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Driving Matt Farah’s #MillionMileLexus

There used to be a time when a 100,000 mile vehicle was past its useful life. 100,000 miles meant that the oil rings wore away and the transmission was one gear short of a picnic basket. 100,000 miles meant that the floor boards were as solid as paper. 100,000 miles meant that your malaise mobile was maybe worth its weight in scrap.

Over the decades Toyota automobiles grew in popularity. They gained a reputation for reliability and longevity despite seriously lacking resistance to rust. When Toyota launched the Lexus brand in 1989 they claimed to be relentlessly pursuing perfection – whatever that was.

Today I drove Matt Farah’s Million Mile Lexus. Like the town bicycle, the 1996 Lexus LS 400 is getting pass around between people with the single goal of accumulating miles. Due to time constraints I was only able to add two humble miles to the odometer that as of this writing reads 981,199.

Can a vehicle that is capable of traveling ten times further than many others be considered at least a technical perfection?

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Star 266 goes off-roading

Star was a Polish truck maker in the communist era. The state-owned company made several versions of was then a rather heavy duty truck. Like most trucks, many models shared cabs but frames varied in strength, length, and capacities. Star, named after the city of Starachowice where truck were made since World War II, made several models. Some of most popular were the 200-models, used throughout Poland for variety if services. It’s not uncommon to see one even today. 

The 266 model was the heavy duty military version. In production since the 1970s, the 3.5-ton 6×6 truck so good that it was used by several countries and saw combat in Afghanistan. In 1988 two teams even entered the grueling Paris-Dakar rally with the 266. Further, despite MAN having taken over Star, there is exists a company that overhauls and modernizes the classic Star 266. This video made by an off-roading company in southwestern Poland shows some off-road capabilities of this aged rig. 

 

Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski July 23, 2018 Mystery Car

It’s funny how some parts of some cars look exactly alike. They could be of different brands and models, and look very different from afar, but up-close it’s much harder to tell what vehicle they’re attached to. Last week’s piece of clearly American trim has confused some of you – heck, it even made me double check my source. But in the end, Fuhrman16 came up with the right answer – Dodge Royal Monaco.

Congratulations, Mr. Fuhrman16, you are this week’s… The Person of the Moment!!

Now before you high-five and chest-bump each other, you have to solve today’s (one workday late, sorry) Mystery Car. Rules are the same as always; make and model, with extra bonus for years. Cheerio, you clever Googlers! 

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Review: 2019 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec

Some years ago Hyundai launched a quirky little vehicle called the Veloster. Its claim to fame was its asymmetrical design. The driver’s side had coupe-like single door and passenger’s side had a sedan-like two door design, while the whole vehicle was a small hatchback. There was also a sporty turbo version but it never really developed a cult following. Unfortunately, the Veloster was rather forgettable until it quietly went away in 2017.

Then, at this year’s North American International Auto Show (a.k.a. Detroit) Hyundai double downed on the Veloster with an all-new 2019 model. And then they pulled a Steve Jobs’ “one more thing” and showed the 275hp Veloster N. Whaaaatttt?

I was intrigued if a bit skeptical. When introduced, the original Veloster was interesting; it was different, edgy. But this new Veloster looks almost exactly the same as the old one. And because it looks like the old one, it can no longer be different or edgy but rather more of the same. And then I got to drive it.

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OEM vs Aftermarket: TYC Taillights

My Toyota 4Runner is a 2010 model year vehicle, the first year for the fifth generation model. Yes, it’s getting old now but with less than 60,000 miles, it’s still very solid. And it’s not even that outdated. The 4Runner received a facelift for the 2014 model year but it did not change mechanically. The facelift consisted of different headlights, grill, bumper design, and taillights. Toyota also removed just about all chrome trim, which made the 4Runner visually lighter. It will remain rather unchanged for 2019, too. 

I wasn’t in love with the angry 2014 facelift at first but it has grown on me. It has grown on my so much that I no longer really like the appearance of the 2010-’13 models. So I decided to do something about it. One of the things I like on the ’14+ 4Runner are its darker, slimmer taillights. They also have the benefit of brighter and longer-lasting LED brake and taillight bulbs.

After ensuring that the ’14 taillight is a plug-and-play with my older vehicle, I went shopping. An OEM taillight assembly is about $180 for each light. Yea, I like these new lights but I don’t like them enough to blow almost $400 on them. On Amazon I found taillights made by TYC for about $100 each. Reviews on Amazon and on a 4Runner message board seemed good. How bad could they really be?

Two mouse clicks and my new non-OEM taillights were on their way.

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Asymmetrical Cars

It’s a weird thing about symmetry. Studies have shown that things that are symmetrical look more appealing to people: faces, bodies, houses, bridges, and most other things. Before you scream at me that people are in fact symmetrical, they aren’t really perfectly so. My left ear sticks out a lot more than my right ear, for instance. Both of women’s boobs may not be exactly the same, just as can men’s testies can be different from each other. 

