Bikes You Should Know: 1987 Yamaha FZR1000


Bikes You Should Know appears weekly as part of Two Wheel Tuesdays. Since Hooniverse primarily caters to automotive enthusiasts, this column focuses on historically or culturally significant motorcycles that are likely to interest a non-riding audience.

If you want to know where the modern sport bike era started, it was 1987, with the bike on which you are currently gazing. Period.

The FZR1000 was the first machine to possess all the basic pieces of the modern sportbike architecture we still see on showroom floors today. Motor vehicle development is evolutionary, and most parts of the configuration had been tried here and there, but the big FZR was the first to assemble them all and hang them on a truly modern motorcycle frame. Oh, what a mighty, gorgeous, remarkable frame.

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Quick Shifts: Hyundinky

Tanshanomi July 21, 2014 Quick Shifts


This is what you do when you find yourself with two totalled Hyundais and an automotive body shop at your disposal. The owner of Richard’s Collision Center in Grandview, Missouri truly did find himself with two nearly identical cars, one smashed in the front, the other smashed in the back. He did the only logical thing; he cut the away damaged sections and recombined what was left into this little curiosity. It may not be what you’d call lustworthy, but he ended up with a fun, quirky attention-getter for pocket change.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Side Opening Hatches


NOTE: This post inadvertently went live for a short time yesterday morning [thanks to the WordPress mobile app's oh-so-intuitive interface—grrr!]. My apologies to those who began commenting only to have the article disappear, and to those whose best suggestion has already been taken by a cybersooner.

Last Thursday, Jim’s review of the Caravan C/V caused me to remember that Dodge offered a full-width, one-piece rear door for many years on their B-Series vans, but unlike the upward-hinged liftgate typical of today’s minivans and sport-utes, the big B’s barn door opened to the side. That always seemed slightly odd and impractical to me, though it did remove the big rear window split that two separate cargo doors caused. Obviously, some designers do like the concept, because there are a number of vehicles that use it.

So, today, I want you to list all the vehicles the Hooniverse hivemind can come up with that have a single, side opening rear hatch.

And, yes, school buses would technically count (even though those are more emergency exits than cargo hatches). Now that I’ve covered that, let’s not list individual manufacturers and models. Likewise, we want a single, side opening rear door, so don’t get smart-alecky and post an Isetta.

DIFFICULTY: 3.5 – 4.5 on the Mohs scale, or until golden brown.

Image Sources:

Project Car SOTU: Bultakenstein & The Honda CL125S

Tanshanomi July 16, 2014 Project Cars


My custom Bultaco roadster project, which I began in earnest over 2-1/2 years ago, is still not quite a roller. Readers familiar with the project would be excused for thinking that things have stalled, however “stalled” isn’t really an applicable term to this project, given its nearly glacial development. Like one of NASA’s crawler-transporters headed toward the launch pad, things are steadily crawling forward, albeit at an extremely slow, careful pace. I knew it would take years to complete when I started it, so that’s okay.

Now on the other hand, I bought the CL125S to ride, not wrench on eternally. And yet, despite buying it in nominally running condition, I have not ridden it a full mile so far. That’s kind of a bummer. …And the bad news keeps on coming.

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Bikes You Should Know: Norton Commando


Bikes You Should Know appears weekly as part of Two Wheel Tuesdays. Since Hooniverse primarily caters to automotive enthusiasts, this column focuses on historically or culturally significant motorcycles that are likely to interest a non-riding audience.

The Norton Commando is thought by many to be the ultimate expression of the classic Britbike, the high water mark of Britain’s original motorcycle industry. In fact, in a survey of readers by Old Bike Journal magazine in the early 1990s, the Norton Commando was voted THE single most desirable of all classic production motorcycles from anywhere in the world.

Even though I was a Triumph Bonneville man myself, I am unable to refute that reputation; by any objective measure it was bigger, faster, racier, more sophisticated, more popular, and more steeped in mythology than just about anything else England produced prior to the disintegration of that country’s manufacturing sector in the mid-1970s. Perhaps more than any other bike, to ride a late-model Commando is to understand why even today generations of riders still wax lyrical about the magic of big British twins.
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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Differing Ride Heights


Last Wednesday’s Hooniverse Asks question about low cars vs. high cars caused me think about models that were available both as a low car and a high car. I want you to list cars that were simultaneously available in different versions that had significant and deliberate variations in ride height.

This entry is NOT about cars whose ride height changed only slightly, or over multiple years of production, because that list could go on forever. Let’s also skip different heights of 2WD/4WD pickup versions, because they’re pretty predictable and obvious (and frankly, a list of them all would be rather uninteresting).

