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Hooniverse Asks- What Cars Should NEVER Be Modified?

Robert Emslie November 26, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


A few years back we had a De Tomaso Pantera in the family. It was a pretty bone-stock 1973, and was not only a blast to drive, but was also a ticket of entry into the world of wacky Pantera owners and their cars. Now, at the time, the Pantera wasn’t worth all that much, nice examples trading well south of twenty grand. That meant that a lot of owners didn’t feel any compunction to keep their cars stock, and I can recall countless numbers of flared fenders, quad turbos, and any other wild and/or individual modification you could imagine.

Today the Pantera has reached a point in value where a stock edition will fetch twice or even three times what they went for little more than they did back then. And those with the wild – and usually irreversible – modifications? Well, they’re paying the price because collectors want Alejandro’s vision, not that of Clark from Walnut Grove. That’s a cautionary tale, and it got me thinking, are there cars today that should always be left alone and not messed with, lest the modifications negatively impact its potential value? What do you think, are there cars that should simply NEVER be modified?

Image: Pelican Parts

Hooniverse Asks- Should Ford Make Another Hatchback Mustang?

Robert Emslie November 25, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


In its 50-year life the Ford Mustang has had but two hatchbacks in its model mix – one on the venerated Fox body and the other on the earlier and less well-loved Mustang II. Not everybody knows this, but there was almost a third Mustang hatch, one that but for a very vocal enthusiast outpouring over its inclusion in the panoply of ‘Stangs, would have also been the first front-wheel drive Mustang.

That was the Ford Probe, which until the eleventh hour was going to be the Ford Mustang Probe. So close did the Blue Oval Boys come to making this tragic mistake that the Probe’s rear bumper mold required a last-minute modification to eliminate the MUSTANG embossing. I heartily agree that the Probe was no Mustang, and that positioning it as such would have potentially irreparably damaged the brand, but still, I do like the thought of a Mustang hatch.

The ‘Stang currently comes in but two models, a fun-in-the-sun convertible, and a fastback coupe. There’s no reason that second edition couldn’t be modded to offer a gaping gap capable of swallowing a refrigerator or discarded Barcalounger surreptitiously found by the roadside. Both the Mustang II – which I think gets some unwarranted shade thrown its way, and the foxstang had hatches that added versatility to their vroom-vroom, and I’d like to see that as an option once again. Do you concur? What do you think, should Ford make another Mustang hatchback?

Image: 1zoom

Hooniverse Asks-What’s YOUR Favorite New or Updated Car From the LA Show?

Robert Emslie November 24, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


The Los Angeles Auto Show is now in full swing and should you be planning on attending, I recommend getting there early as it does get crowded. Should you instead prefer to visit vicariously through the various and plentiful sites that have been providing coverage of the show’s debuts then you’re probably already fully up to speed, and sated on the sights. Plus, you don’t have to wash that new car smell out of your hair!

Whatever your bent, you’ve likely seen all the important new metal and plastic that has arrived in LA, and I’m thinking that one or more of them has resonated with you on some level. What however has gotten you the most excited? Was it the new Shelby GT 350 Mustang with its wholly unexpected flat plane crank V8? Or, did the new VW Golf Sportwagon most float your boat? With 33 World debuts, there must have been something there for pretty much everybody to like.

What car or truck got you the most hot and bothered? Or, if none did, what was your biggest disappointment from the show- what did you expect to see and then sadly didn’t?

Image” LAAS

Hooniverse Asks- What Car-Related Questions do YOU Want to Ask?

Robert Emslie November 21, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


We’re once again dusting off a special Hooniverse Asks edition, one in which I’m not asking you a question, but where instead I’m asking you for questions. That’s right, it’s like reaching Nirvana without all that fussy mountain climbing.

Here’s how it works: you can ask any automotive question that’s been gnawing at your psyche like a rat on a raisin, and we’ll see if your fellow Hoons can come up with an answer. Of course, we don’t guarantee that it’ll be the right answer.

There is a depth of automotive knowledge present in here, just waiting to be unleashed. If you’ve got a question - is double clutching the same thing as dutch treating? – you can be assured that one of your fellow Hoons will have the answer.  So since it’s Friday, and you’ve probably already checked out for the weekend even though you may not even be yet at work, let’s see if we can get another impromptu Q&A going and see where it goes.

Image: AllThingsD

Hooniverse Asks- Is There a Replica Car You Wouldn’t Mind Owning?

Robert Emslie November 20, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


While many lay claim that imitation to be the most sincere form of flattery, I saw the movie Single White Female, and I know that copping a particular look can often end in dire consequences. That’s happened in the automotive world too as some folks have taken it into their own hands when they decided that a particular car was so cool looking that they had to whip out the mimeograph machine.

As we noted this past week on Craigslist Crapshoot, that has resulted in there being more fake (excuse me, homage) Shelby Cobras than real ones. That’s also been the case with Porsche 356 Speedsters, various Ferrari models, and a whole lot of Lamborghinis. The thing of it is, while makers of the originals – notably Ferrari – have attempted to halt the knock-offs, the fact that there are 260Z-based GTOs and 308s that are really Fieros hasn’t blunted the values of the real cars. What they have done is expanded the availability of these models, and they’ve allowed some percentage of enjoyment of the real deal without the threat of loss of that model to a future generation.

Do you feel the way about homage cars the way you do about that fake crab? Or, do you see them as your one opportunity to realize a dream that your bank account would never allow? Is there a replica car that you wouldn’t mind owning?

Image: SuperChevy

Hooniverse Asks- What’s the Most Lust-Worthy One-Off Wagon?

