Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Cars Named After Cities


Vehicles named for exotic places are pretty common: racetracks, mountains, deserts, pretty much every place name has been mined for car and truck names. But one of the most popular geographic classifications is city names, and that is your Hoonatica assignment this week.

Today’s entry should be uncommonly clear-cut, so even though there are always caveats, today’s addition the our virtual big book of vehicular knowledge has but one: a city is a city is a city — no state, province, region, tribe, island, ocean, nation or star names, unless they also happen to be a city name…capeesh? If you have any doubts, wiki that sucker.

Difficulty: As difficult as making Ivory soap float.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates. Bonus points for adding photos. Remember, you can simply paste in the raw image URL now, thanks to the magic of Disqus.

Image Source: hemmings.com & pressroom.toyota.com.

Two-Wheel Tuesday: 5 Days, 8 States* & 1,970 miles


*Technically, seven states and one Canadian province.

Mrs. Tanshanomi and I just returned from riding the first Smackdab Solstice Ride. Since I’ve previously shared the premise of this dawn-to-dusk ride between Lebanon, KS and Rugby, ND with Hooniverse readers, I’ll simply refer you to the article I’ve linked. But participating in the 675-mile, one-day ride meant making a spectacular five-day, 1970-mile round trip from our home outside Kansas City. The adventure has given us some great memories and a great story to share.

… Continue Reading

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Chrome-Free Cars

Altitude Cherokee fr

A co-worker of mine has a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. We were discussing its appearance one day when he said, “The only thing I hate about it is the Jeep badge on the grille.” Why? I asked. “Because it’s the only thing chrome. It just looks out of place.” Now, I notice it immediately whenever I see a Jeep with chrome letters on the front. And that has led me to study other cars. In this age of body-colored bumpers and carbon accents, it seems that the allure of chrome is still very much alive. Nearly all vehicles have at least a tiny dose of polished or plated brightwork somewhere. Shiny emblems are especially important, it seems. It might be silver or gold, but a shiny metallic finish on the nameplate is virtually required. Perhaps it’s just a thin chrome oval around the outside of it, but it’s nearly always there. I did notice a Jeep Wrangler Polar Edition in a Walgreen’s parking lot a while back that had flat black J-E-E-P letters above the grille. Was this, at last, a truly chrome-less car? Nope, it had shiny chrome “Trail Rated” and “Polar Edition” badges on its flanks. Even the menacing matte black Ford RS500 that JayP posted in the comments the other day has a shiny chrome Ford badge on its face. But if you look at the black Jeep Cherokee Altitude shown above, it appears we finally have a something that’s truly chrome (nickle/polished alloy/mylar) free. (Interestingly, when ordered in white, it gets chrome window surrounds.)

So, your encyclopedic task for today is to help me out by naming all the vehicles you can find that are totally free of brightwork. And I do mean totally. [Before y’all holler “GNX,” Darth’s ride has five tiny chrome letters spelling out “B-U-I-C-K” on its grille.]

Here are the caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Stock, production vehicles only, please — stick to vehicles that anyone could walk into a dealership and buy.
  • Let’s concentrate on road vehicles marketed to the general public for personal use. That means no heavy-duty trucks, forklifts, tractors, mining equipment, tanks, trains, or spacecraft.
  • Post-war vehicles only. (For those of you who flunked History 101, that means 1946 model year and later.) If you go back any further, this gets absurdly easy.
  • Chrome lug nuts, machined alloy wheel rims and headlight reflector buckets get a pass. But bonus points and bragging rights if you can avoid these.

Difficulty: Harder than you’d think, if you really get nit-picky. And I’m feeling really nit-picky on this one.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates. Bonus points for adding photos. Remember, you can simply paste in the raw image URL now, thanks to the magic of Disqus.

Image Source: Manufacturer’s press kit photo via uautoknow.net.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Native American Names


I’m on the road this week, and as I was crossing a Sioux reservation in North Dakota, I was thinking about the many Native American names that have become commonly known parts of our lexicon.

Nowadays, corporate use of proper tribal names or even general references to indigenous peoples is rather a touchy subject, and in the past has resulted I some rather cringe-worthy marketing elements. However, the re-introduced Jeep Cherokee shows it is not quite an extinct practice.
Today your task is to name all the vehicles named (generally or specifically) after Native American (First Nations/aboriginal) people.

Difficulty: Super easy; even the low-hanging fruit could feed us all.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates. Bonus points for adding photos. Remember, you can simply paste in the raw image URL now, thanks to the magic of Disqus.

Two Wheel Tuesday: Tracking Down the Hejira Rotax 500


A few years ago, I wrote a profile of the Rotax Type 486, one of my favorite two-stroke engine designs EVAR. I have long dreamt of what one might be like in a road bike, even more so when I found the above photo of a Type 486-powered Hejira roadracer that was offered for sale in a British E-bay auction a number of years back.

