean It Out: To alter the fuel mixture to improve engine performance and use less fuel—done to extreme will fry your engine.
  • 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.


  • Mag: Short for a wheel made with a Magnesium alloy—can also mean Magneto, a self-contained ignition system.
  • 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.
  • 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 Motor: A small block Chevy engine manufactured from 1955 to present day.
  • Muscle Car: A North American intermediate or mid-sized car produced between 1964 and 1972 (with a few exceptions) with a large displacement V8 engine.


  • Nail Head: 1950s–60s Buick V8 engine.
  • Nerf: Short for 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 ’50s and ’60s and employs modern power plants, components, and body panels.
  • NOS: Nitrous Oxide System—mucho big horsepower.
  • N.O.S.: New Old Stock; refers to parts that are the original parts supplied by the vehicle’s manufacturer.
  • Nosed: Chrome details and trim removed from the hood and smoothed over.


  • Original: Contains only parts originally installed on the car or NOS parts from the manufacturer with no substitute or aftermarket parts.
  • Overbore: An engine block that has had its cylinder bore enlarged because it is badly worn or the owner wants more power.
  • Overwind: A bad thing—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 reflected “Mother of Pearl” iridescent colors—or maybe it’s a little white object taken from an oyster.
  • Phaeton: An open two- or four-door sedan manufactured in the late ’20s to the late ’30s that had no roll-up windows.
  • Phone Booth: A ’28 or ’29 Model A closed-cab pickup.
  • Pin Stripe: Long, narrow painted stripes usually running the length of a hot rod. 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.
  • Pony Car: A small, compact performance-oriented vehicle, named for the first of its type—the Mustang.
  • Ported: Intake and exhaust ports that have been enlarged and polished to provide maximum flow through the heads.
  • 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 hot rod made to look like a drag racing car.
  • Project Car: A vehicle that is in restorable condition.
  • Puffer: A supercharger.
  • Puke Can: A radiator overflow tank used to catch coolant.


  • Quarter Window: The side window behind the rear door.
  • 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.
  • 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–60s, featuring an unfinished, rough, or patina appearance.
  • Reacher: A dependable street rod.
  • Replicar: A completed reproduction of an existing automotive design.
  • Repop: See Repro.
  • Repro: Reproduction parts to match or replace NOS parts.
  • Resto Rod: A street rod with a stock-appearing body.
  • Restored: To return a car to its original showroom condition.
  • Roadster: A two seater to a Phaeton—removable top and no roll-up side windows, and the windshield could fold down.
  • 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: Oldsmobile, in particular 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 vehicles occupants in case of roll over.
  • Roll Cage: See Roll Bar.
  • Roll Pan: Smoothed-out panel that replaces the bumper and rolls back under the vehicle.
  • 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.
  • Roscoe: A right-hand turn (see Louie).
  • RPM: Revolutions Per Minute or the number of rotations an engine’s crankshaft completes in one minute.
  • Rubber Rake: A rake achieved by the use of 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.
  • 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 come in contact with the pavement in the event of a flat tire.
  • Section: To remove a band of metal from around the middle section of a vehicle to reduce its overall height.
  • Sedan Delivery: A two-door station wagon with solid body panels instead of windows on the sides at the back 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.
  • 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 hot rods.
  • Slammed: A vehicle or hot rod that is as close to the ground as humanly possible without actually touching.
  • Sleeper: A vehicle that doesn’t look as fast as it is.
  • Slingshot: A front-engine dragster.
  • Slushbox: An automatic transmission.
  • Smoothy: A hot rod that has had all raised portions of the body removed, including moldings and sometimes chrome.
  • Souped (Souped Up): Hopped up, performance improved (more common in ’40s and ’50s).
  • Split Window: Usually referring to the rear window, this window has two planes of glass with bodywork in between.
  • Spots: Short for a spotlight, also refers to disk brakes.
  • Stacks: Short for Velocity Stacks, which are used on carbureted and fuel-injected engines.
  • 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.
  • 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 as long as the 1980s 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.
  • Stroker: An engine equipped with a longer-than-stock crankshaft throw with modified-length connecting rods.
  • Stuffer: Supercharger.
  • Suede: Primer.
  • Suicide Door: A door that hinges at the rear.
  • Supercharger: A mechanical device designed to force air into an engine at higher-than-atmospheric pressure
  • Survivor: An original, unrestored, unmolested antique car that is in good enough condition to be used as a model for the restoration of a similar car.


