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At one of the Hot Rod Power Tour stops a few years ago, I met a GM designer at the automaker's booth. I can't recall his name, but I was so starstruck I think I remember our conversation consisting mostly of me saying, "Hey, you're cool."

Don't let this happen to you. The New York Times provides a lexicon of design slang to help you at least fake a conversation if you happen to run in to, say, Brian Nesbitt at the local bowling alley. We're sure most Autoblog readers know many if not most of the terms defined in the story, but there are a few that might surprise, and a refresher course is rarely a bad thing. Here are a few of the more obscure terms to get you started:

I.P. - The NYT's story warns to never use the word dashboard when speaking with a designer, but instead to refer to it as the instrument panel, or , preferably, the I.P.

D.R.G - Cars designed with traits of its company have what is called Down the Road Graphic. It's the "visual signature" that with only a quick glance, communicates the brand.

Dead Cat Hole - We can guess the origins of this term, but it refers to the space between a car's tire and the wheel well.

Check out the NYT story for more terms defined, like gummidinger and rat hole.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Dead cat hole... thats a good one.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ever heard these terms ? Baby's butt , ass hair , real estate
      I hear it daily.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The entire '99+ Mercury Cougar actually forms its own dead cat hole.
      • 8 Years Ago
      There's BIG dead cat holes on my Xterra... lol
      • 8 Years Ago
      If I ever run into Bryan Nesbitt I'll ask him what happened to his career since designing the PT Cruiser.

      Oh yeah, he got a job at GM and disappeared into obscurity, never mind - bummer dude.
        • 8 Years Ago
        "If I ever run into Bryan Nesbitt I'll ask him what happened to his career since designing the PT Cruiser.

        Oh yeah, he got a job at GM and disappeared into obscurity, never mind - bummer dude."

        Are you serious, did you not hear the latest news at GM...He is now in Ed Welburn's position of Vice-President of Design North America, while Ed is now in the new position of VP of GLOBAL design...obscurity?

      • 8 Years Ago
      This is no doubt an unpopular opinion, but if I met a modern car designer, I'd give him an earful. I much prefer the cars from the 50's and 60's to today's plastic-bling spline-curves. A friend of mine who is loves all things morris relates the story of Sir Alec Issigonis despising the term "designer" and insisting on "engineer." After 1990, once designers got their hands on 4x4's and renamed them SUVs, look what happened.

      I know, I know. Nanny-state safety regulations bear a large brunt of the blame for todays overstuffed monstrosities. And cost-cutting and consumer indifference has given us plastic everything. Still, it is the designers who pitched aside all historical precedent and proceeded to destroy the looks (although not the mechanics) of the vette, bmw, mustang, gto, etc. etc.

      That todays cars are safer, faster and more comfortable than yesteryears I will not dispute. But they have gotten uglier with every passing year, with only an occasional and fleeting lurch in the right direction.

        • 8 Years Ago
        Sure, sure, whatever you say prats.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Cougar wasn't that bad. In the picture it looks to be accelerating.[somewhat]
      Also Ford used undersized tires, 215/50 16. 205/55 16 was the base tire, so it stands to reason 225/50 16 should be the larger tire size, that would help close the dead cat hole.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I am not sure I really want to know the definition of "rat hole" in this context.