Last Call: Hare Racing Adventure Edition

Robert Emslie February 7, 2017 Last Call

It would appear, for this Easter at least, it will be the chicken that comes first.

Last Call indicates the end of Hooniverse’s broadcast day.  It’s meant to be an open forum for anyone and anything. Thread jacking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.

Image: NBCChicago

Track Tuesday: Name That Track

Robert Emslie February 7, 2017 Track Tuesday

Welcome to Track Tuesday where you are asked to identify a (maybe) famous race or test track from just one closely-cropped aerial image. This week, it’s some dusty bends. Good luck!

Image: ©2017 Hooniverse/Robert Emslie, All Rights Reserved

Hooniverse Asks: Has Nissan Gone the Way of Acura?

Robert Emslie February 7, 2017 Hooniverse Asks

Acura was the first attempt by the Japanese auto industry to throw off the shackles of economy car status, extending the value proposition of Asian nation’s auto makers into a whole new strata of pricing and near-luxury positioning. It laid the groundwork for Lexus, Infiniti, and almost Amanti, and was a success from the get go. After all, who wouldn’t want Honda quality and integrity in a slightly larger and more luxurious package?

And then things went south. I won’t go into the details of Acura’s almost two decades in the woods, but suffice to say, the brand doesn’t seem to have much of a raison d’être any more. Honda too has seemingly lost its way, but it’s at least showing some life. Acura? Not so much.

The thing of it is, I think this automotive malaise might just be contagious. If you take a look at Nissan’s lineup it too seems to be little more than a big ball of “meh.” None of Nissan’s sedans are really all that memorable, and neither are their crossovers or SUVs, any maker’s bread and butter. Sure, the company has the GT-R, but seriously, that’s kind of old news and really frickin’ expensive. I’m thinking, and for today’s question I want to see if you agree, that Nissan too has lost its way, and has gone down the same rabbit hole as Acura. What do you think?

Image: NissanUSA

Last Call: Gator Bait Edition

Robert Emslie February 6, 2017 Last Call

I don’t normally like automotive murals not involving wolves and the full moon or Conan defending scantily clad princesses, but this 3D hood gator is an exception.

Source: Kaifolog.ru

Because it’s Monday: Let’s Get Our “Pants” On

The de Tomaso Pantera is arguably one of the most iconic cars ever built. Combining timeless Italian styling (albeit styled by an American) and stout American muscle (albeit guided through a German transaxle) it was a prime example of what we once deemed a hybrid car.

Designed and built by de Tomaso in Modena (actually, an initial batch were hand-built by Vignale), the cars wee distributed and serviced here in the United States by Ford through their Lincoln Mercury dealers.

How you might ask would Lincoln Mercury salesmen and women who were mostly accustomed to dealing with buyers of MK IIIs and Comets sell a car so different as was the Pantera? Well, by having non other than Bob Bondurant point out its unique features in a dealer training film. This fascinating video harkens from ’72 or later, showing a number of black bumper L models on the track and the road. There’s also a few cool shots of the monocoque, of note because the Pantera was de Tomaso’s first mid-engine car so equipped.

So sit back and enjoy this short video so that you too will be an informed and effective Lincoln Mercury salesperson, and can start putting people into those Panteras.

Source: YouTube

Hooniverse Asks: What’s the Worst Infotainment System You’ve Ever Experienced?

Robert Emslie February 6, 2017 Hooniverse Asks

Here in the car world, we get exposed to a lot of different manufacturers’ wares, and it’s occasionally a struggle to remember just how a particular car does a particular function. It’s not too bad determining whether you push or pull the right-hand stalk to get the wipers going, but when it comes to changing a radio station, or god help you, figuring out how to turn off a blasting heater when controlled by some inscrutable touch screen, it can make you question your sanity.

