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Quick Spin: 2018 Dodge Challenger GT All-Wheel Drive

Last year, when the all-wheel-drive Dodge Challenger was first launched, the good folks at FCA invited me to snow-covered race track to hoon that thing. And the damn thing proved to be shockingly good in snow, even with stock all-season tires on. It went, it stopped, and it turned while wagging its huge butt around course.

But outside of the track, there was no snow that day. It was January’s warm spell that lasted exactly for the week that Dodge was showing its first AWD pony car to the press. And, to be honest, I am always a bit skeptical about how a vehicle I have never driven before behaves on a track that was purposely set up for me to drive on. I’ve seen cute ‘utes do the three-wheel motion on big dirt mound only to be sliding all over the place in a trace of snow.

But now, I year later, I get to drive this big all-wheel-drive boat on a snowy day…

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Ford teases the new Ranger Raptor

Kamil Kaluski February 7, 2018 The News!

The Ford Ranger was just recently introduced at the Detroit auto show, but Ford is already, and rightfully, teasing us with a Raptor version. And I mean teasing us, because right away they say that this 2-liter diesel-powered Raptor isn’t for the North American market. Whut!?

Put your torches and pitch forks down for a second. Ford showed the Ranger to the rest of the world before showing us to its home market, first. And that strategy makes sense because why introduce a product in its biggest market first, right?

Wait. No, it doesn’t make sense. What makes sense is the marketing. They will tease us with it for a bit, create some hype, and then unveil it at some auto show in all its glory.

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If luxury and performance brands made vans…

Kamil Kaluski February 5, 2018 All Things Hoon

There used to be a time when luxury vehicles were pretty much nothing but large sedans or equally large coupes. Those days are over. Today even Bentley and Lamborghini have SUVs and Rolls-Royce will have one soon. Mercedes-Benz has two SUVs that cost over $100,000 and go beyond $200,000. If your budget is slightly lower, say between $70,000 and $90,000 there are more SUVs available than I can name here.

But it gets crazier! The new luxury vehicle trend is… pickup trucks. A loaded Ford F150 has massaging ventilated seats, a panoramic sunroof, and an engine from the Ford GT (close enough). The huge F-450 with all the bells and whistles stickers around $100,000 and has more room than some Maybach driven by a Wall Street wanker. The world has gone nuts. 

But there is one area of the market that’s hasn’t been explored – luxury cargo vans! And my luxury, I mean branded by luxury brands such as Lexus, Audi, Porsche, or Alfa Romeo, parent companies of which already offer basic vans. 

Aksyonov Nikita, a Russian graphic artist from Saint Petersburg, sees that market heading in that direction. And let’s be honest, vans are more functional and more comfortable than SUVs or pickup. He is a step ahead of OEM designers with a few amazing van concepts. Let’s take a look…

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Bigger Numbers are Smaller Cars

In the days of alphanumeric vehicle names, automakers typically setup their model lineup so that the bigger number represents the bigger, better, pricier car. There hasn’t been a better example of that than the BMW lineup of the 1990s. The 3-series was a small sedan for yuppies. The 5-series was the bigger sedan designed with mid-career manager in mind. And finally there was the 7-series, a proper luxury sedan reserved for directors.

Even their subsequent numbering placed the models in specific hierarchy that reflected their price and power. The 318i got all the jeers for its tepid acceleration whereas the 325i was the proper small sport sedan. But a 525i was just driven by someone who wanted a bigger vehicle than the 3-series. Serious drivers stepped up to the 540i and its V8. Likewise, the 750i with the V12 separated the successful entrepreneur from the corporate ladder climber in the 740i.

But not all companies, or brands, follow this logic. Take Hummer for instance. H1 was the original uncompromised military based beast purchased by the nouveau riche. GM then figured out that there many people who would love a Hummer but can’t afford the H1 it or find uncomfortable. So the GMT-800-based H2 was born. The followed that up with an even smaller H3 which was based on the GMT-355 compact pickup platform.

Your Hoonatian topic for today is makes, brands, or models with numerical names where the smaller number represents a bigger, more powerful, or more expensive model.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Specific higher performance versions of pedestrian cars don’t count, such as the BMW M2 being pricier and more powerful than the 530i.
  • One-off models don’t count as well, such as the M1 being superior to the M3. I think BMW regrets calling it the M1, anyway. 
  • The model distinction has to be clear, for example: A loaded 340i will cost more than a base 520i, but that doesn’t meet the requirement.
  • Models of the same brand that are vastly different from one another such as the Mazda MX-5 being pricier than the Mazda6. Apples-to-apples, sedans-to-sedans, coupes-to-coupes, please.
  • Open to all vehicles, even planes, bicycles, or horse carriages. 

Difficulty: 2 out of 8, the bigger the effort, the smaller the prize.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: My twitter feed, by my pal Joey. 

