Home » This Old NSU Prinz Owner’s Manual Is So Charming And Only Has One Racial Slur

This Old NSU Prinz Owner’s Manual Is So Charming And Only Has One Racial Slur

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Yesterday, for my morning Cold Start post, still America’s fifth-favorite early-morning minimally prepared automotive or land-weasel-based web content, I was talking about a midcentury NSU brochure that had so many of the clichés and features of that era of car brochure that I’m so fond of. In the comments, a reader named Chronometric told me about an NSU Prinz II owner’s manual that’s available online, I think from 1959. Our observant commenter noted how conversational the owner’s manual was, and they’re absolutely right — it’s informal yet informative, and the whole thing is really quite charming. So much so that you can almost forget the period-correct misogyny and the one racial slur!

I think most modern owner’s manuals make at least some sort of concerted effort to remain devoid of any sort of slur, which is part of what makes this so unusual. But, again, other than the slur – which I think was something not intended to really harm, just more of a thoughtless sort of product of the era (though that doesn’t mean it’s not shitty) – this is a good example of how an owner’s manual can be done well and without being a literary soporific.

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Let’s take a look at some of the good stuff, first:

Nsu 1

Right from the get-go the tone is fun, from the “Without tears” headline to the little dig about how infrequently these sorts of things get read. Also, it’s clearly from a different era, as the statement “everyone knows how a clutch works” is just thrown out there without comment or question.

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Ns 2

I appreciate the religious analogy here between a “certificate of baptism” and the “motor vehicle certificate.” While I can infer what a motor vehicle certificate likely is – something like a title, I assume – I’ve never encountered one. Come to think of it, I’ve never been baptized, either, since, as a Jew, that Holy Water burns! Oh it burns so badly!

Nsu 3

So this is a little detail, but something I really appreciate. When the. manual talks about how to open the hood, revealing the rear-engined Prinz’ trunk, it starts by saying “there is a wire inside the vehicle which starts at the front of the PRINZ and ends in a knob under the dashboard.” I like how this very succinctly and effortlessly conveys how the hood-opening mechanism works without getting too technical. I’ve never read anything quite like this in an other car owner’s manual.

Nsu 4

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I love dashboard diagrams, and this is no exception. This is another car from the era where carmakers, bafflingly, staunchly refused to label any control at all, for fear of – what, people having it too easy? Losing the thrill of guessing what identical, unlabeled knobs did? Who the hell knows. It’s also interesting to see the colors of the indicator lights, which had yet to settle into modern standards. High beams as blue were already established, and red as general warning (well, ignition here, not sure if that counts?) but green for oil didn’t stick around (though VW Beetles used that until 1969) and I think orange for the dash turn indicator lamp makes more sense than green.

The real gem here is how the horn – controlled by the right stalk – is explained, in terms of pressing the lever “up towards your throat.” How often does the throat even get mentioned in owner’s manuals at all?

Nsu 5

I also appreciate how the manual has a sidebar for technical information, if desired. In this particular part, it’s interesting to see how the Prinz uses a distributor-less system with dual coils, one per cylinder. Also, it seems that the Prinz uses a dynastart system, which I didn’t realize also replaced the flywheel in addition to the generator and starter.

Nsu 6

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I’m always a sucker for diagrams like these, cutaways, and I like when they show airflow, too – at the top, fresh air, bottom, heated air from the engine.

Nsu 7

The illustrations are clear and appealing, like this underside view, showing what can be adjusted or lubed. The corrugated and enclosed underside reminds me a bit of a Beetle as well. There’s also less technical illustrations that are charming as hell, like this one:

Nsu 8

This illustration follows a bunch of misogynistic copy that suggests that the owner should have their wife do all the cleaning, since – and let me be very clear I’m quoting directly here:

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“Any woman knows how to clean windows.”

Again, some likely long-dead NSU technical writer wrote that, not me.

Speaking of washing the car, though, tell me that sponge doesn’t look exactly like a human brain:

Nsu 9

Brains aren’t really that great for washing cars, I’m told. They tend to leave streaks.