Hejira, for those who don’t know, is a UK-based custom frame builder headed by legendary motorcycle fabricator Derek Chittenden. Since the web page provided no background information about the bike, I contacted Hejira to find out more about it. I told myself to expect a dismissive reply to my query, if any, but I promptly received a detailed message back from John Slenzak at Hejira. He couldn’t positively identify it, but he provided some very interesting background on the bike and its motor.

… Continue Reading

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Aluminum Bumpers


In the Malaise Era, manufacturers were eager to embrace whatever weight-saving, efficiency-enhancing technology and techniques their engineers could think up. One of those clever moves was lighter-weight aluminum bumpers, which were heralded as the next big thing. Usually, aluminum was only used for the front bumper, but the 1980 Chrysler New Yorker had alloy on the both the front and rear.

As it turns out, aluminum wasn’t an ideal choice for bumpers, for a number of reasons, and they didn’t really make that big an impact. [Ba-doom tish!] Nowadays, you’re much more likely to find a polymer honeycomb behind a non-rigid fascia. But how many different models did come from the factory defended by formed aluminum bash bars? That’s what this installment of Encyclopedia Hoonatica wants to know.

Difficulty: It helps if you’re a giraffe; the low-hanging fruit will quickly get gobbled up.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates. Bonus points for adding photos. Remember, you can simply paste in the raw image URL now, thanks to the magic of Disqus.

Image Source: Chrysler and GM sales brochures, each scanned by half the people on the Internet.

Two-Wheel Tuesday: Test Riding the KTM 390 Duke


The KTM factory demo fleet showed up at my local dealer recently, and I took the opportunity to sneak away on my lunch hour and spend about 25 minutes riding the new KTM 390 Duke. I would have liked to ride all the bikes, especially the big Adventure and Super Duke V-twins, but I only had an hour for lunch and the India-built 390 Duke was both the biggest question mark, and the one I had the most realistic potential to own eventually, if I liked it.

…And did I like it? Yes—mostly. Hit the jump for more details and some photos of the KTM lineup.
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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Factory Roof Lights


Roof-mounted lights have been virtually required for off-road racing for many, many years. They have also been a popular modification for 4-wheel-drive vehicles that will never wear a race number, either for off-road exploring, or simply to help achieve that macho, rugged appearance. Vehicle manufacturers have taken notice of this, and have included roof lights in some of their vehicles right from the showroom, such as the Xterra Pro-4X above.

Today’s Encylopedia Hoonatica  is just that: factory roof lights — auxiliary forward lighting mounted to the roof, a roof rack, or a roll bar. But in every case they need to be mounted above the windshield. They can be standard equipment, part of a special equipment package or special edition, a stand-alone option, but they must be offered by the OEM. Dealer installed accessories are permissible ONLY if they are manufacturer-branded parts offered in the manufacturer’s regular dealer accessory catalog. No third party accessories!

This week’s entry was suggested about a month ago by Sjalabais. A hearty thanks, and a reminder that I love getting Encylopedia Hoonatica topic suggestions from readers.

Difficulty: 600,000 scoville units per hectare

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates. Bonus points for adding photos. Remember, you can simply paste in the raw image URL now, thanks to the magic of Disqus.

Image Source: NissanUSA.com.

1902 De Dion-Bouton Type K Motor-Hansom


As a kid, my parents gave me Peter Robert’s A Picture History of the Automobile. I spent a thousand hours reading and pouring over the photos. One in particular has always stuck with me; a photo showing a veteran-era (pre-1905) open car with a sort of transverse walkway between the firewall and the front of the passenger cab, with the doors facing forward. I found it to be perhaps the most enduringly fascinating car in the whole book. I recently tracked down a copy of the book specifically to check it out again. The caption said it was a 1902 De Dion-Bouton Type K. Some additional digging online taught me that only a couple of Type Ks had this weird configuration. As was typical of the time, De Dion-Bouton did not build coachwork but left that to, well, coachbuilders. It’s called a motor-hansom, and I didn’t realize until very recently was that the car I saw in the photo was missing a removable hardtop, which was its more normal configuration. The odd body design was short-lived attempt to translate the “hansom cab” style of horse-drawn hire-carriage to motor power. Unfortunately, having the doors face the engine really didn’t make sense, and the idea quickly faded. But it certainly looked cool and unique to my 10-year-old brain. And frankly, it still does today.  Click through the jump to see a photo with the hardtop in place, as well as a YouTube video about the car (which will only make sense to you if you speak French).

A more detailed overview of the car is available at the Auto Concept Reviews web site.

Image credits: Zack’s Motor Photos‘ Flickr stream, YouTube.

… Continue Reading

Our Cars: Suzuki Kizashi
Welcome The Town Cow’s Successor


From the time I formally introduced myself to the Hooniversalist faithful, my main ride has been a ’91 Lincoln affectionately dubbed the “Town Cow.” And along the way, I’ve chronicled its long, sad decline into beater-dom. I’ve also on several occasions expressed my unabashed affection for the underrated, star-crossed Suzuki Kizashi. Well, eleven days ago, I became the owner of a 2011 Kizashi GTS Sport, and my motoring world has pretty much been turned inside-out — in the best way possible. … Continue Reading


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