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Cast Your Vote For the 2015 Hooniversal Car of the Year!

Deartháir December 31, 2014 Featured, Hooniversal Car of the Year 37 Comments

HCOTY-2014-Lead2014 has been, if anything, a confused year in the automotive industry. If anything, we have not so much lost our way, as we have found a few dozen others. The path before us, as automotive enthusiasts, is so splintered that we’re not quite sure what the future truly holds.

On the one hand, more and more manufacturers are buying into the ideals that Audi thrust to the forefront back in 2006 with the R10 TDI, showing that efficiency and excitement were not completely mutually exclusive, contrary to what Toyota had been demonstrating. Efficiency can help the fun, not hurt it. When racing, it means less time in the pits and more time spent out on the track. Out in the real world, it means more time spent carving through the mountains, and less time spent stopped at the gas station, making sweet love to the back of your Mustang.

The problem is that so many auto manufacturers seem to treat them as two separate divisions of the same company. There’s the fun department, where a damn-the-torpedoes-and-dead-dinosaurs-full-steam-ahead mentality prevails. Then there is another department where they make these bland, uninspiring, heavy, depressing hybrid or efficiency-focused cars. The two departments never speak to each other, and we the consumer are forced to choose between something fun, or something we can afford.

And yet, somehow, in 2014, that all started to change. Volvo abandoned V6 and V8 engines altogether, focusing on more powerful, more efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Ford continued full-bore into its EcoBoost program, proving it wasn’t just a flash-in-the-pan marketing gimmick, and the EcoBoost Mustang, while still not even competition for the Coyote-powered version, is not bad at all, with plenty of fun to be had in an efficient package. Toyota even took some teetering, tentative steps forwards into the realm of making cars that don’t just suck horribly are a bit more fun. And then, at the biggest race in the world, the three front-running marques were all hybrids, with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro doing battle with a 2.0L V4-multi-turbo-multi-hybrid lightweight Porsche, and a mutant one-seat Toyota Prius with a bad attitude. It’s a good year to be a dead dinosaur. You may yet have a chance to escape being turned into smoke and noise.

Oh, but wait. On the other hand, this was also the year Saudi Arabia decided to remind the world who’s really the boss in the oil-production business, and as a response to the Alberta oilsands and American shale oil extraction programs gradually pushing them out of their position of dominance, the Saudis opened the taps. All the way. Full production, full speed, a giant sandy middle finger aimed at North America. And when we received this huge slap in the face, we all cheered, because our gasoline prices started to drop faster than Yahoo! shares. And all of a sudden, efficiency didn’t matter. And all of a sudden, lustful eyes were turned away from EcoBoost Mustangs or sexy Lamborghini hybrids, and turned towards big blocks and noise.

And into this, perfectly timed, Chrysler introduces the Hellcat. A huge, Victorian-era monstrosity that goes as far in the opposite direction of efficiency as it possibly can. It’s made of cast-iron and lead with blocks of concrete for downforce. It’s an old platform, lazily designed, barely updated, and largely irrelevant. But designing an efficient platform is ridiculously expensive and time-consuming. Hybrid systems require research; energy-retrieval systems require space to accommodate them in the car. Lightweight materials, advanced composites and higher-strength steels usually require kidnapping European specialists in the middle of the night and smuggling them out in burlap sacks. If a fumbling company like Chrysler, who is finally starting to get its mojo back and produce some respectable vehicles, desperately needs to get some attention from the automotive press without actually developing anything worth reporting on, how do they do it? The equivalent of an autojourno handjob; stuff the biggest engine they can find into anything they can find that will take it. And the magazines and blogs all lapped it up like a kitten to milk. Fuck fuel efficiency! Nobody ever liked that shit anyhow!

And then, as the price of gas plummeted, we all looked at this crude spiky club of a car, and thought the sleek efficient rapiers looked pretty boring.

So now, as we cross into 2015, the industry looks poised for a shakedown. All the money has been in efficient cars… and suddenly the demand may shift in the other direction. One thing is for certain; if you’re an old car enthusiast, like all of us here at Hooniverse, you’re probably salivating just a bit, because you know that in a few years, there is going to be an incredible selection of interesting used cars out there to snap up for cheap prices and cannibalize for project cars. I can’t wait to see what the first Hellcat hot-rod looks like.

But that’s enough navel-gazing for one year. It’s time to review the candidates and choose which most deserves the title, which nomination most deserves your nod as representative of the year that was. And what do you know, not a hybrid in the bunch.


