I noticed that questions on trucks are generally welcome on EL&U.

The truck in the picture below is called "bisarca", a single Italian word. Translating "bisarca" with Italian-English dictionaries, I found "transporter" (a large vehicle used to carry heavy objects) and "car transporter" (a large vehicle used to carry cars). The former seems very general to me, and the latter is formed by two words. I'm therefore wondering if a single English word exists to name this kind of trucks:

enter image description here

  • 6
    Note that many, many single words in other languages are two (or more) words in English. So you can't always count on there being a single word translation for everything. There's usually a wellrecognised phrase you can use though.
    – Mr Lister
    Oct 20, 2012 at 13:16
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    Well, I wasn't expecting to come to this site to learn a new world in my native language :) Thanks, I did not know they were called bisarche!
    – nico
    Oct 20, 2012 at 14:31
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    If Wikipedia is to be believed, it's a Semi-trailer truck with a "car hauler" or "auto transport" semi-trailer. Oct 20, 2012 at 16:52
  • 1
    If this single word is found, you will never use it enough times to offset the number of words you wasted on writing this question. And, most people won't understand what you're talking about because that word will almost certainly be some trucker jargon.
    – Kaz
    Oct 20, 2012 at 18:39
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    @Kaz: our goal in life is not necessarily to minimize the total number of words we use. A thousand words spent here to come up with a less wordy phrase to use in "real life" can be well worth it.
    – LarsH
    Oct 20, 2012 at 20:38

6 Answers 6


I think Andrew Leach's answer may be UK-specific. I am in the US and have never heard them called transporters. Regionally, at least, we call them car carriers. Yes, that's two words, but there is no single-word equivalent. A Google image search for "car carrier" turns up a bunch of pictures similar to the search for "transporter lorry".

  • 4
    I've called them car carriers ever since I was a kid and played with one of these.
    – J.R.
    Oct 20, 2012 at 13:02

The single word is, in fact, transporter.

If you search Google Images for transporter lorry (adding lorry gets rid of VW Transporter vans) then by far the majority look like this from http://www.freefoto.com/preview/21-26-35/Car-Transporter. Note that the word car doesn't appear in the search, but does appear in most of the results.


  • 2
    I'm British, and I agree we call these things [car] transporters. But if you check the UK/US corpuses in NGrams for car transporter you'll see UK prevalence is 0.0000008%, where the corresponding US value is 5-6 times lower at 0.00000015%, so I guess we're looking at a UK/US difference here. Oct 20, 2012 at 13:11
  • 3
    Isn't every truck a transporter?
    – Kris
    Oct 20, 2012 at 15:13
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    @Kris, in the UK, if one "drives a transporter" then the picture shows what that is. Any other sort of transporter needs qualification. And other types of lorry have different names, too.
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 20, 2012 at 15:16
  • @Kris: Not broken-down ones. Oct 20, 2012 at 18:44
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    @EdwinAshworth: those would be broken-down transporters. :-)
    – LarsH
    Oct 20, 2012 at 20:39

The picture you show is a car transporter (at least in the UK...), and there is no single word for it.

It is often shortened to transporter as Andrew Leach mentions, but that also applies to other transporters, such as tank transporters, container transporters, cattle transporters, caravan transporters, and so on, so it is too generic to apply only to lorries that carry cars.


Back in the 70's when CB radio was "in" and CW McCall had his hit Convoy, the Trucker Slang for the car carrier was

A Parkin' Lot

And along those same lines:

Bull Rack = Livestock carrier
Sand Box = Dump truck
Salt Shaker = Snow plow
Garbage Hauler = Refrigerated truck for carrying perishables
Cheese Wagon = Schoolbus


Here's what Google Images search says for your image. (However, I'm located in Montreal; it may skew the results.)

Best guess for this image: auto carriers


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    It is apparent from the results that the phrase refers to the transport service, not the vehicle. e.g. 'FS Auto Carriers is bringing service back to the car carrier industry' ...
    – Kris
    Oct 21, 2012 at 3:58
  • That is a bogus search. You put "Auto Carrier" in the description. If you call it a "big truck with cars on it" the result is "Auto Transporter". Oct 22, 2012 at 15:00
  • @MattЭллен Google puts "Auto carrier" there, sorry. I know it looks dubious. Try it yourself with the URL of the image from the OP. Oct 22, 2012 at 15:07
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    @Fuhrmanator - I apologise. Oct 22, 2012 at 15:24

I found several references to this kind of vehicle as car truck, while car transporter refers to a company that operates these vehicles.

As others have already stated, it's also called car transporter in some countries.

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