tearing along the road with the cut-out open

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foxcowboy

Member
Turkish
Jean Stafford writes in her 1947 novel, The Mountain Lion:

"For a few minutes his joy was immediate and unspoiled, and then it was smashed and he remembered again what he had said to Molly in the tunnel, for through the quiet—all other noises were suspended for this new sound—came the roaring of the car, tearing along the road with the cut-out open, and he could see it, a scarlet Model A roadster with the top down as it appeared and disappeared in the lacy sarvis berry that grew along the bank."

I love how cinematic the passage is but what does "tearing along the road with the cut-out open" mean?

I landed on Cut (earthmoving) - Wikipedia while googling but didn't help much. I still can't picture it in my head. Are they going through an embankment?

Any ideas would be much appreciated!
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    "Tearing" means going very fast.

    And I think - though I may be wrong - that "with the cut-out open" means the same as "with the top down":
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I was unfamiliar with this use of this word, and like Loob I guessed it might be the top, but it appears to be this, given in the OED:

    In an internal-combustion engine, a valve through which exhaust gases can escape without passing through the silencer.

    Some examples they give confirm that people sometimes drove this way:

    1907 Public Opinion 17 May 628/2 The attention of the Committee of the Royal Automobile Club has been called to the increase in the use of sirens and exhaust cut-outs by certain motorists.
    1908 Westm. Gaz. 5 May 4/3 I opened the cut-out, and applied the exhaust whistle.
    1926 T. E. Lawrence Seven Pillars (subscribers' ed.) xcv. 505 The cars, with closed cut-out, would..carry the trenches by surprise.
     

    foxcowboy

    Member
    Turkish
    "Tearing" means going very fast.

    And I think - though I may be wrong - that "with the cut-out open" means the same as "with the top down":
    The "he" in the passage, Ralph, is obsessed with roadsters as his crush has a boyfriend who has one. So maybe that could explain Stafford's repetition of the same thing, but with different words? As if he can't take his eyes off it?

    Thank you Loob!
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    A cutout is a "Y" shaped piece of piping that fits on an exhaust pipe of a car. The idea is that the normal exhaust pipe has a silencer (AE = muffler) box through which the noise and exhaust gases must flow - a cut out allows the gases and noise to escape without passing through the silencer/muffler box. When this happens the exhaust note develops a loud roar. The cutout is usually operated automatically when a certain pressure is reached within the exhaust pipe.

    The theory is that the silencer/muffler reduces the power output of the engine.

     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    The "he" in the passage, Ralph, is obsessed with roadsters as his crush has a boyfriend who has one. So maybe that could explain Stafford's repetition of the same thing, but with different words? As if he can't take his eyes off it?

    Thank you Loob!
    I was wrong, foxcowboy:oops:.

    See etb's and Paul's answers!
     

    foxcowboy

    Member
    Turkish
    I was unfamiliar with this use of this word, and like Loob I guessed it might be the top, but it appears to be this, given in the OED:

    In an internal-combustion engine, a valve through which exhaust gases can escape without passing through the silencer.

    Some examples they give confirm that people sometimes drove this way:

    1907 Public Opinion 17 May 628/2 The attention of the Committee of the Royal Automobile Club has been called to the increase in the use of sirens and exhaust cut-outs by certain motorists.
    1908 Westm. Gaz. 5 May 4/3 I opened the cut-out, and applied the exhaust whistle.
    1926 T. E. Lawrence Seven Pillars (subscribers' ed.) xcv. 505 The cars, with closed cut-out, would..carry the trenches by surprise.
    A cutout is a "Y" shaped piece of piping that fits on an exhaust pipe of a car. The idea is that the normal exhaust pipe has a silencer (AE = muffler) box through which the noise and exhaust gases must flow - a cut out allows the gases and noise to escape without passing through the silencer box. (The theory is that the silencer reduces the power out-put of the engine.)
    Aha! Amazing -thank you very much entangledbank and PaulQ!
     
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