Robert Emslie November 19, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

928 Wagon

The appeal of the station wagon to auto enthusiasts is kind of a hard thing to grasp. I mean they’re not generally very engaging to drive – yes, S4 Avant owners, I see your looks of incredulity – and they certainly aren’t going to get you noticed pulling into the parking lot at the local pick-up parlor. Still, we all love the longroof. Perhaps it stems from an early memory, a desire to return to an era when troubles were minor, and all our moms drove station wagons. Maybe it was Oedipus who wrecked us for our appreciation of such suburban standards.

Whatever the reason, we appreciate the form in the same way we might that of Kate Upton, or perhaps Channing Tatum, if that’s your preference. And while it’s one thing to fulfill the wagon fantasy and actually own one, it’s a whole ‘nother ball of awesome to have one that no one else does.

That’s what we’re interested in today, one-off wagons. If you consider cars such as the Lynx Eventer shooting brake, or that weird de Tomaso Deauville wagon that we saw a while back, there are a ton of oddball one-off wagons that have been built over the years. It may have been a factory show car, or a coach-built beauty commissioned by a wealthy individual with his own Oedipal issues. Whatever it was, what do you think is the most desirable one-off wagon ever built?

Image: Autoblog

Hooniverse Asks- What has Been Your Most Satisfying Car Repair?

Robert Emslie November 18, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


So I’m a little ashamed to admit that for about 3 months, my way of dealing with a reoccurring check engine light on my daily driver was to plug in my OBDII code reader and hit the reset button. I had already ascertained that the cause of the calamity wasn’t too serious, and so I thought I could let it slide for a while.The issue was the DPFE sensor, which reads the pressure on either side of the Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve, had failed. What I didn’t know – stupid me – was that whenever the car went into check engine mode, it dumped a ton of fuel into the system, in an attempt to manage a motor with one of its major sensors down. Ugh.

I eventually got around to buying a replacement EGR (the DPFE is in-unit with the valve) and spent a morning contorting over the engine to replace the whole shebang. My primary goal was to stop the dashboard light show, which did happen, but as an added benefit to the motor now having all its senses back has been an about 20% increase in fuel economy. That, and the recent steady decline in gas prices, has made me one happy camper.

That was a pretty simple repair that paid dividends in its completion. I’ve undertaken other, more grandiose repairs, but few of those felt quite as satisfying, and of course, if you’re going to go to the trouble of getting dirty and using up your weekend time, it might as well have positive outcome, right? How about for you, have you had a car repair that you felt really pushed your ego button? What has been your most satisfying car repair?

Image: Fuelfed

Hooniverse Asks- What’s the Greatest Example of Brand Over-Reach?

Robert Emslie November 17, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


Consider if you will Volkswagen’s plans in the late Nineties and early Aughts. Seeing Mercedes Benz move down-market, and into direct competition with their prime money-maker the Golf, then VW president Ferdinand Piëch determined to go mano-a-mano with the luxury marque, attempting to turn The People’s Car into The Rich People’s Car.

That didn’t turn out the way that Piëch envisioned, and so Volkswagen unceremoniously turned out Piëch. Today, VW still builds the Phaeton, which was their upmarket vanguard, but it’s not presently sold in the U.S., and all of their other models – save the Touareg  – have been repositioned down-market.

That’s just one example of a brand trying to reach for the stars and failing, but is it the most extraordinary example of such flawed ambition? What do you think, what is the greatest instance of a brand’s over-reach?

Image: NetCarShow

Hooniverse Asks- Does the U.S. Need More Mini Sporty Cars?

Robert Emslie November 14, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


The other day I was listening to Jalopnik’s Matt Hardigree on NPR talking about the car market, and how SUVs had killed the sports car. He’s right, you know, and it’s not just sports cars, as the sporty car segment has withered and died as well. You remember the little sporty cars don’t you? Cars like the Honda CRX and Mitsubishi Eclipse? They used to be thick as flies on poo here in the U.S., and now, there’s only the CRZ, that weird Mini, and perhaps the Scion Tc to keep the flame alive.

That sucks because these kind of cars – while not as balls to the wall sporting as a real sports car, like say a Miata – are still way more fun to drive on a twisty road than a Rav4 or CRV. In fact, eff those guys. I did get the chance to get behind the wheel of the CRZ recently, and it was a supercharged one to boot. That little two-seater was a blast to drive, despite its FWD.  I found it far more enjoyable than its bigger brother the Civic Si. Go figure.

Little cars like the hotter CRZ are usually a barrel of monkeys, and it’s a shame that we don’t have a selection of them today. Well, at least that’s my opinion. What do you think, should these mini-sporty cars make a comeback? Do you think we could trade in our crossovers for gymkhana racers?

Images: SyberTrader, TheDetroitBureau

Hooniverse Asks- Are Remote Kill Switches A Bad Idea?

Robert Emslie November 13, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Kill Switch

A recent story came across the news of Las Vegas resident Mary Bolender’s attempt to drive her asthmatic daughter to the emergency room when the 10-year old suffered a severe fever. Bolender was thwarted by a remote kill switch that had been fixed to her car by her lender, as she was behind on her payments by $389.

That’s an extreme example of the negative aspects of remotely activated automotive kill switches, but there’s another side of their story too. The ability of the police to safely stop a car – whether a runaway or some scofflaw who thinks he or she can outrun the Motorola and police choppers – is a pretty big benefit. That’d save the public money, make for safer streets, and be a hoot to watch on the TV news.

If you think about the advancements we enjoy today with our cell phones, being able to shut them down and erase their contents should they be lost or stolen, it’s not unexpected that the same sort of ability should be available for our cars and trucks, after all, they represent an even bigger investment, and are also an attractive temptation for thieves. What’s your take on remote kill switches for cars, do you think they’re a good idea, or a bad one? Would you put one of your car, or more importantly, would you let a lender or insurer put one on it?

Image: Kinoportals


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