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Podcast: Episode 205 – Sleepy in Seattle

I’m up here in Seattle for the launch of the new Audi A5 and S5 Sportback. While that’s going on, I decided to step away from the booze and schmooze for a moment to record a solo episode of the podcast. It’s mostly me taking your questions, as that helps to cover the topics I’d want to cover anyway… including the Indy 500.


Hooniverse – Sleepy in Seattle

A reminder that racing wagons are awesome

Good morning and happy Wagon Wednesday. This post is here to serve as your reminder that racing wagons were most certainly a thing, and that they were also quite awesome. Volvo raced the 850 in the British Touring Car Championship. So if you’ve ever wondered just how fantastic a liveried-up wagon can look, see above as your Exhibit A(wesome).

Someone needs to recreate this style on a V60 Polestar. That combination of current Volvo wagon greatness and classic racing history would cause our brain to explode with wonder and our hearts to grow three sizes.

We need more wagons, folks. When someone tells you that they’re boring, show them this picture… and smack them in the face a little too, because they don’t get it.

[Image stolen from Jalopnik]

Chris Forsberg gets seat time with Clarion’s latest project car

Chris Forsberg knows how to wheel. He also has pretty good taste in cars. Working with Clarion, he’s been able to drive some sweet machines as of late. This includes the oh-so excellent BMW 2002 that Clarion built to kick off its ClarionBuilds program. After that we’ve seen an Acura NSX get the treatment (Full drive video of that one coming soon) and now there’s a new member in the Clarion stable.

This time Clarion has turned its attention to a 1993 BMW 850Ci. Knowing the attention provided to the upgrades of its cars, we expect this build to be a stunner. That 5.0-liter V12 made just under 300 horsepower when it arrived factory fresh. Clarion likes to inject a bit more power, so we can’t wait to get our own grubby mitts on this machine.

For now, we’ll just have to live vicariously through Professor Forsberg.

Ford Raptor: The Baja blaster supreme is better than ever

Gone is the song that the V8 sings… let us mourn. Okay stop mourning, because nearly everything else about the new Ford Raptor is fantastic.

Under the hood you’ll find a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost 6, which is good for 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough power to get this 5,700-pound beast up to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in just five seconds. Fox Racing and the Ford Performance team joined forces once again to make sure the Raptor is more than capable on all sorts of surfaces. The travel is tremendous, the dampening is excellent, and the ride is a blast.

If we had to pick two weak spots, it would be the engine note compared to that of the prior V8 and the new 10-speed automatic gearbox is a bit annoying around town. The good news here is that the snarly V6 grows on you and the 10-speed likes it when you flog it.

Ford’s go-anywhere at any-speed dune-smashing desert destroying truck is back and better than ever.

[Disclaimer: Ford tossed us the keys to the Raptor and included a tank of fuel. We proceeded to get mud… everywhere. It took a long time in the power washing bay to get most of it off.]

Is the new Civic Type R a good deal at $34k?

We recently reviewed the all-new Honda Civic Si, and it seems like a fun machine especially at its $24k-$25k price point. There’s a hotter Civic just over the horizon, and it should prove to be a potent performer. In fact, it recently sat the Nürburgring on fire when it laid down the fastest lap for a front-driver production car. Will it too represent a good deal in the performance car space?

If the window sticker photo nabbed by CivicX.com is any indication, that could be a pretty strong yes. You can see the picture for yourself by clicking that link, but what you’ll find is an MSRP of $33,900. Add in Destination and Handling (that should be a band name, by the way) and you arrive at $34,775.

So we’re about to have a Honda Civic that is asking a little less than Volkswagen Golf R money yet also has 306 horsepower on tap. We’re going to have a Civic that wants less than Subaru WRX STI money and has around the same horsepower figure, but should weigh a bit less.

The Civic Type R should be a beastly front-driving machine. Is it priced right at $34k?

What say you…

Here’s a custom lowrider Corvair

I love lowriders. If I had the money and space for more cars, there would be an old Impala in the garage. The style and love put into those cars is genuine, and a well built lowrider is beautiful machine to see rolling down the road.

One you’re likely not to have seen before is a Corvair lowrider. The rear-engined Chevy doesn’t seem like the ideal candidate for a low rolling build like this, but Chris Mageno of Mageno Kustoms is here to prove me wrong.

His 1963 Chevy Corvair runs air suspension, smooth dish wheels, and fat white walls. The door handles are shaved and there’s a lot of custom paint touches to be found. It all works quite well together, and makes me surprised we haven’t seen more lowrider Corvairs blasting around Southern California.

