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When you can’t work out if it’s weird or wonderful

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Every now and again we’ll chance upon an automotive Frankenstein’s Monster. We’ve seen them often in Craigslist Crapshoots. They’re usually absolutely hideous, the kind of unearthly, hideous freakshow that really needs to be nuked from space. We’re talking about those unhappy concoctions that are neither fish nor fowl. That are often the result of inspiration by way too much alcohol. The kind of thing that leaves you wondering how its creator could possibly look upon it and think to himself “yes, that looks great. That was a good idea.”

The thing you’re looking at is an example of a hotch-potch. But, like eating Cheetos after dunking them in tea, it’s a strange mixture that I rather like the taste of. It’s a blend of two generations of Rover 800 – the fuselage of a post ’92 Mk2 combined with the insipid headlights, flat bonnet and letterbox-slot grille of a Mk1. It was built by a guy called Brad and I’ve known about it since I first saw it on the world’s leading online Rover 800 resource several years ago. And now it’s appeared on eBay.

And, dangerously, I rather like it.

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The Carchive: The 1982 Lonsdale YD Saloon and Estate

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The Carchive now has a new time slot on Hooniverse; wherever there’s a spare gap in the schedule and I’ve actually cobbled something together to fill it. I like it this way, anyway; it ensures that Carchive articles have a suitably ad-hoc, thrown together feeling to them, and if I happen to be describing a product from British Leyland that’s all the more appropriate.

Australian car fans rejoice! Today’s relic from the vaults of obscurity concerns that most bizzare of British badge-engineering projects, the short-lived Lonsdale YD series.

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The Antidote to Black Friday Bargain Bonanza Blues!

Chris Haining November 25, 2016 All Things Hoon

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Apparently, on the day after Thanksgiving it’s customary to wake up with a hangover and a terrible feeling of bloatedness, and then go out and spend all your money on heavily discounted high-ticket items. My phone is effervescent with constant requests to visit X Website and spend ££££, but I find myself in the oddly comfortable situation where I neither need, nor want anything whatsoever.

Nothing that big-brand retailer can offer me, anyway. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of bargains, though, it’s just that I’m far more receptive to things that I happen to chance upon in the flesh than the tedious ordeal of scouring for things online. I always love a good thrift-shop find, though – I came perilously close to investing a whole £4.o0 on a fine period motoring accessory in the shape of the Autook in the picture above. Fortunately, as I excitedly rushed towards the till, desperate for the kindly lady to ‘shut up and take my money!1!‘ I spotted that it was in fact totally the wrong size for my car, though it will fit an Austin Allegro – if only anybody we know drove one of those.

I was disappointed that my charity shop discovery came to nought, for a moment it got my tragically easily-pleased heart a-pumpin. So, as a rally against the barrage of marketing we’re all under right now; here’s a follow-up question to that posted below:- What’s the best automotive-themed thrift-shop find you’ve ever scored?

Thanksgiving Turkey: The Bentley Bentayga

1256070_bentayga-diesel-4 My choice of Thanksgiving Turkey for 2016 is one of the very best cars you can buy today, at any price.

It combines scarcely conceivable power with an inside experience that couldn’t be more comfortable if it gave you head. It’s built to the very highest quality, with materials that delight to the touch and will last for a million years. It drips with the very latest technology, and if you’re not satisfied by gadgets that the combined might of Starfleet and the Rebel Alliance couldn’t have imagined, a word with your friendly Bentley Man will see even more elaborate toys being installed.

It even drives brilliantly. I have it on good authority that the Bentayga goes, stops and steers in a way that something of its not inconsiderable weight and bulk has no right to even consider. Its mammoth W12 makes an incredible noise when provoked, and its four second 0-62mph time is enough to have Newton jumping up and down on his notes, shouting furious expletives. Oh, it can do 187mph, too, a figure that’s too conveniently close to 300km/h for comfort.

It’s quite possibly the most remarkable automotive package in the history of mankind, and I’m glad that a car like this exists.

But not this one. I hate every bone in its hideous, swollen body*

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FIAT 131 Racing: Sportiness with authenticity, not fancy dress.

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Before we mention the car, I want talk for a moment about war heroes.

In the little cul de sac in Frinton-On-Sea where I grew up, one of our neighbours was an elderly gent by the name of Vic Whale. Softly spoken and always well turned out, he was a quiet chap who kept himself to himself. By all accounts he was a lovely man, and loved the presence of youth, especially his own children and grandchildren. He actually owned a brown ’81 Fiat 131 Supermirafiori for a while, before replacing it with an ’87 Rover 820i. I liked him very much.

