V.I.S.I.T: Mighty Morphin’ Bitsa Bird


While visiting family in rural northeast Kansas, I happened to park next to what I assumed was a ’77 or ’78 Trans-Am in white…but wait! Something was obviously missing, namely the shaker hood that the puking chicken should’ve been caressing with its wings. Somewhat less noticeably, the front spoiler was also absent. I tracked down the car’s teenage owner, who was working nearby. He told me the car was actually a ’78 Esprit, the upscale “lux” version that lacked most of the Trans-Am’s tacked-on gills and fins. (This one, however, had been spec’d with the optional rear spoiler.) He replaced the front fenders with a vented pair from an ’81 Trans-Am, which came complete with fender flairs. To complement the look, matching rear flairs were installed on the wheel wells in back and a big hood decal was added.

So, what do you think? Is a smooth Esprit hood worthy of wearing the Bandit Bird? Or does the lack of pokey-throughy engineness just make it look like a man wearing a tube top?

Bikes You Should Know: Harley-Davidson Livewire


My first eleven installments of Bikes You Should Know featured motorcycles introduced at least twenty years ago. But it’s not my intention for this column to focus exclusively on classic bikes. This is a spectacular age for production motorcycles, and there are plenty of new and notable motorcycles a self-proclaimed gear-head should be familiar with. And they don’t come any newer or more notable than Harley-Davidson’s new electric motorcycle, the Livewire.

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: OE Trunk Racks

Tanshanomi September 15, 2014 Encyclopedia Hoonatica


Welcome to your weekly opportunity to geek out on arcane automobilia, in which Encyclopedia Hoonatica seeks your help in listing a list, compiling a compilation, compending a compendium of cars that have a specific and usually fairly meaningless trait in common.

Today (thanks to an awesome suggestion by regular Hooniverse reader Krautwursten), the common trait we want to definitively list is original equipment, trunk-mounted luggage racks. Now, we’re not talking about roof racks (which are so common on SUVs and station wagons as to be tedious and uninteresting to list). We are also not interested in accessory racks. We want to know about vehicles that were available new with a luggage rack mounted on the trunk lid (or “boot” if you’re an unyankee’d Hainingite.) This DOES include racks that were offered as a factory-authorized accessory, since these were commonly a dealer-installed option.

V.I.S.I.T: “Your Forecourt Is Intriguing To Me…”


The city of Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas, is your typical small, Midwestern college town. As such, there is very little exotic there, and very few businesses that are not oriented toward the needs of cash-strapped college students. Not a great place to find unique old cars. But as I passed through that charming burg Monday afternoon, I glimpsed the distinctive rear end of a very cool old Saab wagon with the equally distinctive butts of two Porsche 928s next to it. As they flashed by, I couldn’t tell what sort of business was there, but these are not the sort of practical, cheap, plentiful vehicles that college kids normally drive. On the return trip, I slowed down enough to see that one of the 928s was be-tarped, there were two Bimmers further down the row, and they were all parked in front of an establishment called Red Ink Racing, Ltd. (Great name!). I still don’t know if these are cars for sale, customer vehicles in for repair, or the owner’s stalled personal projects. But parking these out front as the public face of your business tells me you’re my kind of establishment.

Bikes You Should Know: Honda CBX

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.

A couple of Two-Wheel Tuesdays ago, BYSK profiled Honda’s six-cylinder race bikes of the 1960s. As with many racing successes, the technology and style of those Grand Prix bikes was parlayed into a production machine. In this case, the journey took more than a decade, and the bike that showed up in European Honda dealers’ showroom floors in the Spring of 1978 (and in the USA the following October) was a very different machine in design, intent and scale than the racers of yore. The CBX was not the first six-cylinder street bike, and initially it was not a sales success. But but it did capture the riding public’s imagination in a special way that continues today.
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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: NOT Available At Your Local Dealer

Once a manufacturer goes through the time, effort and expense to construct a new car design, the idea is usually to sell all they can, through every sales channel available. The majority of sales (as Tesla has recently discovered) is almost always through their franchised dealer network. But car makers also sell to fleets, rental car companies, and other non-retail buyers. Sometimes they offer these “buy-‘em-by-the-dozen” customers specially-equipped models that regular dealers don’t get to sell. Today’s Encylcopedia Hoonatica entry seeks these not-available-at-your-local-dealer offerings, whether they are end-of-life, previous generation designs that few private individuals would want to purchase anyway or really, really cool vehicles that gearheads must impatiently watch to show up used on Joe Bob’s Corner Car Lot.