  • T-Bucket: A short, fenderless, opened Model T body hot rod.
  • Tach: Short for Tachometer and a device to read engine RPM.
  • Teardrops: 1939 Ford taillights, which have become very popular on custom hot rods.
  • Three on the Tree: Refers to a column-mounted three-speed transmission shifter.
  • Touring: See Phaeton.
  • TPI: Tuned Port Injection.
  • 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 ’50s and ’60s rods.
  • Trailer Queen: Derogatory term referring to a car that is shown frequently yet rarely driven.
  • Tranny: Short for Transmission.
  • Tri-Five: Nickname for 1955–57 Chevrolets.
  • Tri-Power: An engine with three two-barrel carburetors.
  • 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.
  • Tuck and Roll: A cool style of upholstery or a new kind of music.
  • Tudor: Ford name for a two-door sedan.
  • Turnkey: A completely finished hot rod built by a professional shop and requiring no additional work.


  • U Joints: Short for Universal Joints; these are located on each end of a drive shaft.
  • Uncorked: Running without mufflers.


  • V-Butt: When the center windshield strip is removed on cars of the ’30s and ’40s and the glass is cut so it butts together.
  • Vicky: See Victoria.
  • Victoria: A sporty two-door sedan body that features a different rear-body panel style.
  • VIN: Vehicle Identification Number. 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 vehicle built between 1915 and 1942 in stock or unmodified condition.


  • W-head: A nickname for the General Motors W series engine 348–409 cubic inch, manufactured circa 1958–1964.
  • Wedge: A type of Chrysler engine with wedge-shaped combustion chambers in the heads.
  • 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.
  • Wires: Wire-spoked wheels.
  • Woody: A vehicle that incorporates natural finished wood for structure of exposed body panels.
  • Wraparound Windshield: A 1950s 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’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.

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25 Responses to “Guide to Classic Car Terminology”

  1. Doran

    Why is an unrestored truck said to have its "work clothes" on? Something like that? Does anyone know the correct term? Please help. Thanks, Doran

  2. Speed Hut

    This is extremely good information regarding car restoration for a blogger. I work full-time as a blogger. Thanks.

  3. Roger Rutar

    Back in the day there seemed to some confusion between "frenching" (filling the seam between components such as headlight and tailight rings or trim and "tunneling" . Your description of frenched seems to combine both into one. My personal knowledge was greatly influenced by the "little books" ie. the original Rod & Custom.

  4. Billy Koontz

    I have a 29 Ford with 400 Chevy engine

  5. Richard Wilton

    What classic car has an "s" and "F" on its emblem with a black horse standing on its back legs?

  6. Jim

    I found a few that I had minor disagreements with (big surprise), but I found a couple things I can add: Bowtie - Chevrolet. I saw the "Blue Oval" definition,but not this one. Deuce - This can also refer to the early Nova 62-65. Merc - When I was military assigned in Germany, I heard this term referring to Mercedes. Crotch Rocket - Motorcycle. Could be outside the scope of this list.

  7. Galaxie Bob

    I take exception to the word "wedge" as referring to just the Mopar wedge head. A wedge head is ANY engine that uses a wedge shaped combustion chamber, that includes Ford, GM and Chrysler cylinder heads.


    You listed Glasspacks but did not list Steelpacks. If you wanted to make noise the Smithy Steelpacks were filled with metal shavings and they would snap and crack. The hotter they got the louder they became. Because of the metal shavings they were super heavy!

  9. Gary Hutchison

    Since you did have some European car terms it seems that "boot" is missing. It is a term for trunk.

  10. Lary Cook

    Fantastic work compiling these words together! I felt i was going through a classic car's dictionary and i must say i learned a lot. Thanks for sharing this brilliant piece of information! I will use this as my car word guide now on!