Experience the Lameness of First Wave Hybrids with this Canadian Artifact

Tim Odell October 23, 2014 For Sale

1979 Marathon Electric Hyrbid Prototype

Electric vehicles aren’t coming; they’re here. While Tesla gets all the press, there’s no shortage of EV or PHEVs from major OEMs. I’d put the technology on-par with early 90s cell phones: expensive and limited, but no longer outlandish. However, a couple gas crises, increasingly lame OEM cars and an uptick in under-occupied engineers during the 70s-80s caused small-run EV conversions and series hybrids to bloom like toxic algae. On paper, the potential is there: take something light, drop in a forklift motor and pile of batteries and you’re no longer dependent on Big oil! Man! Alas, every EV prior to GM’s EV1 suuuuuuuucked. Detractors claim the Model S’s battery technology still limits the practicality of the car, but it’s as though they’ve forgotten how lame these things were: sub-sub compact, 50mph top speed and maybe 50 mile range.

That said, we don’t mock the atlatl for being a crappy crossbow, we appreciate its place in history. Same with this early Marathon Electric hybrid prototype. Based on the Briggs and Stratton motor, and diagram in the article from the listing, this appears to be a series-hybrid setup. Somewhat cleverly, the rear of the vehicle is actually a trailer chassis (for holding the battery weight) while the front has some kind of FWD drivetrain of unknown origin. Rest assured, this thing serves no practical purpose that a golf cart or UTV couldn’t best it at, but I’m still a little curious what kind of range and performance it could get with a new set of high-capacity polymer batteries (they’re not included, of course) and a more modern generator. Might also big a cool instructional demo vehicle for a high school or college physics class. Not sure it’s $5,000 worth of cool instructional vehicle, though.

Seriously, though, check out article from The Montreal Gazette from 1980. It’s deliciously anachronistic, but eerily similar to today.

1979 Marathon Electric Hyrbid Prototype – eBay Motors


Malaise Showdown: Cosworth Vega Vs 4-Speed LeMans

1975 cosworth vega for sale1975 cosworth vega for sale

With six divisions and 50% market market share, GM of Old could afford to offer a variety of flavors of “sporty” cars. The “Colonnade” styling of the A-body midsizers, introduced in 1973, embodies so much of the Malaise Era: overwrought and overweight, housing large but disappointing powerplants, a desperate hollow ploy to hang onto what made the 60s great. Meanwhile, on the communist side of town, the Vega represented the new reality of Diminished Expectations: America was going to have to make due with less. Smaller, lighter and more advanced was the future, and the Vega was here to show us the way.

But if you’re reading Hooniverse you already know all that. The Vega was about 3/4 done when launched and the Colonnades are almost lovable if properly overhauled to be more beefy than porcine. Such is the case today. Our Pontiac’s been blessed with a warmed-over 389 from a ’66 GTO, backed by a four-speed Muncie M22. The interior’s decent (as ’74 Pontiacs go) and the paint’s good. I’d do the details differently: wheels and tires that fill the wells, no hood scoop and probably one four-barrel instead of two. However, overall the package looks like a fun machine for parking lot donuts and some decent drag passes. The reserve’s unmet at $3,150, but I’d guess this is a $7-10k car.

“One Vega for the price of two”, the Cosworth Vega is arguably the more Hooniverse car here, in that it’s a crappy platform that might just have some potential courtesy of some choice upgrades. Wait…I just said that about the Colonnade. Ok, anyway, the Cosworth Vega came equipped with a 2.0L motor checking all the right boxes: all-aluminum, DOHC, EFI, stainless header, and a decent-for-the-time 6500RPM redline. Alas, in production trim it only managed to deliver 110 net horsepower.

Our example’s in damn good shape—from 20 feet away. The paint’s original, faded and rusted in only one spot according to the seller. Otherwise the listing’s pictures show the interior and engine bay to be in great original shape. With a $2499 opener and $3600 buy-it-now, this actually looks like a damn good deal for the Best of the Worst.

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Valvoline Under the Hood Part 3: Ain’t Fuelin’

Tim Odell October 16, 2014 All Things Hoon

In the third of three installments in their Under the Hood series, Valvoline stopped by Dan Gray of MPGomatic‘s place to take a look at what he’s doing with “Slambo”, a 99 Civic that he’s trying to wring every last bit of fuel efficiency out of, while still keeping it fun to drive. That means upgraded suspension, rolling stock and engine management towards a goal of cruising at 50mpg. That number’s easy to hit with modern hybrids or the three-cylinder Fiesta, but he’s already about $15k ahead of those in the savings race. Props to Dan for pursuing a project he’s passionate about and documenting it for the world to learn from.

Be sure to check out Part 2 Where they visited Speed Academy for their FRS build and Part 1 where they stopped by my driveway for some basic maintenance with The Boys on my Falcon and Wagoneer.

