AntiqueCar.com on Twitter   AntiqueCar.com on FaceBook   AntiqueCar.com on LinkedIn   Google+

Glossary of Antique, Vintage and Classic Automotive Terms

The following list of terms is an on-going collection, gathered from all over the world. Please send additions, corrections and dropped links to: MailTo:info@AntiqueCar.com


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A
All Weather
An early car term referring to the first convertibles.
Antique
Commonly used to describe the earliest vehicles, generally those built before 1950. More information
A-Pillar
The first pair of structural posts supporting the roof and windshield.

B - Back to Top
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.
Barchetta
Early sport cars designed for racing. They typically did not have doors or roofs.
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.
Berline
An early word for a two-door sedan.
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.
Bonnet
An English term for the hood of an American car.
Boot
An English term for the trunk of an American car.
B-Pillar
The pair of structural posts following the A-Pillars and front doors.
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.
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.

C - Back to Top
Cabriolet
An early French term meaning folding top, or convertible, but used liberally in the US to meet the whims of manufacturers. The English term is a Drophead Coupe.
Character Line
A design incorporated into flat panels to give them strength.
Chummy
An early English term referring to the seating arrangement: two standard seats up front and two smaller, 'occasional' seats in the rear.
Classic
The definition varies widely. The Classic Car Club of America states that it refers to vehicles built between 1925 and 1942. 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. More information
Club Coupe
A two-door hard-top with a small rear seat.
Coach-line
The early name for a pinstripe: a thin line of paint contrasting to the body color.
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.
Convertible
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.
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.
Coupe Limousine
An open compartment for the chauffeur followed by a closed compartment for passengers. Also known as a Brougham and a Coupe Chauffeur.
Coupe
A two-door vehicle without a rear seat. A coupe with a small backseat is generally referred to as a Club Coupe.
Coupelet
Ford used this term to describe a Model T, two-seat Cabriolet.
C-Pillar
The third pair of structural posts, following the B-Pillars, supporting the roof and rear window.
Cycle Fenders
Free standing fenders that conform to the shape of the tire, like those used on a bicycle or motorcycle.

D - Back to Top
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.
Drophead Coupe
An English term for convertible. Also known as a Cabriolet in France.
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.

E - Back to Top
Estate Car
The early version of a station wagon.

F - Back to Top
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.
Fixed Head Coupe
A hardtop coupe.
Fordor
A name used by Ford for a four-door sedan.
Frame
The steel structure that supports the body, engine, suspension and drive train.

G - Back to Top
Goutte d′Eau
A ′tear drop′ body style, tapered to the rear.
Governor
A device attached to carburetor to limit the engine′s speed.
Gran Turismo (GT)
An Italian term, commonly used by US manufacturers, meaning ′grand touring′.

H - Back to Top
Hard Top
A removable top made from fiberglass or steel and usually painted the same color as the body of the car.
Hinge Pillar
The second and third pillars that the door hinges are attached to.
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 1915.
Hot Rod
A wide range of home made and backyard maintained vehicles from the 1930's through the 1970's. More information

L - Back to Top
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.
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..

M - Back to Top
Marque
A model or grand of automobile with no specific meaning.
Mother-In-Law Seat
A single rear seat facing the side.
Muscle Car
Medium-size cars with large displacement engines built between 1964 and 1972. More information

O - Back to Top
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 metal will ′pop′ in and out, like the bottom of an oil can.
Opera Coupe
A two door hardtop with a small folding passenger seat, for easy access to the rear seat.

P - Back to Top
Phaeton
- Refers to an open vehicle. Apparently comes from the open chariot Phaethon that the son of the Greek sun god Helios drove.
Pinstripe
A thin line of paint contrasting to the body color. Originally called a coach-line.

Q - Back to Top
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.

R - Back to Top
Rag Top
Also known as a soft top. A slang term for a convertible top made out of fabric.
Rib
A bow shape of wood or metal that supports a convertible top.
Roadster
An open vehicle with a bench seat in front and a rumble seat or luggage compartment in the rear. More information
Roll Bar
Metal tubing structurally shaped to protect the heads of occupants if a vehicle should roll over.
Rumble Seat
An external seat in the rear of the car. The English call it a Dickey.
Runabout
A small, open vehicle.

S - Back to Top
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.
Shooting-brake
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. Another slang term is rag top.
Sport Coupe
A two-door convertible.
Spyder
A small roadster, such as the Porsche 550 and Toyota MR2.
SS or Super Sport
A sporty designation used by General Motors.
Station Wagon
A four-door vehicle extended for a third seat or luggage area, with a rear door or tailgate.
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 produced by General Motors.
Suicide Door
A rear-hinged door. So named because if it is opened while moving the wind will push it open.

T - Back to Top
Tailgate
The rear door of a station wagon.
Targa
A two-door coupe with removable hard top panel(s) over the front seat.
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.
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 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.
Trunk
Rear storage compartment.
Tudor Sedan
Ford coined the word ′Tudor' to mean two doors.
Twin Six
The first twelve-cylinder engine produced by Packard.

U - Back to Top
Underslung
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.

V - Back to Top
Victoria
A touring car with a convertible top over the rear seat.
Vintage
Vehicles built in the 1950′s. More information
Vis a Vis
The term means face to face and refers to the seating arrangement in the passenger compartment.

W - Back to Top
Weymann
A patented method for building out of wood and metal, while preventing contact and squeaks.
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.
Woody
Originally referred to vehicles made out of wood but now is a slang term for a vehicle with wood covering part of the body.



* Pictures are from ads on AntiqueCar.com and may not be used without the vehicle owner's permission.