Nsu 10

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No owner’s manual is complete without a good engine diagram, and this one sure is good. You can really appreciate the Prinz engine’s lean design here. This thing made 30 horsepower! I’ve also never seen instructions for fuel filling in engine spec pages like these, but here it is.

Nsu 11

I really like these weight diagrams; I’ve never seen any of these where the individual weights of the passengers are called out!

Nsu 12

The light bulb-replacement section has some interesting terminology; I like the cute “winker” in reference to the turn indicator bulbs, but I’ve never heard a license plate light referred to as a “sign light” as it is here?

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Okay, now the bad part

Okay, I know, I know, you want to know what the slur is that I referenced in the headline. Fine. It’s in this section:

Nsu Slur

Did I pixellate it out? Yes, yes I did, because, well, I just don’t need to give that any more air. If you can’t figure it out or really, really need to know, you can look at the original link. Suffice it to say it’s a word that’s now considered offensive to Asian folks. I think it was just a poorly-chosen analogy there. It’s just kind of remarkable and sad to be reminded about how casually that sort of thing was thrown around back in the day.

Also, that isn’t “conditioned” air; it’s just fresh air or heat, so don’t get ahead of yourself, Prinz.

It’s weird to say this sentence, but thoughtless racial slur aside, this is a fascinating owner’s manual. Just too bad it had to be polluted with that.

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UnseenCat
UnseenCat
2 months ago

Honestly, this whole manual is a prime example of why using too much in the way of colloquialisms can age very, very badly. The whole tone and vocabulary combined is stereotypical, barely-modernized, post-Victorian British with a dash of colonialism thrown in. Best read in Basil Fawlty’s voice. It’s so dated, stilted, and bad that it’s charming and alarmingly cringe-y all at once.

Even automotive and technical terms are excessively, opaquely British. Yes, most of us all know what “boot” and “windscreen” mean, but what of “winkers”? “Sun light”? “Festoon” bulb? Oil sieve? To a British person of the time, they all make perfect contextual sense. But the context gets lost over time. None of the words or terms were chosen with any thought of them being clearly understandable in fifty-plus years. It was probably written by an advertising copywriter, with input from engineers’ notes.

It’s a cute, possibly embarrassing, reflection on cultural context of at least a certain segment of British culture shortly before the sweeping social and technological changes of the next decade. (Don’t worry, plenty of contemporary American ad copy, magazine articles, and publications like this are more than equally cringeworthy to modern eyes…)

It’s easy to forget, now nearly one-quarter of the way through the 21st century(!) that English was anything but a global language. Great Britain and the US zealously kept to their own versions of usage, grammatical details, and colloquial terms. (Canada was stuck somewhere in the middle between two squabbling siblings.) “Two nations, divided by a common language”, indeed. French was essential to trade and diplomacy. Science and technology were still wrestling with German versus English as a lingua franca — although it was tipping toward English heavily post-WWII for, well, reasons. Despite prior generations of aggressive colonialism, English didn’t become a de facto global language until the advent of computers and omnipresent global communications through satellite-delivered media, and later the digital explosion of the Internet. Science and technology tended to lead the way, because English, while difficult to learn and master, was efficient at precisely describing things without resorting to lengthy or awkward word constructions. And the world’s predominant computer programming languages are rooted in English, which kind of cemented it as computing took over.

Nowadays, no one would think of writing a car manual without ensuring that all terms used were as clearly descriptive and standard as possible — so that outside of nationalized/nationalised (see what I did there?) spellings, it would be entirely understandable to both native speakers as well as anyone who only knows English as a second (sometimes remotely second…) language. (Most recently the test is probably, “Will it still make sense if you run it through Google Translate in most major languages?”)

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

NSU was German, so I imagine they had these written for the specific export markets. I also don’t think these cars were assumed to have the kind of lifespan that would see the owner’s manual get outdated for language, especially with the flippant tone.

R Rr
R Rr
2 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

English, while difficult to learn and master

I agree with mostly everything you said, but I do take exception to that bit^^.
As an English-is-my-fourth-language speaker, it is by far the easiest language to ‘learn and master’. As in ‘there’s absolutely no comparison to any other language I’ve ever encountered’ easy. I’ve learned it from music, TV and a tiny brochure of exactly 8 pages with all the grammar rules.

