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Automotive Glossary


Assists the driver when moving off on hills and in traffic


Suspension system to reduce body-roll in hard cornering

Aero Screen

A small, curved windscreen fitted to the scuttle of a sports car in place ofthe standard windscreen. Used in competition to reduce wind resistance. Normally fitted in pairs, one each in front of the driver and passenger

All – Weather

A term used to describe a vehicle with a more sophisticated folding hood than the normal Cape hood fitted to a touring vehicle. The sides were fitted with metal frames and transparent material in some places glass

BAS Plus – Brake Assist Plus

Registers vehiclesahead by radar, and applies brakes

Berline – see Sedanca de Ville


The amount of pressure applied by a supercharger or turbocharger


Engine configuration with horizontally opposed cylinders


A term dating from the days of horse-drawn vehicles. Originally the seating was fore and aft, the passengers facing inwards

Brake- Horsepower (BHP)

This is the amount of power produced by an engine, measured at the flywheel (Horsepower)


right back. A cabriolet can be distinguished from a landaulette because the front of the hood reaches the top of the windscreen, whereas on a landaulettem it only covers the rear half of the car The term cabriolet applies to a vehicle with a hood that can be closed, folded half-way or folded

Chain Drive

A transmission system in which the wheels are attached to a sprocket, driven by a chain from an engine powered sprocket, usually on the output side of the gearbox

S/C/M- Safety/Comfort/Manual

Key in centre console allowing the driver to choose driving style. Sport mode lowers suspension and tunes transmission


A framework to which the car body, engine, gearbox, and axles are attached


An open top, two doo body stye, usually with a single door on each side two seats in the front and one at the rear


A three-seater, open body style, usually with a single door each side, two seats in front plus bench seat in rear


Concours d’Elegance is a competition in which cars are judged by their condition. Concours has become a byword for a vehicle in excellent condition

Cone Clutch

A clutch in which both driving and driven faces form a cone


Leather treatment produced by British firm Connolly to rejuvenate and restore suppleness to old and dry leather


A general term (post-war) for any car with a folding soft top


A car specifically designed for high speed touring, usually on the Continent. Rolls Royce and Bentley almost exclusively used this term during the 1930’s and Post WW II.


In the early Vintage and Edwardian period, Coupe was only applied to what is now termed a “ Half Limousine” or “Doctor’s Coupe”, which was a two-door two seater. The term is now usually prefixed by Drop Head or Fixed Head.

Cubic Capacity

The volume of an engine obtained by multiplying the area of the bore by the stroke. Engine capacity is given in cubic centimetres (cc) in Europe and cubic inches (cu.in) in the USA. 1 cubic inch equals 16.38cc (1 litre =61.02cu.in)

De Ville

A style of coachwork in which the driver/chauffer occupies an open driving position, and the passengers a closedcompartment – thus, Coupe de Ville or Sedanca de Ville. In America these vehicles are known as Town Cars.

Dickey Seat

A passenger seat, usually for two people, contained in the boot of the car and without afolding hood (the boot lid forms the backrest) see also Rumble Seat

Doctor’s Coupe

A Fixed or Drophead coupe without a Dickey Seat, the passenger seat being slightly staggered back from the driver’s to accommodate the famous doctor’s bag

Dog Cart

A form of horse-drawn vehicle originally designed for transporting beaters and their dogs to a shoot (the dogs were contained in louvred boxes under the seats; the louvres were kept for decoration long after the practice of carrying dogs in this way had ceased)


Literally back-to-back, i.e passengers seating arrangement.

Double – Duck

Double-layered fabric used in construction of folding convertible tops.

Drophead Coupe (dhc)

Originally a two-door two-seater with a folding roof

Dry Sump

A method of lubricating engines in which the oil is contained in a seperate reservoir rather than in the sump at the bottom of the cylinder block. Usually, two oil pumps are used, one to remove oil from the engine to the reservoir, the other to pump it back to the engine.


American term used to describe the wing of a car


An engine design in which the inlet valve is in the cylinder head, while the exhaust valve is in the cylinder block. Also referred to as inlet over exhaust.

Fixed Head Coupe (fhc)

A coupe with a solid fixed roof

Golfer’s Coupe

Usually an open two-seater with a square-doored locker behind the driver’s seat to accommodate golf clubs


As with the famous horse-drawn cab, an enclosed two-seater with the driver out in the elements, either behind or in front of the passenger compartment.


To qualify for entry into some race series, the rules can require that a minimum number of road going production versions of the race car are built. These are generally known as “Homologation Specials”


American term used to describe the bonnet of a car.

Horsepower (hp)

The unit of measurement of engine power – one horsepower represents the energy expended in raising 33,000lb by one foot in sixty seconds.


An open town garage for four people with a folding hood at each end, which would meet in the middle when erected.


A horse-drawn Landaulette carried two people and was built much like a coupe. The roof line of a Landaulette is always angular, in contrast to a Cabriolet, and the folding hood is very often made of patent leather. A true Landaulette only opens over the rear compartment and not over the front seat at all. (also Landaulet)


An engine design in which the inlet an exhaust valves are contained within the cylinder block. See sidevalve


French in origin and used to describe a closed car equipped with occasional seats and a division between driver and passenger compartments.

