What's Some Car Slang You Don't Much Hear Anymore?

Pontiac Phoenix
Pontiac Phoenix
Photo: Pontiac

It’s a bit of an understatement to claim that cars have changed a lot over the last 50 years, but those changes have a greater impact on how we live — and how we speak — than we realize. In Sunday’s post discussing learning to drive manual transmissions, some old slang I haven’t heard before re-emerged.


“Three on the tree” refers to a column shifter tucked behind a steering wheel on an old three-speed car, but since there haven’t been any mainstream cars sold with that sort of technology in ages, it just isn’t familiar to people like me.

Autoweek had a great breakdown on the old “three on the tree” shifters just back in November, if you’re looking for a good read on those, but I want to talk more broadly about old car slang that’s fallen out of use.

Do people say “souped up” anymore? What’s some salesman or car talk slang you remember that you haven’t heard in forever?

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik



“Mag” wheels... these were huge in the ‘80's.