It’s why I’ve always been fascinated by how native speakers with high levels of education can get stuff like ‘their/they’re’ wrong most of the time 🙂

Last edited 2 months ago by R Rr
Rafael
Rafael
2 months ago
Reply to  R Rr

I have mixed feelings on this. English has sooooo much content that we practically learn it by osmosis, but I can think of few languages were the pronunciation is that weird. Vowels in particular are all over the place, and I hate any word with “ugh” so much.. and don’t even get me started with words like “successful”, so many arbitrary double letters!

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
2 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

Festoon is a type of cylinder-shaped light bulb with pointy metal ends, as seen in the illustration. The name Festoon is still used today for that type of bulb.

Robert Stanley McLaughlin
Robert Stanley McLaughlin
2 months ago

Assuming only people who understood what “baptism” means. I mean, are we not all born with this basic knowledge? Like the Budweiser beer motto, “This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no other beer which takes so long to brew and age. Our exclusive Beachwood aging produces a taste and drinkability you will find in no other beer at any price (sic).”? Born with something like that.

Chris D
Chris D
2 months ago

“…sun in Italy, flies in Spain…”
That’s kind of a low blow to Spain, isn’t it?!

David Escargot
David Escargot
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

If I was Spain, I wouldn’t let that fly

AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago
Reply to  David Escargot

That line does read as if it was written by the kind of English who later retired to a hermetically sealed community on the Costa del Sol, can’t be bothered to learn a single word of Spanish, and was outraged that one effect of the Brexit they voted for was that they had to wait in the long line for customs whenever they returned from a trip back to Blighty.

Carter Young
Carter Young
2 months ago

As the former type director of graphic design/typography firm, I will have to chide NSU for improperly applying the hyphen in “scooter” in the justified text of the first illustration.

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago

I had not noticed the slur. Oops.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

You’re worried about that Asian slur? Man, you completely glossed right over those fat shaming weight diagrams!

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

That 143-lb dude in the back is definitely not American

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

That was my thought too. I’ve been trying for a year to get down to 165 and can’t quite get there and make it stick. Pretty funny for a guy who wasn’t 100lbs at HS graduation and got kicked back as underweight when I enlisted.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
2 months ago

“…at the top, fresh air, bottom, heated air from the engine.”

I miss how with my VW Type 3 (the only air cooled VW I ever owned) I could have heat for my feet and fresh air for my face at the same time.

Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
2 months ago

That’s so much better than my one VW (1970 Type 1). With that, you got no heat and fresh slush on your feet.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
2 months ago

I mean, in terms of national/ethnic stereotypes it looks more Mexican to me…

And speaking as someone very much like Torch in a lot of ways but very different in that I’m Catholic (although somewhere between a “cultural” and a “recovering” one), I’ve never used a baptismal certificate for anything and I’m not sure where mine is now among my late mother’s stuff. Birth certificate, yes, that’s sometimes needed as ID, most recently to get a REAL ID Act-compliant enhanced driver’s license, but never a baptismal certificate.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

You do need to show a baptism certificate if you want to get married inside a Catholic church, so maybe it was meant that way? Young couple in love, looking at a sensible new car, getting married soon, etc. This is for the UK market, but pretty sure the Church of England would have/had the same rule, especially then.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Up until the latter third of the 20th century or so, a baptism certificate was accepted as at least semi-formal validation of identity in many places where Christianity was a predominant religion. My wife and I still have ours locked up alongside our original birth certificates, which are on forms old enough that modern government agencies raise their eyebrows at but grudgingly accept because no, those things weren’t universally computerized when we were born. I suppose we keep the baptism certificates because they’re nostalgic and were once “important” documents. I don’t even know if they matter to modern churches anymore.

The 1950s were a different era, when the church, particularly the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, held considerably more influence over societies, to the point of being quasi-governmental.

It’s amusing how things change. My wife’s and my birth certificates are hand-signed and stamped with a raised seal. Hers is completely filled out in ink, in cursive handwriting, and hand-signed. Mine is filled-in with typed text, but still hand-signed. Computer records were around in the 1960s when we were born, but computer forms were still viewed with scrutiny and suspicion when used for important things like birth certificates. Handwriting, or at least handwritten signatures in ink and an embossed seal were seen as more authentic and harder to fake. Now it’s the opposite — computer printing on specialized forms, with computer-printed serial numbers and computer-reproduced signatures are viewed as more authentic than something that a clerk typed up or wrote by hand.

