Hot Rodders Translated
The O Pine

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© 2001 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

Admit it... you've tried to crawl in through the window.
Hang around hot rodders long enough and you start to realize that a lot of them have their own language -- heck, some of them have their own world -- which looks and sounds a lot like the non-car-guy world, but has a totally different meaning for them. As a public service, we thought we'd clarify some of these potentially confusing phrases.

What We SayWhat We Mean
"Love the car, man! You should put on side pipes, a cage, some slicks, a big blower, maybe some stripes. That'd be hot!"I love your car and am fantasizing about what I'd do with it if I could ever find a way to buy it from you.
"That's certainly an interesting car."What a waste of money.
"Nice Charger! You should paint it orange and put a big 01 on the door."I spend too much time watching television shows ABOUT cars instead of walking outside and enjoying life WITH cars.
"It runs 10s." the eighth-mile.
"It runs 11s."I ran my car's stats through a timeslip calculator, "accidentally" using flywheel horsepower instead of rear-wheel horsepower, assuming optimal track conditions, inserting the gears I plan to have someday, and dropping the car's weight by the 500 pounds of stuff I could remove if I were motivated enough... it still came up with 12.1, but in real life I'd find that last tenth by tweaking the engine at the track.
"It runs 12s."So far my best actual timeslip is 13.57 but I'm sure if I were racing at a stickier track on a cooler day with less humidity and lower elevation and the car had slicks and I could get up the nerve to powershift and I took the spare out then maybe, just maybe, I'd barely squeak out a 12.99.
"Nitrous is cheating."I have no faith in my own mechanical abilities so I'm afraid if I mess with nitrous, I'll screw up and blow up the engine.
"Oh, I'm going to leave this one stock."I've owned my car for less than a week.
"I don't mess with those. They're too complicated and too expensive to work on. I can make more power with the older stuff. Those things are going to be the death of hot rodding."1948: I'm scared of overhead-valve engines.
1958: I'm scared of multi-carb engines.
1968: I'm scared of emissions-controlled engines.
1978: I'm scared of fuel injected engines.
1988: I'm scared of computer-controlled engines.
1998: I'm scared of OBD2 engines.
"That car would be great with a smallblock Chevy in it."I prefer to not learn anything new in my life. Just keeping track of the different variations of smallblock Chevy is quite enough for me, thank you.
"It makes about 300 hp."I have a 1986 Camaro Berlinetta. I couldn't find a horsepower rating for it, so I took the rating from a 1989 L98 IROC -- same engine family after all -- and added the maximum advertised horsepower from the basic bolt-on mods that I've done. I haven't been to a dyno because I hear they're not accurate.
"My G-Tech says..."...that I'd rather spend $140 on a toy that tells me what I want to hear rather than spend $20 at the dragstrip where I'll find out how slow my sled really is.
"I did all the work myself."I did all the work except machining, paint, and interior.
"For Sale"I know I spent way too much on this car, which is why I'm trying to sell it. But I don't really WANT to, which is why the asking price is double the car's actual value. Please don't tell my wife, okay?
"Today's cars all look the same."Unlike the 1950s, when all cars had fins and chrome.
"I'd take my car racing, but I'm afraid of hurting it."I only use my 300 horsepower doing safe things like passing on the right or seeing how fast I can go on the merge ramp.
"I only buy Marque X. They're the best."I desperately need to belong to something and the type of car I drive is all I've got.
"Horsepower per liter? Who cares about that?"I like to use my V8 to beat on six- and four-cylinder cars.
"It's not fair to compare my car to one with such a bigger engine."I hate it when Vipers decide to beat on me.
"GM owns 'em now, so they're okay."I spend far more time analyzing which corporation owns what marque than I do analyzing why I should even care where a car is built. Even so, don't expect me to extend my acceptance of Saab or Holden to, say, Isuzu.
"Automatics are so much better than manuals."I don't know how to drive a manual.
"Oh, I beat that car before."He had me by five lengths, but when he got bored he turned off at the 7-Eleven and I kept going straight.
"Oh, I beat that car off the line before."We were both at a stoplight and he couldn't hear me gunning my engine over the din of his supercharged solid lifter big block, so I took off across the intersection like a bat out of hell and he never even noticed me.
"You really have to admire the engineering of these little engines."My insurance company told me that if I tried to buy another car with a V8, they'd send some guy to smash my kneecaps in. So I'm hoping this little can has enough spirit to keep me from going insane until my points clear.
"Hemis were overrated -- I could take one."I'm so far down the food chain that no Hemi has bothered to stomp all over me just yet.
"I need a lift."I ran my mouth to the point where someone with a Hemi GTX offered to race for pink slips.

Of course, this is far from a comprehensive list. Got another cliché? Send it to us and we'll translate it here!