Every hobby has its own shortened versions of longer words that are reduced to a series of letters found in the alphabet.

The car hobby is no exception and many of them may be unfamiliar to non car guys.

We at MyStarCollectorCar would like to offer a brief tutorial about 5 of the most common automotive terms that have been distilled down to a handful of letters drawn from the alphabet and would cause some people to have large question marks above their heads if that reaction was possible outside cartoon world.

Jim Sutherland

Instead, human beings rely upon their innate ability to express puzzlement, bewilderment, or any other indications (verbal or otherwise) that they do not understand the meaning behind a series of letters used in car guy lingo. Therefore, we at MyStarCollectorCar want to lend a hand in the letter meaning game.

MyStarCollectorCar’s first example is “OEM”, a common term in car guy circles that is a very abbreviated version of “Original Equipment Manufacturer”. OEM is not limited to the automotive world and can be applied to any manufacturer- be it fridges, laptops, or anything that came from the factory.

Today’s car hobby is riddled with knockoff aftermarket products that are built in foreign countries where quality is most assuredly not Job 1. Therefore, car guys will seize any opportunity to buy OEM automotive products because the original parts will fit (and function) better than cheap knockoffs built by ruthless foreign manufacturers/grifters who really don’t care about quality.

Our second example of a letter abbreviation for car guy terms is HEI, a term that reflects the introduction of factory installed electronic ignition systems on GM vehicles in 1974. HEI is short for “High Energy Ignition” and refers to a big upgrade from a points and condenser system in terms of spark capability and efficiency.

The extra electrical juice gave GM products more explosive sparks in their engines’ combustion chambers, given the fact carburetors did not always deliver perfect air/fuel ratio numbers, so hotter ignitions allowed some extra latitude in these numbers.

MyStarCollectorCar’s third addition to our alphabet list relates to the second example, namely EFI. The term is an abbreviated version of Electronic Fuel Injection, and this system offers a more efficient air/fuel mixture system to replace the old school carburetor in a retro ride.

EFI systems have become extremely popular in the car hobby because many aftermarket suppliers have developed superior (depending upon the supplier) bolt-on fuel injection replacements for carburetors on older vehicles. The EFI systems provide highly efficient air/fuel mixtures to old engines and appeal to car guys because they are a simple replacement that make a retro ride’s engine run better and last longer.  

The fourth member of our letter abbreviation list is AOD, a term Ford used for an “Automatic Overdrive” 4-speed automatic transmission the Blue Oval boys introduced in 1980. The AOD transmission was an upgrade from the famous Ford C-4 transmission that preceded it in various Ford models.

The AOD provided a very highway-friendly final drive ratio to Ford vehicles and gave the company a leg up in fuel efficiency during its 11-year production run before it morphed into a more electronic version in the early 1990s. 

The fifth and final addition to our automotive alphabet list could help fire up a barroom brawl because of the debatable history of the GMC letters. The term is short for General Motors Company and it’s a famous truck brand that goes back to 1912 in the General’s long history.

General Motors swallowed up many small auto companies during that early 20th century Wild West shoot out period of too many car builders and not enough market, including the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company, a truck builder that was initially formed by the Grabowsky brothers. The historical point of debate is the Grabowkys produced their pioneer truck as a GMC (Grabowsky Motor Vehicle Company) truck before their company’s purchase by General Motors.  

The GMC name issue is kind of an automotive version of the chicken and egg debate that readily lends itself to heated debates between car guys with too much time on their hands.

We at MyStarCollectorCar are expert fence-sitters who choose not to take a side in this one.                              

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.