Tanshanomi started us off by pretty much ignoring all the rules and guidelines I’ve handed out behind the scenes over the years. No new cars, no motorcycles, no bone-stock production vehicles. But honestly, if you’re going to break the rules, doing it with a car that does break all the rules is not a bad way to do it. I got a slew of texts, Facebook chats and iMessages when that post went live. “WTF is that? It’s a new car nominated for HCOTY?” Yeah… but you know what? He’s right. It is pretty goddamned awesome.

This was followed up by ol’ Rusty, Chris Haining, playing to the audience the way Chrysler played to the autojournalists. I’m saying he gave you a handjob, ladies and gentlemen, in case I wasn’t quite graphic enough on that. He nominated the car in your garage right now. A more shameful show of pandering to the populace I’ve scarcely seen. Although… it has to be said, I am quite madly in love with the Corrado that’s sitting directly underneath me in my garage at this moment. So if that’s the car he’s referring to… oh hell, I’ll vote for that.

HCOTY Targa Truck

And then, with the nuclear bomb equivalent of a throwdown, Brendan tossed the Targa Truck into the ring. I mean… it’s just hard to argue against that. It’s fame comes from Targa Newfoundland, my personal favourite race series anywhere, because that’s what the Corrado is being built for. It’s big, mean, and bitch-slaps Ferraris. And it’s self-built, ran with almost no support, and involved a father-son team. I mean, come on. That’s almost not fair at all.

Volvo C303 Blipshift hcoty 2014

If you’re going to follow the Targa Truck, you’re going to need to bring some heavy weaponry. And a military vehicle is probably the best way to do it. Kamil, then, nominated the BlipShift Volvo C303. I admit, I have a huge soft spot for one of these. I’ve always wanted one, and if I couldn’t find a Unimog, I’d be giving this some very, very serious thought. Now, the question is, does even a military vehicle have the stones to stand up to the other nominees, because it’s a tough field.

Dodge-Charger-Hellcat-HCOTY

And then… Jeff nominated the Hellcat. Seriously, it was a great handjob. I mean, did nobody read the memo I sent out?

In classic OleLongRoofFan fashion, the next nominee made me genuinely laugh out loud. It’s a daily-driven ’88 Buick Skyhawk wagon. And you know what? Why the hell not? It’s awesome, in exactly the way we want cars to be awesome at Hooniverse; precisely because they ARE awesome, not because of fancy paint, not because of celebrity endorsements, and not because of any posturing or drama. It’s awesome because it’s doing exactly the job it was built to do, and it’s still doing it long, long, LONG after it should have died a horrible death.

Now, if you’re going to step up to the plate against the Targa truck, and if you want to slap the Hellcat around with more authority than a Navy SEAL confronting a schoolyard bully, you’d better bring something big. Something beastly. Something… like the Beast of Turin. And if you want to watch someone try and word-wrestle against Brendan’s Targa Truck nomination, I don’t think anyone did it better than Alan Cesar. Seriously, just go read the nomination. That’s some great writing. I seriously can’t wait for that documentary.

HCOTY-Challenger

You know, at least Antti had a valid excuse for nominating a new car. I’m not sure it’s enough to win my vote, but it’s not my vote that matters. His choice of his Challenger road-trip car is awash in nostalgia, and emblematic of an experience that will likely never be forgotten. I think we’ve all had a car like that: something otherwise mediocre or insignificant, in which we had one of our great adventures, that earns that car a place in our heart. Hell, I’m convinced the Camaro marque is still around mostly because so many kids lost their virginity in them in the 1980’s.

HCOTY-brennan

Just when I think I’m well decided, Jim Brennan steps up to the plate ticking all my fancies. It’s a work car, a vehicle with a purpose, which somehow always makes them better. It’s an old AMC, which has been my brand since I rebuilt the engine in a Rambler back in my teens with nothing more than a socket set and a pry-bar. And it’s a generally unloved and derided car. Let’s face it folks, this is the essence of Hooniverse. I… am actually having a hard time even considering any other nominees, because this Gremlin is so perfectly Hooniverse, it would feel wrong to choose anyone else.

HCOTY-Truck-Optima

It takes some balls to step into the ring after all those nominees have been thrown out, but Jason Connor didn’t shy away for a moment, and the racing Apache he nominated makes… one hell of an argument. It has all the elements of most of the other vehicles nominated, bits of the Targa Truck, bits of the Beast, bits of everyone. So really, it’s the compromise candidate. If you can’t decide between the other nominations, the Apache awaits you.

