QOTD: Trouble With Words?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd trouble with words

Yesterday, the illustrious and quite tall Matthew Guy asked about the most linguistically pleasing model names. I tossed out the AMC Ambassador as a model that rolls off the tongue in a flood of satisfaction.

AMC Ambassador — it’s like one of those old, alliteration-addicted British airliners like the Bristol Brabazon or Vickers Vanguard. Actually, one airliner to roll out of the UK at the time was the Airspeed Ambassador, so AMC’s biggest offering had a friend on the other side of the pond.

While we’re not here today to talk about names per se, we are about to delve into wordplay again. What automotive term gets under your skin?

There’s a long list to choose from, but your truly finds himself getting rankled when the going gets poncy, as Corey might say. High-falutin’ words spouted by car nerds and German executives in sharp suits who wouldn’t dare use the term in a dingy bar far from the bright lights of the big city.

Speaking of Corey, “heckblende” is a word our friend uses to annoy this writer. To normal people, this obnoxious term signifies the presence of a full-width taillight assembly, not unlike that found on an Olds Aurora or a 1970 Ford Thunderbird. Don’t ever use this awful word.

There’s now a new and very specialized term struggling to get itself established in written materials pouring out of the Fatherland, and that term is “foot garage.” Coined by Porsche to refer to a pair of indentations in the new Taycan’s underfloor battery pack, these battery dents provide greater real estate for backseat occupants’ feet. In other words, they’re a footwell extension, yet Porsche decided to give this feature a name. And what a name.

I suppose my gloves are hand garages.

Sure, automakers can assign whatever name they want to a new or mildly updated feature; these aren’t industry-wide things with agreed-upon monikers. They’re not rocker or sail panels or spoilers or what have you. Of course, sometimes terms denoting a component, feature or bodystyle differ depending on where you stand geographically. Born into a life of castles and tweed? It’s not a convertible — it’s a drop-head coupe. It’s an estate car, not a wagon. It’s a rev counter, not a tach.

We’ve got names for everything.

It’s now time to use your words to rant and gripe about that particular name, term, or descriptive word found in the auto arena that gets under your skin.

[Image: © 2017 Jeff Wilson/The Truth About Cars]

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3 of 83 comments
  • Slavuta Slavuta on Sep 17, 2019

    "Tesla Autopilot". ha-ha-ha

  • Wodehouse Wodehouse on Sep 17, 2019

    Alcantara We all know what it really is...faux-suede or suede-ette much like faux-leather is coined leatherette. The word doesn't annoy me, it just makes me smile whenever it's used to "upmarket" an automotive interior.

    • Jamespdx Jamespdx on Sep 17, 2019

      Yeah . . . sorta like vinyl was once an optional "upgrade" to standard fabric . . . of course I'm dating myself a bit . . .

  • Rng65694730 All auto makers seem to be having problems ! Still supply chain issues !
  • MrIcky I'd go 2500 before I went 1500 with a 6.2. I watched an engineer interview on the 2.7l. I appreciate that their focus on the 2.7 was to make it perform like a diesel and all of their choices including being a relatively large i4 instead of an i6 were all based around it feeling diesel like in it's torque delivery. It's all marketing at the end of the day, but I appreciated hearing the rationale. Personally I wouldnt want to tow much more than 7-8k lbs with a light truck anyway so it seems to fit the 1500 application.
  • MaintenanceCosts If I didn't have to listen to it, I'd take the 2.7 over the 5.3 based both on low-end torque and reliability record (although it's still early). But the 5.3 does sound a lot nicer.
  • Arthur Dailey The Torino Bird which was relatively short lived (3 years), 'feasted' on the prestige originally associated with the T-Bird name. The Cordoba originally did the same as it had a Chrysler nameplate. The Torino 'Bird had modified 'opera' style middle windows, a large hood with a big chrome grill and hood ornament, pop-up headlights, and a 'plush' interior. It was for the time considered a 'good looking' car and could be ordered with a 400 cid engine (the first 2 years) and even a T-bar roof. You can see one just behind De Niro and Liotta in Goodfellas when they are standing in the diner's parking lot and have learned that Pesci has been 'whacked'.Although a basically a renaming/redesign of the (Gran Torino) Elite, the Elite was for a time available with Ford's 460 cid engine.I had both an Elite and a 'Torino Bird'. Although their wheelbases were the same, the 'Bird always seemed 'bigger' both inside and out. The Elite seemed 'faster' but it had the 460 opposed to the 400 in the 'Bird. But those are just subjective judgements/memories on my part. However the 'box Bird' which followed it was a dud. It sold Ok the first year based on the T-Bird name, (probably mostly leases) but it quickly lost any appeal/prestige. Back then, the management/executives of the Toronto Maple Leafs used to get leased T-Birds every year. After the first year of the 'box Bird' they changed to different vehicles.
  • Parkave231 Random question that -- in the interest of full disclosure -- I am too lazy to look up on my own.Back in the day, cars in my mostly-GM family had a hard lock on the steering wheel, such that unless the key was turned to the ACC position, the steering wheel was physically locked in place.I don't recall whether my 2002 Deville locked the wheel in place, but I want to say it didn't, even though it still had a physical key.And now, of course, most everything is push-button, and my current Cadillac doesn't physically lock the wheel.So was the movement away from a literal physical lock of the steering wheel back in the 80s driven solely by the transition to push-button start, or was there some other safety regulation that got rid of them, or just something else that a car manufacturer could omit for cost savings by running something else through software (I'm guessing this since the H/K issue is a thing).