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Hooniverse Asks- What’s the Worst Sedaning of a Hatchback?

Robert Emslie September 29, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

1991_Daihatsu_Charade_SG_Sedan

Have you ever heard the phrase, can’t leave well enough alone? That’s an aphorism that’s especially applicable to cars and trucks as oftentimes their makers take a good thing and screw it up. Most often that’s the case when the decision is made to take a hatchback and slap on a trunk, thus creating a sedan.

Now, sometimes the transformation from cavernous hatch to snooty sedan is successful, the birthing of the first generation Jetta from the Golf being a fine example of when such things go right. That may have been the case of having a great base from which to start, as the Giugiaro-designed Golf was particularly well-suited for such caboosification. Others, well they’ve not been so lucky, and often end up with new rear ends that are as unfortunate as a baboon’s bustle.

Sedans are generally considered fancier than hatchbacks, and that’s why it’s often so unfortunate that such a conversion ends up less aesthetically pleasing than the lower-echelon progenitor. Let’s start the week off by getting your opinion on when that conversion went most wrong. Which do you think were the worst hatch-based sedans in history?

Image: Wikimedia

Hooniverse Asks- Is There any Current Production Car That Would Look Good With Wire Wheels?

Robert Emslie September 26, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

wirewheels

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and express my considered opinion that wire wheels are awesome. Well, let me qualify that just a bit: they are awesome, on the right car. I had a set of 60-spoke wires on my MGB-GT and they looked amazing on it. Seriously, they really pulled the whole car together. Of course, that likely wouldn’t have been the case if the car were instead a Lamborghini Murciélago or, say, a Mercury Sable.

Wire wheels predate the dawn of the automotive age, having become fashionable on bicycles some decades prior. They were not even the most prominent wheel type used in the auto’s nascent days, the wooden spoke wheel being at the time preferred. In fact it was the swoopy European sportsters of the thirties that established the wire wheel as an aesthetic success, an achievement that carried on well into the ’60s. In fact, I recall seeing a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 – the Daytona to its friends – wearing a set of Borrani wires, and even though I get a chubby over Campagnolo alloys on such cars, even I think they looked great.

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a new car that could even be optioned with wires, much less be designed around them. That doesn’t mean however that there aren’t some contemporary cars – I’m thinking Bentleys and Rolls Royce models – that might not benefit from their addition. What do you think, would either of those marques look good with wires? If not, are there any cars sold today that might look good with wire wheels?

Image: Solstice Forum

Hooniverse Asks- What’s the Worst Exterior Door Handle?

Robert Emslie September 25, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

renault-zoe-10-door-handle_1

Truth be told, unless you’re one of those upholstery punishers who like to slide over the door of your convertible and plop down in the seat, it’s most likely that your standard from of ingress to your ride is via some sort of door latch. Those levers, handles, push buttons, and grips have, for the better part of the automotive age been the way to separate the riders from the walkers. The thing of it is, they are not all created equal.

Have you ever had a look at the door handles on pickup trucks? They’re usually oversized loops with equally gargantuan latch buttons. Manufacturers tend to make them this way as many a cowpoke or construction worker is likely to use them while wearing heavy gloves. That’s dang considerate of them. Or, maybe it’s just savvy market research. Not quite all outside door latches are as well considered, and in fact some are a downright pain in the butt to use. I love the current Aston Martin standard of a thin blade pulled free from its flush door mount, but honestly, it’s kind of inconvenient in day to day use.

It’s those sort of portal pain points that we’re looking for today. Whether aesthetically unpleasing, like the latches on Nissan’s 370Z, or, like those of AM, functionally what were they thinking, what we want to know is, which in your experience, are the worst car door handles to use.

Image: AutoExpress

Hooniverse Asks- What is The Car Tech That Didn’t Catch On That You Most Wish Did?

Robert Emslie September 24, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Audi Solar

Mazda once offered center air vents on their 626 model that oscillated like a desk fan. It was quite possibly the greatest advancement in automotive dashboard air vent technology since… well, the event of the advent of the automotive dashboard air vent. Sadly, that advancement – like the similarly awesome crotch cooler vent of  ’70s and ’80s GM cars – didn’t make the leap to the mainstream.

