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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Thieving Foreign Parts Bins


Low-volume car models are somewhat notorious for raiding existing cars’ parts books for easily adaptable components. Rear light assemblies are a case in point. The De Tomaso sourced the Pantera’s tail lights from whatever designs Alfa had sitting around, and there was a downright incestuous level of British parts-bin raiding by Bristol. Lotus, however, endured an extra level of contempt for re-purposing Renault Alpine GTA rear lights on the Elan. As if FWD wasn’t bad enough, the indignity of French components on a British design was almost too much for some Lotus fans to bear.

Which brings us to our encyclopedia heading for today: car designs that raided neither their own maker’s parts bin nor their countrymen’s, but reused existing components from a manufacturer in (gasp!) a foreign nation.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • This does NOT mean parts co-developed between two manufacturers as a technology-sharing partnership, or common parts used on sister brands as a result of intra-corporate cooperation, even if they’re located in different countries. The scenario we’re looking for is this: Company 1 in Nation A puts a part on its cars. At some later point, that part shows up on Company 2’s cars, manufactured in Nation B. Capisce?
  • Generic parts that are manufactured and sold with the intention of being used on multiple vehicles don’t count.
  • Likewise, components commonly sold to a variety of manufacturers by third party component builders don’t count. Allison, Getrag, Bilstein, Brembo and Dana have whored themsel— um, supplied just about everybody at one time or another.
  • Production road cars only. No customs, prototypes, concept cars, or works race vehicles. Which is, admittedly, kind of a shame.
  • No aircraft or marine craft, unless it’s because they stole parts from existing cars.

Difficulty: 2.9896 megapicas per microcentury.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: oppositelock.kinja.com & carphotographyplus.co.uk

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Non-Circular Steering Wheels

Last Friday, our esteemed Mr. Emslie asked, “Non-Round Steering Wheels, Brah! or Blah?” Many of our readers cited specific cars thus equipped in their responses (amiable, informative, and entertaining—as always). Unfortunately, the hivemind didn’t produce a definitive list of every car that had something other than a perfectly circular steering wheel. So, let’s keep the irregularly shaped party going. Do us a favor and add an example to our virtual encyclopedia entry today.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Production road cars only. No customs, purpose-built race cars, or back-alley hack jobs. Otherwise we could post funny cars, dragsters, and F1 cars until the cows came home and the Interweb tubes were full.
  • It should actually have a wheel. Tillers and skid steers would be a humorous first post, but would get old quickly.
  • Motorcycles? See caveat directly above.
  • Airplanes? Oh, I should slap you for just suggesting it. There are twenty-three gazillion non-round control yokes in planes from Cessnas to military transports. We’re NOT going there today.
  • Boats or ships? [Insert Captain Picard facepalm GIF here].

Difficulty: If you go current, not to hard. Not much low-hanging fruit if you want to go vintage.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: LOW-RIDER’s Photobucket account, releasedatesnewcars.com (but quite likely ripped off from Car & Driver or some other legitimate site)

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Cars named for mythical creatures


Thanks to the fertile minds of Greeks, Romans, sailors, fantasy authors, and peasants living in thatched roof cottages, there is a nearly limitless catalog (or, if you’re Chris Haining, “catalogue”) of fantastical, nonexistent creatures. And fortunately, most of them 1) sound like they’d be pretty badass, and 2) have been around long enough to be in the public domain. And as well all know, that combination makes them vehicle marketing gold. So, as we do every Monday, we invite you to start your workweek by helping us assemble the consummate list of these vehicles named after mythical creatures.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • “Mythical” means it is widely known and has been around a long time. Not just any made-up name counts. For example, Tiguan (half-tiger/half-iguana) sounds like a plausibly mythical creature, except that it was invented by a reader of Autobild magazine specifically for VW. [Buzzer sounds, trapdoor swings open.]
  • Beyond that first big restriction, go hog wild. Manufacturer names, marques, sub-brands, models and trim lines are all good.
  • Concept cars, one-offs, race cars are fair game, as long as the name was official bestowed by a manufacturer, coachbuilder, or famous customiser/designer.
  • Motorcycles? Trucks? Sure.
  • Airplanes? Oh, why not; I’m feeling particularly liberal today. Just don’t let it get out of hand. — Whaddaya think this is, Atomic Toasters?
  • Boats or ships? NO, because they all get individually named and every potlicker with a dingy thinks he has to come up with a majestic name for the thing.

Difficulty: This one’s a gimmie. In fact, I was somewhat surprised that I hadn’t pitched this one previously.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: carandclassic.co.uk, gmheritagecenter.com, Honda press photo that can be found about 20 gazillion places on the ‘net.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: “We should add a hatchback version!”