So what say you, ladies and gentlemen? Who deserves the coveted green participation ribbon Hooniversal Car of the Year Trophy?

Choose the Hooniversal Car of the Year for 2014!

  • The Hurst System Rescue Gremlin (20%, 35 Votes)
  • The Beast of Turin (16%, 28 Votes)
  • The Targa Truck (16%, 27 Votes)
  • The Hellcat (13%, 22 Votes)
  • The car in your garage right now (12%, 21 Votes)
  • Blipshift Volvo C303 (9%, 16 Votes)
  • Buick Skyhawk Wagon (6%, 10 Votes)
  • Racing Apache (3%, 6 Votes)
  • Antti's Challenger R/T (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Polaris Slingshot (2%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 173

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Voting will be open until January 1, 2015 at 23:59:59 California Time. As per all previous rules, I remain the arbiter of fair voting. So share this post as much as you like, but if we start seeing cheating or foul play (as defined by me), I reserve the right to disqualify any contestant. So no running off to forums to get 10,000 people to separately click the button for your choice, or any sort of jerk moves like that. Got it? Good.

Ready… set… GO.

  • Krush454

    I vote for the car in my garage right now, my 2014 scion xB, affectionately called the toaster.

    • I vote for the car in my garage, too. My 1997 SAAB 900s 5dr named Garrus, license plate: SAABING.

      Hopefully 2015 puts it back on the road.

      (Side note; if any of you guys spot a cheap, rust-free 1994-1998 SAAB 900 5dr I can use as a parts car in the capital region of NY… lemme know.)

  • Alff

    Happy New Year, Hoons.

  • Deartháir

    Drinking and voting! That combination has never gone wrong! Except that one time in 2000.

  • ptschett

    I voted for the Hellcat hours ago and I'd do it again. The car in my garage is practically Antti's Challenger, except mine is a few model years older; and unless something terrible happens I fully expect to be replacing that car with a 2015 Challenger R/T (complete with the ZF 8-speed automatic.)

  • Hopman

    Just voted for the Hurst Rescue Gremlin. I've had a soft spot for Gremlins for an oddball reason: I built a "stage" version out of plywood for a show (local community theater production of "Full Montey") I was working on. A buddy of mine & myself spent almost 50 hours building the thing and it was on stage for all of 15 minutes. In midst of all that, I started researching them and came across the Hurst version.

    May it win the Hoon COTY!

  • smith

    Driftruck FTW!

  • Sjalabais

    I'd have voted the Beast of Turin because it is so scary cool, it's almost too much to handle. Throw in endless amounts of respect for the restoration process, and this is a sure win. But, as someone noted in the presentation thread, the film on it comes out in 2015 and will create a solid amount of interest then – so I'd see it as a 2015 HCOTY contender.

    So I fell back on the Hellcat, for obvious, awe-inspiring reasons, and the Volvo. Had to cast my vote for the latter one as I've strived to fullfil my role as VPE here and in other spots, and thus enjoy greatly the renewed attention on this obscure shoeboxes.

    Btw, the post-vote-screen is not shown in Firefox 34.0.5. Had to refresh and click "view the results".

    • Alff

      Given the nomination process, I'd be surprised to see it return. I was compelled to vote for it, even though I'd most like to have the Volvo as a DD.

      • Sjalabais

        Yeah, you're right – might become my SCOTY. If daily drivability is a solid criteria to go after, the Beast has some issues, too.

  • I am reading back through all of these now to try to decide whoeversoeth shall gain my coveted singular vote. And it is a challenge, Hooniverse is an awesome place and HCOTY never disappoints!

    In case any one else is doing the same, it seems the link for Kamil's entry is missing. So here you go: the BlipShift Volvo C303!!

  • Hey! Somebody voted for the Slingshot! I'm kind of shocked.
    (I didn't even vote for it, and I'm the one who nominated it.)

    • skitter

      I randomly wound up talking with one of its engineers at Road America this year. It's a really cool project. I'm trying to think of it like a road bike equivalent to a side-by-side's mountain bike.

      That said, I'm sure it fits in the back of the Targa Truck.

  • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    Shoot can't vote, it just shows me the results. Happy new year none the less to all of you, cheers!

    edit: I just noticed, neat! One time I drove an Amazon across water like that to get to work (bad advice from security guard), the trick is to get enough speed so you sort of turn into a boat for a while pointed in the right direction. It's pretty scary really.

