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Hooniverse Asks- Do you really need armrests?

Robert Emslie September 1, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


Thinking back on all the cars I have owned, I’ve come to the realization that the better part of half of them have been so small that they have not offered a place to put my elbows, well, not officially that is. Some, like my Austin Healey go so far as to lack an inner door skin, offering up the inside of the door itself for elbow room, albeit without a place to rest those weary joints.

Armrests are a fairly modern convenience in the automotive world, and like cup holders, they seem to a place where car makers expend a good bit of capital in making them as innovative and convenient as possible. Some center armrests are adjustable for position and height, while others offer a place for your cell phone just an elbow’s length away. Considering that you should be driving with your hands on the wheel at ten and two, and that wheel positioned at almost an arm’s length away, I’m wondering whether we even need armrests at all? Don’t they just serve to perpetuate bad habits?

Here in America, for the longest time the standard driving position wasn’t 10 and 2, it was one elbow on the doorsill and the other in your lap while steering with your hand lightly gripping the bottom of the wheel. This animus for proper positioning is only exacerbated by offering comfy little pillows for your elbows. Plus, they take up valuable room and sometimes get in the way of shifting. What’s your take on armrests, are they a boon, or a bad habit-enabling bust?

Image: The Hogring

Hooniverse Asks- Have You Had a Recent “Oh Yeah” Car?

Robert Emslie August 29, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

EOS copy

The other day I was working my way across beautiful downtown Burbank, taking in the sights. This is no mean feat as Burbank California is perhaps the most inscrutably laid-out city in the nation, with rail lines and two major freeways bisecting it. Anyway, the round-about requirements for navigating the city’s streets, along with the unbelievably long traffic signal cycles, gave me lots of time to see those sights and one of those was a Volkswagen EOS. That caused me to utter out loud an, oh yeah, I’d totally forgotten about those.

If you’ve also totally forgotten, then let’s have a quick refresher. The EOS was Volkswagen’s Golf-based hardtop convertible and it came with a particularly clever top that could go full-convertible, while still offering an opening glass moonroof. It was amazing, while the rest of the car was so forgettable that I totally forgot they even existed.

That seems to be the case these days, as there are so many cars available and so many that just seem to blend together as one. Have you had a recent sighting that also made you say, oh yeah? If so, what was the mythical beast that elicited that reaction? What is your most recent oh yeah car?

Image: Autoblog Canada

Hooniverse Asks- Do You Think Digital Slow-Down Signs Work?

Robert Emslie August 28, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Slow Down

Shame, for many, is a great motivator. For some, it has no effect at all – just look all of the scandal-plagued politicians who still rail about the breakdown of family values in society. Actually, don’t look at them as it only encourages them. One place where THE MAN is using shame to keep the rest of us down is through the use of radar-equipped speed signs on the side of the road, where everybody can see how fast you’re going!

I happen to pass three of these signs on a regular basis, and I can tell you that I far prefer passing them on the weekends when they seem to be turned off than Monday – Friday when they tattle on my 35 in a 30 zone. Look, I don’t advocate reckless driving or unnecessary speeding, but geez-louise, a couple over the limit isn’t going to kill anyone. Well, maybe not.

Have you run into these electronic tattle-tellers where you live? Do they affect your pace at all? Do you have no shame whatsoever? What’s your take on everybody knowing you business when it comes to how fast you might be driving?

Image: SteamBoatToday

Hooniverse Asks- Do You Ever Drive With a Pet?

Robert Emslie August 27, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Good Dog-Bad Dog

I have a friend who once made a move, picking up stakes in the LA area and dropping them about 200 miles north in bucolic San Luis Obispo. He sent most of the family’s treasured belongings along in a moving van, but there were certain things that had to be transported personally, and that included 4 travel-phobic felines. As the story was related to me, one of the cats spent the entire journey splayed out on the dashboard, while another two curled up into quivering balls of fur occasionally emanating mournful mews.

The last cat spent the entire trip alternating between my friend’s shoulders and the top of his head leaving him with battle scars from its constant repositioning. Of course chicks dig scars, and cats as well. My dog is far less of a danger in the car, preferring to anoint the window with his snot rather than test out the velcro-like effects of his claws on other passengers. We don’t take him on too many trips as we need a mop after any that are greater than just a couple of miles.

