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.
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)
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
(1945-2009) British Rally Champion 1979 and left-foot braking evangelist
no hyphen, except for very early cars Aston Martin no hyphen, except in its very earliest days
German race track
(-2007) Vauxhall tuning expert and former racing driver
when referring to vehicle retardation
motorsport engineer and team principal
not Jensen; 2009 F1 World Champion
but note the SU company always used 'carburetter'
not Citreon, and note the position of the umlaut
a competition where old cars are judged for condition and originality
part of a railway station
the Lotus-engined Mk2 Cortina - see Lotus Cortina
do not use 'shock absorber', because the term is misleading - they don't absorb shock, they damp spring movement
note single n; do not refer to the circuit as Castle Donington, which is the village nearby
is a trade name and should not be used as a generic - use GFRP or glass fibre
glass fibre reinforced plastic, commonly (but imprecisely) called glass fibre
tyre manufacturer; BF Goodrich is part of the Michelin group
reinforced hose manufacturer
for Golfs before September 1993
for Golfs September 1993 onwards
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.
valve spring manufacturer
(1906-1988) not Alex; BMC chief engineer, responsible for the Mini
West Bromwich car and coachwork company; compare with Button, Jenson
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
Mk1 Lotus-engined Cortina; see Cortina Lotus
suspension system named after Earle MacPherson. Consists of a strut and a wishbone, so don't say 'MacPherson strut and wishbone'.
hyphenated; note that the parent company is Daimler-Benz, so use this name with care
(1921-80) Italian car designer
not MINI, even for the BMW Minis
note not all Minilite-style wheels are made by this company
The general rule is to use what the manufacturer used, but this is complicated if the manufacturer was itself inconsistent – Jaguar, for example, has used E-type, E Type and 'E' type across its advertising, brochures and car badges. So there's a norm among enthusiasts of the marque/model, use that. If not, choose the simplest form that clearly identifies the car.
founder of Janspeed
(1962-95) son of Jan, racing driver killed in a touring car race at Avus
always hyphenated. Claude Johnson, managing director of the company 1906-1926, has been called 'the hyphen in Rolls-Royce'.
for 'Special Development number 1', not SDI
(1956-86) rally driver
built up to the end of December 1904
built 1918 to 1930