DIFFICULTY: Get your low-hanging fruit early.

Bikes You Should Know: Ducati Monster M900

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.

Ducati motorcycles were always known as uncompromising roadracing motorcycles that just happened to be street legal. They were widely considered be expensive, fussy thoroughbreds that were wonderfully adept at going fast around corners but had few other positive attributes. That reputation was both a strength and a weakness. When Ducati did try to break out of that mold, the attempts mostly failed. (The Ducati Indiana is definitely a Bike You Should NOT Know. Eye bleach is only so strong.)

Well, this was the case up until 1993, when an iconoclastic new Ducati showed up that remixed mostly familiar Ducati components in a new way. Il Mostro (The Monster) managed to give up very little of Ducati’s legendary handling prowess while being more accessible, comfortable, versatile. Its unique style attracted a new demographic to Ducati and in the process brought Ducati the mass-market sales success that had eluded them previously. Oh, and it totally changed the motorcycle scene as well.

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Three-Wheel Thursday: New 2015 Can-Am Spyder F3


Back around the middle of the month, some camo’d spy shots showed up on the Internet, showing what appeared to be a new Sypder model from Can-Am. Then on the 18th, some crisp, non-camouflaged photos surfaced that clearly showed Can-Am and Spyder logos on the bodywork. Two days later, (assuredly because of the news leaks), Can-Am hastily announced that the new machine is, indeed, headed to production as the Spyder F3, and should show up in dealers around October as a 2015 model. Other than releasing a single official photo (the lede image above) with the tagline “New muscular design. Our boldest ride yet,” Can-Am is otherwise still holding their cards close to the chest. While details on the new machine are still sketchy, we do know it will have the same 3-cylinder inline engine and six-speed transmission that debuted in the 2014 Spyder RT.

The new machine is definitely a different direction for Can-Am.

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Bike [Accessories] You Should Know: Vetter Windjammer

A Vetter Windjammer fairing on a Moto Guzzi

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.

For roughly a ten-year period, from the early seventies through the early 1980s, if you wanted a touring motorcycle, the formula was very straightforward. You: 1) bought a motorcycle, and 2) installed a Vetter Windjammer fairing on it. It was as simple as that. Never has a single accessory so defined the motorcycle market. This bolt-on part was a more powerful influence in the evolution of the motorcycle than any number of motorcycle models.
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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: “Euro-Warts”

Car makers must adapt cars sold worldwide to meet the specific requirements of different markets. One way that Eurozone and North American regulations differ is the ECE requirement for “side repeaters,” which are turn signal lamps mounted on the front fender behind the front axle. North American cars have no such requirement. Sometimes, manufacturers install the repeater lamp, which is allowable as a non-required option. In other cases, they stamp different fenders with and without the repeater hole (mostly true of domestic American cars). But it’s often cheapest and most efficient to simply replace the lamp with a dummy plug that snaps into the existing hole — a “Euro-wart.” These can masquerade as an intentionally designed emblem quite convincingly (I’m thinking of one captive import in particular), other times they look like, well, an obvious plastic filler plug.

So, prepare to take up your position as a braincell in the commentariat hivemind. Today’s Encyclopedia Hoonatica task is to come up with all the North American cars that have worn these useless fillers badges of overseas exploits. (For those of you residing beyond our continental shores, feel free to point out examples where far-far-away-spec hardware was kludgily deleted for your home market — or anywhere else for that matter.)  Remember, the list is first-come-first-served; read through the existing comments before posting and refrain from making duplicate entries.

DIFFICULTY: I fear you are underestimating the sneakiness, Sir.


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