On the other hand, feel free to vigorously debate whether the US and foreign market rubber-bumper MGBs constitute two discrete models, and whether the US version’s 1-inch lift was “significant” or “deliberate.”

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Fair to partly cloudy.

Bikes You Should Know: 1984 Harley-Davidson Softail


Bikes You Should Know is a new feature that will appear weekly as part of Two Wheel Tuesdays. Since Hooniverse primarily caters to automotive enthusiasts, this column will focus on historically or culturally significant motorcycles that are likely to interest a non-riding audience.

You wouldn’t know it to look at Harley-Davidson now, but about 35–40 years ago, America’s only surviving major motorcycle manufacturer was on the ropes, and in genuine danger of going under altogether. The Universal Japanese Motorcycle was in its heyday and was vastly superior in performance and reliability. By 1978, Harley sold off its Italian holdings and abandoned the lightweight bike market. The only people who wanted Harleys were people who wouldn’t consider anything else for cultural reasons: outlaw motorcycle gangs, tradition-bound cops, rabid nationalists and labor union supporters who refused to buy foreign imports on principle, and those who had grown up in a Harley-riding household.

That’s certainly not the case today, and this bike, the Harley-Davidson Softail, is one big reason why.

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Zombie Cars


Encyclopedia Hoonatica originally appeared as a daily feature here on the ‘verse for a few months the fall of 2010, but has only popped up sporadically since. Well, today marks its return to the regular Hooniverse schedule as a weekly feature to brighten your Mondays. For those of you unfamilar with how this works, I’ll toss out a specific characteristic or odd quirk that differentiates certain cars, and your job is to fill the comment stream with all the examples the Hooniverse hive-mind can generate. (However, please do us the courtesy of reading through the existing comments first, so we don’t clutter up the list with needless duplicate entries.)

Just as this feature has seemingly returned from the dead, our encyclopedia entry today is Zombie Cars: vehicles that went out of production only to be revived later (in original or modified form) by a subsequent company or brand, or just some lone crackpot who bought stamping dies from a bankruptcy auction.

As a caution, here are some instances that would NOT belong on this list:

  • Vehicles that outlived the original production run due to being licensed to a secondary manufacturer during production, such as the Willys Interlagos and Hindustan Ambassador.
  • Vehicles that changed marques but never really went out of production, such as the Bertone X1/9 and Pininfarina Spider.
  • Totally new vehicles that were reborn in name only, such as the Mini Cooper and the . . . well, we really don’t need a second example of that one, do we?

But part of what makes Encyclopedia Hoonatica facinating is that your job is also to help define our entries: What about vehicles whose cancellation was announced, then rescinded by the maker? Should those be included here? One such example was BMW’s R100RS motorcycle*, which was ceremonially put to death amidst great fanfare in 1984, only to reappear three years later with few changes other than a single-sided swingarm. Is this a Zombie?

* for the purposes of Encyclopedia Hoonatica, “cars” includes motorcycles and trucks and any other close cousins to automobiles, unless specified otherwise or simply nonsensical for inclusion.

Three-Wheel Thursday: Mymsa Rana 3R

Mymsa Rana 3R 175cc

Mymsa (Motores y Motos, S.A.) was a Spanish firm that existed from 1953–63. Regular Hooniverse readers know they made some very interesting motorcycles during that time, but they also built three-wheel light cargo vehicles under the Rana 3R model name. In the wake of World War II (and, in the case of Mymsa’s home market, the brutal and debilitating Spanish Civil War just prior), these súper bàsic designs existed because they were what buyers could afford and resource-strapped manufacturers could manage to produce.

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Our Cars: Should I repaint the Lincoln?

Tanshanomi April 24, 2014 Project Cars


As I pointed out recently, my ’92 Lincoln Town Car is getting pretty ratty. I’ve been waffling on whether to plan on simply retiring the old girl at some point and continue driving it into the ground, or begin pumping some resto-mod funds into it. I still genuinely enjoy driving the Town Cow, but a newer replacement would offer better gas mileage…and a big ol’ Easy Button to press. Either way, it’s time to stop being a cheapskate; one way or another, additional four-wheel transportation expenses are on my horizon.

The Town Cow’s most egregious issue is the horrid appearance. Call me shallow, but driving around in something that looks like a refugee from the police tow lot is depressing, and saps my enthusiasm for making other improvements. I saw a Maaco commercial on TV a few nights ago, and the idea of giving the Lincoln a new exterior finish has been tickling my pituitary pleasure center ever since.

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