LeMons Grade Citroen SM? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Tim Odell October 16, 2014 For Sale, Terrible Ideas

1973 citroen sm for sale

Spend enough time among the LeMons staff, and you pick up a few key phrases. The prefix “Hella butt terrible” is a favorite, and I feel it was invented for for this car. The SM is simultaneously incredible and incomprehensibly difficult, as only the team-up of Citroen and Maserati could be. Nothing’s easy or cheap to fix. Which is what makes this beater SM so awesome. It’s for sale in Beverly Hills and “has been sitting for many years, waiting to be restored”. The previous long-time owner didn’t exactly take great care of it. High end car from the 70s, what looks like drunken parking lot damage, offloaded to a high-end/classic dealer? Oh yes.

As far as we know, there’s never been an SM in LeMons. This needs to change. Now. The price is a little high, but I can say with 100% certainty that if the sale price is even close to the current $860 (reserve unmet), you’re guaranteed to receive a disinterested limp-wristed wave of the long cigarette holder through BS inspection. Besides, that soon to be removed interior’s gotta be worth a pretty penny towards your final budget. On the plus side, it’s pre-smog, so it’ll be easier to keep it street legal in case you want to cruise in real style.

1973 Citroen SM for sale – eBay Motors

Here’s to Five Years of Hooniverse! (Last Week)

Tim Odell October 15, 2014 All Things Hoon

Five years ago (last week) it occurred to me that for all the time I spent commenting on Jalopnik or IM’ing Jeff craigslist and eBay finds, I could just post them on my own site and make a few bucks off AdSense. I’d never done any web anything before, but hosting and WordPress had evolved to the point that anyone can DIY it with the right attitude (felt a lot like a project car, actually). The point was to focus more on DIY, hands-on, project cars, or actually doing stuff with cars and use the proceeds to do more stuff with cars. For too many people their “car hobby” consists of talking about cars online. Too much typing, not enough greasy fingers. The irony of writing that in a blog post isn’t lost on me.

Things got bigger than I expected, and we’ve outgrown two hosting providers thanks to your visits. It turns out there’s an audience for content that’s specifically not what others are covering. At some point it became a feed-forward thing, where whatever our vibe/community/culture is, people come for that. For that, I can take almost no credit: it’s you readers and our awesome writers. These guys (and occasional girls) have toiled for free or more-insulting-than-free pay rates to make this place happen. And remember: we’re all doing this in addition to real day jobs. “Hooniverse HQ” is a desk in my family room. Without their awesome work, this would be TimPostsCraigslistWagonsiverse.com. Catchy, but a bit narrowly scoped. I’m not going to attempt to name names, because I always forget someone inadvertently, but do sound of in the comments about your favorite posts or series that we’ve run.

Where do we go from here? Really, there’s no need for manifestos or missions or change or anything. We’re going to keep doing the stuff we do: covering odd finds, project cars, LeMons and always searching for original content. The same instinct that drives me to upgrade my cars makes me want to make Hooniverse better too. If we had a “real” budget, I’d fund every writer’s project car and a couple of LeMons teams. Alas, we’ve spent most of our existence in a rut between the bigger outlets and the individual/startup/hobby blogs. I’d love to see us get way bigger, but only as a result of getting better at what we already do. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the garage.

Under The Hood Episode 2: Speed Academy Preps a Scion for Targa Newfoundland

Tim Odell October 14, 2014 All Things Hoon, Featured

Following on after Valvoline’s visit to my driveway, they rolled up to Speed Academy to watch Peter Tarach and Dave Pratte work on the Scion FRS they’re prepping for Targa Newfoundland. Just keeping an eye on the background shows you these guys have great taste in projects. Checking out their site tells me they get more done in a week than I do in a year of wrenching. Though something about day jobs and shops and skills and having assistants over the age of five might contribute to that. Nevertheless, these guys also clearly “get it” with the satisfaction that comes from pouring work into a car to see it transformed to something new. Anyway, check out the video or pay them a visit.

Drive a Baja Squareback, Shame Tiguan Owners

lifted vw squareback for sale

Wagons are cool. Two-door wagons are really cool. Baja’ed out VWs are cool. Two-door Baja-ed out VW Wagon is the craigslist equivalent of spelling “zygotes” across two triple word scores in Scrabble (did that once, it’s like 400 points). This one’s interesting in that it’s actually riding on Type 181 aka “Thing” suspension with a 2.0L fuel-injected motor. It’s got a 4-speed and the seller says it runs great. I’m no VW expert, so I’m not sure if the 2.0L FI motor is actually a good thing or not. The larger displacement can’t hurt, right? If all else fails, just EJ-swap it. Too boring? How about a rotary swap instead?

baja squareback for sale (2)baja squareback for sale (3)baja squareback for sale (4)

Anyway, at $2,800…it’s not exactly a steal, but it’s totally the kind of car I’d have my kid drive as a first car. Ok, maybe not my kid (he wants a camper van with a Wagoneer motor swapped in and a series of trailers for every purpose under the sun towed behind it), but my nephew who looks like he could use some help distinguishing himself from the crowd.