An old friend of mine once recalled his father car shopping at the local American Motors dealer in the fall of 1972. He was torn between the utility of the Gremlin and the styling of the Hornet coupe — both of which had been out for two years — until the salesman took him around the back of the building to see the very first Hornet hatchback they’d received, still un-prepped. His dad bought it immediately.

Hatchbacks have not been around nearly as long as coupes and sedans, generally speaking. In fact, the Hornet was the first American-built hatchback model. (The Gremlin was considered a compact wagon at the time.) More to my point, the Hornet hatchback has not been around as long as the rest of the Hornet line-up, and that is the subject of our trivia contest quest for encyclopedic knowledge today. I want you to name all the car models that had a hatchback version added later, after the car was first introduced. Now, “car model” is a somewhat nebulous term. So, just to be clear, I’m looking for hatchbacks that were added to an existing platform mid-cycle, not as part of a new generation across the model range.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Production cars only, obviously. If it wasn’t in meaningful serial production, it doesn’t fit this category.
  • 3-doors and 5-doors are both good, as are so-called “liftbacks.”
  • “Later” means LATER. As in, introduced after the car was shipping — preferably by at least half a model year or so. So DON’T mention that hatchback that was announced alongside the other body styles and just didn’t ship quite as quickly. (Yeah, THAT one.)
  • Non-identical cousins based on a common platform are likely to get a pass today. You can still nominate a “hatchback-come-lately”™, despite an earlier hatchback version, as long as it was only offered in a different wheelbase or in a different market. You might also be able to argue that an earlier hatchback version sold under a different brand name shouldn’t disqualify your nomination, as long as it wasn’t a blatant case of badge engineering.
  • Motorcycles? Airplanes? Boats? Sure, if you can come up with one, why not. Lots’a luck with those.

Difficulty: This one’s somewhat odd; the vast majority of the fruit is neither low-hanging nor truly obscure.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: Ate Up With Motor’s Flickr Stream, the Pedia that is Wiki, and manufacturer press photos.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Single-Year Model Names


Combine the effort automotive marketing men put into developing public awareness of model names with the intellectual property value of a legally-established trade mark, and it is understandable why car model names, once established, are often recycled over and over. But, some model names die fast and quiet. These are names tainted by a bad model, or reference a rapidly outdated fad, identified cars that were intentionally small-volume, limited-edition halo cars, or perhaps got slapped together just to use up a stockpile of odd parts. And every once in a while, a name just doesn’t play as well in the showroom as test marketing suggested it would. Even in these cases, however, model names usually get at least a few years to prove themselves before they’re cast into the dustbin of corporate history.

It is rare that a model name is retired after only a single model year, never to be resurrected; this is the topic for this week’s Hoonatica entry.

The Caveats (there are always caveats, and today more than usual!):

  • This is not about platforms or models, but model names. If it was used for more than one model year by a particular manufacturer, even on vehicles in different segments or decades apart, it doesn’t count. ONE. YEAR. ONLY.
  • Trim lines and submodels don’t count. The major model name must be unique. Yes, this also goes for homologation specials.
  • We’re talking world-wide. A model name marketed in ANY market (or combination of markets) for more than one year doesn’t count, even if it happened to be sold in some particular nation or continent for one year only.
  • Mass-produced vehicles only, obviously. Customs, kit cars, amateur-built cars, concept cars and prototypes need not apply.
  • Cars introduced within a year of their manufacturer’s bankruptcy (or other permanent suspension of production) don’t count. The model name must have been intentionally killed, not a victim that died of natural causes.
  • Model names that by definition were designed to change every year don’t count. The example I’m thinking of are the Chrysler 300 “Letter cars.”
  • In light of the above caveat, alpha-numeric names require a special dose of discrimination. Are the IS200d and IS200t really two different names, or just two versions of the same model name? [The latter is the correct answer, if you haven’t figured it out.]
  • Cars, light trucks and heavy trucks are allowed. Motorcycles REALLY, REALLY, REALLY don’t count this week, if only because bike models have so routinely died in infancy over the last thirty years. Airplanes? Don’t even think about it.

Difficulty: Thinking caps on! Very little of this fruit is truly low-hanging, but give the ol’ memory a nudge and perhaps engage in a bit of careful investigation; there is plenty here for everyone.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Source: Wikipedia.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Cars named for speed

Cars are marketed on the promise of many different characteristics: practicality, mobility, luxury, social status, or perhaps some sort of vague feeling that you live in another city. Since outright speed seems a bit dangerous, allusions to high performance are often couched in terms such as “Sport” or “GT”, rather than an overt reference to how fast a car goes. But the latter is what we want today: car names that overtly refer to speed.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • We are looking for cars named for speediness itself, not just things that are fast. Neither Comet nor Falcon belong in this category, even though those are both speedy things.
  • It doesn’t matter if the vehicle itself is fast. I can think of several downright sluggish rides with speedy names.
  • Manufacturers’ marques, model names and trim lines are all fair game. Slang and nicknames are not.
  • The names of concept cars and prototypes are only allowable if it was an officially-bestowed name by an automotive manufacturer or recognized coachwork/styling house.
  • Purpose-built race cars are specifically prohibited.
  • Cars, light and heavy trucks, motorcycles are all fair game. Definitely NO airplanes.