(And yes, as a matter of fact, the modern motor vehicle department clerk did have difficulty making out the cursive handwriting on my wife’s birth certificate…)

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

Well, the Church of England is still much more than just quasi-governmental, it’s the established church in England. All actions of its General Synod have to be ratified by the UK parliament to take effect, 26 of its bishops sit in the House of Lords, and the King is the church’s supreme governor.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

“… it looks more Mexican to me…”

Freddy Prinze would say it looked like the mustache of an American born to Puerto Rican (American) and German parents.

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
2 months ago

The manual for my 240SX repeatedly referred to the 2.4 liter engine as the baijo engine, which did add insult to the injury of the 2.4 liter engine itself.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago

I mean, I’m not Asian, so I can’t really say, but that could have been a lot worse. Specifically, I recall a five letter term used in my youth that was much ruder. In the Prinz manual I’d call of it more of a clueless reference than an intentional slur. My mom still says Oriental on occasion and my kids assure me it’s not a racist slur even though we cringe at it’s use. I think the manual use is in the same neighborhood.

Rafael
Rafael
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

This things can also change in weird ways. In Brazilian Portuguese the formal word for black person was a relative of the English N-word, while the slur was the word for black. Now it seems that someone reversed it, and I got really shocked when I visited the country last year!
Cmon, I’m barely in my forties, too young to have been left behind by language like that!

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

I thought the same of Oriental, but I was reading a debate a few years back and the general consensus was that Asians didn’t care as it referred to geographical direction in relation to Europe (oriental and occidental, though IDK anyone who uses those terms for East and West), but white people thought it sounded racist. As a white guy (who has indigenous American eyes and was called the very racist 5-letter word and “boy” as a kid), I just don’t use it unless referring to specific rugs.

Harmanx
Harmanx
2 months ago

The Power of Christ compels you!

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago

From now on I am weighing m passengers so as to put equal weight on each wheel. I already place any heavy equipment on the passenger side in the trunk if I am driving to a jobsite.

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

Weigh your wife and ask her to change seats to equalize weight. Then come back and report how that goes.

El Jefe de Barbacoa
El Jefe de Barbacoa
2 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Honey, turns out we really need to have you sitting in the middle.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

She’s the kinda gal who’d either laugh her head off or tell me that both she and the kids can’t all sit on the side opposite me.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
2 months ago

Very nice manual, I wish more technical documentation was written this way. Naturally I’m sure the lawyers wouldn’t allow for it, but a boy can dream.

RE the “slur”:

Fucks sake, if you’re going to clutch pearls over slurs used in history, at least make sure you have history on your side, and that it was actually inappropriate at the time it was used. The manual is from 1959, which means it predates most of the modern racial civil rights movements, and thus was still commonly used simply as a descriptor (ref The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage and The Color of Words: An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Ethnic Bias in the United States). Cultural products of the era might decry the negative stereotypes associated with the term, but used the descriptor itself freely, such as the groundbreaking play The Chickencoop Chinaman by Frank Chin (gasp! A slur! No, it’s the proper title of the play, by a Chinese man, grow up) or the first lines of Kung Fu Fighting.

If it bothers you so much, just don’t frigging mention it, or note the term would is considered inappropriate now. This Voldemort treatment of hinting at something deep and dark and evil should be left to children’s fantasy. Judging people of the past by current ethical standards is an idiotic idea because a) if you lived in that era you almost certainly would have followed those same historical standards, and b) in x number of years people are going to think your “englightened” modern standards are morally reprehensible as well.

Last edited 2 months ago by Wuffles Cookie
Master P
Master P
2 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

“modern racial civil rights movements”

Ok, boomer.

Last edited 2 months ago by Master P
Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
2 months ago
Reply to  Master P

“Tik-Tok didn’t cover any of the others, and I’ve never cracked a book”

Ok Zoomer.

