I'm wondering if the word 'Muskel' ever gets used in the context of muscle cars.
What do Germans call an American muscle car?
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EDIT: My answer below refers to the original question, which was something like
Do Germans call american muscle cars "Muskelautos"?
For the updated version of the question, see the last paragraph of my answer.
As a native German speaker, I have never heard or read the term "Muskelauto". It is also not included in the german "Duden". A quick google search shows a few results, but as far as I can see only literal translations from english web pages.
I am not a car guy, but I have seen the term "Muscle-Car" on a few occasions in german texts, there is also an entry in the german Wikipedia for it.
The term, that is used in German language for what is called "muscle car" in English is:
It is a foreign word, that is just written with a hyphen and uppercase M and C, according to German rules for writing nouns (first letter of nouns is always uppercase) and compound words (a blank is no valid separator for compound words, but a hyphen is).
The pronunciation is English in the way German native speakers pronounce it. So it is almost equal to the English pronunciation, just with the typical German [a] in the first and last syllable:
muscle car [ˈmʌsl̩ kɑɹ]
muscle car [ˈmʌsl̩ kɑː]
Muscle-Car [ˈmasl̩ kaː]
But muscle cars were never really popular in Europe, so not only the cars themselves, but also the term is widely unknown here. Most people in Europe know such cars only from American TV series. But there is a small group of people, even here in Europe, who are fans of those cars.
The phenomenon of the Muscle Car, cars that were affordable but insanely overpowered (ex factory), never really made it over the Atlantic - When US youngsters were driving Pontiac GTOs or Dodge Chargers, European citizens (maybe except Scandinavia that traditionally imported much more US vehicles) were a bit more conservative and drove used 40HP VW Beetles and Renault R4s. The closest thing you could see on the German market were highly tuned NSU TTSs with >70HP and about half the size of a GTO. Real high-performance cars with output similar to muscle cars like Mercedes-Benz or Porsche were always quite a bit more on the expensive side in Europe.
Because the concept was not known in Europe, we obviously didn't need words for it - At least not before these cars started to become collector's items as vintage cars during the last 15-20 years. That also means the denomination "muscle car" will not be understood or even be misunderstood today outside collectors' circles (as you can see in some other answers and comments).
So, "Muscle Car", Muscle-Car" or "Musclecar" (the original English word, adapted to German grammar) can be used as a German technical term in a knowledgeable audience, but not in a very broad way.
Max Mustermann will most probably call such a car "amerikanischer Sportwagen" in German.
Supposed that muscle car in the USA evokes nothing else than the idea of a car of that type (very long hood, powerful motor, not too much space inside, not too expensive) with no allusion of a certain user group, then a German term might be
ein heißer Schlitten
ein heißer Ofen
These indeed are expressions for cars of such appearance that can be used without derogative connotation towards the owner or driver.
One might be a bit disenchanted that these are rather old words (1960, early 1970s, I would say) - but so are many of those cars.
This is what came to my mind after a long and intense discussion here in the comments etc. on my initial suggetions. Those initial suggestions were:
What comes first to my mind when I see a picture of a car like that is
and, less, expressive:
Related, but not the same, would also be
which is a type of an automobile as - stereotypically - preferred by souteneurs; but compared with a Proletenschleuder, the Zuhälterkarren would be quite more on the expensive side.
More graphic for the latter, by the way, is
(thanks for this to commenter PlasmaHH).
Without reference to prostitution, simply stating that the owner or driver obviously wants to show off:
(found in LangLangC's noteworthy answer displaying his internet research on the use of "Muskelauto" in German internet sources)
One part of the question was if native speakers of German would use the word Muskelauto for a muscle car. The answer is clearly "no". If we, however, want to coin a word, I think "Muskelauto" has little chance of getting popular. But a neologism by the example of Muckibude (for fitness studio, based on the slang term Muckis for Muskeln) could be successful. So this might become a
... on the criticism (see comments, now unfortunatley mostly sent to the "chat" section) that I do not really know what muscle car in the context of US American society and use of language means: Yes, this is correct. I do not know this. The original poster did not provide a definition or information on typical connotation. Therefore I can suggest possible translations only based on what I think a muscle car is, and how it would be received in my environment. But I do not think my suggestions are therefore not valid. I have no idea what people of my social group and upbringing in the US would think of people who own a muscle car, but I know what people of my social group and upbringing would think about muscle car owners in most parts of Europe. Of course this is prejudice. Theoretically, the owner of a muscle car can be an educated, well-behaved, humble, mature, courteous and responsible person.
