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The SN Honda Prelude reminds us of a prettier past

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As Honda releases its new generation Civic, a riot of curves, lines, grilles and pointy bits that will give us headaches until we get used to it, let’s not get upset. It’s progress, they say. It certainly seems inevitable that the more bloated and bulky cars become to accommodate mandatory safety, comfort and  anti-pollution equipment, designers have to resort to sleight of hand tactics – adding as many visual distractions as possible to disguise the sheer mass of the car.

Since we’re approaching Christmas,  a time to look at the past and dream mournfully of years gone by, lets put tomorrow on hold for just a minute. Once upon a time, when the Earth was a younger, more innocent little planet, Honda released a gorgeous little coupe. It was named it Prelude, and in some respects it was a sign of things to come. In others, sadly, it wasn’t.

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Marcos Mantis: Ahead of its time or road to nowhere?

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The history of the UK motor industry is dotted with fascinating footnotes, risks and flights of fancy. Take Marcos Engineering, a once proud of sports cars which has been in stasis since 2007.

First collaborating in scenic Wales in 1959, Jem Marsh and Frank Costin  produced the first Marcos small sports car, the frighteningly-named Xylon, with a view to taking the 750 Motor Club racing scene by storm. To a certain extent, it did, and pretty soon the brand expanded its lineup with the Volvo Engined 1800 GT, its first real full-size sports car. And as if to prove the concept of getting it right first time, it’s that shape that went on to endure the next 40 years, including the faintly ridiculous Chevy small-block powered Mantara LM600.

So what of the Marcos Mantis M70? The car  “for the man who is going places and wants to travel in style”? Well, what do you reckon?

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2016 HCOTY Nominee: A specific 1982 Austin Allegro.

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My nominees don’t always do very well in this annual exercise in global gong-banging, in fact they usually crash and burn. This year, though, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get at least one vote for my nomination – if only by the honourable denizen of the ‘verse who now calls this car his own.

We’ve celebrated this car before on these pages, not least when it appeared on a Craigslist ad in November 2015. Since then it’s been under global surveillance and I was delighted to see it go into the custody of the one person in the Northwest USA properly equipped to give it a good home. That alone isn’t my reason for nominating it for HCOTY, though:

I put it to you that the willingness to own a car as maligned as the 1982 Austin Allegro III is a hallmark of the true Hoon.

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V.I.S.I.T: Ural 750- A Great Escape from sobriety

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I recently had cause to partake in a corporate event. It was based at the London Shuffle Club, Europe’s first all shuffleboard venue. The club premises drip with character; based in part of the old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, London, only the bare minimum of gentrification has been performed before the doors were opened to guests.

Along with ‘distressed’ peeling paint, ‘authentic’ rusting metalwork and ‘chic’ exposed concrete, the atmosphere of the club was further enhanced by a certain amount of set-dressing. Lighting was provided by strings of exposed bulbs, old industrial furniture was placed along side modern desks and facilities, and there were plenty of details that had obviously endured their fair share of history. Prince among accessories, though, was that which housed a Prosecco dispenser.

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Finding inspiration: Where will retro go next?

Chris Haining December 7, 2016 All Things Hoon

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So, the Dodge Challenger is one of the more successful of the retro-brigade. It’s a latter-day re-imagining of one of the all-time most celebrated cars to live in the ponycar / muscle crossover zone – its fame no doubt helped by the pretend exploits of a Mr Kowalski Esq. “Chris, you’re talking about the wrong car, aren’t you, you ludicrous buffoon?”. Well, yeah. I know. But every time I look at the AMC Javelin photographed above, it puts me in mind of the current Challenger.

I also think about car stylists, and inspiration, and toast (don’t write when hungry) and I find myself marvelling at something. I look at the current Challenger, which is a remarkably contemporary looking car despite its retro lineage. And then I look at the AMC Javelin and think “Can that really be 46 years old?”. With the Challenger, the Mustang and the Camaro all inspired by the late ’60s, it’s as if American car styling during every administration from Nixon to Clinton was just a waste of time.

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Pro Tips: Minimum Standards for eBay or Craigslist Pics

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The lede image of this article shows a vendors attempt to portray the interior of a car he is selling. A picture can paint a thousand words, as we all know, and you’d think that eBay sellers would know that, too. Yet this guy took his photo on a rainy day and didn’t even bother opening the door. Hopeless.

It stuns me that, in this day of ever more informed, enabled and tech-savvy consumers, people still lack the wherewithal to post useful, informative and representative images of what they’re trying to sell. It’s clearly a lot more difficult than I assumed. OK, not everybody’s a wizard behind the lens, but the photos don’t need to be of David Bailey quality, even a few snaps from a low-tier ‘phone camera will do just fine with the application of just a little common sense.

So, in order to help navigate through this apparent minefield, I’ve taken a look around and found some specific areas that people seem to have trouble with when it comes to eBay photography. Now, I’m no expert but I still think I can share a few hints and tips to help make your eBay listings look a little more professional and a little less like a feeble and futile waste of time and energy. This is a Hooniverse Public Service broadcast.

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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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