If you’ve ever had aspirations of becoming a tried and true Porsche fan, you might like to learn the lingo spoken by the most diehard Porschists. Well then, this series of posts is for you; presenting a full glossary of historic Porsche terminology.
Aluminum Can – A fond nickname for the Porsche 356 SL, which was an aluminum-bodied race car variant of the standard fare 356, and won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1951. With a mere 40 horsepower.
American Roadster – a.k.a. American Sport Roadster: an even lighter, more holistic Porsche 356 roadster, allegedly called for originally by American GIs stationed in Germany in the 1950s. Only 21 examples of the car were built by Gläser before the coach builder went bankrupt, although the same lightweight approach would later be applied to the “American Roadster’s” successor: the Speedster.
Bel Air – An internal code name for what would become the Porsche 911 Targa, as no one was yet supposed to know that “Targa” was the intended name for the wide-barred, open-roofed car. Incidentally, the Targa was named after the Sicilian race, Targa Florio, where the “Bel Air” was named for the neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
Bonanza Effect – A name for the phenomenon where a car’s engine bucks while coasting – or power is transmitted to the clutch too abruptly – causing it to surge and chug. So-named for the American western television series of the same name, which had a theme song where a chugging guitar is used to approximate the galloping of a horse.
Crashbox – A grimace-inducing term for an older gearbox without the benefit of synchromesh rings, especially that found on the Porsche 356 from 1950 to 1952. Should the driver of any of these earlier examples ever neglect to double-clutch when shifting gears, they would “crash” into each other, a noise we’re sure is at least somewhat familiar to us all.
Christel von der Post – This name was given by Austrian driver Gerhard Plattner, a man with a penchant for fuel-efficient long-distance driving, to the yellow Porsche 924 given to him by the manufacturer for a 40,000-km round-the-world trip. “Christel von der Post” means “post mistress Christel,” after a 1950s film about a post mistress. German post vans are yellow, you see…
Doctor’s Car – The nickname for the Porsche 928S given to the good doctor, Dr. Ferry Porsche, for his 75th birthday. The car was moss green with a lengthened wheelbase for more rear seat legroom (for his children). It is family-owned to this day.
Dreikantschaber – Meaning “the wedge blade,” this was a nickname for the Porsche 356/B 2000 GS Carrera GT racing car. It was an aluminum-bodied coupe based on the road-going 356/B, designed by Ferry Porsche, and it debuted at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1963. The “wedge blade” was one name for a tool which Porsche designers used in the creation of clay models, and was lent to the car in light of its more drooping tail than the street car had.
Be sure to check back in the near future for more authentic Porsche terminology.