But cars, cars are almost always symmetrical. Yes, the steering wheel isn’t in the middle unless you’re in a McLaren F1 or various race cars. But on the outside, they’re almost always the same. One of those cars that are asymmetrical is the Hyundai Veloster, which happens to be significantly updated for 2019. But more on the Veloster later, just know that it’s bloody brilliant. 

Today we are looking for asymmetrical cars. Please don’t just google it to be cool. Rather, think of something different than the Veloster or the Nissan Cube, be original. And don’t say that because a vehicle has an exhaust pipe on one side and not another it’s asymmetrical. 

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Must a standard production vehicle.
  • No one-offs, no concepts, no race cars, other such show specials. 
  • Military equipment is allowed as long as it’s more than a prototype.
  • Utility equipment is also allowed as long as it has been in mainstream use. 
  • Buses and trains are not allowed as most of them are asymmetrical based on door layout alone.*
  • Vans and minivans are not allowed for the same reason as buses.*
  • *Exceptions will be made for vans, buses, and trains, but the asymmetry has to be more than just door layout. 
  • The vehicle must have at least one seat – so no lawn-mowers or things like that. 
  • Vehicles must have three wheels or more. 
  • The vehicle must be self propelled – I don’t want to see a stroller or a Big Wheel

Difficulty: 5 out of 10, the other 5 is easy. 

Image: Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2018

Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski July 13, 2018 Mystery Car

This week’s Mystery Car comes once again from my friend Peter Ciani. His frustration with your ability to correctly identify his mysterious vehicles is kind of annoying him in an amusing way. This week he sent me several choices of cars to pick. I decided to keep things simple but interesting. Good luck. Same rules as always, make and model. The winner gets the much coveted title of being the The Person of the Moment!!

Speaking of the The Person of the Moment, last week’s Mystery Car winner is once again mdharrell. Motherf***er. Not only did he correctly identify the car, he posted a picture of the exact same vehicle that was the mystery car. Tell me, dear readers, how does one not find this annoying in an amusing way?

Congrats, mdharrell, you are once again… The Person of the Moment!!

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Hooniverse Asks: Is there a perfect car?

Is there such a thing as a perfect car? A vehicle designed so well and built so good that it would satisfy just about everyone who cares about cars? And a vehicle that would withstand the test of time in terms of design, performance, and longevity? Yes, it’s completely overhauled with the most obsessive attention to details but its base is still the 911.

I am looking at this new Singer design and I wonder if that is perhaps it? And then I think of the Caterham, the Morgan 3-Wheeler, and even the Lada Niva (because I’m special like that). Even the BMW 2002, perhaps the E30, come to mind. What about the Jeep Wrangler? Even the reputable Toyota Corolla deserves a mention here. And there are hundreds of others…

Then I think about it some more and find faults with all of them. And I ask again, does a perfect car exist? Or do we require a small herd of cars to achieve the automotive perfection? Or perhaps this 911 “reimagined” by Singer is it?

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LEGO Car Factory – They Build Themselves Now!

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is a really hot topic now. Companies are heavily investing in the technology, experts are constantly discussing it. Limits aren’t really known yet. But there are fears, human fears. The fears are those of the unknown – what if the intelligent computers create a robot army that will destroy us? Or what if those robots will just do our chores for us? But what if those robots start making other, bigger and better robots? Last time I checked my dish washer was pretty damn dumb. 

Legos, for decades have allowed children to create their own world, limited only by their imagination and supply of bricks. Legos aren’t that smart. Lego Technic is smarter but no one would call it intelligent. But as this video shows, with some human input Lego cars can now assemble themselves. It is therefore only a matter of time before we are ruled by Legos. I, for one, welcome our new Lego robot overlords.

Voltra eCruiser – World’s First Electric Land Cruiser

We live in very interesting times when it comes to automobiles. We have pretty much conquered reliability and safety – by that I mean that most new cars will easily run for 100,000 miles and they’re far from being the death traps they just a few decades ago. Simple oil change intervals have gone from 3000 to 15,000 miles. We progressed from surviving accidents to avoiding accidents. We are currently in the process of eliminating the driver and gasoline from cars. While most of us here love older cars, we’d be making a mistake if we didn’t pay attention to what is going on with cars now and the near future. 

While the progress in passenger cars has been dramatic, it has been much slower in heavier duty commercial vehicles. Take the Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series, for instance. It’s as old schools as it gets, having been in production since the 1980’s with little change. Yet it still in demand in certain regions and industries. Heck, I’d give up a kidney for one.

An Australian company that works with in the mining industry did something interesting recently. They yanked out the turbo-diesel V8 and its transmission from a new Land Cruiser and replaced it with an electric motor and lithium-ion batteries. And the best part is that it was done out of a need and not just a desire to have eclectic electric vehicle. 

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