Top Gear Teases a Great Season

Kamil Kaluski January 31, 2018 Top Gear

Earlier we have seen a quick preview of the upcoming season 25 of Top Gear. You know Top Gear, the original motoring show from the UK, now hosted by two Brits and an American – Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris, and Rory Reid. Well, BBC America, where the show will air this spring, is giving us another, longer, tease of the upcoming six-episode season. But they still have not mentioned when it will premier – perhaps they will let us know when they show us the next teaser. 

Based on the preview and our memories of season 24, this relatively short season promises to be good. The crew is set to build the world’s fastest tractor, surely Joey Tribbiani’s idea. They will also attempt to land a NASA research plane in a muscle car, for some reason, among other high speed high-jinx. The season was filmed in Japan, United States, Italy and the UK. There will celebrity guests, typical studio chit-chat, and The Stig! 

Hooniverse Asks: How about some Pinewood Derby racer suggestions?

Kamil Kaluski January 30, 2018 Hooniverse Asks

I was somewhat deprived as a child. For some reason I did not do many of the things that my kids are doing now. One of those things was building a Pinewood Derby racer. Last night my daughter came home from her Girl Scout meeting with a piece of wood, some nails, and four wheels. “Dad, we have to make a race car!” she said excitingly. 

“Cool! Yeah! Let’s do it, sweetie” I answered with a fake smile and equally fake excitment. I have no idea what I was in for but F*** it, I’ve made real™ “race cars”©, how hard could this be?

So, hoons and hoonetts, this is where you come in. I need design ideas, although I first asked my daughter for that, but I am sure she can persuaded into something Hoon-worthy. Then I need to know any kind of cheats that exist out there. I am in it to win it and winners never lose and losers never cheat (or something like that). So help me out!

But I, err…, I mean my daughter, might be more interested in something that looks cool. The really fast seem to look like a door wedge. I’m thinking that a Land Rover Defender or a Jeep Wrangler would be cool. 

Also, anyone who is into woodworking, and it really good at it, in Boston, northern New Jersey, or in between?  

Last Call: Long Wheel Base Edition

Kamil Kaluski January 25, 2018 Last Call

Before pickup trucks were available with every luxury option and feature car gods ever created, those wanting a luxury pickup had to improvise. 

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: Facebook.com/CytrynGumiak

Gran Turismo Sport update adds ten new cars

Kamil Kaluski January 25, 2018 The News!

Sony just announced a January 2018 update to the Gran Turismo Sport. The package will include ten new cars, an addition of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza track, and new GT League events. The list of the ten new interesting cars is below. Unfortunately while they are in fact interesting, none are really new. The most interesting one to me is the McLaren F1. From the new events, the F150 Raptor Survival sounds cool. 

Check out Sony’s preview video below, all the cars, and events. 
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Fiat 126p vs. Rolls-Royce on Rodeo Drive

Kamil Kaluski January 23, 2018 All Things Hoon

So there is some crazy Polish guy, also named Kamil, specifically Kamil Knapczyk, who decided to travel around the United States. Very cool – if you haven’t taken a cross-country trip, you should do it as soon as possible. That Kamil chose a very atypical vehicle for this trip, however, a classic Polish-made Fiat 126p, also known as Maluch. 

I don’t know what’s up with Polish people and traveling in Maluchs, perhaps you remember the guy who drove his Maluch around Africa, but that’s just nuts. The 126p is a tiny, 650cc 2-cylinder, under-powered, and uncomfortable vehicle. Yes, we look at it now and we think it’s cute and cool. But when I was a kid, in the early 80s, we had live with this thing and it wasn’t that cute. Even a short trip to my aunt’s farm, thirty miles away, was a pain in the ass. It stunk in the winter too, because the tiny air-cooled engine couldn’t warm itself up. 

Anyway, the other Kamil drove through Beverly Hills and managed to find convenient street parking in front a yellow Rolls-Royce. Bijan Pakzad used to park his yellow cars there and whoever runs his company now still parks the yellow Royce there. It even has its own yellow meter, so it’s not just coincidence. Of course tourists  don’t know that it’s a setup and are starstruck the yellowness. But a funny thing happen when Kamil parked his Fiat 126p in front of the Rolls… a popularity war started. 

Review: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Dear Readers:

For years, Hooniverse and I have been providing you with exacting, original, and interesting content. Other than comments and votes we have never asked for anything in return.

Until now.

The month of January is an important one; it is the month of the most important holiday of the year – my birthday. I won’t ask for your good wishes, phone calls, thoughts, or even any small bullshit gifts. I don’t need any of that. But what I do need is the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler. Because it’s awesome.

Love,

-Kamil

Yes, as the previous owner of a CJ and TJ, I say it’s that good…

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