    • Sjalabais

      Did that once in my '77 242. Sputtering engine, I started to float at about half the water crossed. Aimlessly. Never again! Came out at an angle, with dramatically reduced speed. Engine didn't die after all, but it was a close one…

    • As I recall from previous years' voting: something something cookies something hard refresh something. Something.

  • OA5599

    I think the Hurst Gremlin is the most Hoonworthy. It hits all the buttons for innovation, utility, significance, the Hurst connection, and longevity. And I appreciate the irony that when lives were at stake as recently as the 21st century, they relied on a Malaise-era AMC Gremlin to be able to run and drive.

    But I could not bring myself to vote for it as HCOTY because the Y in that acronym stands for "year", and I don't see any significant connection to 2014. It's now a PR tool instead of a rescue tool. It should have been HCOTY for the year in which it was decertified.

    I didn't want to cast my vote for a new car, but that's what I ended up doing. I went with the Hellcat. Chrysler took a cop car, stuffed it full of more horsepower than just about anything else around, and priced it where you can hoon it without having to sell any of your vital organs. It's the Hemi Roadrunner reincarnated and under warranty.

  • I can't seem to vote, but my vote was going to go to the Beast of Turin. There's no replacement for displacement…or sparks shooting out the exhaust.

  • citroen67

    I voted for the Targa Truck, because I have a huge soft spot for old Chevy trucks.

  • UDman

    So once again, I voted for my own entry over all the other nominees… However, that doesn't mean I don't like the others, on the contrary, I admire most of the other nominees because they are awesome. How can you not admire the Beast of Turin… How can you ignore the Targa Newfoundland Chevy Truck… How can you not be impressed with the Chevrolet Apache… This was a strong year for the nominees, and it was great.

  • boostedlegowgn

    I've refreshed, reloaded, and opened this thing in three different browsers. I'd assume it won't let me vote because Canada, but then again, a Canadian compiled this list. What gives?

    • Number_Six

      I voted from Canuckistan on my OnePlus One Android phablet thingy.

    • racer139

      Canukustanian here. I voted and did it on a two year old updated(crappy really) droid… And it let me.

  • Man oh man, another year and another bumper crop of HCOTY nominees! This place never does disappoint, that is for sure. Once again, I think I know which cars I like, and then I read the write-ups, and you fellows' powers of positive persuasion come out, and I agree with each and every one!

    This tight deadline is serious, Mr. Áir, although I am guessing it makes it a bit more of a challenge for certain Eastern Blocs of voters (or perhaps Far Easterners?) to crash the party. So here goes, briefly, my rationale for 2014's HCOTY!

    10. Optimal Apache. Because if it ain't driftin', it ain't racin'! Joking aside, I don't know the story here, it looks a little like more money than dirty fingernails (I may be wrong here, but it comes off very slick to me), and since I don't feel a personal connection, I started here. I would also love to drive it.

    9. Hell's Own Cat! I must agree to disagree with the assessment above, I don't think it is entirely a Flintstones' dinosaur in the Jetsons' future (I smell a crossover special!). 707hp with 22mpg highway rated, compared with what I can find on the 426 Hemi, 12.5mph highway with a two barrel carb that got left on the car by no one ever?! Just incredible, I say. But, it's a new car, so…

    8. Two Lane Blacktop. Here by virtue of the new car-ness only. And because anywhere in the top ten (or whatever each year) of this list is still the 1% of the car world worth carrying about. I think Antti getting to drive this car on the PCH is awesome, and I enjoyed reading about it! I think the story beats the car though, and I think there could have been more in making the drive in a car with more personality. By which I mean old, I am sort of biased in that direction.

    7. Shroud of Turin. Speaking of old, if you believe in things like 'carbon dating', you might be able to trace the ancient origins of this stupendous automobile. I want to see the movie, and I really want to stand behind it when they fire it up at the starting line like a nitro dragster. I feel like this is next year's winner, out too soon–I want to see her drive!

    6. Willow the Rabbit. This is probably the best written nomination of the bunch. I absolutely believe cars have personalities, and you know what? Sometimes that personality might be just a little bit dicky. But I had to dock points for the easy out. I will however, continue to look forward to all the things Mr. Haining writes, I an very glad he is here at Hooniverse to share with us. I hope to someday manage to be in the same pub as you and buy you a beer, sir, and I mean that in the most non-creepy internet stalker way possible!

