By John vander Meulen


It’s now early March.  Been an uninteresting winter and cabin fever is starting to set in..kind of a winter “silly season”.  Unfortunately not all of us own a condo with an accompanying bank account in the Cayman Islands to escape to.  It’s tough to do without.  The antidote to this distressed time of year is also under attack by Health Canada.  New guidelines suggest limiting beer consumption to fourteen bottles per week instead of the more stimulating practice of consuming them all at one time.  Who knew?  We will attempt to bridge this sunless time of year with some levity by analyzing some common automotive names and terms.

 Warning: This article contains some subtle stereotyping.  Those whose sensibilities are easily offended and/or intend to live forever may want to bypass this composition and watch “The View” instead.

 “Torque”….defined as twisting power…my 63 Rambler’s driveshaft was enclosed in a “torque tube”.  Term derived from Tomas de Torquemada (1420-98) who headed up the Spanish Inquisition.  Mr. T. utilized various torture devices to encourage minorities to convert to the faith.  “The new car’s pretty “torky” Nate!… “Yep, that’s right Shamus, she’s got the new Stovebolt  six in’er!”  He is probably known as “Torkey” to his friends and drinking companions.  Having personally toured the torture museum in Lima, Peru, one came away with the impression that, in the day, it wasn’t worth skipping church.

 Gremlin”…. imp type creature… AMC original… minor unsolved defect … movie ”Gremlins” (hlblygremlinmaximus) Native to Kentucky.  A car carrier driver in conversation:  “I’ve got a couple of gremlins in the back” .. to someone over 30 … “poor guy, got mechanical or electrical problems and the hourly repair rate nowadays…” blah blah .. to someone under 30…”geez I didn’t know those things were real..and its almost dark and starting to rain…I’m outa here!”  If you don’t live in the greater Hopkinsville, Kentucky area, click here for more info:

 “Matador” …stopping the bull.  Some controversy over how the car got its name.  Rumour was the project manager, frustrated with lack of design progress, hoofed it over to the design studio, horned in on the meeting and snorted something to the effect that unless things were speeded up there would be blood spilled in HR.  Last comment heard was “and if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle ”em with bull!”  This vehicle was also used in the James Bond movie” Man with the Golden Gun” … which also included a “little person”.  For more employment opportunities for “little people” please see

 “Eagle”… large bird of prey… Klingon battle cruiser… USA coinage.  Miss your old Eagle SX4?  Wish you still had one instead of driving the turkey that replaced it?  Loved that “up on tippy-toes” look?  Investigate no farther…its back in the guise of a 2013 Suburu XV Crosstrek.  Stick on some wood grain cladding and it’s 1982 all over again.  Unfortunately the Eagle $9000 dealer installed turbo-diesel retrofit not available.  More info on your new Mexican, non-union Eagle can be found here:

 “Nash Metropolitan”…..resident of “little America” lunar colony (Pluto Nash)…city dweller.  “Friendly looking  car…like a 1951 bullet nosed Studebaker…or a 1956 VW Beetle…it’s got personality.  Ideal cruising companion in the seat next to the driver would be a four foot stuffed teddy bear... like the A&W Root Bear, or a Wookie or stunted Sasquatch.  This unique looking auto could be re-marketed with a Pioneer AVIC-Z110BT sound system and renamed the “Nash Metronome” (look it up).  Potential to become a “must have’ in the Projects!  Could also be marketed to up and coming professionals as the “Nash Metro-sexual.”  Hey, the possibilities are endless!  Hyundai, are you listening?

 “Hornet”… stinging insect… aged vigilante, (Green) Hornet.  Pre-AMC performer.  The famous boxer Mohammed Ali’s fighting stance was self described as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”.  Not many people know the story behind  his motto.  Apparently Mo’s good friend owned several 51-53 Hudson Hornets.  Equipped with “Twin H power” (twin carbs with manifold induction) and 210 HP it wasn’t difficult to “catch some air’ or “float” when cresting a small knoll.  He was also impressed with the fact the floor was lowered between the frame rails, giving it a lower centre of gravity, allowing it to “clean up” or “sting” the competition on the race circuit.  Hornet was changed to “bee” for verbal fluidity.  Who knew?

 “Amx”…. French battle tank… home automation system… failed propulsion experiment.  Being overshadowed by the “Big Three” prompted AMC  to look for a new type of engine to boost sales.  Steam, electric, natural gas turbines, gasoline, nuclear (Ford Nucleon 1958) had all been tried.  Gene Roddenberry was hired as a consultant in the development of an anti-matter engine, which became known as the anti-matter experiment (AMX). Technical, downsizing and engineering problems persisted.  Despite extreme optimism, extensive overspending and countless hours, the project was dropped for two reasons.  1) despite all physical downsizing efforts, the only engine bay large enough to accommodate the new power plant was on an aircraft carrier and 2) consultant Gene also spooked the engineering team with the info that there was once a planet between Mars and Jupiter called “Tiamat” that, according to legend, the inhabitants also experimented with anti-matter.  That area is now known as the “asteroid belt”.  Consultant Gene’s final comment…”live long and prosper”.

 “Rogue”… scoundrel or “bounder”… Sarah Palin’s book (Going Rogue)… AMC 2 dr. Hardtop… negative compelling force  e.g. Commander Jack Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove”.  Also those who approved the manufacture and sale of the Bricklin, Chevette, Corvair, Pinto, Trabant and whoever wrote the criteria for the USA/Mexico border enforcement and Wall Street banking ethics.  (What’s a “Trabant”?) - and fascinated by 2 stroke technology?  More info here:

 “Ships Mast”… vertical sail support… modern day version of  “Packard’s Flying Lady”.  Hood ornament, a game played by strapping  a person to the car hood (preferably a hot chick) and driving at high speed.  Some illustration can be found in the movie “Mad Max” but in more detail in the movie “Death Proof” starring Kurt Russell, winsome wenches Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan and Zoe Bell.  Being a Quentin Tarantino movie (Pulp  Fiction, Kill Bill), you know its … umm… different.  Cars include a race-prepared 71 Nova, 69 Charger and 70 Challenger.  (to our younger members sorry, no Aveos, Kias, Priuses or Smart Cars involved in the chase).  This form of entertainment not recommended during a Canadian winter when the temp is below -20C but does have some potential to become a favourite at “National Auto Slalom Day”.


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