Hot rodding has its own distinct language.

We’ve created an entire dictionary dedicated to hot rod lingo, but before you check it out, put yourself to the test. Take our quiz on some of our favorite hot rod nicknames by matching the names to the vehicles or parts to which they belong. While you’re at it, you might learn how these famous cars, parts, and engines got their names.

No cheating! You can find the answers at the bottom of the post.

The Nicknames

1). Nailhead   2). Stovebolt  3). Shoebox  4). Rockcrusher  5). Indian  6). Mouse  7). Elephant  8). A-Bone  9). Tin Lizzie  10). Cammer  11). Goat  12). Baby HEMI  13). Deuce  14). Leadsled  15). Slingshot

The Vehicles and Parts

A). This Buick overhead-valve, pushrod V8 engine got its nickname because of the appearance of its long valves in relation to the small cylinder heads. (image ©

B). This nickname originally applied to late-1940s and early 50s Chevrolet but is better known as a reference to Chevy’s squared 1955-57 “Tri-Five” full-size sedans.

C). This term refers to the 1928-31 Ford Model A. (image ©

D). This now-famous engine, which was produced from 1964-71, got its nickname because of its external dimensions. (image ©

E). Also called a “rail” or “digger,” this is perhaps the most common nickname for the now-obsolete front-engine dragster. (image ©

F). This nickname traces its roots back to this legendary Ford 427 engine, which was effectively banned by NASCAR before even making it to the track. These days, it’s a more general term for engines with overhead camshafts.

G). This term is often used to refer to an old, rundown automobile, but was originally a reference to Ford’s Model T. (image ©

H). This engine was originally named after a small, yet powerful cartoon character before being shortened to this name.

I). This Chevrolet straight-6 engine was given its moniker because of the appearance of the fasteners used for the valve cover, lifter cover, and timing cover. (Image ©

J). This term has two meanings: Either a heavily modified or repaired automobile or a 1949-51 Ford/Mercury (which is also often heavy modified).

K). The car pictured here is often referred to as this.

L). This 4-speed transmission—the Muncie M-22—obtained its nickname because of the sounds it makes when shifted. (Image ©

M.) This “Red Ram” engine was first conceived in the early 1950s and later got its nickname because of its small size compared to other engines of its type. (Image ©

N). This Pontiac nickname is in reference to its namesake, who lived in the 1700s. (image ©

O). The legendary 1932 Ford has been immortalized in songs, but derived its famous from the year it was manufactured. (image ©


1). Nailhead = A   2). Stovebolt = I  3). Shoebox = B  4). Rockcrusher = L  5). Indian = N  6). Mouse = H  7). Elephant = D  8). A-Bone = C  9). Tin Lizzie = G  10). Cammer = F  11). Goat = K  12). Baby HEMI = M  13). Deuce = O  14). Leadsled = J  15). Slingshot = E.


Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.