There is a language spoken at car shows that is easily identifiable as English, but the words may be taken in a different context when they are spoken by car guys.


Here is a brief translation guide to help understand the lingo.


A “20-footer” may be a long putt on a golf course but it has a different meaning for car guys. Ever spotted a vehicle at a car show from a distance and discovered it has a few flaws when you get up close and personal?




The vehicle may have rust issues, paint issues, dents on the other side of it, fit problems, or any other visual imperfections that jump out at you when you get closer to it. Car guys call them “20-footers” because the vehicles’ flaws are not easily spotted at 20 feet or beyond.


“Trailer queens” have nothing to do with gender, royalty and homes with wheels in car guy world but they do include trailers. A trailer queen is a pampered vehicle that gets trailered to car shows by their owners. Reasons for the trailer include a vehicle that may be too fast, too slow, or even too beautiful to be driven to a show.




Trailer queens are a hot button issue with car guys because some believe the trailer queens are rightfully protected from harm, while others believe vehicles are meant to be driven, not trailered to shows.


“On the bottle” is not just about nutrition for babies who are too young for solid food. It means a vehicle has one or more small tanks of nitrous oxide to help boost its performance in shorts bursts.



Nitrous oxide is injected into the combustion process because it cools down the air flow and provides a denser collection of oxygen molecules into the mix. You hit the button on the shifter and watch the fun happen.




The net result is a huge temporary boost of power from the engine because of the nitrous boost-“on the bottle”.


“Gated exhaust” may be an unfamiliar term for newbie car guys. Ever notice how loud a big engine sounds when it does not proceed directly through a muffler and exhaust pipe? The noise may not be enough to wake up the dead, but it will likely wake up local law enforcement agencies who deal with traffic rules.




The solution is a gate in the exhaust that can choose two directions for the noise. One way is to channel the exhaust through the legally correct muffler system and cause less of a ruckus on the street, while the other way is to channel the exhaust straight out the side just beyond the headers. The second way will provide more power, noise and traffic tickets, plus a whole lot of fun until the traffic ticket. That is the basic nuts and bolts of a gated exhaust.


Final car guy language lesson of the day is “sleeper”. A sleeper is not simply a boring movie, TV show or hockey game for car guys. It is a vehicle with no visible indications that it has a monster engine under the hood.




The goal is to build a deceptive cover for a crazy-fast street machine and ambush the competition. These are the wolves in sheep clothing and they will deliver a giant dose of surprise to onlookers when pedal meets metal.


Thus ends today’s lesson in car guy language.


Jim Sutherland


Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Pinterest