The Hagerty Car Advert Translator

by John Mayhead
1 April 2015 2 min read
The Hagerty Car Advert Translator
‘Light Surface Rust’

I once bought a classic car that was described as having ‘many spare parts’ with it. The seller forgot to mention that the car itself was missing a few items- such as a gearbox, windscreen and seats. We’ve all been there. The pictures are stunning, the price is fair, and the description makes the car sound superb. Then you go and see the car, and it’s a heap. Maybe a shiny heap, but a heap nonetheless. So to help you save time and money visiting ropey cars, Hagerty has put together this helpful, light-hearted translation guide to the terminology used in adverts.

‘Sympathetically Restored’
Translation: We’ve spent the minimum possible to make it look shiny and get it to pass an MOT. Rust bubbles have been ground off and filled with a mixture of chewing gum and newspaper before being painted. The entire underside of the car has been painted with an inch-thick layer of underseal. Plus the tyres, despite being half a millimetre away from the legal limit, are now covered in tyre paint, and look like new!

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‘Period Racing History’
Translation: Like Trigger’s broom in Only Fool’s & Horses, this car has been re-bodied, re-engined, bent, fixed, bent and fixed again. The only part that originally left the factory was the chassis plate and the washer fluid bottle. Now restored to a superb finish, it’s being advertised at three times the going rate because a famous bum once sat on the (long-gone) bucket seat.

‘Just Re-Commissioned After a Long Period of Storage’
Translation: Sat in a shed, rotting for years. We’ve repainted it, dropped some oil down the spark plug holes, cleaned out the carbs and (with a new battery attached) fired her up.

‘Some Minor Bodywork Issues’/ ‘Surface Rust’/ ‘Minor Bubbling around the Arches’
Translation: These phrases all mean the same. The car is rotten, from the inside out. If it’s a convertible, you can’t open the door without the car sagging in the middle.

‘One Careful Owner from New’
Translation: This can mean two things. First, it could mean that someone bought the car new, carefully polishing it every weekend and driving it regularly but sparingly, and only on dry Sunday afternoons. Or it could mean that it was bought by an eccentric farmer who parked the car in one of his outbuildings in 1973 and forgot where it was, until found forty years later surrounded by chickens and with a dog living in the boot.

‘Restored to Concours Condition’
Translation: I’ve spent the last ten years, and £40,000 making this the best Robin Reliant on the planet. I’ve added up my time and expenditure, and believe it is worth every penny of the £89,000 I am asking for it.

‘I have reluctantly decided to part with…’
Translation: PLEASE SOMEONE BUY THIS CAR! This money-vacuum has taken my life’s savings, caused my marriage to break down, and put me on the verge of a mental breakdown.

‘Pristine Bodywork’
Translation: ….but the engine has a holed piston, the suspension bushes are all shot, and the wiring catches fire if you turn on the lights and the wipers at the same time.

Translation: So rusty that half the bodywork has dropped off the bottom of the car, or missing a few heavy (and unnecessary) items such as an exhaust pipe or bumpers.

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