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Captain Muppet

Original Poster:

8,062 posts

150 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
Hello,

We've all heard of nearside and offside of a car, and some of us even know which is which. But does anyone know why these terms got invented when we already had the universal and much more simple "left" and "right"?

I've had a quick google, but the results all seem to defining the terms using varying degrees of confusion, rather than explaining why anyone would invent such a system in the first place.

Now I've spent enough time with mechanics to know that confusion about this sort of thing is exactly what you look for before slipping an extra 80% to the bill for reconditioning the frimblebleem housing and cranocking the rumble guides*, but other than that what was wrong with left and right?

I've asked people about this, and they all say that left and right is confusing because no one knows whether you mean left as you look at the car** or left as you sit in the car. And I could understand it if those same people got confused about which side the steering wheel is on in a LHD car, which they don't. It's the left side, obviously.

Now nearside is obviously the side nearest the driver kerb, but which is the nearside of a GDM but UK registered E30 M3 parked facing on-coming traffic in Paris? Whatever the answer I'm pretty sure it'll be defined in terms of left and right, so why introduce such a ridiculous pair of terms?

I've heard people blaming the people who make cars for this deliberate confusion, but the fact is that the car industry has been using the international standard of left and right for decades. It's simpler, because you don't have to label half the parts in your factory wrong depending on which country the car they get fitted to will finally end up in. This is why OEM parts are labeled with little Ls and Rs.

So, nearside and offside:
- Terms invented to create confusion in order to make simple things seem more complex and therefore make money from them?
- Terms left over from horse-riding/sailing/fishing that somehow still get crammed in to the vocabulary despite not being relevant?
- Terms that are actually simpler the using left or right, but for reasons that are too complex to explain to people who don't already understand them (such as people trying to order a spare wing for a Mustang parked upside down in a garage in Okinawa at 05:59 of 30th July 1978***)?
- Something else.

Over to the enormo-brains of PH to clear this up. I can't hear or read either term without thinking someones about to charge me 500 quid for bleeding the chassis fluid and rotating my brakes.





* the offside ones are always a pain to replace because you have to lower the grindle casting which is always tangled up in the petril snoot lines, plus you need a 13.5mm box-ended ratchet monkey to get it loose.

** which could even be the roof if you happen to be laying down and feeling particularly obtuse.

*** yes, OK, so that's a tiny number of people and chances are they've resolved the issue since then, but you get the point, surely? It's a right hand wing, it that makes any difference.

chris7676

2,462 posts

105 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
I agree.

Perhaps the term comes from someone who couldn't tell left from right but obviously could tell the verge from the middle of the road?

chris7676

2,462 posts

105 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
mini1380cc said:
left or right can be confused by which direct you are looking at the car. Nearside can only be nearside.
You are left!

Krikkit

5,049 posts

66 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
mini1380cc said:
left or right can be confused by which direct you are looking at the car. Nearside can only be nearside.
True, but all you do is define the left and right as from the driver's seat, saves a lot of confusion.

chris7676

2,462 posts

105 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
Krikkit said:
True, but all you do is define the left and right as from the driver's seat, saves a lot of confusion.
Not true, this is always assumed in the same way the side of a person or an animal, regardless if they are upside down, turned or not. Some people just can't tell it it seems.
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JustNeil

597 posts

112 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
Is it not the same as port & starboard on ships? So you can refer to the correct side regardless of whether you are in front or behind the car you're talking about?

Left could mean passenger side, or drivers side if you are looking from in front of the car, but nearside is always nearside.

I don't know for sure, but it makes sense to me

marshalla

10,551 posts

86 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
The nearside is the side of the horse nearest you when you mount. Conventionally, and almost exclusively, this is the left.

tvrolet

2,647 posts

167 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
Wait for the fun working on American engines, where most of the manuals/parts/instructions refer to driver side or passenger side. When the engine is just sitting on your garage floor you've always got to do a quick check - what way does it point in the car, and then where does an American driver sit.

