What I Meant To Say Was...

A rhetorical question was asked recently – “Has the way we speak or talk about our cars changed much in the past 40-50 years?” You, betcha it has…

In the 50’s and 60’s, we found new words or combinations of existing words to bring a more colorful, and perhaps a better understood meaning to what we were saying. While some words or phrases were more of a "put down" nature, the vast majority were just fun ways to describe something, someone or someplace

Back then the need to “think before speaking” might have been a good rule to follow anyway, but it wasn’t a high priority. Today, being politically and socially correct has a greater influence, so we are going to selectively edit out some of the more questionable terms or phrases we found. 

How many do you remember or did you use?
All Show And No Go.
Referenced to a car that had all the pretty chrome goodies, but wouldn't get out of its own way.

Bean Wagon
A Lowered all the way around, usually an Hispanic-owned Chevy, but could be anything.

Bench Racing
When a few of guys are sitting down (on a bench, maybe) talking about how fast a certain person's car is, or discussing who could beat who in a drag race.

Birth Control Seats
Bucket Seats

Blew The Doors Off
Easily beat the other car in a race.

A car engine that has a blower (supercharger)
installed. Goes between the intake manifold and the carburetors/injectors except in the case of a Paxton/McCullough which delivered pressurized air to the carb. The blower made it go faster, which was always good.

Bone Yard
Auto wrecking yard; Junk yard.

Going real fast, usually in a car.

Also, Brody Out; To skid in a half circle with the brakes locked up.

Brody Knob

Brody Knob
See "Suicide Knob"

Burn Rubber
To accelerate hard spinning the tires, making noise, and billows of smoke come from the rear of the vehicle.

A car body that has been lowered with respect to it's frame, leaving the suspension as it is.
Front Seat Area of a Car That Has Been Channeled Down 4" For It's Original Height

Pristine, Totally Clean. Example: "That rod is cherry"! 

Chicken, To play
Two cars race toward each other; the first to pull to the side is the chicken (coward)
{G: we wonder how many fatalities resulted from chicken racing...?}

Chinese Fire Drill
Stop at a Red Light. Everyone on the Driver's side would run around and get in on the Passenger's side. Everyone on the Passenger's side would run around and get in on the Driver's side.

Chopped 53 Pontiac Roof

A section is cut out horizontally through the roof pillars of a car to lower the roof.

Circus Wagon
A car, usually lowered, with an outlandish paint job, but in lousy shape, mechanically.

Crop Duster
A car that burnt oil creating a cloud of smoke. 

Driving up and down the same street looking for races, girls, guys, etc.

Cut Outs
Additions to the exhaust system that would let you open the exhaust pipe in front of the muffler to let the engine breathe easier, thus adding horsepower and a whole lot of noise.

Daddy's Car

A car that was very conservative looking; that might be owned by your parents.

To lower a car in the front. (See Rake)

A term used to indicate that the trunk handle had been removed, the holes filled, sanded smooth and primed. (See Nosed)

'32 Ford Deuce Coup
Source: ultimatehotwheels.boards.net 

A 1932 Ford. 

As in, "She's my Little Deuce Coupe, you don't know what I got". 

To race another car a short distance (sometimes one block, sometimes two or three blocks) from a standing start at a stoplight when the light turned green. The term originally comes from the phrase "main drag", a combination of "main" or main street in town, and "drag" which referred to a car that was lowered in the back and dragged the ground if it hit a bump while racing or was just so low that it touched the ground if the street was not perfectly level.

Drunk Driving (502 was the CA State penal code number for the drunk driving infraction at that time)

Dodge Lancers or Olds Fiesta Hub Caps.

Get Or Lay Rubber
To leave some rubber on the street while accelerating in a vehicle. A term used usually with first, second, third, or fourth gear.
Example: "Bob's 49 Ford is pretty fast. He can get second gear rubber."


Mufflers that are packed with fiberglass to muffle the sound. They came in different lengths. The shorter the glasspacks, the louder the car.

Hangin' A B.A.
A car full of guys pulls up to another car (usually full of girls) and one of the guys pulls down his pants, bends over, and sticks his "bare a**" out the window.

Hauls Ass
A car that really moves.
Example: "Since Ron put the new engine in his car, it really hauls ass!"

