Car Terms and Definitions - Torrens 400

By: Glenn Torrens

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bonnet not hood bonnet not hood

Using the right words is just as important in car culture as it is elsewhere in life, reckons Glenn Torrens


What do you reckon? #6 - Bonnet not hood!

On ANZAC day, I eat Anzac biscuits, not cookies. When I’m watching TV, I lie on my lounge, not a couch. I take holidays, not a vacation and the black stuff put on roads is bitumen, not tarmac. I drink a few beers with my mates, not buddies. They’re all good blokes, not dudes and some of them drive Holden and Falcon utes, not pick-ups.

An automobile is what our yank mates call a car. A truck is what they call a lorry. If it has a big comfy cabin, five seats and a tailgate, it’s probably a wagon, not a station sedan, shooting brake or estate car. Cars and trucks have mudguards, not fenders or wings and I carry stuff such as tools in the boot, not a trunk.  When driving, if I want to turn, change lanes or overtake, I’ll let others know with an indicator, not a turn signal.

Cars these days have a laminated windscreen, not a windshield. The radio is connected to the aerial, not antenna. You can maybe interchange engine and motor… but either way, your car’s power-plant is installed under the bonnet, not the hood. But have you ever heard anyone say: ‘I need to fix my driver-side electric window engine’?

My lovely Holden Calais V8 is an automatic but everything else I drive is a manual, not stick. The Calais and my Mitsubishi Sigma run on petrol, not gasoline, but my Hilux also runs on LPG. I fill them all from a bowser, not pump. And when I service them, I’ll put fresh oil in the sump, not the oil pan and I’ll be handling spanners, not wrenches, to get the job done.

A car wreck is a wrecked car… not the crash that caused the damage that a panel beater (not body repair man) will hopefully be able to fix.   Fall is something you might do when you’re under the influence of alcohol – in other words, pissed – not what happens in the months after the stinking heat of an Aussie summer. That’s autumn. And Aussies don’t swap pissed with pissed-off.

A period is a chunk of time and full stops happen at the end of sentences. When I ask for a light beer, it’s because I want less alcohol in it… not less carbohydrates. No-one wears fanny-bags in Australia because we have bums. And no-one wears them anyway!

When I jump in a 4WD (not SUV) for a weekend adventure away from the city, I’ll probably be driving along tracks, not trails. I will be venturing into the bush not the jungle or a forest… unless it’s been man-planted. If I’m lucky enough to go interstate for work (or play) I might hire a car at the airport; I don’t rent one.

Out the back of my house is a veranda, not a porch and if I need to water the garden, I’ll connect the hose to a tap, not a faucet. My letterbox is next to the footpath, not sidewalk and a car parked in the street will be at the gutter, not the curb.

If I get some info from one of my mates about a forgotten old car, chances are they’ll be ringing me on my mobile, not cell, phone. Cars left in paddocks – not fields – are often rusty but if I prise open the doors to find a Cinderella classic car, it’s a shed find… because we don’t have barns in Australia!

Now more than ever, I reckon using our time-honoured Aussie terms and colloquialisms is cool.

What do you reckon? Let us know!


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