The Rallyist samples a proper Focus Rally Car

Ryan Symancek has been building up his My Life as a Rallyist series over the course of a number of episodes, and along the way he’s driven more and more thrilling machines. This latest episode sees Ryan sampling something properly wonderful. It started life as a standard Ford Focus but the crew at Mainiax Rally Team have transformed it into something special.

This is definitely one of the most entertaining forms of front-wheel-drive conveyance that you’re likely to come across. Ryan reports that it has 350 horsepower on tap and that’s controlled through a sequential gearbox and a Quaife differential. The suspension sees around eight inches of travel front and rear and the steering is quick and responsive.

Symancek is let loose on some of the gravel stages surrounding the Team O’Neil Rally School compound in New Hampshire. He finds that starting slow is the wrong way with this car. The faster he goes and harder he pushes it, the more it responds with favorable corner sliding, jump soaring, and stage slinging goodness.

Click play and check out the latest episode of Ryan’s adventures above.

Quick Shift 3: Here’s my Clarion Audio system in the HoonTruck

Finally the HoonTruck gets some Quick Shift love. Today we’re going to look at the upgraded audio system I’ve had installed in my 1965 Ford F100. It’s been supplied by the good folks at Clarion, and it was installed by Beach Auto in Huntington Beach.

We’re working with the Clarion NZ503 head unit, a pair of component speakers with a 6 1/2 and tweeters, a four-channel amplifier, and a pair of powered subwoofers. It all adds up to some great sound and a few modern features in the cab of my old truck.

The space where a more classically cool radio would sit was cut long before I was given the keys to this machine. So that’s why I don’t feel too bad about swapping out the lame head unit that was in there. Or the random singular speaker that was wired up and hanging in the space where a glove box should exist.

That’s all gone. Now I have a unit with navigation. There’s Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to hookup a rear-view camera. I can hear my music cleanly and clearly, rather than assume what I’m hearing is rock and or roll rattling through the glove box door.

Also, I can choose to use as much or as little of the technology packed in the Clarion system as I like. I can fold the screen away and just play music through the system with my paired phone. And if I ever get bored of listening to the music… I can just mash the throttle.

This was a good spot to stand at the end of the Indy 500

Randomly wound up in front of Satos pit for the last few laps #indy500

A post shared by hooniversejeff (@hooniversejeff) on

With five laps remaining in the Indy 500, I found myself on the space directly behind the pits. I turned away from the front straight in order to catch the action on the large screen behind me. People started losing their minds, because Takuma Sato had now taken the lead and he was about to win his first Indy 500.

I turned back to watch this crowd of folks gathering directly behind me, then I glanced up to see #26 signifying the pit box location. This was Sato’s pit space.

This was a pretty good place to wind up after taking in nearly 500 miles of pretty amazing racing. Sato fans, Andretti Autosport friends and family, and others with an interest in seeing this 40-year-old racing driver capture a crown jewel of a victory were losing their minds. It was great to watch the end of the race itself and the reaction here in front of this pit space.

It wasn’t just the group of people behind me, however, as it seemed the entire Speedway was thrilled to witness Sato capture the win here. A sea of 400,000 people standing up and cheering under the partly cloudy Indiana sky. The heat in the air was off and on throughout the day, but the action on the track was constant.

At the end of it all, Takuma Sato stood above the others and he took a mighty swig of the milk.

First Drive: 2017 Honda Civic Si

A new Honda Civic means we have a new Honda Civic Si. This is the all-new 2017 Honda Civic Si, and it’s a relatively affordable performer available in both coupe and sedan body styles.

Honda invited us out to its recently renovated proving grounds in the Mojave desert to see how the latest Si stacks up. This is built on the bones of the 10th-generation Civic, and it marks the eighth generation for the Si itself. Under the hood you’ll find a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s good for 205 horsepower. The only gearbox backing up the engine is the slick shifting 6-speed manual unit.

You don’t get a lot of choices when it comes to the 2017 Civic Si, but this is actually a good thing. You can pick the body style (between coupe and sedan), the color, and then your only option after that is deciding whether or not to fit the $200 summer tires. You’ll spend around $25,000 no matter what you do, and you’re going to get a nicely equipped car with a standard sunroof, Si-specific sport seats, and a Sport mode that kicks the adaptive damping suspension system into high gear.

The 2017 Honda Civic Si makes one heck of a value proposition for the enthusiast that wants a fresh new daily driver that can be comfortable around town and enjoys being flogged on the twisty stuff.

[Disclaimer: Honda gave us a hotel room in Marina Del Rey and some food and drinks as well. There was also a chartered plane out to the desert to get to the proving grounds… sadly no, it wasn’t a HondaJet.]