However, it wasn’t until after his passing that I got to know him. During his funeral I learnt more about him than I had ever known when he was alive. I knew about his air-force service in africa and his fighter-pilot past, but I had no idea of his belonging to the Guinea-Pig Club. This was the name given to the support group formed among that group of incredibly brave men who received pioneering plastic surgery to repair wartime injuries. I think you’d have liked him, too.

The most notable thing about him, and my own grandfather, for that matter, is that they seldom advertised their heroic conducts.

Now, why can’t cars be that understated, too?

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A Stab in the Dark: The Touchscreen Cataclysm

Chris Haining November 21, 2016 All Things Hoon

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An article recently hit those newstands that stock the Sunday Times; Dashboard screens risk drivers’ lives”

Well, This!

As somebody who never quite made it into a design career, I nevertheless can appreciate the worth of sound ergonomics, both from the perspective of a designer and, of course, as a motorist. Over the years considerable progress has been made in this area, especially by the Germans and the Scandinavians. Ideally you should be able to into a car, any car and be confidently driving in a few minutes, having familiarised yourself with the basic controls, and maybe a few of the less fundamental ones.

In my mind, this should include those key to the enjoyable operation of the car, not just the functional aspects. And as soon as the small step of fitting touchscreens to the centres of dashboards all over the world was taken, ergonomics took a huge leap backwards for all mankind.

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When it all comes flooding back.

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On Christmas day 1988 I was given my first ever personal cassette stereo. I was seven years old at the time, and It was a Saisho (a brand invented by Britain’s largest electrical retailer) City Beat, with a three-band graphic equalizer. As soon as I been gifted this piece unprecedented of high tech, my Dad set about making cassettes from me. The very first he made me was of Brothers In Arms, the Dire Straits album. He copied it for me while we were eating our Christmas Dinner.

The next tape he made me was the one in the photo above. On one side it contained Misplaced Childhood by Marillion, on the other a compilation of tracks by Pink Floyd, The Who and Caravan. I know, odd choices for a seven year old, but I was very much my father’s child in that respect. It only occurs to me as I write this, that my Dad would have been the exact same age I am now when he made this tape for me.

Playing it in this particular car stereo has a special significance.

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Carchive Special Edition: ’89 Jaguar Salesman’s Guide

I know this is not our regularly scheduled appointment, but welcome to a mid-week helping from The Carchive: special edition.

I don’t know how many of you have spent time mired in the murky waters of car sales, I’ve done my stint and am kind of pleased to be out of it. I’m ‘lucky’ enough to have only ever sold in the ‘prestige’ sector, first for BMW and later for Mercedes. During my time as a shiny suited, smooth talking, silver-tongued car-monger I trotted out line after line of beautifully scripted sales spiel, and believe it or not, in a healthy proportion of instances it returned the desired result.

Seeing this little pamphlet on eBay brought memories flooding back, so of course, I had to buy it and share it with you.

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Diecast Delights: 2001 Mercedes CLK DTM Race Car

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Will I be hounded from Hooniverse for admitting that I’m not actually the biggest fan of motorsport?

It’s like this: Seeing a DTM race live is one hell of an experience. Watching a BTCC Volvo 850 barrelling into Coram Curve, Snetterton from just 50 yards away is unforgettable. The machinery, too, is awe inspiring. I’ve stood next to Richard Petty’s Superbird on start up, been surrounded by ’80s Formula One cars idling in a paddock. It’s just that, like any other competitive sport, I can’t be bothered to follow it. Right now I couldn’t tell you what the Formula One championship standings are any more than I could tell you how Tottenham Hotspur are doing in the soccer Premiership League, if they’re even in it.

Next time I’m at a live motorsport event I’ll be grinning from ear to ear, and probably high on hi-test fumes, combing burnt rubber particles from my hair. Then, I’ll go home and probably not look at any of the race stats again, because it’s just not that important to me.

The cars are, though. Oh, God yes. Here’s a nice one that’s been in my collection for ages.

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When technology has the last word

Chris Haining November 9, 2016 All Things Hoon

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During the hours between 9:30 and 17:30 I live on the cutting edge of technology. My MacBook is linked directly to mission control, fresh software patches coming through seemingly on the hour. Work necessitates this, and I’m fine with that. But come 17:31 and I switch back to my trusty Core i3 laptop and take a step back into the past.

I’m actually far from being a technophobe, I’ve simply found that incremental increases in technological complexity rarely enhance my life. Every now and then a significant leap will be made – I continue to enjoy 1080-line resolution courtesy of a Playstation 3, but doubt I’ll be embracing 4k for a good few years. Most troubling, though, is when I find technology actively obstructive. When it physically restricts my liberty. When it demands the upper hand and won’t take no for an answer. I’m already experiencing this with my phone. What if this insatiable, revenue-led insistence on unwanted media bombardment makes it across to cars, too?

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