    5. Burger Eating Buick. Ol' Longrooffan, you are my hero, and my idol when it comes to making friends with Hoonworthy strangers. I admire your new friend's consistency in automobiles. Maybe I just can't picture myself driving this? Welcome to the top 5, keep those folksy takes coming!

    4. Groovy Gremlin. OA5599 hit this one exactly right in his comment above, that's just how I feel. Awesome? Yes. Connected to this year? Tenuously. Great research on a hidden gem, Jim, thanks for digging into it!

    3. Power of Polaris! I can't believe I am doing this, because see new 'car' opinions above. But it's a freaking modern three wheeled Morgan, which is only like the coolest thing ever. And it is a company getting out of their element to try something new. An American company, which makes a difference inside myself, however much of a homer that makes me. If Tanshanomi had brought one, and used it to recreate a back highway road trip his grandfather took in a Morgan, well then, I'd probably rank it number one.

    2. Boxy But Good. A bs-ing conversation about projects leads to ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq suggesting a solution to a different problem leads to remembering the original problem and realizing the solution was in fact the answer. To that other question. Hoons helping Hoons buy obscure surplus military hardware. And then they drove (are driving) it. Nicely done Kamil!

    1. Targa! Targa! Targa! Just incredible fun. Step one-get a beater as soon as possible in your Hoon life. Step two-fix up said beater, learn valuable life skills. Step three-??? Step four-profit.

    Who knew the ??? would turn out to be kick ass at a Canadian rally? This guy:

    <img src="https://theblock.com/sites/default/files/styles/inline_article/public/photos/times_change_1997-wm.jpg&quot; width="600/">
    Congratulations Targa Truck, you have earned the highest honor I personally have to give, my single HCOTY vote!

    If I may, I would like to offer an end of year thanks to everyone here, writers and commenters alike, for making Hooniverse such a awesome community! This continues to be one of my favorite spots on the webs!

    • Vairship

      And in return, let me offer a year-end thanks to you to keeping our beloved Atomic Toasters going despite the meltdown!
      How's the progress coming, will 2015 be the year the control rods are removed and comments will pop up lightly crisped again?

  • ninjacoco

    Chris pandered to us with bunnies.

    The car in my [carport] has a bunny on the roof.

    I think we know what the obvious winner should be: my Porschelump 944. Duh. Do it for the bunnies. (Bunnies always want to do it anyway.)

  • sporty88au

    I voted for the Hurst System Rescue Gremlin – it just looks the most Hoonworthy.

    Honorable mention to the Beast of Turin – who (aside from the green lobby) couldn't like a hundred-year-old fire-breathing monster – and the Targa Truck – a home-built farm truck that carries an Elmo doll wrapped around part of it's roll cage and can kick Ferrari ass.

    I probably would have gone for the car in my garage right now, except my garage is so full of parts, tools, 'Tuesday answers' and other detritus that there is no room for a car. Before anybody says it, I know I need a bigger garage.

  • NotJustDucky

    Well, I certainly couldn't vote for the car truck in my garage driveway. I've been propping that thing up beyond its last legs for months now.

    For me it's a toss-up between the Hurst Gremlin and the Skyhawk wagon. The Gremlin is a funky car in and of itself, but the addition of the rescue gear makes me want to go binge-watch episodes of Emergency! on Netflix.

    The Skyhawk, on the other hand, is a car that I would daily drive. I have a soft spot for J-bodies anyway, having owned three of them at various points in the mid '90s. My first car was an '84 Sunbird hatchback. After that died I replaced it with a Skyhawk of my own, but mine was the coupe. The "B" in the "BUICK" that boldly filled the middle panel between the brake lights was partially broken when I bought the car, so I further reduced it to just "ICK", which I felt was appropriate for a brown car (and even more so when I replaced the driver's door with one that was white, which my buddies were all too happy to remind me looked like a piece of TP stuck to a turd). The only drawback with the nominated wagon in my eyes is that because it's an '88, it has the 2L pushrod Chevy motor instead of the smoother 1.8 OHC lump that the BOPs got up until 1986. On the whole, though, it's practical, (probably) economical, and unique enough that just driving it around would be its own fun.

  • NOT SOLELY IN LAST PLACE! WOO-HOO!

    <img src="http://tanshanomi.com/temp/bul-winner.jpg"&gt;