McLaren 650S Spider: An open-top time machine

What happens when you have an automaker that learns about going fast by winning races on one of the world’s greatest stages? You wind up with truly superior road-going cars, and you’re obviously talking about McLaren. It’s been decades since the McLaren F1 rocked our minds, yet we still speak …

Podcast: Episode 97 – Pop pop pop…

In this episode Blake and I are initially joined by producer Chrisy Hayes before taking a brief break and returning with Friends of Hooniverse Cory Burns and Zack Klapman. We talk about Blakes Miata, my HoonTruck, and the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Supercharged that I’m driving this week… and then …

Hooniverse Garage: DIY Installation of a Leaf Spring Lift

This week we’re kicking off a series of DIY maintenance, fixes and upgrades to my 1969 Jeep Wagoneer with the installation of a four inch lift from Hell Creek Suspension. With leaf springs front and rear, this is about as simple as suspension modifications get: jack it up, unbolt the …

Hooniverse’s Massively Oversized Guide to Motorsports, 2015

Every week, Hooniverse gives you a simple weekly guide to the looming weekend in motorsport. Racing in those previews runs the gamut from the unobtainium-grade engineering of Formula 1 to the duct-tape-and-beer-can-aluminum garage necesseering of the 24 Hours of LeMons. However, in a quest to simplify those previews and create …

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Front Beam Axle With Leaf Springs

Beam axle with leaf springs

Back when I had my ’66 GMC van, I was amazed on how basic and uncomplicated the front suspension was: A simple, solid axle bolted to two longitudinal leaf springs. It’s about the simplest front suspension one can imagine, and isn’t much different than the suspension on a horse-drawn frontier buckboard of 150 years ago (and why people complained that my van “rode like a buckboard”). No control arms or other linkages, just an axle, springs, and a couple of shocks. It doesn’t provide the best ride, and it’s not a terribly space efficient layout, but it is elegant in its simplicity, very robust, and can be maintained with basic mechanical skills and a few simple tools. (“Yeah! Impact wrench! VRRR VRRR!“)

In homage to my old van, today’s entry in the virtual tome that is Encyclopedia Hoonatica is vehicles with a solid beam axle and leaf springs up front. Lately, E-H queries have not been very technical, so I decided to lob out a question today that’s a little more deferential to those greasemonkeys who spend more time under cars than perusing sales brochures.

The caveats:

  • Passenger cars and light trucks only. We could name medium- and heavy-duty trucks until the cows come home. And then the cows could name a few more.
  • Rear wheel drive only. No 4x4s. A beam axle is not the same thing as a drive axle.
  • Front suspension only. We don’t care about what’s in the rear of your Dodge Caravan.
  • Since this was a fairly common configuration on many early vehicles, both common and obscure, let’s restrict the list to postwar vehicles.

Difficulty: Easy for some, a blank stare for others. Big bonus points for passenger cars.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates. Bonus points for adding photos. Remember, you can simply pasting in the image URL now, thanks to Disqus.

Image Source: Digz_MI’s Photobucket via The Vintage-Vans.com Forum

Hooniverse Asks: The Porsche Boxster – Future Collectable or Future 924?


Sometimes you get to ask yourself where should I put all this money? For most of us, being car enthusiasts means that the usual answer is to buy a car or truck that will, hopefully over time, appreciate in value. Some of the best investments of the past decade have been in air-cooled Porsches, the 911, 912 and 914 models having seen their values skyrocket in that time. It’s not just the Porsche name however, as while people have been fighting over the opportunity to throw cash at the air-cooled cars, the water-cooled Porsches haven’t seemed to enjoy the same attention.

In fact, while the 914 has seen values double in the past decade, the 924 – a car ostensibly intended as that model’s replacement – has tended to travel in the other direction, and in fact for a while the junk yards were littered with these unwanted models. Today, the older water-cooled 911s – the 996 model – track significantly lower in value compared to their immediate predecessors, the air-cooled 993 and 964. Step down a rung on the price ladder and you come to the subject of today’s question, the entry-level Boxster, which in its initial form shares much of the 996’s front architecture, its mundane dash, and water-cooling for its engine.

You can buy Boxters on the cheap today, usually way under ten grand. The question however, is should you do so as a good place to park your money and potentially see it multiply? Those who rolled the dice with the 924 never saw that rise occur, and the 928 has for some time been impossible to nail down with values all over the board. What about the Boxtser, do you think it is a future classic which makes it a good investment now? Or, is it a future 924?

Image: Government Auctions Blog

Weekend Edition: A Top Gear Epilogue


After years of entertainment, one must consider a future without BBC Top Gear. It will hardly be the same without Clarkson, and the BBC will hopefully not attempt to plaster on new faces and attempt to carry on as if nothing had happened. The name will live on in some form, and I believe there will be a reboot, but at the moment it’s all too vague to tell.

But as Top Gear had become a caricature of itself in recent years, I felt like I had already started living out a better, more satisfying version of the show. We’ve bought cheap cars with friends, we’ve completed epic roadtrips, we’ve sampled excellent new or nearly-new cars, almost as if we would fill out the void already before the show imploded. There have been absolutely ridiculous real-life moments that would have seemed completely scripted on TG UK. And when it comes to shows, I think Regular Car Reviews is Top Gear for me these days. Drive is Top Gear, The Smoking Tire is Top Gear. Harry’s Garage is Top Gear. You get the picture; it’s obvious Chris Harris does.

If there isn’t a satisfying reborn show in the cards, I think car enthusiasts will be just fine. The way Clarkson’s years ended was far from ideal – in fact, pretty much the exact opposite – but in the end, it had to end. We’ll just have to watch the classic clips over again, cherishing how good they were when they were really damned good.

