Style guides are essential for magazines, newspapers, websites and anywhere else where text is regularly published. The idea of the style guide is to record commonly mis-spelled words and names, notes on usage of words and phrases, spelling and punctuation choices and so on. Often there is more than one way of spelling a word or presenting, say, an abbreviation or trade name, so the style guide gives guidance on the style the publication prefers.
Most of the style guides available online – like the well-known Guardian Style – are for newspapers and magazines with a wide-ranging remit. For specialist titles it's useful to have a style guide which concentrates on specialist words, so what follows is an automotive style guide which I'll add to and update from time to time.
If you have any additions or corrections please let me know.
abbreviations as a general rule, use capitals if the letters are pronounced separately (BMW, EBD) but not if the abbreviation is pronounced as a word (Avus, Vtec)
ABS is a Bosch trade name, but its use as a generic for anti-lock braking system is now so widespread there is little point distinguishing between Bosch and non-Bosch systems
Airikkala, Pentti (1945-2009) British Rally Champion 1979 and left-foot braking evangelist
Alfa Romeo no hyphen, except for very early cars
Aston Martin no hyphen, except in its very earliest days
Avus German race track
Blydenstein, Bill (-2007) Vauxhall tuning expert
brake, braking when referring to vehicle retardation
Brawn, Ross motorsport engineer and team principal
Button, Jenson not Jensen; 2009 F1 World Champion
caliper not calliper
carburettor but note the SU company always used 'carburetter'
Carello lamp manufacturer
Carillo con-rod manufacturer
Citroën not Citreon, and note the position of the umlaut
concours a competition where old cars are judged for condition and originality
concourse part of a railway station
Cortina Lotus the Lotus-engined Mk2 Cortina - see Lotus Cortina
damper do not use 'shock absorber', because the term is misleading
Dell'Orto Italian carburettors
Donington Park note single n; do not refer to the circuit as Castle Donington, which is the village nearby
fascia not facia
Fibreglass is a trade name and should not be used as a generic - use GFRP or glass fibre
GFRP glass fibre reinforced plastic, commonly (but imprecisely) called glass fibre
glass fibre two words
Goodrich tyre manufacturer; BF Goodrich is part of the Michelin group
Goodridge reinforced hose manufacturer
GTi for Golfs before September 1993
GTI for Golfs September 1993 onwards
hybrid engine is nonsense. A hybrid is something made up of two or more things, and the point about a hybrid vehicle is that it has two or more 'engines' - usually a petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor.
Isky valve spring manufacturer
Issigonis, Alec (1906-1988) not Alex; BMC chief engineer, responsible for the Mini
Jensen West Bromwich car and coachwork company; compare with Button, Jenson
Jubliee clip trade name
Kevlar is a trade name
Land Rover, Land-Rover early models carried a hyphen, but for consistency refer to the company and all its products without one
Lotus Cortina Mk1 Lotus-engined Cortina; see Cortina Lotus
MacPherson strut suspension system named after Earle MacPherson. Consists of a strut and a wishbone, so don't say 'MacPherson strut and wishbone'.
Mercedes-Benz hyphenated; note that the parent company is Daimler-Benz, so use this name with care
Michelotti, Giovanni (1921-80) Italian car designer
Mini not MINI, even for the BMW Minis
Minilite note not all Minilite-style wheels are made by this company
Odor, Jan founder of Janspeed
Odor, Kieth (1962-95) son of Jan, racing driver killed in a touring car race at Avus
Range Rover no hypen
Rolls-Royce always hyphenated. Claude Johnson, managing director of the company 1906-1926, has been called 'the hyphen in Rolls-Royce'.
Rover SD1 for 'Special Development number 1', not SDI
Rose joint trade name
Schanche, Martin rallycross driver
Schreyer, Peter Kia designer
Toivonen, Henri (1956-86) rally driver
veteran car built up to the end of December 1904
vintage car built 1918 to 1930