What about you, do you frequently drive with some sort of pet? If so, do you take particular precautions when you do? For many, our pets are like our children and we do need to ensure their safety in the car or truck just like we would any other member of the family. What’s your MO for driving with with one of our furry friends?

Image: Fine Art America

Hooniverse Asks- Is There a Car or Truck That Doesn’t Look Good in Black?

Robert Emslie August 26, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Dark Night

There’s always some trend that declares X to be the new black. It doesn’t matter what the category or concept, black is always the baseline. When it comes to cars and trucks, that’s much the same situation. Few cars would be caught dead on the marketplace without at least one shade of black in their clothes closet, as that seems to be one of the few universally appealing colors.

You’ve surly heard the old saw about Henry Ford offering the Model T in any color you could want, just as long as it was black. Truth be told, Henry probably never said that, and in fact  Model Ts built before 1913 came in a bunch of different colors. It wasn’t until afterward, when the production line was required to maintain a frenetic pace, that black became the model’s signature hue. It all came down to cost and expediency, a single color was cheaper to plan for, and black was the chosen single color.

Of course it helped that the Model T looked smashing in black, as do a lot of cars and trucks. In fact, it’s such a standard for so many cars that I got to wondering if there was one that didn’t look good clothed in ebony hues. What do you think, is black the ubiquitous shade that can do no wrong? Or is there a car or truck for which it’s just not a good fit?

Image: Spoki

Hooniverse Asks Bonus: Is to Bad to Part Out an Otherwise Functional Vehicle?

Tim Odell August 25, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

1974 Jeep Wagoneer

When searching for relatively rare parts from relatively rare vehicles, often times buying a donor vehicle is the most efficient way to get what you need. For me, I’m eyeing this 1974 Wagoneer for its front and rear axles. However, the intact “Razor” grill, AMC 360, TH400 transmission, Dana 20 transfer case and various other easily removed pieces will net an additional few hundred bucks. Lastly, the steel of the carcass puts it in the $200-300 range for the scrap yard. I’d probably get my axles for $0 plus or minus a hundred bucks.

But then again, there’s only so many of the unflared, pre-wood, truly classic looking Wagoneers out there. I’m sure rust-belters are already cursing me through the screen. This one’s rough, but for the price it could be fixed up a bit and serve honorably for a few more decades. I hate seeing pictures from old junkyards, with (literally) piles of cars that we’d all (hopefully not literally) kill for today. I’d hate to be part of that, just to make a few bucks.

So…are we–the havers of tools, skills and driveway spaces–obligated to save the weakest of the classic herd? Or are we free to prey upon them, as nature intended?

Hooniverse Asks- On The Road, Do You Consider Yourself to be an ‘Aggressive’ Driver?

Robert Emslie August 25, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Locke Tom Hardy

Some people are, for the most part, all peaches and cream. They’re polite, respectful of others, and generally well mannered. However, you put them behind the wheel of a car and all of a sudden they go Judge Dredd on everyone else. Do you fall into that category? I know I don’t, I’m generally a pain in the butt to be around all of the time. I do have to ply the highways of Southern California, however, and because its a necessity here, I do consider myself to be an aggressive driver.

Now, when I say aggressive I don’t mean it as in you’re some kind of gaping A-hole, I just mean that you  simply respect those whose driving skill is acceptable, and suffer not those fools who don’t seem to have yet caught on what it means to drive these days. Being aggressive on the road means putting on your signal, AND THEN MOVING OVER A LANE. Look, signal on, space available checked, if someone suddenly wants to speed up and close that space so as to make me have find another, well that’s not cool.

My general methodology when driving is that everyone else on the road is an incompetent fool, and frequently I am proved right by at least one driver on even the shortest of trips. I don’t like it when people do dumb things on the road – like try and merge into a long line of traffic that’s inching along the transition road, rather than having entered that line back when they easily could have. Not going to happen, line-cutter! How about you, do you have certain rules for the road for yourself and others that might generally be classified as ‘aggressive’? If so, do you take pride in that?

Image: Cinemablographer

Hooniverse Asks- Has There Ever Been a Brand Brought Back to Life That was Respectful to its Heritage?

