EVO ENCYCLOPEDIA: C-D
In the second instalment of our new series of enlightening motoring definitions, we dissect a carefully curated collection spanning from C-pillar to dry sump
Our painstakingly curated glossary of terms that every automotive nerd should know
The rearmost pillar on many cars, and the one on which car designers can really go to town with sculpting and fancy window shapes. Or, in the case of the new Aura, installing an area of metal the size of a football pitch.
Compact sedan, SUV
How to bend the rules by taking a hacksaw to a traditional sedan. Or slapping ground clearance and wheel arches to a hatchback to create a pseudo-SUV. Either way the government makes less money and the buyer gets less practicality.
How industry-people refer to City-sized cars. Or the segment that is getting murdered by SUVs that are a few inches longer than compact.
Car design philosophy in which the passenger cabin sits as far forward as possible, giving a short bonnet and greater interior room. Much seen on Hondas like the Jazz until they realised it made it look like a van and the car itself was canned.
Pre-ABS braking technique in which the pedal is pumped in rapid succession with the aim of achieving high retardation without locking the wheels. Not to be confused with people who jab the brakes every 20 seconds while driving on a clear highway. The technical term for these drivers is ‘morons’.
The angle of a car’s wheels away from the vertical. If the bottom of the wheel sticks out more than the top, that’s negative camber, as seen on the rear axle of BMW M-cars and madly modified City VTECs. If the top of the wheel sticks out more than the bottom, that’s positive camber, as seen on the rear axle of a three-wheeled Ape shortly before an accident happens.
A shaft with multiple lobes for the purpose of converting rotating motion into reciprocating motion in order to open inlet and/or exhaust valves.
Reinforced plastic material offering a high strength-to-weight ratio. First used to make a Formula 1 car monocoque in 1981 (McLaren MP4/1), it began appearing in road cars soon after, featuring in the construction of the Ferrari 288 GTO and F40 and, obscure British sports car fans, the Panther Solo. Full carbon monocoques followed in the early ’90s on the McLaren F1 and Bugatti EB110, although technically the first on a road car was on the Jaguar Sport XJR-15 (above).
Device for blending fuel and air into nice raspy noises and crisp throttle response.
Vehicular repository not to be confused with a large biblical boat full of large freshwater fish.
Defunct American car racing formula where you turned left four times.
The angle of a car’s steering axis away from the vertical. Not to be confused with Castor Angel, who tested for Williams in the late ’70s. Probably.
What Jaguar used to label its active damping system, supposedly standing for Computer Active Technology Suspension, though that’s really just a word salad to reach a feline-related pun. Imagine being the person in the meeting who came up with this one. They probably got the rest of the afternoon off.
Drag coefficient. A measure of how much air resistance an object presents, much favoured by car marketing departments in the ’80s.
Area between two carriageways where cows graze and decide when to jump in front of you.
Central steering wheel
Car layout offering an enhanced sense of control and a lack of requirement to tool for right- and left-hand drive, but also disadvantages such as compromised ingress/egress and an inability to talk about it without referencing the McLaren F1. None of which applies to the rickshaw.
A scooter you waited 20 years to get delivery of. Now a scooter that uses only electricity.
Short S-shaped feature on a road or track, often introduced to reduce speeds. From the French verb ‘to spoil the Mulsanne’.
Word for car instruments used by people trying to sound like pilots. See also ‘Cockpit’.
A gearbox boasting short ratios and small gaps between them. Something Porsche seems to have forgotten about recently.
The operating compartment of an aircraft, sometimes applied to the driving seat of a car by people who want to sound more impressive/like a bit of a berk.
A car passenger who has a job to do, part of which is not being sick. In rallying a codriver typically has little apparent regard for their own mortality and is usually found sleeping on the floor if the crew doesn't get a twin bed hotel room.
Suspension component comprising a coil spring encircling a damper and the thing American people on the internet immediately tell others to fit in order to improve their car’s handling.
What tyres are made of, typically a blend of actual rubber and other ingredients such as carbon, acid, zinc oxide and oil. Also a kind of large yard where American lunatics in cults always seem to live.
The ratio between the volume of a combustion chamber when the piston is at the bottom of its travel versus the top. Released a couple of decent albums in the early ’80s.
A weird term as your car won't get very far if it really is connected to anything. Integrates an e-SIM that will never have any range, except when your kid gets hold of your phone and unlocks the car so passers-by can help themselves to your iPad. Also see 'Internet Inside'.
