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The Crossword Garage: 8 Car Makes and Models You Should Know

The Crossword Garage: 8 Car Makes and Models You Should Know


Words To Know

Cruise through this list of The New York Times Crossword’s favorite automobiles.

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CreditCreditAgnes Lee for The New York Times

Crossword puzzles expect solvers to have a good grasp of general knowledge, but sometimes certain facts just aren’t in our personal wheelhouses.

That’s O.K. We’re here to help you solve … and to help you expand those wheelhouses.

For our latest list of terms you should know to become a better solver, we’ll be visiting a “crossword garage,” taking a closer look at car makes and models that frequently show up in puzzles.

We’ll also show you ways these terms might be clued, so you’ll be able to recognize them the next time they come up. The clues that involve wordplay meant to trick you are bold, to make them easier to spot and so you can learn to think like the puzzle makers.

NEW! If you’re a subscriber and would like to try a puzzle with the guarantee of that answer being right, click on the first clue (highlighted) under each description.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but familiarity with all these words will certainly help you in future solving. Go ahead and step on the gas!

1. ALERO

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CreditTim Boyle/Getty Images

The ALERO was the final model sold under General Motors’s Oldsmobile name, produced from 1999 to 2004. A successor to the Oldsmobile Cutlass of the 1960s to 1990s, the car was available in coupe and sedan varieties.

The Alero was not largely popular like Oldsmobile models of the past, which perhaps played a hand in the division’s demise. Oldsmobile’s annual sales of 125,000 total vehicles paled in comparison to its one million-plus peak in the 1980s.

The final 500 manufactured Aleros — and thus, the final 500 manufactured Oldsmobiles — bore the commemorative insignia pictured above.

Possible clues: “Old Olds,” “Oldsmobile model,” “Last Oldsmobile car,” “Former G.M. compact,” “Bygone sedan,” “Successor to the Cutlass”

Sources: History.com, NYTimes.com, XWordInfo.com

CreditScott Olson/Getty Images

ALFA, short for Alfa Romeo, has been an Italian sports car manufacturer for more than a century. Its early years saw production of military engines for World War I, though the company went on to create the racing vehicles for which it is best known.

Today, Alfa Romeo is owned by Fiat. Its cars are still seen prominently in Grand Prix and Formula One events as well as action films like James Bond’s “Octopussy” and “Quantum of Solace.”

Note: ALFA may sometimes be clued as the phonetic letter “A” in some military alphabets.

Possible clues: “___ Romeo (Italian car),” “___ Romeo,” “Italian car, informally,” “Sporty auto, for short,” “Lancia competitor, for short,” “A, in communications,” “Preceder of bravo in a radio alphabet”

Sources: Britannica.com, XWordInfo.com

3. AVEO

CreditBill Pugliano/Getty Images

The AVEO was a 21st-century Chevrolet subcompact that has been renamed the Sonic. The car was a common competitor to models like the Ford Fiesta and the Honda Fit.

AVEO has shown up in The New York Times Crossword 16 times, which is low compared to other staples of “crosswordese.” All but one of these appearances are from 2011 onward, however, indicating an upward trend in usage.

Fun fact: According to a G.M. executive in 2010, the Aveo-to-Sonic name change was partly inspired by customer confusion over the pronunciation of “Aveo.”

Possible clues: “Onetime Chevy subcompact,” “Bygone Chevrolet,” “Old Chevy model renamed the Sonic,” “2004 Chevy debut,” “Car name that’s Latin for ‘desire’”

Sources: Autoweek.com, Motortrend.com, XWordInfo.com

4. EDSEL

CreditRobyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The EDSEL was a car produced by Ford Motor Company in the 1950s. Named after Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, it was manufactured to compete with similar Oldsmobile models of the time, but proved to be a major commercial flop.

Although the Edsel was marketed to be the next latest, greatest automobile, the campaign barely revealed any actual details about the car itself. Unsurprisingly, the debut — hyped as “E Day” — caused quite the letdown, from the Edsel’s appearance and features to its price given the poor state of the U.S. economy.

Possible clues: “1950s Ford flop,” “Short-lived Ford,” “Famous auto flop,” “Car bomb?,” “1950s marketing disaster,” “Car that famously debuted on ‘E Day’,” “Son of Henry Ford”

Sources: Britannica.com, XWordInfo.com

5. GTO

CreditTimothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Named Motor Trend’s 1968 Car of the Year, the Pontiac GTO was a pioneer among muscle cars, admired for its remarkable balance of style and high-quality engineering. GTO production was managed by John Z. DeLorean, who would go on to found his own namesake car company in 1973.

“GTO,” a 1960s song by Ronny and the Daytonas, was essentially an ode to the car, with lyrics like “you’re really lookin’ fine” and “you oughta see her on a road course or a quarter-mile.” The New York Times Crossword occasionally clues GTO as this song rather than the car itself.

Possible clues: “Classic muscle car,” “Old Pontiac muscle car,” “Sporty Pontiac of years past,” “1964 Pontiac debut,” “’Vette alternative,” “Car with ‘three deuces and a four-speed,’ in a 1964 song”

Sources: Genius.com, Motortrend.com, XWordInfo.com

CreditJonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

IROC stands for the International Race of Champions, a stock car organization and competition for more than 30 years until its 2008 shutdown. Winners included racing legends like A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Jr. and Dale Earnhardt.

In The New York Times Crossword, IROC is more frequently clued with respect to the IROC-Z, a classic Chevrolet Camaro named after the above. Its name is pronounced phonetically — “eye-rock-zee” — rather than as an acronym.

Possible clues: “Classic Camaro,” “Camaro ___-Z,” “Sporty Camaro,” “High-performance Camaro,” “Old stock car inits.”

Sources: Motorsport.com, Racing-reference.info, XWordInfo.com

7. OPEL

CreditYann Schreiber/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

OPEL is an automobile manufacturer from Germany; until 2017, it was a subsidiary of General Motors.

Named after its founder, Adam Opel, the company began in the 1860s as a sewing machine business. Within two decades, Opel shifted his focus to the bicycle industry, which then led to early automobile design by the turn of the 20th century.

Today, Opel has produced tens of millions of cars … and OPEL has more than 75 crossword appearances.

Possible clues: “Autobahn auto,” “European car,” “German automaker,” “Volkswagen competitor,” “German-based G.M. subsidiary,” “Car with a lightning bolt in its logo”

Sources: Britannica.com, Opel.com, XWordInfo.com

REO, a monogram for the automotive pioneer Ransom E. Olds, was an early manufacturer of cars and trucks in the 20th century. Classic vehicles include the REO Royale and the REO Flying Cloud; most notable, however, is the REO Speed Wagon, which lends its name to the rock band behind “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Time for Me to Fly.”

Note: REO can also be written as “Reo.” In this form, Reo can be pronounced as a single word and, funnily, is thus a homophone of Kia’s “Rio” model.

Possible clues: “___ Speedwagon,” “Maker of the old Speed Wagon,” “Vintage wheels,” “Flying Cloud automaker,” “Car introduced in 1905,” “Early automotive inits.”

Sources: Britannica.com, XWordInfo.com


Sam Ezersky is the assistant puzzles editor for The New York Times. He has made more than 25 crosswords for The Times, his first published at age 17. He currently edits The Times’s newest word game for digital subscribers, Spelling Bee.



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