[trivia]
Port and Starboard are the way they are becuase most folks are right handed. Before boats had rudders centrally mounted at the back, they had big paddle thingy (or 'board') at the side of the boat at the back...the steer board. Just like a rudder but at the side, and you controlled the tiller with one hand - for most folks their right hand, so the steerboard was on the right. When you came in to port you didn't want to bash your steerboard against the quay, so you tied up with the port on your left. Ergo port os left and starboard is right.
[/trivia]

Captain Muppet

Original Poster:

8,062 posts

150 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
JustNeil said:
Left could mean passenger side, or drivers side if you are looking from in front of the car, but nearside is always nearside.
mini1380cc said:
left or right can be confused by which direct you are looking at the car. Nearside can only be nearside.
Reading the OP is for nerds.

Captain Muppet said:
I've asked people about this, and they all say that left and right is confusing because no one knows whether you mean left as you look at the car or left as you sit in the car. And I could understand it if those same people got confused about which side the steering wheel is on in a LHD car, which they don't. It's the left side, obviously.

Now nearside is obviously the side nearest the driver kerb, but which is the nearside of a GDM but UK registered E30 M3 parked facing on-coming traffic in Paris? Whatever the answer I'm pretty sure it'll be defined in terms of left and right, so why introduce such a ridiculous pair of terms?
So the nearside of the GDM but UK registered E30 M3 parked facing on-coming traffic in Paris is? I'm not sure, and it's my question. I'm pretty bloody sure which side of it is the left side though, it's the side with the steering wheel.

Edited by Captain Muppet on Thursday 17th January 13:16

Captain Muppet

Original Poster:

8,062 posts

150 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
marshalla said:
The nearside is the side of the horse nearest you when you mount. Conventionally, and almost exclusively, this is the left.
Chatting to some horsey people over lunch that does seem to be where it comes from. There was some speculation that it stops your sword getting in the way.

It's not a great fit for cars though, as you almost exclusively mount a car from the side with the steering wheel.

Motorcycles are mostly mounted from the left though. Weird.

kambites

40,433 posts

106 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
You only get into cars from the right because you have no choice. It'd be safer more of the time to enter/exit any vehicle from the kerb-side than the road-side.

Captain Muppet

Original Poster:

8,062 posts

150 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
kambites said:
You only get into cars from the right because you have no choice. It'd be safer more of the time to enter/exit any vehicle from the kerb-side than the road-side.
Just one of many reasons motorcycles and horses are safer than cars wink

kambites

40,433 posts

106 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
Captain Muppet said:
kambites said:
You only get into cars from the right because you have no choice. It'd be safer more of the time to enter/exit any vehicle from the kerb-side than the road-side.
Just one of many reasons motorcycles and horses are safer than cars wink
Maybe we should all just buy Mclaren F1s?

Captain Muppet

Original Poster:

8,062 posts

150 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
kambites said:
Maybe we should all just buy Mclaren F1s?
Good plan!

>checks wallet and pops off to the classifieds section<

Oh.

>googles for Sinclair C5s for sale instead<

kambites

40,433 posts

106 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
Aeon GT3? biggrin

Captain Muppet

Original Poster:

8,062 posts

150 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
kambites said:
Aeon GT3? biggrin
It'd be cheaper to order the motorsport steering rack and convert my S1 Elise to central driving position. I'd forgotten I could do that.

kambites

40,433 posts

106 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
Captain Muppet said:
kambites said:
Aeon GT3? biggrin
It'd be cheaper to order the motorsport steering rack and convert my S1 Elise to central driving position. I'd forgotten I could do that.
The fact you only end up with one seat would be a bit of a bind.

braddo

4,353 posts

73 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
Captain Muppet said:
Chatting to some horsey people over lunch that does seem to be where it comes from. There was some speculation that it stops your sword getting in the way.
Wouldn't the sword have always been on the person's right hand side which would make mounting a horse from the right hand side easier (i.e. not needing to get the sword over the back of horse)? Not that I ride horses, or carry swords, so it is of little importance to me!

In any case, using 'nearside' and 'offside' for cars is peculiar to the UK and a fking stupid convention. soapbox

Captain Muppet

Original Poster:

8,062 posts

150 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
kambites said:
The fact you only end up with one seat would be a bit of a bind.
I could sell the seat to pay for the rack.

Also I have no friends.

kambites

40,433 posts

106 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th January 2013 quote quote all
If you're right-handed, you'd wear a sword on your left hip (or over your left shoulder).
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