Event where extremely rich people gather to look at each other’s extremely valuable cars and admire how little they have been driven.
Connecting rod. The part of an engine that connects a piston to the crankshaft. Will cause a failure to proceed if thrown.
The version that’s not as good unless it was designed to be one in the first place.
A sporty two-door car and not, despite the best efforts of many car makers to convince us otherwise, a lumbering and pig-ugly SUV with a slightly more slanted tailgate.
The strange-smelling car with rattling suspension that you have to drive while your actual car is being mended.
A hump in the road, ideal for the getting of air and the breaking of sump. Also a brand of toothpaste popular amongst rally drivers.
Style of alloy wheel very popular in the 1980s, and with good reason, because they look excellent and take a mere nine hours each to clean.
System capable of maintaining a given speed, which you can maintian for precisely three seconds before a truck turns into the fast lane without warning.
Road user for whom traffic lights are just a suggestion.
A car in frequent use for mundane tasks
such as commuting. Extra points if it is something conventionally considered unsuitable for this, such as a turbo-charged Honda City VTEC, or Thar.
Place that Parisians with rally cars needed to get to quite urgently, apparently.
Tube of oil (and sometimes also gas) mounted between car body and wheel as part of the suspension with the purpose of controlling the movement of that suspension, thereby steadying the body and helping to maintain the tyre’s contact with the road. Also called a shock absorber, although absorbing shocks is really the spring’s job.
To remove indicators of model and/or power output from the rear of a car. As a general rule, the higher the horsepower, the cooler the act of de-badging, e.g. BMW 520d: not cool; BMW M5: very cool. Not to be confused with miscreants with a screwdriver who relieve your car of badges and offer them to rickshaws.
Thing you have never heard of, and will never use in India. See also ‘Scrapers’.
Double Four Valve racing V8 by Cosworth and the most successful F1 engine in history, with 12 drivers’ titles and ten constructors’ trophies (plus two wins at Le Mans, ten at
the Indy 500 and countless others).
A polite way of saying a car’s styling is ugly, e.g. ‘the new BMW M4 is expected to be extremely distinctive, building on BMW’s latest design language, which has made most of its cars look so terribly, terribly distinctive’.
A frequently noisy type of engine that's at the whipping end of greenies, politicos and even the courts. Also abandoned altogether by Maruti, Volkswagen and many more.
A gearbox in which first gear is located down and to the left, so named because this pattern looks a bit like the shape of a dog’s hind leg.
Increasingly popular transmission system, the idea of which dates back to the 1930s, though it took until the ’80s for Porsche to make the idea work on its 962 endurance racer. The Porsche tech was also fitted to Audi’s Sport Quattro S1 with less success since drivers complained it threw off their natural driving rhythm. Commonplace in fast cars today, though many companies still offer a manual alternative that no one orders.
Suspension design using two wishboneshaped arms, an upper and a lower, the chief pluses of which are an increase in negative camber as the suspension compresses, to the benefit of tyre contact patch and grip, greater flexibility on damper placement, and lower height than a strut for potential sleekness of styling. Also, it sounds quite cool.
Air resistance pressing down on a moving car. In a race car it has the benefit of increasing grip during cornering. In a road car it has the benefit of giving the marketing department something to talk about.
The collective parts of a car that deliver the output of the engine to the wheels. Also what a train driver does.
Daytime running lights. Once the preserve of Volvos and Saabs, now something essential to distinguish a C- from an Efrom an S-Class. Also every Audi. Research suggests DRLs are likely to reduce daytime multi-vehicle accidents and fatalities by six per cent, once all vehicles are so equipped. There hasn’t been any research into the effects of those who, as a result of DRLs, forget to put their headlights on after sundown.
Engine lubrication system in which oil lives in a separate reservoir rather than in the sump under the engine. Dry sump is crisp and oaky, and goes well with fish and chicken, unlike a sweet sump, which is better with pudding. ⌧
Clockwise from left: A sedan with an excuse for a boot, a camshaft, two Chetaks spanning three decades (one does not need to be tilted), and the first road-going recipient of a carbonfibre monocoque
From left to right: Some ‘clocks’, a con rod, and a central steering wheel layout, perfectly (and predictably) illustrated by the McLaren F1
Clockwise from right: The Dakar Rally (which hasn’t visited Dakar since 2008), a drivetrain, a Concours d’Elégance (the thrill of not driving), chicanery, and proof that convertibles are not always bad