Fortunately, most present day infotainment systems, those big screens in the center stack, only control the audio, maybe nav, and interface with your mobile phone. That doesn’t mean that car company’s can’t make them frustratingly obtuse in their operation. Take Honda for example. For some reason, Honda decided to replace the standard for a century volume control knob on their CR-V’s system with an ’80s-chic chiclet-sized rocker. It’s non-intuitive, slow to use, and only partially redeemed by redundant controls on the steering wheel. Why did they do this? Well, apparently because they wanted to hide the CD slot behind the LCD display, requiring it to motor out of position should you want to use that antiquated audio medium. Honda has thankfully gifted buyers of their 2018 CR-V with a proper volume knob. 

The thing of it is, Honda’s system, knob or not, is still not as awful to use as is Toyota’s. Seriously, what the hell, Toyota? Infotainment systems don’t need to be so bad. In my experience Kia’s system isn’t awful, nor surprisingly is Mitsubishi’s. In fact, one of the better ones I’ve used of late is Volkswagen’s heavily revamped MiB system that debuted on their lineup in 2016. What about you, have you experienced the frustration of having to decipher a non-intuitive infotainment system, perhaps on a new car, or worse a rental that you’ll never see again? What in your experience has been the worst experience you’ve had with one?

Image: Engadget

Last Call: Pulling Up Tracks Edition

Robert Emslie February 3, 2017 Last Call

The phrase “to pull up tracks” means to get out of town without leaving a trace, but it has a very real and literal origin. The city of Los Angeles and its surrounding environs once had the world’s most extensive metropolitan rail system, comprised of a staggering 1,000 miles of narrow-gauge track and over 2,100 electric trolley cars. Over the decades the system’s infrastructure broke down, while at the same time highway and surface street projects made bus travel a far more flexible and—at the time—more elegant mode of public transportation.

Over the years the buses replaced the trolleys, and on the routes where they did, the wires had to come down and the tracks get pulled up. The latter was accomplished with a machine that violently hauled the track and the surrounding macadam from the street leaving an ugly scar to be cleaned up by the following road crew. The idea that pulling up tracks means leaving without a trace may work in concept, but seeing as rail has made a resurgence in LA over the past thirty years, perhaps a better motto might be never say never again.

Last Call indicates the end of Hooniverse’s broadcast day.  It’s meant to be an open forum for anyone and anything. Thread jacking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.

Image: Los Angeles Public Library

Mystery Car

Robert Emslie February 3, 2017 Mystery Car


Welcome to February everyone, the year’s shortest month. In fact it’s so short that if you blink you might just miss it. That would be too bad because you’d miss some great Mystery Car contests like today’s, February 2017’s first. Make and model if you have the time.

Image: ©2017 Hooniverse/Robert Emslie, All Rights Reserved

Hooniverse Asks: What’s the Stupidest Reason You’ve Gotten a Check Engine Light?

Robert Emslie February 3, 2017 Hooniverse Asks

Is there anything quite as frustrating as an inscrutable Check Engine Light that taunts you cryptically from the instrument panel? What could it be, a failed sensor impending a certain catastrophic mechanical end? Or maybe you forgot to put the gas cap on with the requisite three clicks once tight.

That a CEL can tell so much while actually saying so little singularly makes it the most frustrating piece of automotive technology in existence. And car makers want it to stay that way. You might note that in the section of your car’s owner’s manual describing the CEL the most common advice given is to get the car checked out by an authorized service provider at your earliest opportunity. Should the CEL be flashing the advice is to stop immediately and have the vehicle towed there posthaste, along with your wallet. Never mind the tsunami that’s rapidly filling your rear-view mirror.

As the possessor of more than one old but not that old car, I have seen my share of CELs. One of the best purchases I ever made was of an OBDII reader which is needed to decipher the enigmatic and secretive light. I’ve discovered problems from the mundane to the extreme, and have felt the frustration that they’ve all been consigned to one single unchanging lamp. I’m pretty sure most of you feel the same way that I do, and I’m wondering in that case, what’s the stupidest reason you’ve ever gotten a CEL, and did its discovery involve a service department?  

Image: KefferMazda

Last Call: That’s Not Helping Edition

Robert Emslie February 2, 2017 Last Call

You look under the hood, I’ll check out the boot.

Last Call indicates the end of Hooniverse’s broadcast day.  It’s meant to be an open forum for anyone and anything. Thread jacking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.

Image: demotivation.me