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- Beechcraft Twin [airplane] … its wings flapping hectically like a fat squawking goose unable to get itself aloft —Herbert Lieberman
- Brakes squawk like Donald Duck —Joyce Cary
- The bus rode on the highway, like a ship upon the sea, rising and falling on hills that were like waves —Nathan Asch
- Buzz of traffic … like the hum of bees working a field of newly blossomed clover —James Crumley
- Car accelerated silently like a lioness which has sighted the prey —Elizabeth Spencer
- A car is just like a gun. In the wrong hands it is nothing less than an instrument of death —Charles Portis
- Car … ran as if lubricated with peanut butter —Peter De Vries
- Cars shot by like large bees —Cynthia Ozick
- Cars … their taillights like cigarette embers —Daphne Merkin
- The cloud of exhaust [from car] rose like a sail behind them —Alice Mc Dermott
- The engines [of a Mercedes] ticking like wizard-made toy millipedes —Saul Bellow
- The exhaust [of car] bloomed in the air like a bizarre, blue-white flower —William Dieter
- Felt about cars the way Casanova felt about women —Mike Fredman
- Guzzles gas the way computers gobble up bytes —Anon
- Headlights [of cars on highway] flash by like a procession of candles —Stuart Dybek
- Like a wasp rising from a rose, a helicopter chut-chut-chutted toward them —Will Weaver
- The limousine slid to the curb and nestled there, sleek as a wet otter stretched out in the noonday sun —Paige Mitchell
- The … limousine slid up to the curb, like a great, rolling onyx —Hortense Calisher
- The motor [of car engine] sounded like a polishing drum with a dozen new agates turning inside —Will Weaver
- Parked cars … stretched like a file of shiny beetles —Donald MacKenzie
- Planes humming across the sky like bees —H. E. Bates
- [A car] polished until light glanced off it like a knife —Jayne Anne Phillips
- The power of the big tractor drew the plow through the damp earth like a potter’s knife through wet clay —Will Weaver
- A Rolls Royce glittering like a silver tureen —Saul Bellow
- The rumbles of the big diesel engine were like ocean surf —Will Weaver
- A ship … its masts jabbing the sky like upended toothpicks —Francis King
- (The bus) spews out fumes black and substantial as octopus oil —W. P. Kinsella
- Square black automobiles … like glossy black beetles —Robert Silverberg
- Taillights [of car] gleaming like malevolent eyes —Stanley Elkin
- Taillights red as smudged roses —Richard Ford
- Tires humming like inflated snakes —John Hawkes
- Tractors [at night] … like neon tetras drifting in the dark tank of the fields —Will Weaver
- Train … wriggling like some long snake —Natsume Soseki
- The windshield wipers [of the car] kicked like a weary dance team —Elizabeth Spencer
Black Maria A van for conveying prisoners. This U.S. colloquial term reputedly derives from a Black woman named Maria Lee who ran a lodging house for sailors in Boston. Apparently she was a prodigious woman whom the police called on when they needed extra strength to handle rambunctious prisoners. Eventually her name became associated with the van which rounded up prisoners and carried them to jail or court.
A new Black Maria, … a new wagon for the conveyance of prisoners to and from the courts of justice. (Boston Evening Traveller, September 25, 1847)
bone-shaker A facetious name for early model bicycles; later applied to similarly unsteady automobiles such as the early model Fords. Since the first bicycles lacked rubber tires and other modern cushioning conveniences and few roads were paved, their ride was something less than smooth and comfortable. The term was in use as early as 1874.
bucket of bolts An irreverent American slang term for an old run-down car that rattles and shakes noisily when moving, producing a sound similar to the rattling of a bucketful of bolts or screws.
meat wagon An ambulance. This slang expression alludes to the damaged human flesh transported to hospitals in these emergency vehicles.
We’ll need a couple of meatwagons. The minister and two other people were killed and … there’re a lot of injured. (E. McBain, Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here, 1971)
This expression often includes both paddy wagons and hearses.
paddy wagon A patrol wagon; an enclosed truck or van used by the police to transport prisoners; a Black Maria. Paddy, a corruption of the common Irish name Patrick, was once used as a nickname for anyone of Irish descent. Since many police officers in major cities at the turn of the century were Irish, their patrol wagons came to be known as paddy wagons by association. Although the ethnic implications were gradually lost after the 1920s, the expression has remained in widespread use.
Police who attempted to enforce city segregation rules met with a torrent of jeers, and several tennis players who sat down on the courts had to be carried to paddy wagons. (Aurora [Illinois] Beacon News, November 7, 1948)
panda car A police car. This British colloquialism undoubtedly alludes to the appearance of English police cars: small, white vehicles with a broad horizontal blue stripe along the middle.
rattletrap A rickety old car that rattles and clatters and shakes while in motion; a dangerously dilapidated vehicle.