Hemmings Motor News Blog Blog

Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Do You Speak Car? The Curious Dialects of Vehicle Vernacular

Posted February 03, 2022 5:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: car culture

Have you ever been accused of living in your own world, by someone in your orbit who just doesn’t understand what being a car enthusiast means? We might live on our own planet and occupy some slice of culture that those outside simply don’t get.

A big part of any culture, of course, is language, and the lexicon of the car guy—and by "guy," I mean, guy, gal, and any other sort of person—is unique, but understood fully by those in the know. And I’m not talking about technical terms, like "variable valve timing," but something more akin to a "Jake brake."

Speak our language around the uninitiated and you might expect some confusion. Hot rodders and customizers will talk about "chopped," "channeled," "frenched," "tubbed," and otherwise-modified steel when they "soup up" a car. Everyone else might think you’re discussing your favorite cooking show; we dare not introduce them to our "double wishbone" suspensions. As for the "lemons" we speak of, not only would they not fit in our kitchens, but they’re sour enough that we don’t want them in our garages, either. I am guessing fans of pumpkin spice really aren’t as concerned about what gear oil we run in our "pumpkins."

"Big and little" is not a mentorship program for at-risk youth and "rake" has little to do with yardwork. "Stance" is not something that Sister Mary Margaret would gently remind you to improve with a tap to the back of your head when she caught you slumped over your desk in fifth-grade math. I guess everyone should be careful in mixed company before talking about "third members," "four-banger" or anything being "back-halfed."

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