Master P
Master P
2 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

Have never used Tik-Tok, but do know how to spot an anachronism

Last edited 2 months ago by Master P
Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
2 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

Eh, people have *always* raised concerns about such things so the “context of the times” argument doesn’t hold water at all. Just one example out of a great multitude, there were actual protests outside theaters when the film Birth of a Nation came out in 1915; in fact, Woodrow Wilson requested a screening of that film at the White House because he wanted to see for himself what all the furor was about (which is why some people claim BOAN was the first film ever screened at the White House; however, there had already been multiple films screened thereof, starting with Teddy Roosevelt’s administration in 1908.)
And my parents were of that generation that would have bought that NSU Prinz new (they had a used oval window VW Beetle in the mid-50s, in Michigan, no less, where they would drive into Detroit for shopping trips & find crowds of people gathered around their Beetle when they returned from the shops; they traded the Beetle in for a new four-door sedan in 1960 when their third child was born and they wanted more room for their growing family) and they never used such language as seen in that NSU manual. Some of their friends might have used such language but my parents and other friends would call them out on it; such friends would either accept such criticism & adjust accordingly or distance themselves if they didn’t want to change their ways. Indeed, plenty of people have always been aware of the problematic nature of such language for pretty much all of recorded history, one just has to do a little research to find such objections since they weren’t always given wide coverage in a lot of the contemporary media. But some of the media did indeed cover those objections, hence all the historical documentation out there. It’s usually when people have not yet examined their own privileges that they object to the concerns being raised about such problematic language & attitudes but when they do more research they can see for themselves the full context of such things. So it’s good when such concerns are raised and can be evaluated accordingly with properly sufficient examination. People can and indeed do change their attitudes because of increased awareness of such concerns (like, if that NSU manual were written today the writers most certainly wouldn’t have used that term.)

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
2 months ago

> Indeed, plenty of people have always been aware of the problematic nature of such language for pretty much all of recorded history, one just has to do a little research to find such objections since they weren’t always given wide coverage in a lot of the contemporary media. But some of the media did indeed cover those objections, hence all the historical documentation out there.

Cite a source then.

> It’s usually when people have not yet examined their own privileges that they object to the concerns being raised about such problematic language & attitudes but when they do more research they can see for themselves the full context of such things.

Sneering contempt plus passive voice- you should write for the New Yorker, you’d be at home there.

> People can and indeed do change their attitudes because of increased awareness of such concerns (like, if that NSU manual were written today the writers most certainly wouldn’t have used that term.)

No shit Sherlock. But just like the twatwaffles who want to ban Huckleberry Fin because it has a naughty word (or given the topic Twain’s Disgraceful Prosecution of a Young Boy which would also apparently give Torch the vapors) freaking out about the historical use of terms you find offensive in the present day is the ultimate expression of historically ignorant Karenism.

Justin Carson
Justin Carson
2 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

I can’t tell whether you’re trying to be serious, but referencing the third most relevant British dictionary written by an asshole prescriptivist (Fowler’s) and some random book that lists 850 terms known to be slurs is the wildest “appeal to authority” failure I’ve seen. Good effort, though.

Jbavi
Jbavi
2 months ago

I think Torch is underselling (overlooking?) the exciting title of this manual. I heard that David O Russel wanted to give one of his films this title but some movie execs said it was a little too abstract for American audiences

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago

Could not think of what that could possibly be, so I had to go to the link. It seems odd to insert that there. Maybe they were being “cheeky” (I think that’s the word) or maybe it was that kind of accepted casual racism of the time, but I wonder if that was considered a “polite” term then. Like, my late grandmother used a word that’s considered racist today (well, for quite a while, but she would be over 100 now) for a certain group, but in her day, that was the polite word to use and I never heard her say anything bad about said group. Either way, this and her “polite” versions are rarely used by anyone anymore—not vile enough for racists, I guess, and too racist for others. They come across more as archaic to me, but not in a charming way, more like something you might write for a character who is behind the times to say so that they could be mocked either by the audience or other characters.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
2 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

I still recall my grandmother’s boarder angrily telling her not to use the n-word. His own language was still considered rascist in the late 90s, so he’d be pilloried now, but he was trying.

