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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

Hooniverse Asks- Does Optional AWD Burn Your Biscuits?

Robert Emslie November 12, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

Taurus suspension

The other day whilst changing the oil on my dull as dishwater daily driver, I happened a glance back along the car’s central spine and noticed something that kind of ticked me off. Now, I should note that the car is a transverse engine, front-driver, but the model was also available with AWD for those who live where it gets slippery. Because the engineers had to account for a possible driveshaft and powered rear suspension, the FWD version was saddled with a central tunnel that on my car serves no purpose whatsoever. And that pissed me off.

I’ve long appreciated efficient cars, and seeing all that wasted space underneath mine, it really got me thinking about the trade-off in serving the small percentage of the population that might need AWD for some part of the year, over offering a flat floor and no empty hump and driveshaft tunnel. Seriously, if  it weren’t for the parts of the car intended for AWD, my boat could easily be a six passenger car. How cool would that be? I look at 2WD Ford Escapes and think that if I owned one of those I’d screw a section of 4-inch PVC pipe in the space where the driveshaft might go and carry, oh I don’t know, fishing rods or something.

Have you come across similar wastes of FWD space? If so, does it irk you the way it irks me? What do you think, does optional AWD piss you off?

Image: Birmingham News

Hooniverse Asks- What’s the Worst Manual Shift Linkage You’ve Ever Used?

Robert Emslie November 11, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


Over the course of my life I have owned about twenty five cars in total, and out of those, only two – my current daily driver and a 1966 Mustang – have had automatic transmissions. The rest have all been one sort or another of stick shift. I’ve had 3-speeds, 4-speeds, and 5-speeds. I’ve had overdrives and gearboxes that begged for them. I’d say that I’ve got a pretty good point of reference as to what constitutes a good shift linkage and which ones are crap.

Of my manuals, most were of the old British variety and in fact, many of those had the same sort of box, that which offers a kind of right-as-rain, stiff upper lip kind of shifting that’s as reliable as the sunrise and as confidence-inspiring as the Queen’s wave. On the other hand, I once had a Volkswagen that shifted like you were stirring non-newtonian fluids. Like I said, I’ve run the gamut. Truth be told however, the worst linkage that I’ve ever experienced on a modern car thankfully wasn’t on one of my own. It was the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 that I found to be the most foul to use. Rubbery, imprecise, and constantly feeling like it was fighting against whatever movement was demanded of it, that shifter really turned me off that particular model.

What about you, have you found the smiley face Mazda to be a paragon of shifting acumen in full contrast to my experiences? If so, let it go, because what we want today are your worst manual linkage experiences. We all love a stick, but sometimes we can be let down by even our greatest hero. What has been, in your experience, the worst manual you’ve ever used?

Image: Jalopy Journal

Hooniverse Asks- Have you Ever Bought a Car or Truck with a Salvage Title?

Robert Emslie November 10, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


If you’ve ever come across in the classifieds a desirable car with an amazing price, thinking that you have somehow stubbled onto the deal of the century? No doubt your dreams were crushed when you discovered the reason for the unexpectedly low price was because the car had a rebuilt, or salvage title. It’s a disappointment akin to hearing about a great movie only to find out that it stars Steven Seagal.

Some are braver than others however, and hence, salvage title cars remain in the dating pool, sometimes offering perfectly reliable service. A car gets dinged with a salvage title when it requires repairs that the insurer considers would cost more than the value of the then-repaired car. Depending on the market value of the car, that could be something as simple as a scratched front fender. The insurer totals the car and the owner or another party then has the right to buy the damaged car from the insurer. As I noted, buying a car or truck with a rebuilt title can get you into a car at a price that you might not otherwise be able to afford. As long as you know what you are doing and undertake copious research, it should be no big deal, right?

Well, as we all know, dealing with any pre-owned car is a crapshoot, and the old maxim of caveat emptor is perhaps never as appropriate than when considering buying someone else’s ride. Do you believe a seller when they say that the car was babied its entire life – and you can still smell burning clutch? I didn’t think so. That’s why you might want to take the reasons behind a savage title with a grain of salt – or a whole ocean’s worth. Have you ever bought – or considered buying – a car with a salvage title? How did that work out for you?

Image: AutoBlog


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