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Gymkhana Nine Already? Gymkhana Nine Already

Alan Cesar September 13, 2016 All Things Hoon, Featured

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Your favorite burnouts-and-donuts wheelman-turned-shoe-salesman-turned-energy-drink-salesman is now also selling video games. But nevermind that, there are burnouts and donuts and other stuntin-and-splodin to watch. It’s been less than a year since Gymkhana Eight, where Ken Block took a different Focus around scenes at the oil-rich city of Dubai. This series has clearly become a big moneymaker for Block since his first one almost eight years ago. He has since switched from Subaru to Ford, and the automaker has poured support behind these videos.

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What is this sorcery? Pontiac Sunbird Turbo!

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When I saw a 1991 Pontiac J-Body on Craigslist with an asking price of $4500, I had to take a closer look to determine the level of crazy involved. It’s weird enough to see a Michigan-plated car listed for sale in Florida without acres and acres of rust, but what caught my eye was the bright red underhood photos and the word “turbo.” It wouldn’t have surprised me so much if the car was boxier and the model year something closer to the mid-’80s, but it’s unusual to see a mass-market car that traipsed into the ’90s before shedding forced induction.

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Jim’s Proto-SUV could be yours if you can get home from Nebraska

Alan Cesar August 11, 2016 All Things Hoon

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If you ever wanted a reason to visit Lincoln, Nebraska other than the SCCA Solo Nationals and their plethora of pylon puns, a nondescript used-car lot has a Chevy-powered Willys Overland 4×4 Sport Wagon for you. One of their long-time employees, Jim, apparently has quite a collection of cars and they’re helping him sell them off one by one. This not-quite-flat-black two-door Willys wagon caught our attention. It’s got metal everywhere and is purt’near guaranteed to make the 50 mile round-trip to Greenwood, Nebraska. Any further than that and all bets are off. Especially if it rains.

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Project Car SOTU 2016: Justy Little Project Creep

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Making a car look good is hard work. The details make all the difference, and with a project as huge as an engine rebuild, there are a lot of details to tidy up. Little performance improvement options also encourage project creep, especially if they’re cheap on the surface—or worse, if they’ll take Justy little extra time.

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How to Drive the Tail of the Dragon and Have a Badass Camping Trip

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Unless you’re local to them, the “roads you must drive before you die” regularly featured in listicles don’t often actually merit the expense of a road trip. It’s just not practical to spend a day traveling to some remote road that takes 20 minutes to drive through when you can just pay a couple hundred bucks to run a track day an hour or two away, then sleep in your own bed that night. For those of us of modest means, there’s gotta be something else to do at the destination to make such a trip worthwhile. I found out quite by accident that the Tail of the Dragon is one such place, even if you have a minivan, a toddler, and a wife prone to carsickness.

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Justy Little Project Car: 10 Percent of the World’s Supply

Alan Cesar May 9, 2016 Project Cars

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When you order OEM car parts from some of these third-party resellers, they’ll ask for a VIN so they can confirm that you’re ordering the right part. After I placed my order, I received an email that said this:

“There is an issue with the VIN # you provided. If this is a US market vehicle, then the number provided is incorrect, please double check it for accuracy. If this is a foreign market vehicle, please be aware we cannot specify parts or check fitment.”

Weird. The steering wheel is on the correct side. All the controls are in English. This has to be a US-market Subaru Justy, right?

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Lemons at Barber Live Blog

Alan Cesar February 5, 2016 All Things Hoon

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I’m parked next to what I think is a peanut field alongside U.S. Route 82 in rural Georgia, cutting through the state along slightly more entertaining roads than the wonderful but dull interstate highway system. I stopped here to put together this short update before the day is up, because this weekend, Barber Motorsports Park plays host for the third time to the 24 Hours of LeMons—a series I don’t have to explain to you Hooniversitarianites (or whatever it is we call ourselves).

I’ll be posting live updates from the event throughout the weekend, so check in regularly with this post or follow Hooniverse on Facebook to see the ridiculous cars that show up. Pictured above is the incredible Smokey And The Bandit-themed Geo Metro campaigned by the Knox Vegas Lowballers. It’s got a mid-mounted V6 from a Ford SVT Contour. That’s not this year’s livery, nor is it last year’s, but Knox Vegas has always impressed with their presentation—albeit not always with their car’s reliability. Stay tuned throughout the weekend to see what they and other LeMons teams bring.

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Justy Little Project Car: The joy of a good machine shop, and a rogue Nissan Axxess

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I don’t understand it. Even though I live near the birthplace of speed and some kind of important race track, engine machine shops are hard to come by. I drove 40 minutes one way to the machine shop when I rebuilt my WRX’s engine, and they even had to send the crankshaft out to another shop to get serviced because its journals were too small for their machines. My co-workers at a car magazine at the time had no suggestions.

I expected triple the hassles when rebuilding an abandonware 3-cylinder, but shortly before I tore my Justy’s engine down, I managed to find a more local shop. A friend stumbled across a pamphlet of theirs that listed a bunch of services and standard prices. When I saw lightening and balancing, crank knifing, and head work services all at attainable prices, visions of a high-revving, high-compression, 100-horsepower Uber-Justy danced in my head.

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HCOTY Nominee: Google’s Autonomous Car

Google’s self-driving car isn’t new for 2015. It also isn’t particularly fast: It’s limited to 25 mph. Regardless, it did reach an important milestone this year. The self-driving car got pulled over, and its “passenger” had a chat with a police officer. This happened in Silicon Valley, because of course it did.

This story was trending on November 12, when Zandr Milewski posted it to Facebook. Milewski works at Electric Imp, a tech company in Los Altos, Calif. that specializes in the so-callled Internet of Things. IoT refers to the expanding world of Internet-connected devices, of which the Google Car is likely one. If you think about those thermostats you can control over the Internet using your smartphone, you’ve got the idea. Connected devices can range from thermostats to washing machines to commercial jet engines. In the case of the latter, it’s common for jet engine manufacturers to constantly monitor and collect all kinds of operating data as a plane carries you and 200 other people to your snowbird destination in Boca Raton.

But I digress. Milewski recalls this event:
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Justy Little Project Car: Engine Teardown and Inspection

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The engine’s out, all 1.2 liters of it. Since my last post, I separated it from the transmission and hung it on an engine stand. There’s not much left to do except to start taking it apart and see just how bad I’ve got it.

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