There are are lot of similar examples of automotive tech that seems forehead-slappingly obvious in their greatness, but which, for whatever reason, never seemed to become even modestly ubiquitous. And yes, I know that’s a contradiction in terms. Audi once had a solar sunroof that would power the HVAC fan to keep air moving through the car and hence keep it from becoming too toasty. Where is that today?

We truly live in an amazing age, what with pocket computers, hi-def sports and porn, and cars that do damn-near almost everything. The thing of it is, we’ve tasted technology that for on reason or the other, didn’t make the grade and have recognized some for their greatness even though they never gained common usage. What I’d like to hear from you today is which of those technologies you think were most deserving. What are the car technologies that never really caught one that you think totally should have done so?

Image: AutoUA.net

Hooniverse Asks- What Bike has the Coolest Reputation?

Robert Emslie September 23, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

black-shadow

Captain America, the iconic chopper that was featured in the 1969 counterculture flick, Easy Rider is going up for auction next month. The film, directed by Dennis Hopper, was intended to be a treatise on how conformity and capitalism was destroying the American dream. The bike – which was one of three used in the film, and which was nearly destroyed in the making – is expected to fetch over a million when the paddles finally go down.

That Harley chopper has provenance and presence, but does it possess motorcycledom’s coolest rep? That’s hard to say because there are so many other cool bikes that have dutifully worked – or have been worked – to lay claim to the title. Consider if you will, the Vincent Black Shadow. I’ll give you a minute to genuflect in its honor. That’s a bike that in the fifties gained the respect that today is afforded to cars like the Bugatti Veyron and Porsche Carrera GT. It was a super-performing bike and one that today – while perhaps not worth a million dollars – is still desirable and dear.

There’s also the Benelli Sei, Honda’s amazing oval piston 750NR, and that crazy Viper-engine’d Dodge Tomahawk. Each of those could claim the crown just based on audacity alone. What do you think, are any of these the coolest? Or, is there another that’s the motorcycle embodiment of Jack Nicholson? What do you think is the motorcycle with the coolest reputation?

Image: Popular Mechanics

Hooniverse Asks- What’s The Best Sedan To Wagon Transformation?

Robert Emslie September 22, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Volvo___245_Beige

I think the reason we don’t see more station wagons these days is because the sedans upon which they would need to be based are all too swoopy in their aft regions to support the switch to longroof form. The generic fastback style of almost every four-door car made today is not something that easily lends itself to the transformation to capacious carrier. For example, check out Jaguar’s XF which made the switch from sedan to wagon. The result, while not unattractive, has a super small load area, and even goes by the name sportbrake which implies rakishness rather than utility.

No, the wagon’s heyday was back when most sedans were either more upright, making the transition an easy one, or worth the dramatic change as wagons sold in far greater numbers. Over the course of the automobile age there have been hundreds of different wagon models that were pulled from their sedan brethren. Sometimes the result was a laudable success, while other times the longroof addition was as ungainly and aesthetically unpleasing as Quasimodo’s hump.

We’re not interested in the latter, as we like pretty things here. Instead, what we want to know today is, which sedan to wagon transformations do you think have proven to be the most visually successful? We don’t get to see too many of them any more, so let’s look back and see if we can pick out the best of the best.

Image: all-volvo-images

Hooniverse Asks- Hood Stripes on Cars, Appalling or Appealing?

Robert Emslie September 19, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

mustangII

The wrap up question for the week comes from none other than our own weekend warrior, Jim Brennan, who is also responsible for a few of our more popular weekly posts. Jim wants closure on that age-old conundrum of whether or not hood stripes are awesome. It’s truly a question for the ages.

As a matter of fact, I’m not satisfied with limiting the question to hood stripes, I’d like to know whether you think black-painted hoods, screaming chickens, coiled vipers, or any other from of painted/decal’d hood adornment is of value, or if it’s all just masturbatory excess. Yep, I just said masturbatory. I know, ewww.

What do you think about hood ornamentation? Is that something that you’d generally give a meh, not bad? Or, do you like your hoods as clean as your kitchens, and completely decode of extraneous frippery? What’s your take on hood stripes, appalling, or appealing?

