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Podcast: Episode 75 – Whir: The best impression that Blake has ever done

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Chris, Blake, and myself are all back in the same room for the first time in weeks. Blake has been off checking out the new ND Miata, and I was running wild down in Baja to test a brand-new BFGoodrich KO2 tire. We’re back now though, and Blake has shown up at the podcast palace riding the Zero SR electric motorcycle. My ride isn’t as cool as that (Elantra GT) but I did just spend a weekend with the 2014 Dodge Viper.

Hop the jump to hear more about all of that…

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Stop the pressers: a Hoonicopia of Automotive Excellence. And a Hyundai Pony too.

Brendan McAleer September 17, 2014 Featured, Quick Shifts

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Nearly everyone in this business remembers their first presser with fondness, be it ever so humble. A Fit, a Corolla, a Dodge Neon with crank windows – it doesn’t matter what it was, just that you finally had the opportunity to write something useful or incisive or interesting. Mine was a Nissan S-Cargo. That… that explains a lot, actually.

Most importantly, it explains why I spend the bulk of every Monday asking the question: “How can I avoid writing about new cars this week?” Not that there’s anything wrong with new pressers, and Our Blessed Lady of Acceleration knows there are many who would cheerfully roshambo me for the chance to drive the base-engine Sonata that’s in the driveway this week. So, no complaining.

However, life is too short for electric power steering and the same damn thing fifty other people are going to talk about. I like to think I have a nose for sussing out stuff that’s far better – or way, way worse – than your average modern car. This is a clip show, of sorts, of a few things I’ve been up to this year that I thought might appeal to the Hooniversal reader. There’s a Turbo Esprit. There’s a Pony. Strap in.

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Enthusiast’s Guide To FIA Formula E

Bradley Brownell September 11, 2014 Featured, Motorsports

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Remember how excited people got about the Audi R10 TDi racers when they debuted? They were something completely new and different. They were the pinnacle of technology, they were fast, they were quiet, and they wiped the floor with their competition. Starting this weekend, the FIA is trying to capitalize on that alternative energy racing craze that Audi pioneered all the way back in 2006. Instead of a now-accepted diesel racing car, however, they are introducing electric racing to the world stage in an open-wheel series dubbed “Formula E”. Some people have called it crazy, some are condemning it to failure before it’s even begun. In comparison with traditional racing, Formula E does have some downsides, primarily a spec chassis, a spec powertrain, and spec tires, combined with a relatively low top-speed (only about 140 miles per hour), and an inability to produce aurally pleasing exhaust notes.

Is Formula E going to be the Formula 1 replacement for the Prius driver? I don’t think so. This should be an excellent racing series that provides some pretty exciting racing action, and while it won’t provide the sounds and smells you’re used to in open-wheel racing, it should be pretty indicative of the future of motorsport. We need to find a way forward if we want motorsport to continue into a non-fossil-fueled future. Maybe Formula E is the stepping stone we need to develop the technology for sustainable motor racing. Maybe it’ll fall on its face right out of the starting gate, but personally I really hope it doesn’t.

After the jump, we continue our series of articles covering the various road racing series and important races all over the world. In previous installments,  we have covered The United Sports Car Championship, the 12 hours of Sebring, the Bathurst 12 hour,Indycar, the Pirelli World Challenge, the FIA World Endurance ChampionshipFormula 1Global Rallycross, The 24 Hours of Le Mans, and The 24 Hours of the Nurburgring.

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Podcast: Episode 74 – On the Road Again: NY and Virginia…

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I’m on the road again, and I’m reporting in after spending some time in NY and Virginia. I’ve traveled up to NY to sample the all-new Lexus RC F, and then hopped on a plane to Virginia to sample some Volkswagen goodness.

This is a special shorty episode, as it’s an On The Road Again episode.

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First Drive: 2015 Lexus RC F

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Lexus is looking to join the big leagues of the sport luxury segment. That’s a hefty road to climb considering it’s currently filled with the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, BMW M4, and the Audi RS5, amongst other machines.

Lexus has an answer to those vehicles, however, and it’s called the RC F. Hooniverse.com Executive Editor Jeff Glucker heads to the Monticello Motor Club in New York to see if it can compete with the rest of the segment.

[Disclaimer: Lexus flew me to New York and put me up in a hotel. I ditched the after-track after-dinner drink-a-thon to hang out with my buddy Matt... we had our own drink-a-thon. I was tired the next day.]