Lifted 1970 VW Squareback for sale – SF Bay Craiglist



Chase that Waning Summer Sun in a Celica Sunchaser

Tim Odell October 9, 2014 eBay Insanity, For Sale

1981 Celica Sunchaser for saleFrom about 1978 to 1994, Toyota was a seriously bitchin’ company. Specifically, they made funky versions of their mainline cars (4wd Tercel Wagon? Turbo 4Runner?) and still used tons of shared engineering so almost anything bolts to almost anything else. In line with the former, we have this 1981 Celica Sunchaser pseudo-convertible. In line withe the latter, it shares its 22R and W-series transmission with the 9 humillion Hiluxes of the era. Parts will be available right up to the day we all evacuate to Alpha Centauri. The Sunchaser was actually a third party special made by the Griffith corporation, but sold through Toyota dealers (Toyota did a similar thing with the Trekker proto-4Runner and Winnebago). The roof was modified with a removable middle section and soft rear.

toyota celica sunchaser for sale (1)toyota celica sunchaser for sale (3)toyota celica sunchaser for sale (4)

This particular Sunchaser is a rare “normal kinda old” condition for a funky special edition car like this; usually your options are “perfect as-new” and “hopeless beater“. I suppose the ambitious among us could swap in an angry motor from LC engineering and an 8″ LSD rearend from a Supra or Truck to make a really weird sleeper. I’d probably re-skin the seats and spend my time fiddling with that awesome graphic equalizer.

Seller’s asking $3,400 obo, listing ends Friday!

1981 Toyota Celica Sunchaser for sale – eBay Motors

Turbo Tuesday: Two Turbo T-Birds Totaling Twenty-Two Hundred!

1987 Ford thunderbird turbo coupe for sale (1)

That title is what happens when I write posts too late at night, folks. Anyway, I managed to locate two separate Thunderbird Turbo Coupes in remarkably discrepant shape, but for the same $1,100 price. For those unaware, the 9th Generation Thunderbird shared the Fox platform with the Mustang and other ’80s Ford midsizers. The Turbo Coupe was basically a Mustang SVO with a 155hp turbo 2.3L (Pinto) I-4, five-speed and limited slip 8.8″ rearend. For reference, the contemporary carbureted 302 made 140hp. Anyway, these two have finally seen their last days as regular daily drivers, as $1,100 is about what you could get for their drivetrain, trim and scrap steel alone. One’s got clean paint and runs well, but has body damage (and a temp spare on the right rear). The other has that distinct “abandoned next to the barn” aesthetic that ensures a reliable ownership experience with a turbocharged car from the ’80s. Obviously I’m thinking LeMons, because there’s gotta be some wiggle room in those prices, plus a pile of parts to be sold, and you could be close enough to $500 to cover the rest with a decent bribe or 10.

1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe for sale – SF Bay Craigslist

1988 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe for sale – SF Bay Craigslist

Bad Idea Porsche Showdown: Neglected 928 or 350-swapped 944?

Tim Odell October 7, 2014 eBay Insanity, For Sale

v8 porsche 944 for sale

I see the 928, more than its contemporaries at the quintessential high-end 80s car. The 911 carried too many quirks for a high-powered double-breasted suit wearing 80s Business Guy. The 928 was supposed to be the high-tech grand tourer that so many 911 buyers really wanted. Paralleling the imagined owner, I only find myself appreciating the neglected, rough, “fallen” examples longing just to go for a drive from time to time. Spare me the near-new condition, it hasn’t aged well. To that end, this Euro-spec five-speed 1979 928 that’s mostly been sitting has me intrigued. The seller did complete some basic maintenance, which had it in good enough shape to go “see 38 Special in Wendover last year” (…?). It’s also had a crappy “carbon fiber flame” wrap inflected upon it that even the seller admits didn’t come out too well.

In contrast to the 928, the 924-944-964 lineage never managed to carry any prestige, despite the legit performance credibility of the latter two. That’s what sharing Audi/VW parts and only having four cylinders gets you, it seems. This one’s suffered the all-too-common carbed 350 swap, but might still be worth a damn. Thankfully the seller’s used a Renegade Hyrbids kit to adapt the 350 to the original transaxle. The seller says “NOT equipped to do burnouts”, and I’m trying to gauge if he means that’s a drawback or to discourage quarter-milers from asking about line-locks and 9″ rearends. He admits he dropped in the 350 because he had a cheap one available, but an LS would pretty much bolt in its place after that whole swap’s gone through. Probably worthwhile to start collecting spare transaxles as a precautionary measure.

So, the 944’s most certainly the better option here, and the unmet reserve at $1,625 versus the $1,000 price on the 928 reflects that. Maybe the 944 will perpetually fall between stools of a proper German sports car an a bitchin’ camero, while the 928 just needs some maintenance to be a fun cruiser. What say you?

1979 Porsche 928 – eBay Motors

1985 Porsche 944 with 350ci V8 Swap – eBay Motors

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