I can’t wait to find out what terms I currently understand as appropriate are deeply offending people when I’m using them in my old age.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
2 months ago

I love Ricky Gervais’ take on that particular slur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVgiBK-iC4M (BTW, his “Super Nature” special is one of his best, IMHO – Do I really need to point out that this clip is NSFW? Yeah, David probably needs to know that.)

But yeah, otherwise, a truly delightful owner’s manual!

Last edited 2 months ago by Dar Khorse
A. Barth
A. Barth
2 months ago

Neat! With the obvious exceptions, of course.

I did not know those little glass-and-metal lighting devices were called “festoon bulbs”. I’ll remember that if/when I encounter another one.

Dumb question incoming…

In the diagram showing the bottom of the car, there are two items under Lubrication labeled “Steering swivel pirys”.

Is a “piry” (?) like a zerk fitting for grease or is it one of those little pots where you open a very small hinged lid and add oil (as on old electric motors)? Or is it something else?

Last edited 2 months ago by A. Barth
Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Piry is an alternate spelling of peery/peerie which means a top (as in the spinning toy) so I can imagine this being generalized to other rotating things such as ball joints but I’ve never encountered it in this context before.

A. Barth
A. Barth
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

(I should have mentioned that Google was no help)

Interesting – you may be right. I also thought it was referencing a ball joint or similar, but after opening the image in a new tab and zooming in a lot, the orange arrows appear to be pointing to the wheel bearings. Those would definitely be spinny and at that point in history probably wouldn’t be sealed (and would require maintenance/repacking). Thanks! 🙂

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

You’re welcome but I believe we were overthinking this. I just followed the link to the full manual and, although the figure says “steering swivel pirys” the text on the facing page refers to those lubrication points as being on the “steering swivel pins” with a clear photo of their location. I think “pirys” is just an error.

Last edited 2 months ago by Mike Harrell
A. Barth
A. Barth
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

I believe we were overthinking this.

That never happens around here 😀

Appreciate the update and it sounds like you sussed it out. It also sounds like I should have RTFM – thanks again! 🙂

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Wtf is a zerk

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
2 months ago

It’s a standard grease fitting with a check ball inside, named for Oscar U. Zerk who filed for the patent. Sometimes called an “Alemite” fitting because Zerk worked for the Alemite Manufacturing Corp. The patent goes back to 1929 and has long since expired; Zerk’s design has become a standard.

Technically, it’s a proper name so it should be capitalized, but it’s become generic. Sort of like Xerox, and the way it became synonymous with copy machines until the un-capitalized word “xerox” became universal because it was easier (and fun) to say. Not all copiers are Xerox machines, but all “xeroxes” are copiers. Likewise not all grease fittings are “zerks” but Zerk fittings are a particular design of one.

(This is another classic moment of Autopian minutiae, isn’t it?)

A. Barth
A. Barth
2 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

Nice – thanks!

(This is another classic moment of Autopian minutiae, isn’t it?)

Yes. Yes, it is. 🙂

Good thing there were no Dzus fasteners involved 😀

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

That’s amazing! Though I can’t shake the feeling you made it all up. 😀

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
2 months ago

Not trying to sound too harsh here, but I guess I don’t see the need to point it out like a typical Jalop post. You could have just stuck with the fun stuff, which is much more Autopian, and not given it any “air” at all.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago

Those are nicely detailed weight diagrams but still not quite as convenient as having everything summarized on the data plate, including the permissible combined total with a trailer:

https://live.staticflickr.com/5769/22284030105_7bb0c2d4a1_c.jpg

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
2 months ago

I usually call that shape a Fu Manchu. Based on fiction, it’snot racial, is it? I’m kinda old myself, so can’t really tell (shrugging emoji)

At least I’m not calling it a Charlie Chan 😉

Some cars has Fu Manchu DRLs, like the (Citroën) DS3. Looks real silly.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

And here I was expecting some sort of stereotype tightwad Scotsman reference, like American economy car advertising always used back then

This was worse

Last edited 2 months ago by Ranwhenparked
Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

We had the Studebaker Scotsman for that.

AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Studebaker also used “Dictator” for the base model in their 1927-1937 hierarchy, below “Commander” and “President”, and they used “Provincial” for a station wagon in the mid-1950s. Their product marketing staff was not exactly firing on all cylinders back then.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

Or they knew exactly what they were doing.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
2 months ago

Also, Dude, ——— is not the preferred nomenclature, Asian-American, please!

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
2 months ago

We had about ten minutes of Big Lebowski references in Slack when Jason posted this…

Maymar
Maymar
2 months ago

I dunno, maybe they were angry after someone pissed on the floor mats. Those mats really tied the car together.

TheNewt
TheNewt
2 months ago

My first thought.

LTDScott
LTDScott
2 months ago

Came here for this, was not disappointed

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
2 months ago

I was expecting a N-bomb.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 months ago

Eh, the n-word isn’t really a European thing. I fully expected some sort of Euro-colonial “colloquialism” that wasn’t expressly derogatory but is instead nonchalantly degrading. Result was as expected.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
2 months ago

The weirdest thing about that slur is that the Fu Manchu is a mustache, not a beard.

Is it possible they originally wrote it with the proper name, then had to hastily scrap it because Fu Manchu was still under copyright protection? I have no idea how UK copyright worked.

Herr Jimmy
Herr Jimmy
2 months ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

This is very likely a direct translation of the German term ‘Chinesenbart’, which refers to the style of mustache. It’s not a great term, and is unfortunately still used today to refer markings on beech trees: https://heimatverein-moehnesee.de/chinesenbaerte-auf-glatter-buchenrinde/

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

Yes, if you’re going to be racist, at least be accurate about it. The Major on Fawlty Towers knew that

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Manuel!

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
2 months ago

I don’t think that is too horrible really. I mean,yes insensitive and unnecessary,but I guess whoever wrote that back then didn’t even give it a second thought.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
2 months ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

In 1959 it would have been a perfectly normal descriptor like Irishman, Englishman, Scottsman- all common. It’s “slurring” is a product of the Civil Rights movement, and while the motivations are good this idea of giving words some magical and evil negative powers has always struck me as stupid.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
2 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

Eh, if you read up on the history of the construction of the first U.S. transcontinental railroad in the 1860s where they had workers from China working on the Pacific side of the railroad you’ll find that people back then did indeed object to that term, a full century before the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Last edited 2 months ago by Collegiate Autodidact
Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
2 months ago

No, this is pure historical revisionism and projecting modern sensitivities onto historical persons. “Chinaman” was simply a descriptor in common use including by Chinese immigrants themselves, such as in the Aising letter in 1853. Emma Woo Louie, certainly no defender of anti-Asian discrimination, is also clear in her work “Chinese Names: Tradition and Translation” that the term had no derogatory connotations and was used in official documentation in the same way as Spainard or Irishman was.

Cite me a contemporaneous historical source complaining about the term (and the term specifically) as a source of discrimination. I do not know of one.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
2 months ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

The trouble is that it became at least adjacent to a slur in colloquial usage by its inclusion next to derogatory language. (For instance, the term “a Chinaman’s chance” referring to something with poor odds, owing to the common impression that China’s population was excessively large. Which wasn’t entirely incorrect but was usually viewed in a xenophobically suspicious or negative light.) Stereotypes in general tended to co-opt the terms for ethnicity and poison them as slurs; such as “drunken Irishman, or “thrifty Scotsman” (which in use was sometimes close to “cheap bastard” in tone). And then there’s the suffix “-man” at the end of these terms which came to be considered sexist by the 1960s. All in all, while the terms might not be the worst of slurs, they came to be considered outdated and reflected poorly on the person saying them — sort of a slur on the speaker using them.

Language and society evolve, context is complicated. What was acceptable in one time gets used, mis-used, and re-contextualized in others. Journalistic and literary stylebooks have strongly advised against using terms like these that are too easy to turn into slurs or have questionable contexts. Yes, it can lead to a very dry voice. But overly “colorful” terms can run the risk of bad contexts or just simply become outdated and taken as either archaic and stilted or old and ignorant. The middle road is a bit of a fine line, and it tends to meander when you look back at it historically.

Come back in a decade or two and we’ll be witnessing the same arguments, just over different words.

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