Jacked Up
To Raise the front end of a car. Done to transfer weight to the rear wheels for drag racing or just to make your car look cool.

Lay Some Scratch
To burn rubber in a vehicle. Example: "That car is so powerful it can get second gear scratch."
Lead Sled
Source: Printerest/kickassthings.com

Lead Sled
Lead was used prior to Bondo to fill in the holes and to do body work. A lead sled was a car that had extensive body fill work done with lead.

Light'em Up
See Burn rubber

To drop a car all the way around. 

Mirror Warmer
Usually, a piece of pastel blue or pink cashmere that was attached to elastic and was placed around the perimeter of your inside rear view mirror. It was usually your girl friends' idea.

Moons (Baby Moons)
Chrome hubcaps that were smooth and domed. They fit the inner part of the wheel, leaving room for beauty rings.
Baby Moons

Necker's Knob

See Suicide Knob.

A term used to indicate that the hood ornament had been removed and the holes filled with bondo. The spot was sanded smooth and at least primed. (See Decked)


A word "called" by someone that has just seen a car with one headlight. The caller then receives a kiss from the person of their choice.

'57 T-Bird
Source: Wikimediacommons
Same as a Padiddle only it refers to a car with one taillight.

Port Holer
57 T-bird

Also "On a Rake". To lower the front end of a car.
Example: "Carl's short has a bitchin' rake." 

Race For Pinks
Also race for pink slips. Meaning two people race and the winner gets the others car.

Extremely fine, beautiful. For us guys it was generally used when talking about the most important areas of our lives; cars and women.
"John's got a righteous new paint job on his '58 Chevy".
"Ron met this righteous babe down at 26th St.". 

Usually referring to someones car, or part of one’s car, as being pristine: "Ron did a sano job on his 56 Chevy".
also "Super Sano" (Very Pristine)

Source: carzz.co
A section is cut out horizontally through the body of a car to give it a lower sleeker look.

A car.

A place of honor in the front seat of a car nearest the door. Usually reserved for the coolest guy in the group besides the driver of the car. If there is a doubt, before entering the car someone will call "Shotgun" and then everyone will argue as to who actually will ride shotgun.

Skuzz Bucket
An ugly car

Slug Bug
This when you saw a VW beetle on the road. Saying "Slug Bug" before anyone else gave you the right to hit or slug the person next to you

"Let's see you burn rubber"

Souped Up
A car that's had the engine modified to go fast. Example: "Bob really souped up his car. It did the quarter in 14.5 seconds!"

A car that's pretty slow.

Suicide Knob
A knob placed on your steering wheel allowing you to drive with one hand, leaving the other free to put around your date.

Tail Dragger
Tail Dragger
A car that's lowered in the rear. 
(Front stock height)

Model T Hotrod
"T Bucket"
A hot rod made from a Model T Ford. A two seater, with lots of go. Norm Grabowski, Tommy Ivo, and Edd "Kookie" Burns made them famous on TV. They are still popular.

"Three On The Tree"
A car with a three speed manual transmission and the shifter on the steering column.

Three On The Tree

To cruise or drive around without aim. As in: "There was nothing to do last night, so we just went tooling around."

Cruising the Boulevard looking for girls. As in "Let's go trollin' for some chicks."

As in we're "Truckin" over to Joe's house to party, or Let's "Truck" on over to Holly's and scarf.

Twice Pipes
Dual Exhaust

26th Street in Manhattan Beach.

Running your car with the "Cut Outs" open.

Wipe(d) Out
Originally, to fall off a wave while surfing, later to crash one's vehicle and severely damage it "He wiped his coupe out at the drags.", then later a term for extreme fatigue "I'm wiped out, I'm gonna crash.

Woody Wagon
Source: Library of Congress

A wood sided station wagon used to transport surfboards and surfers to and from the beach.

And, in memory of a longtime friend, John D. who had his own vocabulary long before it was a thought for most of us... one of his classic terms was:

Very good; all right, as in no problems. Example: "Everything is copacetic." For John, everything was "copacetic"...

The Garagistry Team

Garagistry thanks John Baker for his fun-filled list of slang terms from the 60’s.