• Jun 15, 2006

Courtesy of Ward's AutoWorld, the term 'Design Language' is rapidly taking on new meaning. The publication recently delved into the world of car designer lingo, mining minds like DaimlerChrysler designer Ralph Gilles for 'it' words.


In addition to the oft-used "craptastic," a word used to describe a horrible design but a fantastic launch and presentation, Ward's came upon the following equally appropriate and equally funny descriptors:

J.C. Whitney Look: "When something looks added on to the car, it looks out of place, it looks like an afterthought." (Ralph Gilles, DaimlerChrysler)

Puffilate"When we sit there and review a surface and we think it's too hollow or flat, we say we have to puffilate that." (Ralph Gilles)

Unobtainium "A designer type of material you can shape in any way or fashion. It has virtually no cost, and it really helps us to get our designs forward. However, the engineers just despise that." (Pat Schiavone, Ford)

Looks like an RV: "Anything where I don't like the trim, or if it feels like it's not bolted on correctly, or it doesn't have the fit and finish, I say 'man that reminds me of an RV." (Pat Schiavone, Ford) 

Goiter: "An unexpected bulging of the clay that, although previously invisible, becomes visually magnetic by virtue of being pointed out by one's boss." (Kevin George, Ford)

[Source: Ward's AutoWorld] 



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Reminds me of a description I heard once at Beaterz.com's now-defunct forum:

      "It looks like a J.C. Whitney catalog threw up on it."
      • 8 Years Ago
      #3, I like your terms. It is very true right now.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Unobtanium" is a standard term from speculative science and engineering going back at least 50 years. What could power a star ship at warp speed? Unobtanium. From what do you build those space elevators? More unobtanium. It's the stuff that lines anti-gravity plates and the material for keeping anti-matter in.

      Handy stuff, but certainly not a new invention, or exclusive to the car industry.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Amen Sid, Amen.

      Jason, I love what you said. But watch out! Lithous is about to toss a 15,000 word rant your way!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Unobtanium...
      http://imdb.com/title/tt0298814/

      God I wish I could have forgotten that movie forever... Thanks Autoblog.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Re Devilstower,
      I seem to remember seeing the term "unobtainium" in road tests at least 25-30 years ago. It was always used to describe some VERY expensive part of a Porsche. After a few years of being tossed around by Car&Driver and Road&Track, it crept into Porsche's own advertising. Whether he wants to admit it or not, I'll bet that's where Mr. S. first saw it.

      I think under "useless terms" should be the words used to describe what WE all know are station wagons...example: crossover utility vehicle.
      And the words that are used to define car sizes....example: SUBcompact, compact, and intermediate.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Domestic vehicle: A car whose corporate headquarters has a US address, but is constructed from parts who have up to 100% foreign components and are possibly assembled in another country (Mexico, Canada, Australia).

      Import vehicle: A car whose corporate headquarters has a foreign address, but is constructed from parts who have up to 100% domestic components and are quite possibly assembled in the United States.

      Also see "meaningless terms".
      • 8 Years Ago
      Unobtainium certainly doesn't mean 'low-cost', it means exactly the opposite among other things. 'Montrously expensive and rare, as well as exhibiting nearly magical properties' is how it's used.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Moving Upmarket: Industry lingo for taking a smart, small, good looking and fun to drive vehicle and making it fatter, bigger, softer, uglier and boring to drive for the next-gen.

      • 8 Years Ago

      Yeah, I like that. Am I the only one that thinks the trunk on the 7 series BMW has the J.C. Whitney Look:
      http://www.edmunds.com/apps/vdpcontainers/do/MediaNav/styleId=100528421/firstNav=Gallery/photoId=20023799

      Tell me that trunk doesn't look like it is from another car.