Understanding and Hooning the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

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10.8 seconds. That’s how long it takes the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat to cover one quarter of a mile from a stand still on street-legal drag tires, according to the NHRA. Let’s put that into perspective:

  • Until 2008, all cars faster than 12 seconds needed a roll bar and a harness.
  • The super exotic Ferrari F40, when new, ran it in 11.7.
  • A 2007 Porsche Carrera Turbo ran it in 11.6 seconds.
  • Everyone’s beloved McLaren F1 ran the quarter in 11.5 seconds.
  • The new $320,000 Ferrari F12 Barlinetta does it in 11.0 seconds.
  • The fastest Lamborghini Gallardo managed about 10.9 seconds.

Yes, many modified cars run faster than that, but if you want a factory stock car with air conditioning and warranty, you’re looking to spend significantly more than a hundred grand. Yes, the Hellcat is a muscle car whereas the cars listed above are sports cars that can corner as hard as they accelerate. Yes, street slicks, a sticky track, and overall ideal conditions do make a difference, so repeating those numbers at the local drag strip won’t be easy.

Still, 10.8 seconds, 707 horsepower, sixty-ish grand. In case you are still not convinced that we are living in the greatest automotive era of all time, this should erase all doubts. But the cool folks at Dodge think that despite its muscle car heritage, the Hellcat and other Challengers can hold their own on the road course, too. Dodge’s SRT team was so confident in the handling of their models that they let loons such as me loose on Portland International Raceway with their newest Challengers. And in heavy rain, too!

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Podcast: Episode 73 – Moto Goatse to the 24 Hours of Lemon Party

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This week we reunite with an old friend, Mr. Alex Roy. Alex and Blake are both fresh back from Pebble Beach where they experience all manner of automotive obscura. Blake regales us with his story of riding his Moto Guzzi to Pebble while pailing in comparison to the epic journeys of George Egloff. Alex shares his experience with Jerry Wiegert of Vector fame. Blake reviews the A3, CLA and Alfa 4C we discuss the merits of Chris Bangle’s BMW designs, abysmal Viper sales, Ferrari’s GT cars and of course Alex’s Morgan 3 Wheeler.

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2015 Cadillac Escalade drops the guilty and ups the pleasure

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For me, the Cadillac Escalade has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure vehicle. This is a machine that I shouldn’t like, but for some reason I’m oddly attracted to said vehicle. I once took a 900-mile road trip in a last-generation Escalade Platinum Hybrid. With four adults seated comfortably, the journey was a breeze. Still, that ungainly machine was extremely expensive on the window sticker yet it didn’t quite pair that price with the same level of luxury one would expect when shelling out that much dough.

For 2015, Cadillac has launched an all-new Escalade, and it looks a whole lot sharper than the version it replaces. The exterior has been refined, the interior has been upgraded, and the engine is better than before.

Is it still a guilty pleasure… or has it evolved into something more?

[Disclaimer: Cadillac loaned me the keys to the 2015 Escalade for a week. They also included a tank of gas. Spoiler alert: One tank doesn't get you very far and I made my local Mobil station very happy.]

Summer Holiday Souvenirs – 1977 Zastava 101 on the Nürburgring

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Let’s say you go for a vacation on an island in the Adriatic sea. What would you bring back home from there? A suntan? Some handicraft? Two of my friends went for something with a local flavour, and went halves on a 1977 Zastava 101. You could do worse.

Beni, the guy who drove to my town a couple years ago with a blue Miata via Norway, is no stranger to wrenching on older, quirky cars, as he also owns an X1/9. This pretty much means he wasn’t afraid to set off to Germany, crossing the Alps, in the pea soup green 1100cc Fiat derivative. The thing even managed a comfortable cruise on the revered Autobahn. Joe Isuzu was nowhere in sight, though.

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Hooniverse goes to NASCAR at Sonoma Raceway

Eric Rood August 26, 2014 Featured, Motorsports

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A few weeks ago, I buttoned up two parts of a trip to Northern California that included a visit to Flowmaster’s West Sacramento factory and a trip to Calistoga Speedway’s half-mile dirt oval for the Kings of the West Series sprint car races. That trip also included a visit at Flowmaster’s behest to Sonoma Raceway for NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Toyota Save Mart 350, one of the two road course races on the Sprint Cup schedule. It was an interesting experience, for sure, and one that I’ve done my best to encapsulate for you after the jump.

[Disclaimer: Flowmaster provided travel arrangements and accommodations for this visit.]

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