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Guilty 1990’s Obsessions

Robby DeGraff November 21, 2013 All Things Hoon

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The 1990s were an interesting batch of years for the automotive industry, it was also the decade I happened to start my car obsession in. From airbags galore, cars breaking past the hailed 200mph mark and the invasion of minivans, we all have our likes and dislikes of four-wheeled vehicles from the era of Biggie Smalls, Rugrats and Furbies – oh, those horrendously terrifying little robotic animal pets. 

Three-door “sport” SUVs were cool, wrap-around headlight bars were “classy” and dent-less plastic body panels were “in”. These were times before iPod integration, back-up cameras, or plug-in hybrids. Permanently installed car phones replaced today’s growing nuisance of texting-while-driving. I remember at my house we had a post-it note near our telephone with numbers for the “Camry” and “Van.” Just remember to take those fixed phone antennas off your back window before going through a brush car wash. Oh the 1990s.  Gas was cheap and the average price of a new car was around $15,000 give or take a few. In my bedroom as a kid were posters of a Ferrari F40, Chevrolet Camaro and a Porsche 911 to name a few. You know, those overpriced, crazy 90s computer graphic background posters you’d find at your elementary or middle school’s yearly book fair? I loved cars from the 1990s.

Here are just a few of my favorite picks and why:

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What Kids Need to Learn These Days

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Growing up, I enthusiastically wanted to help my parents pump gas into their cars at the gas station. Over the years I continued to both teach myself new automotive-related skills, and learn them from others. It absolute baffles me when first time drivers, don’t know how to put gasoline in their car or  get what a parking brake is for? I’m puzzled at how many people in their twenties still don’t know how to properly jump start a car, change a flat tire or know what to do if your car needs more oil. “Can I just buy  a bottle and  and pour some in?” Yes, you can. It’s time for a massive intervention.

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Zooming Around with the RX Club of Wisconsin

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I’ve been behind the wheel of all sorts of vehicles in my lifetime, including an array of sports cars. Mazda’s RX-8 still provides one of the best driving experiences I have ever had, thanks in part to it’s  precise 50/50 weight distribution, quick and snappy six-speed manual, razor-sharp handling and exciting 232 horsepower rotary engine. It’s perfect.  If you haven’t driven one, put that on your list. Having grown up with RX-7s and now an RX-8 in my father’s garage, there’s no way I’d turn down an invitation to join a friend on the RX Club of Wisconsin‘s Fall Cruise.

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Hooniverse Asks (Bonus): What would happen if our streets were made of Legos?

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We all know it; our lives would be much easier and more fun if everything were Legos. Think about it. The fine folks from Denmark have created not just a toy, but a legendary icon for both kids and adults alike. I’m 23 years-old and I’m still obsessed with Legos. 

When I was a young child, I spent hour after hour building all sorts of creations out of Lego blocks. From ocean liners and castles, to airplanes and houses, I even had a 7×2 Lego city…that’s 7 feet by 2 feet. That city thrived and its minifigure citizens lived a flawless life, except for the occasional cat attack.

So that got me thinking. If we replaced every day, common problematic things with Lego bricks, what would happen?

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Stance Wisconsin’s 2013 Summer Car Show

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Little it be known, but Wisconsin has one heck of a good car scene. A trip to one of Stance Wisconsin’s car shows proves it.

Trying to explain what “Stance” is to an older person or non-gearhead is like trying to build a 3,000 piece Lego set in the dark; it’s just  impossible. Heck, I may  not understand it 100% but I’m on a quest to learn. The term “Stance” is a bit broad, but in this case a good type of broad. According to StanceNation, “Stance” is all about aggressive fitment. Take a cool European or Japanese car, slam it down a few inches and stretch some tires around a foursome of offset wheels. That’s just the beginning.

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The Bird is The Word

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Yes those are the familiar lyrics to The Trashmen’s famous Surfin’ Bird hit song that was hilariously exploited by Family Guy. I could go on with all sorts of cliche music references relating to birds… but I’ll skip the embarrassment. In this case however, I’m referring to that simply stunning, 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird pictured above.

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Recap: The 2013 Rally New England

Robby DeGraff August 19, 2013 Featured, Road Trip

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Driving for a good cause. That’s what Rally North America is all about. In the past twelve months, members of RNA raised more than $85,000 for Camp Sunshine, an organization that invites children with life-threatening diseases and their families to come and have fun at camp for a week, free of charge. RNA was founded in 2010 by Scott Spielman and Tony Intrieri, two car guys looking to make a difference out on the road.

In recent years past, I drove in the inaugural 2010 Route 66 Rally and the 2011 Rally Appalachia. This time around I was part of the film crew set to document the day-to-day reality of this event. Over the next 1,300 miles (that is if you don’t get lost… like I did), more than eighty unique vehicles from exotics, classics, high performance pickup trucks, sports cars and tuners, will rally to give back.

This is the 2013 Rally New England. 

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An Ode to Ye’ Olde Saturn

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You’re a college graduate, with student loans and need something reliable and cheap to get around in. What do you seek out? Like any gearhead, I spent hours on Craigslist and other online classified posting sites for the perfect beater err. second car to drive everyday. I ended up with the keys to a $2,000 Saturn. Why on earth would someone buy an 18-year-old, forgotten orphan child of the GM family? What car nut buys a 1995 Saturn SL1? Me. 

(Pre) Last Call: Rear Seat Entertainment

Robby DeGraff August 2, 2013 Last Call

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In-car entertainment systems have come a loooooong way since I was a child in the 1990s. Vehicles on sale today have an assortment of rear-seat multimedia systems. From iPads in headrests, flip-down BlueRay DVD players and minivans with two separate displays; if you want to stare at a screen while on the road, it’s easier than ever. Heck, you can buy aftermarket entertainment systems that can be had and installed for under $300.

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Come Out and Have Some Fun- Rally New England Stars Next Week!

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If you’ve never participated in a road rally, you’re missing out. Big Time. There are plenty of real non-profit rally organizations around the country like Cheese Wheel IncRoad Rally Charities and Rally North America, who put on affordable road rallies every year, with one goal in mind: deliver a fun driving adventure while helping out those in need.

The five road rallies I’ve done within the past year have taken me down Route 66, through the winding roads of Appalachia and across more states I can count on two hands.  For up to seven days at a time, it’s you, your navigator, your prized set of wheels and dozens of other cars and teams.

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