Weekend Edition: Saab and Lancia remembered on Top Gear


Some of the excellent stuff BBC Top Gear did was remembering fallen manufacturers, like on the Cheap Car Challenge where they bought British-made sportscars and visited old premises of Lotus, Jensen and TVR. Elsewhere, their special films of two linked manufacturers who have been dying for years, Saab and Lancia, turned out to touch the hearts of anyone who ever gave a good god damn about those two makes.

It’s tragically funny that the Saab film was done in 2012, and Saab still tries to get back into form in some way, even if it means being an electric car maker. Lancia on the other hand consists almost entirely of Chryslers with Italian badges these days.

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Life After Top Gear: The 20:00 Void

Chris Haining March 29, 2015 Top Gear


What to do? There’s a 42″ black rectangle where there should be a moving image of something exotic being thrapped to within an inch of its carbon-fibre life. My Sunday Evening living room is no longer home-cinema filled with mind-blowing visuals, flat-plane crank V8 howls or tinkling piano-meets-Marina crashes.

With the house being freed of “witty” car-derived banter for an hour every Sunday, I feel at a bit of a loss as to how to satisfy my octane dependency. I could enter into discussions with my fiancé, debating the trade off  tyre profile and width vis-a-vis ride quality and refinement, but it would doubtless lead to a rapid and acrimonious divorce before the wedding bells have even stopped chiming. No. I need to find something else.

Or: Maybe there’s something else I could be doing? Maybe, now BST has arrived and we are assured of long, bright evenings, there’s something far more life-enriching I could be doing than being glued to my sofa for an hour every Sunday night? Maybe the answer is just outside my window?

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Weekend Edition: Volkswagen Golf GTI MkV on Top Gear (2004)


It’s nearly impossible to pick a single review out of all the brilliant ones BBC Top Gear ever did. However, the time when Jeremy introduced the fifth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI on the wet Dunsfold Aerodrome track, to the sounds of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence (as remixed by Linkin Park), everything really clicked.

This was about the time when TG was really getting good in its post-2002 iteration, and it’s a clip I return to, time after time. The way the show used soundtrack music has been unparalleled, and Depeche Mode works extremely well here.

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Weekend Edition: Mystery Car Sighting: The Westland Empire Aristocrat Edition


So awhiles back in my V.I.S.I.T. post about that Deux Chevaux this olelongrooffan had spotted, I mentioned I was returning from picking up TheKenMan’s generously provided AuctionsAmerica weekend pass for their auctions over the past few days. So on this past Saturday morning after making sure the underside of the lid of my washing machine was clean, (yeah that is a joke only a few of my fellow Hoons and thejeepjunkie will get), this olelongrooffan headed across Alligator Alley for the 93 minute drive to the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center there in the Port of the Everglades for the show that is Auctions America. Now while I was there I saw a whole bunch of cool ass carp, a lot of which I had seen before but it was cool to see it all once again. There was, however, one vehicle I have only seen in a partly obstructed view and that was here in the Hooniverse. Yes, it was one of the esteemed Mr. Esmlie’s Mystery Car posts from way back in 2011 which, surprisingly, this olelongrooffan remembered. Check that post out here and the ultimate identification of that ride by none other than commenter P161911. Yeah, my fellow Hoons, this olelongrooffan was pure assed flabbergasted to have spotted it and even more so to have remembered it. I guess the blue Skyy hasn’t killed all of the brain cells in this double nickeled aged old man.

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Weekend Edition: Top Gear Botswana Special (2007)


It’s difficult to say which of the Top Gear adventure specials feels the best. After careful thinking of at least five minutes, I decided to nominate the Botswana Special – it simply works so well, and there’s genuine affection towards the Opel Kadett, nicknamed “Oliver” by Richard Hammond. The car choices of the other two guys are brilliant as well, Clarkson’s car being the ridiculously inappropriate Lancia Beta and James May going for the indestructible Mercedes-Benz W123.

If one would attempt something in this scale, a Peugeot 504/505 would absolutely be the ticket. Then again, I would feel as bad stripping one to a bare chassis, as Hammond with his Opel, so it would have to remain untouched and un-improved.

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Weekend Edition: Top Gear £100 Car Challenge (2004)


One of the cheap car challenges BBC Top Gear did best, and one that speaks to Hooniverse-esque people the most, is the original one from Series 4. Given a seriously modest £100 budget and told to perform various tasks in questionable cars never fails to entertain, and it’s something I would like to try again and again.

The cars featured in the challenge were a Volvo 760, an Audi 80 and a Rover 216 GTi, all in various states of beaterness. Ever since seeing the episode, I’ve been tickled by the idea of getting something as cheaply as possible. It’s likely the purchase of my 350 euro Peugeot 205 was influenced by this, and I would like nothing more than get three seriously cheap cars with my petrolhead friends and try to see how long they could go with only token maintenance. When a Top Gear episode is fuel for adventures, it’s doing the same thing as a rock album would for a guitar strumming hopeful. It’s why all the Facebook car advert groups even exist, for people to foist terrible vehicles on each other. “You need this in your life!”

Weekend Edition: Top Gear Polar Special (2007)


One of the greatest “extreme” challenges BBC Top Gear ever did was the Polar Special, aired in July in 2007. Has it really been that long? The idea behind it was to reach the Magnetic North Pole by car, and their vehicle of choice was a modified 2006 Toyota Hilux, specced up by the Reykjavik-based Toyota Iceland subsidiary Arctic Trucks.

There’s something about North Pole being accessible by relatively average guys in a balloon-tired Hilux that really tingles my brain, and makes the episode so well worth watching. Obviously there’s goofing around, but not to the extent that it would make one reach for the skip button.

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