Car Design Terminology & Jargon

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Car Design Terminology & Jargon


The longitudinal frontier between the car’s main mass and the greenhouse.

Bone Line

Designers often use natural metaphors to describe body shapes, talking of hard muscle under soft flesh.

A bone line is a suggestion of solid structure beneath the body’s surface.


Daylight opening, or window. Shape and position are influential on a car’s character.


Down-the-road-graphics. The frontal appearance which defines the marque from a considerable distance.

Flush Glazing

A technique, originally in the cause of aerodynamic efficiency and first seen on the 1982 Audi 100, which has the glass forming an unbroken surface effect between door panels, pillars and roof.


Glazed upper part of the passenger cabin comprising of the DLOs. Padiglione in Italian.


Hardpoint has an actual and metaphorical meaning. It is the stage of design after Broadbrush, or conceptual phase. Hardpoints

are also the fixed or frozen positions of, for example, the top of the radiator, top of the engine, top of the scuttle, suspension mounts and so on. Hardpoints might include greenhouse pillar sections, spare tyre location or side glass surface at a driver’s eye level. Hardpoints are used in continuous comparative evaluation of competitors.


A theoretical point (R-point in Europe) from which critical dimensions relating to legislation are measured. The h-point is

approximately in line with the driver’s hip joint. The position ‘eye ellipse’ is derived from the h-point. The eye ellipse is used to

generate legally required vision lines.


Identified by the letters A,B,C,D (A pillar being the foremost or windscreen pillar), as they move rearwards through the

greenhouse, the vertical (almost always angled) members of the bodywork support the roof, the equivalent of glazing bars in architecture. Montante in Italian.

Razor Edge

The origami school of car design, where sharp, geometrical froms of angles dominate the overall shape.

Rocker Panel

In US English, the body part between the bottom of the doors and the ground. Sill in British English.

Shut Line

The line between panels and doors. The precision and economy of these lines is a matter of intense competition between manufacturers and is a serious test of manufacturing finesse. The way the shut lines are articulated by designers is an unconciously

powerful influence on the customer’s perception of the car’s character.

Swage Line

An emphatic crease in a metal panel.


The angle between the vertical and the greenhouse when seen from the front. Campanatura in Italian.


The aperture containing the wheels. Arco ruota in Italian.

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