24 Hours of Lemons: Buick is the Rainmaster, Wins Judge’s Choice!

Rain. The forecast called for lots of it. A major storm, they called it. It rained the night before and it was suppose to rain all day Saturday. Certainly not great for racing. My hopes of anything exciting happening on Saturday were slim. 

I was wrong. Very wrong. 

The race started under a long full-course yellow. Then, the 24 Hours of Lemons overlords let us race as if it was just a spring shower. Our fastest driver, Rafal, was in first. He did well, very well in fact. In his two-hour scheduled stint he also used half the fuel we typically use on a dry race day. Less refueling made our pit-stop shorter. I was in next. 

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Improving the new Toyota Land Cruiser

I recently reviewed the 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser. While I really liked it, and I would love to own one, but it just wasn’t all it could be for me. To be totally happy with my imaginary Land Cruiser ownership I would have to improve it slightly. Despite the limited U.S. sales of this vehicle, it is a global vehicle and therefore it’s total sales are justifiably high for the after-market to offer some amazing things for it. 

Being that I am married and have two kids, my built would not be a crazy hardcore one. I don’t need my rig to get me everywhere and I wouldn’t live off-the grid for days at a time in it. It would serve to get us to scenic places on trails that are no more than difficulty 5 or 6 rating.  Here is how I’d modify my 2017 Land Cruiser…

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Review: 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser

The Land Cruiser has been sold in North America for over sixty years. It and the Toyopet Crown were the automaker’s first two models here. Despite the fact that Toyota sold only one of its Land Cruisers in its first year in America, it was soon the only model offered here until 1965. Toyota Motor Company has grown slightly since that time but the Land Cruiser has remained in its model line-up that whole time.

Over the years the Land Cruiser has morphed from a small simple utility vehicle into a much larger vehicle available in various lengths and configurations. In North America, long wheelbase models with bigger engines thrived. Eventually, the Land Cruiser became more opulent and expensive, forcing Toyota to introduce smaller, less expensive, off-road capable utility models.

Today the Land Cruiser is sort of an odd duck that really warrants a closer look.

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24 Hours of Lemons: The Buick will roll with The Real Hoopties of New Jersey

We are ready-ish to race! The 24 Hours of Lemons The Real Hoopties of New Jersey is this weekend at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey! Last time we were equally ready but then we blew some gaskets, so hopefully we are now more ready but who the hell knows what sort of disaster will occur when we actually get there.

The car has some new top secret suspension mods and a proper alignment, as opposed to string eyeball alignment. We got a super fresh junkyard engine, too, which is a total crap-shoot.

Most importantly, we improved the aerodynamics front and back! Our newest slave driver created the masterpiece you see above from an inverted Pontiac Grand Prix wing and a shitload of duct tape. He seems to truly get this aspect but his driving skill is a mystery. He’s an auto journalist, which is bad, but he’s also from Boston, so he probably drives like a complete asshole. We will have to wait and see.

If you’re at the race, you will see some shit interesting race cars hoopties and a few cheaty cars. Racing or spectating, chances are that you will have a good time. If you see the mighty Buick, come over and say hi!

East Coast Defender builds a Defender 130 Huntress

Our love for Land Rover Defenders is real and not easily justifiable. While we have covered them extensively over the years, we never quite admitted that the interior lousy, the ride is harsh, and the power is lacking. While I spent several weeks in Africa with the Defender, the vehicle there was in its element. I imagine that I would not be as in love with it if I had to drive one daily to my job at the Gretchel and Dawson Accounting Firm in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

East Coast Defender seems to be what Icon4x4 is to Land Cruisers or Singer is to Porsches. They take older Land Rover Defenders and completely overhaul them. The interior receives a complete overhaul and is modernized. Every suspension nut and bolt is new and a quality lift-kit is optional. Finally, under the hood goes an re-engineered Rover V8 or one of two new Chevy small blocks. 

The Defender 130 pickup pictured here is called the Huntress and it is one of their latest builds. 

