Here Are Some Fake Car Terms That Sound Like They Could Be British

Illustration for article titled Here Are Some Fake Car Terms That Sound Like They Could Be British

Ever since Raph came out against the use of the term “gearbox” yesterday, I’ve been thinking about both my use of the term “gearbox” and the affected Britishisms that pepper the speech of many a gearhead. Maybe the Brits call us spannerfaces? I can never remember.


I don’t actually mind many British car terms. Hell, even ‘gearbox’ is respectable for its forceful simplicity. I mean, is a transmission not, literally a box (admittedly funny-shaped) of gears? They use this sort of extreme literalism a lot. Like how ‘tachometer’ becomes ‘rev counter.’ Sure, they have some confusing terms, too, like fixed-head coupé, or scuttle or tickover.

Anyway, I don’t really mind terms like ‘gearbox,’ so just to muddy everything up a bit, I’d like to offer you the free, unrestricted use of these made-up motoring terms that I think sound sort of British.


I’ll leave it up to you to decide what these actually mean. You’re welcome.

1. Piston Billock
2. Snatchyflaps
3. Plod Rod
4. Mollydripper
5. Spark Negotiator
6. Oblique lamp
7. Waistcoat
8. Petrol Tee/Chuff Tee
9. Galosh Undertarpaulins
10. Gennyloop

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:

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Obfuscatio: philosopher at large
  1. Piston Billock: the intermediate stage for forged pistons, between raw blank and machined part. The billock is what gets sent for heat treating.
  2. Snatchyflaps: the bits that tie your gangler to your enstumpment.
  3. Plod Rod: (let’s just say that you shouldn’t use that term in mixed company.)
  4. Mollydripper: a post-oiler system for lubicating your garage floor once you’ve parked for the night. Predominantly available on English vehicles.
  5. Spark Negotiator: It’s like a transmathler circuit but without the Hamscheister fuse and with a transmode diode bridge across the main leads.
  6. Oblique lamp: like a CEL but less useful. (Also known as an obtuse lamp.)
  7. Waistcoat: what your driver’s assistant wears while waxing the bodywork. D’uh.
  8. Petrol Tee/Chuff Tee: a piloted stoke valve for the crossover lines.
  9. Galosh Undertarpaulins: secondary wheel arch liners, traditionally made of rubber (hence the name) but those are harder and harder to come by. Most these days are made of an inferior polysilicose/vinylidiene matrix.
  10. Gennyloop: a sling-type Melton wrench, which was commonly supplied in the toolbag with most French cars of the pre-war era.

Other British terms you may not be faamiliar with (because I just made them up):

  • Underfustion (not to be confused with the overgrodge)
  • Fambler, and the associated fambler seal, grommet, and sleeve
  • Juzner handle
  • Togglator/togglizer
  • Garmidge clip
  • Thompson pin
  • Snag flap
  • Bodge hammer
  • Stove nozzle
  • Embobbler
  • Clammet cap
  • Smithy bank