Analysis of the debate, and a new suggestion
The rather controversial debate in the comments is actually caused by confusion over what we are actually speaking about. Are we speaking about
a) an adequate German word or expression for the US American word muscle car including the connotations it may carry in US American society (which may be positive, or whatever). – that would be a a direct, possibly literal translation, or
b) an adequate German word or expression for a car that has the visual appearance of what would in the US be called a muscle car, judged with German cultural context in mind, and done so by Germans who in their majority do not even have a true concept for what in the US constitutes a real sub-category of the market. – That would be culturally adequate translation.
My suggestions above are for case "b". For case "a" I cannot offer solutions as the connotations of that word in that society have not been disclosed to me. And, as the German Wikipedia article on muscle cars already revealed, there just is no real and proper German word for that (except perhaps the aforemntioned, a little bit old-fashioned heißer Schlitten). In a talk about the specifics of this category of cars, Germans usually borrow the original English word (see Hubert Schölnast's answer).
But as it now reads the question is not "What is the German translation for muscle cars", where case "a" would be slightly more appropriate. The question reads "What do Germans call an American muscle car?" That makes case "b" slightly more appropriate.
This answer is not to be read as a competing alternative to the other answers, but as a completing or complementing addition. This is just a record of what a web-query for this problems reveals:
Curiously the evil Google thinks that muscle car is indeed called "Muskelauto":
A word that Google's own corpus of German books has not recorded once for a period of up to 2008! But several other translation engines come to a similar conclusion. DeepL even has a previously unheard alternative: Muskelkarosse
The reverso engine lists a few examples in context besides the direct borrowing of muscle car for most instances:
- Driving an old muscle car in the suburbs that no one else has seen?
Der ein altes Auto in den Vororten fährt und noch nie gesehen wurde?
- The guys in that muscle car?
Die Typen im Wagen?
- What better way to embody that than with a great-looking and great-sounding muscle car.
Womit könnte man dies besser ausdrücken als mit einem wunderschönen, kraftstrotzenden Auto mit einem Wahnsinns-Sound?
- This muscle car from Toyota: 408 horsepower in an ultra-light that does zero to 60 in well under four seconds, and still gets 32 miles a gallon. I'll say more later about this.
Dieses Muskelpaket von Toyota: 408 ultraleichte PS schaffens von Null auf Hundert in weniger als 4 Sekunden, und der Wagen schafft immer noch 7.4 Liter pro hundert Kilometer. Darauf werde ich noch zurückkommen.
- Heads up, guys. I got an orange muscle car.
Gefolgt von einer orangefarbenen Protzkarre.
Linguee offers the following alternatives, besides the again original borrowing most of the time:
- […] auctions like ebay, because every owner of a legendary muscle car like the Ford Mustang, also wants to have the literature […]
[–] Höchstpreisen bei ebay versteigert, denn wer ein besonderes Fahrzeug wie den Ford Mustang besitzt, der möchte auch die betreffende…
- since the presentation of the Q7 and already has a few modifications up its sleeve for this muscle car from Ingolstadt.
Der Tuner war nämlich seit Vorstellung des Q7 nicht untätig und hat bereits einige Veränderungen für den Brummer aus Ingolstadt in petto.
- road, HAMANN decided to equip the rear end of this Italian muscle car with a three-piece diffuser that matches the rest of the technology.
[…] ist, entschied sich HAMANN dafür, am Heck des italienischen Boliden einen zur restlichen Technik passenden, dreiteiligen Diffusor anzubringen.
- Honsel components for legendary "muscle car": Engine block with innovative cylinder bore coatings for Ford Mustang Shelby
Honsel-Komponenten für legendären Sportwagen: Motorgehäuse mit innovativer Beschichtung der Zylinderlaufflächen für den Ford Mustang Shelby
- Aside from that reputation, the Chevrolet Camaro was also classified as an intermediate touring car, a sports car, as well as a muscle car.
Neben diesem Renommee wurde der Chevrolet Camaro auch als Zwischenreisenauto, ein Sportauto, sowie ein Muskelauto eingestuft.
