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a car enthusiast


petrolhead = Autofanatiker(in), Autofreak, Rennsportfreak



"Jeff Dodds: the Formula E boss planning a move into pole position. PETROLHEADS are quick to scorn the idea of electric car racing, but the series’ chief executive is sure that time, technology – and even geography – are on his side.”

Jasper Jolly — The Guardian (25th May 2024)

“Under Liz Truss, we’ll be careering into PETROLHEAD politics while the world burns. It’s a monstrous thought, but politicians who disparage net zero as a ‘new religion’ and wind power as ‘medieval’ are tipped for cabinet posts.”

Ingo Gregor — Twitter (4th September 2022)

Did you

petrolhead (US gearhead)
noun (informal)

- a person who is excessively interested in or is devoted to travelling by car

- someone who likes and uses their car a lot, and does not want to use any other type of transport

Cambridge Dictionary / Dictionary (dot) com


The term "petrol" originates from the French word pétrole, which itself comes from Medieval Latin petroleum, meaning "rock oil" (from Latin petra for rock and oleum for oil). The word "petroleum" was used in various forms to describe naturally occurring hydrocarbons known to ancient civilizations like the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. In Britain, "petrol" was marketed as a refined mineral oil product by Carless Refining and Marketing Ltd. in the 1870s and later became a common term for motor fuel.

The term "petrolhead" originated in the 1970s, primarily in Australia, to describe a person who is very interested in cars, often to the point of being excessively devoted to or reliant on them. The term has both informal and colloquial uses, sometimes carrying a negative connotation.


Oops! In Brazilian Portuguese, "Pinto" is a slang term for "small penis", this caused a marketing blunder for Ford when they tried to introduce the Pinto model in Brazil. They were forced to rename the car to "Corcel", which means "horse" in Portuguese.


For e-enthusiasts, could these alternatives replace the word petrolhead?

ampheads, electroheads (sometimes crunched down to e-heads), torqueheads, sparknuts, voltheads

SMUGGLE OWAD into a sentence, say something like:

“Many PETROLHEADS seem to be drawn by the aesthetics and the sound of classic and high-performance cars.”

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