Monobloc Engine

An engine with all the cylinders cast in a single block.


A method of constructing a car without a seperate chassis, structural strength being provided by the arrangement of the stressed panels. Most modern, mass-produced cars are built this way.


Single-seater (Italian)


Used to described engine components, particularly crankshafts, that have been specially hardened to withstand the stresses of racing or other high-performance applications.


Overhead camshaft, either Single (SOHC) or Double (DOHC)


Overhead Valves.


A term dating back to the days of horse drawn vehicles and used to describe an open body, sometimes with a dickey or rumble seat for the groom at the rear. It was an owner/driver carriage and designed to be pulled by four horses. A term often misused d, uring the Veteran period, but still in common use especially in America.

PVT (Post Vintage Thoroughbred)

A British term created by the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC) to be describe selected models made in the Vintage tradition between 1931 an 1942.


A two-seater, open sporting vehicle, the hood of which is removed completely rather than beingfolded down, as on a dropheadcoupe. Early versons without sidewindows.

Roi des Belges

A luxurious open touring car with elaborately contoured seat backs, named after King Leopold II of Belgium. The term is sometimes incorrectly used to describe general touring cars.

Rotary Engine

A unique form of car engine in which the cylinders, piston and cranckshaft of the normal reciprocating engine are replaced by a triangular rotor that rotates about an eccentric shaft within a special waisted chamber. One or more rotor/chamber assemblies maybe used. On the whole, the engine has a third of the number of parts of a comparable reciprocating engine. The engine was designed by Dr Felix Wankel and has been used in a range of sports cars by Mazda.


Engine revolutions per minute.

Rumble Seat

An American term for a folding seat for two passengers, used to increase the carrying capacity of a standard two-passenger car. (see Dickey Seat)


A low powered, lightweight, open two-seater from the 1900’s


A two or four door car with four or more seats anda fixed roof.


American term for a saloon (see above).

Sedanca de Ville

A Limousine body with an open driving compartment that can be covered with a folding or sliding roof section, known in America as a Town Car.


Used to describe an engine in which the vlves are located in the cylinder block rather than the head.


A cyclecar term used to describe the side by side seating of the driver and passenger.

Spider/ Spyder

An open two seater sports car, sometimes a 2+2 (with two small occasional seats behind the front seats).

Station Wagon

American term for an Estate Car.


An engine-driven pump for forcing the fuel/air mixture into the cylinders to gain extra power.


An early 20th Century open four seater tourer with a fringed canopy. Another term from the days of horse drawn vehicles.


A single seat, two wheeled horse drawn carriage with a hood. Later, a four-wheeled two-seater, sometimes with an underfloor engine.


The distance of an engine’s piston moves up and down within the cylinder. The stroke is invariably measured in millimetres, although in the USA, inches may be used.


Italian for “Super Lightweight” and used to describe a method of construction devised bt Touring of Milan, whereby an aluminium skin was attatched to a framework of steel tubes to produce a light , yet strong structure. One of the best-known proponents of this method was Aston Martin, which employed Superleggera construction in somw of its DB series cars.


A cyclecar term used to describe the for-and-aft eating of the driver and passenger.


A coupe fitted with a removeable central roof section.


A rear-entrance tonneau is a four seater to which access is provided through a centrally-placed rear door. A detachable tonneau meant that the rear seats could be removed to make a two-seater. Today ‘Tonneau’ usually refers to a waterproof cover that can be fitte over the cockpit of an open car when the roof is detached.


A open-tourerthat has coachwork with an unbroken line from the bonnet to the rear ofthe body.


An open four or five-seater with three or four doors, a folding hood (with or without sidescreens) and seats flush with the body sides. This body style began to appear in about 1910 and, initially, was known as a ‘torpedo’ (see above), but by 1920, the word ‘tourer’ was being used instead except in France, where torpedo continued in use until the 1930’s.

Turbo Charger

An exhaust gas driven pump for forcing the air/fuel mixture into the engines cylinders to produce extra power.

Unitary Construction

Used to describe a vehicle without a separate chassis, structural strength being provided by the arrangement of the stressed panels. See Monocoque.


All vehicles manufactured before 31 December 1918; only cars built before 31 March 1904 are eligible for the London to Brighton Commemorative Run.


Generally an American term for a two or four-seater with a very large folding hood. If a four-seater, the hood would only cover the rear seats. In some cases, applied to a saloon with a ‘bustle’ back.


Any vehicle manufactured between the end of the veteran period and the 31st December 1930 (see post-vintage thoroughbred).


Face to face; an open car to which the passengers sit opposite each other.


A French term used to describe a very light car, originally coined by Leon Bollee.


A large car for six or more passengers, in which the rear seats face each other. Entrance is at the rear, and the vehicle is usually open.


Used to describe a vehicle in which the underside has been treated with waxoyl, a proprietary oil and wax spray that protects against moisture.


A system of body construction employing Rexine fabric panels over a kapok filling to prevent noise and provide insulation.


Distance between the centre of the front and rear of the vehicle.