Difficulty: Grasshopper, when you can snatch the low-hanging fruit out of my hand, then you will be ready.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Source: simoncars.co.uk and pistonheads.com.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: DOHC Straight Sixes

2004 Vortec 3500 5-Cylinder Inline Engine
‘Round these parts, we love straight sixes. But they can sometimes be regarded in America as outdated, low-tech beasts (except for BMW fanbois, of course). But the inline-six engine has progressed over the years into something as advanced and sophisticated as any other internal combustion configuration, including the use of dual overhead camshafts. In fact, DOHC inline engines have the advantage over vee engines in weight, cost and complexity, since the cam drive apparatus does not need to be duplicated for two separate heads.

So let us celebrate the DOHC straight six by compiling a comprehensive list of all the different iterations of this configuration.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • We are listing engine designs, not cars. The number or variety of different vehicles an engine ended up in doesn’t matter.
  • Conversely, different generations count separately. If it’s got a new block or new head casting, it’s a new entry.
  • We’re looking for mass-produced, road-going engines. No grand prix works specials.
  • Diesel and petrol are both allowable.

Difficulty: Medium Hot (as long as you don’t bite into the jalapeño seeds).

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Source: counterman.com and Wikipedia.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Cars With Both Inline Six & V6 Engines

I was discussing with a friend what modern engine would be a good swap candidate for a 1958-1960 Ramber American. When I mentioned the Buick 3800 V6, he recoiled in disgust. “You can’t replace a straight six with a V6; that’s blasphemy.” Well, it turns out that by his yardstick, there are a lot of blasphemous manufacturers out there, because a number of platforms have housed both vee and straight 6-cylinder engines. And that, my friends, is the topic that will fill another blank page of our virtual reference guide.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • I am looking for examples of the two different configurations in the same platform, not model. That means that structurally unrelated generations that just share a nameplate don’t count. Conversely, if the same basic body shell was shared between marques or manufacturers, it need not have both engine styles under the same brand name.
  • The two engine designs do not have been offered concurrently; they simply must have both been used at some point in the platform’s production run.
  • Obviously, we’re talking about production cars here, so it has to be something in serial production. The only exception I’ll make is if the manufacturer displayed a prototype version of an existing model with a different engine that never made it to the assembly line.
  • Cars, SUVs, light trucks, and vans are all fair game. If you can make the motorcycle or airplane thing work, I’d be very impressed.

Difficulty: 2.6 microfarads per fathom.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Source: Wikipedia, paceperformance.com, and accurateengines.com.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Inset Rear Windows

Last week, C-pillar buttresses got a whole lotta’ love from our commenters, therefore, I thought it prudent to let you explore that topic in depth today. Since what constitutes a buttress is up to debate, I thought I would open it up to anything with inset backlight glass. An amazing number of vehicles have back windows that are not flush with the roof profile. A definitive list of these is what we’re after here.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • It’s an all-skate. Customs, race cars, prototypes, concept cars — go wild.
  • If you can come up with a motorcycle or airplane that fits this category, please feel free to get in there and put your thing down.

Difficulty: This one is pretty straightforward. No combat bonus pay today.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Source: Wiki-freakin’-pedia.

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Arthropod Vehicle Names

Humans generally do not look kindly on invertebrates. Creepy-crawlers with a surplus of appendages are, for the most part, unattractive and undesirable to have around. But there are exceptions. Insects and spiders bite, sting, can carry disease, carry venom. And, as we all know, any creature that is badass enough to inflict pain and potentially kill you is marketing gold.

Since most people are a bit fuzzy on the differences between insects, arachnids, and crustaceans — and don’t realize that a centipede is none of the above, I’ll open up this discussion to all Arthropods, which is basically any animal with a hard exoskeleton and six or more jointed legs.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Manufacturers’ marques, model names and trim lines are all fair game. Slang, nicknames, and marketing imagery are not.
  • The names of concept cars, race cars, one-offs and stillborn prototypes are only allowable if it was an officially-bestowed name by a recognized automotive manufacturer, kit car builder, or styling house.
  • Cars, light and heavy trucks, motorcycles are all fair game. No boats or airplanes, please.

Difficulty: As easy as getting bit my a mosquito on a summer’s night at dusk.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.