'Fowl Liver', and other car models.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

How about a column on all these letters on the back of cars. I've seen LX, LXS, LE, LES, DX, LXI, DL, GL, VL, LS, GT, GTS, GTI, SE, SX, XLT, GSE, SLE, RS, CRX, EX just to name a few. What do these stand for?

TOM: You know, Walt, this is a question that will baffle archaeologists in the year 9853. They'll dig up the remains of our society, ex?plain our lifestyle in scholarly detail, and then scratch their heads and say "but what the heck is an LXi?" They won't realize that WE didn't know what it was either!

RAY: In the good old days, the letters on cars really meant something. Take my old classic Pontiac for instance, the GTO. GTO stood for "Gran Turismo Omologato."

TOM: Gran Turismo Omologato? What's that? Grand Touring Omelet?

RAY: No, it's Italian for "Indy 500," I think. Anyway, today's letters don't have literal translations like that, they just "suggest" things.

TOM: That's right. The letters LX, for example, suggest that you get "luxury" when you buy that car. We'll leave it to you to figure out what you're supposed to get when you buy an SX.

RAY: As recently as a few years ago, one automaker used the letters SLE, which was short for "sled." It meant the car did 0 to 60 in about the same time it takes to roast a thanksgiving turkey.

TOM: Also along culinary lines, Volvo still uses the GL designation, which stands for "goose liver." That's because that car goes from 0 to 60 in the time it takes to cook one of those. DL is for "duck liver," which cooks a little slower than its goose counterpart.

TOM: Perhaps you can help us with this puzzle. If you have a plausible explanation for some letters you see on the back of a car (serious or not), send it to us at the address below. We'll print the best suggestions.

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