- Enjoy the summer with this classic muscle car.
Genießen Sie den Sommer mit diesem Mustang Klassiker.
Note though, that I firmly believe that the majority of instances of "Muskelauto" found on the web is either from machine translation, a non-native speaker, or some not-so-long-ago-still-teenager trying to pull something off. Observe the example in the quote of the following paragraph.
Also note that even motor enthusiasts in Germany have difficulty in grasping the word and the concept of muscle car:
Möchte man die beiden Begriffe übersetzen, ist man mit „Muskel-Auto“ und „Pony-Auto“ nicht wirklich schlauer als vorher. Was es mit den „Muscle-Cars“ und „Pony-Cars“ wirklich auf sich hat, erfahrt ihr im Folgenden.
Fahrzeuge, die unter die Kategorie „Muscle Car“ fallen, zeichnen sich durch die besonders starke Motorisierung aus. Basis stellt dabei zumeist ein amerikanisches Großserienmodell der 60er und 70er dar, welches ab Werk mit einem V8 Motor ausgestattet wurde. Zielgruppe der stark motorisierten Mittelklassewagen war vor allem die jüngere Käuferschicht, weswegen der Preis mit 3900 US-Dollar recht moderat war.
Die Bezeichnung „Muscle Car“ entstand jedoch erst im Nachhinein, zu ihrer Blütezeit wurden die PS-Monster als „Super-Cars“ bezeichnet. Doch nicht jedes klassische US-amerikanische Fahrzeug mit stärkerer Motorisierung fällt in diese Kategorie. Die klassischen „Muscle Cars“ sind der Dodge Charger, Pontiac GTO, Plymouth Road Runner, Chevrolet Chevelle und Ford Gran Torino. Größenmäßig lassen sich die „Muscle-Cars“ zwischen den „Full Size“-Wagen und dem „Pony-Cars“ wie etwa dem Ford Mustang ansiedeln.
That means that:
I think we should also mention the common verb »aufmotzen« in this context and the derived »aufgemotzt«.
aufgemotzter Kleinwagen / Roadster / Pick-up
So muscle cars can just be called
There is no german equivalent for the term 'muscle car' and if you wanted to call a Mustang GT 500 a type, you would use 'Muscle Car'.
Sure, you could make up some translation for the meaning like car-with-lotsof-horsepower but it is like the U-Boat, which you can use in the english language (meaning german Submarine) even if you have a translation available.
Any translation of muscle car would not express the same. For the aspect of tuning, you have different possibilities in the US, so in germany the focus is different (more towards audio-systems), since you are very limited in pimping the car itself, due to the german laws.
Oldtimer is usually used for older cars (despite the meaning in English 'grandpa' or more generally 'old man'). The distinction between muscle cars and other cars is not really made colloquially here.
Sometimes you‘ll hear Sportwagen for powerful cars.
I would not agree that muscle car is colloquial in the German-speaking world. While perhaps used in some magazines, it is not really universally accepted from my experience. Their hayday was in the late 1960s and lasted through the early 1980s about when stronger regulations final took hold. They were insanely powerful and guzzled gas as if it were water. Perhaps these machines fit into American Culture (bigger is better) and did not exist long enough or were not important enough to create a distinguished word in German?
I would simple add to Christian Geiselmann using the word "PS Hobel". By a "PS Hobel", Germans typically mean a car with a higher level of power ("horse power"), but it also is meant a little bit disparaging in such a case that the owner has too much money of which he does not know (useful) to do.
In the "automotive" category of the English <--> German dictionary and Wörterbuch in the DICT.CC website the English term "muscle car" is defined as being "colloquial American". The translation into German is "Muscle Car"; the German pronunciation given for the German term sounds kind of Bostonian, if you know what I mean, i.e. "Mussel Kah".
For what it's worth, "muscle cars" initially meant cars with lots of "muscle", i.e. a factory-option high(er) horsepower engine than the engine sold with the car as standard equipment.
In the music world "The Beach Boys" and "Jan and Dean" had lots of good things to say about the early "hot rods", and then the later term for manufacturer-built production hot rods, the "muscle car", which evolved into the era of factory production stock-car racing look-alikes, and the end of calling such cars "muscle cars".