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Archive for December, 2015

Dunny Doors, Beemers, Pugs And Fezzas

The conversation didn’t go quite like this:

“Oh, is that black BMW yours? I didn’t recognize it at first and thought it was my brother’s Subaru. Is it new? I thought the only one of us with a BMW was Annie.”

“Annie doesn’t have a BMW.  That’s her daughter’s car.  Annie’s got the Mercedes-Benz.”

“How long have you had the BMW?”

“Actually, it’s my husband’s little baby.  I usually use the little Peugeot – it doesn’t use as much petrol.”

“Still a European car, though!”

The conversation actually went like this:

“Oh, is that black beemer yours? I didn’t recognize it at first and thought it was my brother’s Subie. Is it new? I thought the only one of us with a beemer was Annie.”

“Annie doesn’t have a beemer.  That’s her daughter’s car.  Annie’s got the Murk.”

“How long have you had the beemer?”

“Actually, it’s my husband’s little baby.  I usually use the little Pug – it doesn’t use as much juice.”

“Still a European car, though!”

They say that Australians are notorious for giving nicknames to everything up to and including God Almighty (Well, who do you think the Hughie is in in the traditional “Send her down, Hughie!” response to a shower of rain on an Outback farm?). So it’s not all that surprising that we nickname our cars as well. Here, I’m not talking about the nicknames for the individual cars (that’s been covered in another post ) Instead, I’m talking about nicknames for entire marks.

This is a ute. Not a pickup. Not a truck. Ute. Got it?

This is a ute. Not a pickup. Not a truck. Ute. Got it?

The most widespread nickname for a type of car is one that we use so often that we don’t realise that it’s a nickname: ute . This is short for “utility vehicle”, known to drivers outside the Antipodes as a pickup truck or just a pickup. Mention utes to an outsider and you’ll get a blank look that often puzzles you. It’s as if that foreigner doesn’t know a basic English word like “banana”.

Of course it doesn’t stop there. Everything from a high-end Lambo to a humble Dunny Door gets a nickname.  There are no rules. Except the possible rule that the more upmarket the car, the more likely it is to get a nickname.

For the benefit of those who are new to Aussie roads, here is a quick glossary so you can make sense of what your co-workers are talking about when one of them starts to skite (brag) about their new wheels (car).

Beemer (also spelled Bimmer by those with a broader accent): BMW

Bomb-a-Door: Holden Commodore

Bug: VW Beetle (OK, this nickname is international, like the Beetle itself.)

Commode: Holden Commodore (you might actually start to think that Holdens are rather common over here for some reason!)

Disco: Landrover Discovery 

Dunny Door: Holden Commodore.  (I see that brow crinkling in bewilderment  Do I need to explain what a dunny is?  Apparently, I do. It’s a toilet, especially one that lives in its own little shed.)

Evo: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Fezza: Ferrarri

Fridge: Any large white van.

Henry: Ford (as in Henry Ford)

Lambo: Lamborghini

Landy: Land Rover

Lanky: Toyota Landcruiser

Murk: Mercedes-Benz

Pug: Peugeot

Rex: Subaru WRX 

Roller: Rolls-Royce

Scoobie: Subaru

Subie: Subaru

Veedub: VW

Other nicknames have slightly less currency. They also don’t need much explanation, as most of them are wry variations on recognizable names, such as Ford Exploder or Fungus for Ford Explorer and Focus respectively. Anyone can make these up whenever the like. The rule here is that you have to take the name and turn it into something derogatory, so the Mitsubishi Sigma you’re actually quite fond of becomes a Bits-are-missing Stigma.

It’s the way we show affection without sounding like a bunch of wusses, after all.

If I’ve missed any of the good ones that you’ve heard – either in Australia or overseas – let us know.

Catch ya later and stay out of dings,

Megz