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British <--> American Translation

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It has been said that we Americans are separated from the British by a common language. There seems to be some truth in that. In this web page, we are talking about cars, some of them are British. When dealing with one of my British cars, I have tried to use British terms where they may differ from their corresponding American counterpart. It seems there are quite a few such discrepancies. The following is a partial list of the differences in the languages as they refer to automotive subjects. It certainly is not all-inclusive but I have tried to include all the distinct terms I am aware of and add new ones as they are encountered.


British <==> American Automotive Terms
British American
Accumulator Battery
Actuator Switch or servo
Artic Tractor-trailer
Baulk ring Synchro ring
Bonnet Hood
Boot Trunk
Bulkhead Firewall
Choke Venturi (carburetor)
Core plug Freeze plug (theirs is more correct)
Crocodile clip Alligator clip
Crosshead Phillips head
Crown wheel Ring gear
Cubby Glove box
Damper Shock absorber
Draft excluder Windlace
Drive shaft Axle shaft
Drop-head coupe Convertible coupe
Dumpy screwdriver Stubby screwdriver
Dynamo Generator
Earth Ground (electrical)
Estate Station wagon
Fascia Dashboard
Fixed-head coupe Coupe, 2 door
Frogeye Bugeye (A-H Sprite)
Gallon 5 US quarts
Gearbox Transmission
Gudgeon pin Wrist pin (piston)
Hood Convertible top
Indicators Blinkers (turn signals)
Joint compound Gasket sealer
Lacquer Paint, finish
Lamp Light
Lorry Truck
Mole wrench Vise grip
Monocoque Unibody
MOT DOT
Nave plate Hubcap
Near side Left side (seen from rear)
Nose Front of car
Off side Right side (seen from rear)
Paraffin Kerosene
Petrol Gasoline
Pinking Pinging, pre-ignition
Prop shaft Drive shaft
Prise Pry
Proud Above or raised
Quarterlight Vent window
Rev counter Tachometer
Ring gear Flywheel gear
Roadster Convertible, bare
Roundabout Traffic circle
Rostyle Steel wheel simulates alloy style
Saloon Sedan, usually 4 doors
Scuttle Cowl
Sidevalve Flathead, engine type
Side curtains Removable windows
Silencer Muffler
Sill Rocker panel
Sill panel Running board
Shooting brake Station wagon
Spanner Wrench
Spats Fender skirts
Split pin Cotter pin
Spring washer Lock washer
Strangler Choke (carburetor)
Suction advance Vacuum advance
Sump Oil pan
Thrust bearing Throwout bearing
Tickover Idle, engine
Top gear High gear
Torch Flash light
Trunnion Suspension joint
Tyre Tire
Wheel nut Lug nut
Whitworth Thread standard
Windscreen Windshield
Wing Fender

Other Terms Recognized by British Car Owners
LBC Little British Car, Large British Car, etc
PO The previous owner of your car
DPO Dreaded previous owner of your car (because of the hacks they seem to have always done to the car)
Prince of Darkness Lucas, Lucas Electrics, etc
BPSL British (Phlegm Sucking) Leyland - A term of endearment for the things they did to destroy the British car industry
BFL British "Frigging" Leyland - See BPSL
BFH Big "Frigging" Hammer, aka bashing tool
BRSOR Big rock side of the road - Substitute for BFH
OSOTP Other side of the pond (across the ocean)
SWORK Swearing while working, a common practice
VIQ Vehicle in question
Wanker One who hacks at their car, usually clueless

Common Automotive Abbreviations
AC (i.e. AC Cobra) Auto Carrier
ARG Austin-Rover Group
BL British Leyland
BLMC British Leyland Motor Corporation
BMC British Motor Corporation
BSF British Standard Fine (thread system)
BSW British Standard Whitworth (thread system)
CD Constant depression (carburetor type)
DB David Brown (Astin-Martin motors)
MG Derived from Morris Garage
NOS New, old stock parts (as opposed to recent copy)
PI Petrol Injection
SS Swallow Sidecars - Predecessor to Jaguar Cars
SU Skinners Union (carburetors and fuel pumps)
TVR TreVoR (Wilkinson), founder of TVR Cars
ZS Zenith-Stromberg (carburetors)