Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is it a Motor or an Engine?

I've been writing car stories for many years and grew up in Detroit when the Tri-Five Chevys were becoming available. During my years involved with cars, I found that two terms were bounced back and forth causing a divide over what powers our cars and trucks; a motor or an engine?

To kick off my new Chevy Blog, here’s my take on whether it’s a motor or engine.

Let's see what we have for those who favor the term, Motor.

I'll start with General Motors – see, it's not General Engines. How about The Ford Motor Company – not The Ford Engine Company. Or Chrysler or American Motors – still no engines. I haven't found any automotive company using "Engines" as part of their company name. There are RAT motors, crate motors, FAT motors, HOG motors, stepping, AC/DC and linear motors. Funny thing is, on eBay Motors you use their search engine to navigate their website.

Here's how The Online Dictionary defines Motorcar (not Enginecar) and Motor:
Motor car \Motor car\, or Motorcar \Mo"tor*car`\, n.
· An automobile, locomobile, or locomotive designed to run and be steered on a street or roadway; esp., an automobile specially designed for passengers and propelled by an internal combustion engine.
Motor \Mo"tor\, n. [L., fr. movere, motum, to move.]
· That which imparts motion; a source of mechanical power.

More to ponder - When a Motor is NOT an Engine:

Engine City (Detroit is the Motor City)
Engine Bike
Engine Scooter
Engine Boat
Engine Home
Engine Pool
Engine Club
Engine Tours
Engine Motel (motor hotel)
Even Engine-mouth!

And remember, you have to register your vehicles at the DMV; Department of Motor Vehicles…not the DEV – Department of Engine Vehicles!

Given more time to pursue this topic, I'm sure we can come up with many more uses for the term, Motor. But now it's time to give the "Little Engine That Could" crowd a turn.

We'll start with the obvious engine terms: internal and external combustion, gasoline, steam, diesel, turbine, jet, radial, hydrogen, impulse, ion and the ubiquitous search engine.

The Online dictionary defines it this way:

Engine. n:
· A machine that converts energy into mechanical force or motion.
· Such a machine distinguished from an electric, spring-driven or hydraulic motor by its use of a fuel.

When an engine is clearly NOT a motor:

Fire Motor
Search Motor
Motor, motor number nine (song)
Diesel motor (as in train)
Tonowanda Motor Plant

There are many conundrums associated with these two terms, here are just a few: GM, Ford and Chrysler Motors put engines in their cars. Chevrolet Motor Division calls them engines, not motors, in all of their parts reference manuals. To find motors on the Internet you use a search engine. And, of course, motor vehicles are powered by all kinds of engines. Go figure!

Depending on where you grew up around cars, these two terms are probably an entrenched part of your vocabulary. Let me leave you with this final thought: remember where it all began…in the "Motor City".

Ok, it’s your turn!