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Project 4Runner: When good LEDs go bad

Sometime ago I switched out the factory interior light bulbs of my 4Runner to LEDs. The LEDs were purchased from a forum recommend eBay seller, Fyre Flys. The idea was to have more light and less power draw. This was a win-win, as my daughter always puts he dome light on to read but frequently forgets to turn it off, draining the batter in process. 

The LEDs worked great when installed. The light was much whiter, little cold for some, and much brighter. 

Then, one day, the main dome-light stopped working. Ugh. I thought that perhaps the bulb assembly just slipped out of the socket as those looked sort of flimsy. Nope. It was busted. More importantly, when I tried to removed it, it was very hot to touch. 

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RESULTS: 100 cars we owned and 1 is a lie!

On Friday we ran a contest called “Here are 100 cars we owned and 1 is a Lie!” based on the awful Facebook “here are 10 bands I seen live and 1 is fake” thing that Bradley and Jeff just love. Despite the many comments, guesses and searches, no proper answer was provided over three days and nights. Therefore, sadly, there is no winner. 

Without further ado, the one vehicle none of us owned is…

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CONTEST: Here are 100 cars we owned and 1 is a Lie!

By now we have all seen the “here are 10 bands I seen live and 1 is fake” game going around on Facebook. It’s awful and we all hate it, except Bradley and Jeff who actually enjoy the social aspect of such media. What is worse is the fact that we got to see this dumb game morph into “here are 10 cars I owned and 1 is fake!

Well screw it… we’ve decided to play along. Sort of. Below is a list of a 100 cars that we, Hooniverse writers, own or have owned. To make it more difficult the list actually contains more than 120 cars. To make it easier we removed the production years and trims. For instance, the Ford Mustang is listed only once despite the fact that we had more than six of various generations and styles in our fleet. 

Yes, there is a Prize! The prize is the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon press kit that I picked up at its official presentation at the New York International Auto Show. If you think that’s nothing special, just look at eBay. Yes, over $600!!* 

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Here is the UAZ 469 of your dreams

We live at a time when Mercedes-Benz sells every single brand new 1970’s military vehicle with leather seats for over $200,000 that they can make. Crazy, right? Not only has the world SUVs exploded, the luxury off-roaders are in high demand now, too. There are after-market companies that specialize in turning utility vehicles into extremely capable and luxurious rigs. Think Icon4x4, AEV, and East Coast Defender. 

It should be no surprise then that others will try to get a piece of that pie. This 1993 UAZ 469B, a vehicle so utilitarian it makes hyena seem domesticated, has been completely restored and modified with the modern urban explorer in mind. UAZs are known for their comforts and sophisticated, grand touring-like road manners, so this is probably amazing. 

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Opinion: New-new Top Gear was pretty good

Kamil Kaluski April 26, 2017 Top Gear

A new era of Top Gear started when the Jezza, Hamster, and Captain Slow departed BBC. New hosts, many of them, new producers, and new desperation to keep a dying show relevant. And it stunk. I couldn’t take after watching the first episode.

Then The Grand Tour came on Amazon and… and after much hype it was kind of disappointing. It was the same supposedly unprepared travels, same old ideas, same dick jokes now improved with random cussing. It did have some great parts, such as James’ Ford GT film, but it was overall underwhelming. 

It was with great doubt I tuned into the new season of Top Gear, call it new-new, several weeks ago. Three hosts – Harris, LeBlanc, and Reid. New studio. Same track but a much better reasonably priced sports car. Less Stig because Harris can actually drive. Weird guests – I’ve never heard of most of them. Same ideas but somehow refreshed. New jokes, now with less dick. 

I have to say, it all worked for me. I truly enjoyed the whole season, aside from guest interviews which given their different format weren’t as bad as they could have been. Perhaps it was because the focus was more on cars than the people around them? Perhaps because it was well produced? It was the rally simple things made a big difference in my opinion, such as when they built a boat out of an SUV that was actually pretty cool and did not fail.

I’m looking forward to the next series of Top Gear, sometime in the fall. I am also hoping that The Grand Tour people watched it and recognized its strengths and their shortcomings.