What Exactly Is an Oldtimer?

In German, “Oldtimer” refers to old motor vehicles. Typically ones that are at least 30 years old. 

But in English, the term stands for a completely different kind of veteran. 

When English speakers use the word “old-timer,” they’re not talking about a magnificent Mercedes-Benz 300 SL or a sleek Porsche 356. No, they’re referring to the experienced old-timer at the corner pub—someone who has been around for a long time. A true “old hand.” An elderly person.

Or someone who has been connected with a club or an organisation, or who has lived in a place, for a long time. (The definition I found in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.)

So, if you want to talk about your beloved old automobile it’s better to use terms like “classic car,” “vintage car,” or even “veteran car.” This way, you’ll navigate any conversation safely and avoid any embarrassing misunderstandings.

But enough from me, now it’s your turn! Have you ever found yourself in an embarrassing situation because you didn’t know the true meaning of an English word? Or do you perhaps even own a classic car and want to share the story with me?

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Foto Christine Sparks

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