Robert Emslie August 22, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 7.52.46 PM

The Veyron has secured its place in the pantheon of the world’s most insane performance cars, but has it really been imbued with the heart and soul of the Bugatti brand?  Over the decades there have been a number of marques and models that have suffered deaths both justified and ignominious, only later to be reborn in some form or another. Sometimes this has worked to great success, and other times ended in embarrassing failure.

Consider if you will the last iteration of Ford’s iconic Thunderbird. That car attempted to drag the marque back to square one with a two-seater port-hole hard-topped sporty car, but its odd amalgamation of styling tropes from across the Thunderbird’s history made it eerily reminiscent of the T1000 meeting its demise in Terminator 2.

That’s just one example of an attempt to restart a brand or car model, and one that sadly didn’t go quite as planned. Some other attempts have been more successful - Triumph motorcycles come to mind – while others have been less so, like the above Packard. You can be thankful that’s all of the attempted Packard restart I am showing you. Those are just a pair of examples of marque that have seen hiccups in their lineage. Another is the Camaro, which presently seems to be hitting the marque’s heritage right out of the park. What do you think has been the best of this breed of reimagined brands? Which do you feel have been the most respectful to their heritage?

Image: Hemmings

Hooniverse Asks- Should Ford Have Built the Mustang I?

Robert Emslie August 21, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


On April 17th, 1964 the Ford Motor Company introduced what would eventually become one of their most emblematic products, as well as a car that would serve to define an entire genre of automobiles. That’s pretty impressive, however, it could have gone far differently. The Mustang name, despite its equine badging, was a nod to the North American P51, the fighter plane that is generally considered to WWII’s most bad-ass. The production car had little in common with the plane, but it perhaps had even less in common with the wild sports car to which Ford first applied the moniker.

In 1962, fully two years before the Falcon-in-a-party-dress Mustang debuted, Ford released a show car that carried the same name and badge, and it was a doozie. The Mustang I came out of the Fairlane Group, a team that included Lee Iacocca. They were looking for a halo sports – or sporty – car to recapture the glories of the way-cool, but poorly selling two-seat Thunderbird. One take was the Mustang I which arrived with radical features like Lotus F1 style wobble wheels, aluminum bodywork, and perhaps, most radical of all, a mid-mounted V4 engine, pulled from the German Taunus.

The Mustang 1 was a fully-drivable prototype, and was built by the legendary Southern California shop of Troutman-Barnes. It was however, never seriously considered as a production model, the 4-seat, Falcon-based car having already been approved. What do you suppose would have happened if instead, the Mustang I had actually taken its place? Of course it would have needed a raised windshield, and some pretense of a roof and door glass, but other than that, it was pretty much ready to go. Do you think Ford would have been successful as America’s only purveyor of a mid-engine car? Would Ferrari have taken the company’s purchase offer more seriously if they had? What do you think, should Ford have built the mid-engine Mustang?

Image: oldcarmanualproject

Hooniverse Asks- What’s the World’s Most Iconic OHV Straight Six?

Robert Emslie August 20, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


If I were to ask you to name the world’s most well-known and emblematic V8, your most likely response would be: Tatra’s aluminum 2,545-cc T603F. I mean, duh! Actually, there’s but a select few of us who would make such a claim, and that’s why I love you guys so much. No, the truth be told, the most iconic V8 is likely Chevrolet’s ubiquitous 350, almost universally known as the Small-Block-Chevy.

Ask the same question about OHC straight sixes and you’d no doubt hear the most votes go for BMW’s M50, or perhaps a strong contingent pulling for Jag’s long-lived XK mill. When it comes to inline sixes that keep their cams in their heads, there’s a lively debate to be had. When it comes however, to the engines with the same number of pots in the same orientation, but with a single cam residing in the block, well then things can get a little hazy.

Actually, the Overhead Valve straight six represents one of automotive history’s most enduring formats, and one that – in many cases – has proven to be Michael Myers-esque in their resilience. An OHV straight six powered the first Corvettes, and any number of ‘economy’ cars of the sixties. Chrysler liked to slant theirs, while Ford made them by the thousands so that even timid people could share in the enjoyment of a Mustang. Whether one of those or another, what do you think has become the world’s most iconic OHV straight six?

Image: Hemmings Blog


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