Image: Shelby-American Club

Hooniverse Asks- How do You Like the Styling of Mercedes’ New AMG GT?

Robert Emslie September 18, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

AMGGT2

The Mercedes Benz AMG GT – the marque’s supposed Porsche 911-fighter – debuted last week. Its arrival was somewhat lost in the similar unveilings of the next Mazda Miata and Jaguar’s make-it or break-it XE which are both wildly important introductions for different reasons. The Benz on the other hand… well, it’s always great to have another performance car at the table, but hyper-MBs haven’t always been at the top of the lottery winners’ must-have lists.

This particular car, with its claimed 500+ horsepower and 192 mph top speed, is the replacement for the supposedly brilliant – just ask Jeremy Clarkson – but somewhat ungainly SLS. The older car had gullwing doors in its coupe form, keeping a connection with its lineage to the 300SL of the fifties. This car has portals like on the marque’s entry-level CLA, or, to delve into even more plebeian depths, the Smart Fortwo.

I’m not saying that the new AMG GT isn’t very likely an excellent car when it comes to the specs and the dynamics, what I’m more interested in is the fact that the new Mercedes is, from almost every angle, a kind of homely car.  In fact, in the above side view, it’s out and out fugly. That of course is just my opinion, but a good part of the attraction of cars in this strata is the looks, and I’m thinking that this Benz lacks the ammo to do battle with the likes of the 911 or Aston Martin Vantage. What do you think, is the new Benz a beauty, or is it a beast? How do you like the styling of MB’s new super coupe?

Image: AutoWeek

Hooniverse Asks- Should We Just Quit Pretending That Anyone Wants to Sit In the Middle Seat?

Robert Emslie September 17, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Bitch Seat

When it comes to the typical sedan, unless it is really small – like 30-clown small – it more than likely has belts for three in the back seat. Again, if it’s even a mid-sizer, that middle perch is pretty much a penalty box when it comes to anything other than a trip next door.

The middle – or, to be totally politically incorrect the ‘bitch‘ seat – is offered by manufacturers as a throwaway feature that the makers can tout, or perhaps a nod to the insurance industry. It would seem that a five-passenger car must necessarily be better than one that only seats four. As a matter of fact, when Volkswagen couldn’t move the 4-place Passat CC here in the States, they shipped a slew of them back to Germany where they were retrofitted with back seats that could take 5 in a pinch.

It seems that for most cars – and a lot of pickup trucks as well – that pinch is exactly how that middle seat occupant will feel as cars today just don’t offer the width necessary for three-across seating. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to condemn my friends to center seat purgatory on  even the shortest of runs. What with even FWD cars having sizable tunnels these days, and the aforementioned skinny minnie-ness of most cars, it just seems cruel. What do you think, shall we just all agree that the middle seat is not a real thing and eliminate that extra belt that lives back there?

Image: Mummy Of 3 Diaries

Hooniverse Asks- What’s the Best Part of Buying a New Car?

Robert Emslie September 16, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

NewCar

Have you ever bought a new car or truck? It’s a different sort of experience from going used. Oh sure, the general rule of thumb is that depreciation makes buying a new car – I’m looking at you BMW 7-series – a fiscally irresponsible act, but you know sometimes you’ve just got to throw caution to the wind. After all, how big a selection of C7 Corvettes are there presently on the pre-owned market?

As noted, the purchase of a new ride is a unique experience. For some it’s almost ritualistic, involving researching both car and dealer, planning the negotiation line of attack, and eventually driving off the lot in your spoils of war. The fun usually doesn’t end there either. There’s the showing off of your new purchase to friends and family and the late night pouring through the owner’s manual just in case you need to point out the location of the child safety seat mounts should any one ask, or what exactly is the function of that button on the console marked ~~.

Considering the importance of a new car purchase, both financially and as to how much of a loser or winner you will appear in the eyes of your significant other’s family, what we want to know today is, what in your mind is the best part of the whole process? Is it the first test drive, where you start to feel that immutable bond with your soon to be daily driver? Or is it that first evening, when you pull a lawn chair and a beer out to the driveway just so you can admire your new acquisition – and shoo away any birds that may wish to hang out of the phone lines that cross that drive?  What’s you favorite part of buying a new car?

Image: Trezzalaw

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