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Hooniverse Asks: What’s History’s Worst Gasoline V8 and Why?

Robert Emslie October 8, 2015 Hooniverse Asks


The V8, perhaps more than any other engine configuration, holds an undeniable mystique and a sense of romance. It has become after all – from Ford’s first editions, to the pony cars of today – the de facto standard when it comes to performance muscle. Oh sure, there are smaller engines with fewer cylinder and  more turbos that may challenge the V8 on paper. Or, engines with more cylinders that are more classy. But when it comes down to getting-it-done horsepower, you generally can’t go wrong with a good old 90° gas-fed V8.

That is, except when you can go wrong. You see, among all the Small Block Chevies, Windsor Fords, Pontiac Nailheads, Ferrari Dinos, and Dodge Hemis, there have been some V8s that have – how shall we say this – stank. Those are the ones we’re looking for today. In fact we’re not just looking for the bad motorscooters of the V8 world, we want the big kahunas of badness. What do you think is enemy #1 of the V8 world?

Image: YouTube

Hooniverse Asks: What’s GM’s Best Brand Right Now?

Robert Emslie October 7, 2015 Hooniverse Asks

General Motors company logo.

Take a moment to think of all the brands that have at one time or another been part of the GM family. The company was founded by William C. Durant in 1908 and at that time the company’s only brand was Buick. Durant quickly added added more marques, after all the company’s name was General Motors, not Buick. Cadillac and Oakland – which eventually became Pontiac – came a year later, and the Reliance Motor Truck Company a year after that. Chevrolet came into the fold in 1911. At the end of the ’20s, the compant expanded globally, adding Germany’s Opel to the team, and acquiring a controlling stake in Holden in Australia.

Of course there have been a plethora of minor brands acquired or created by GM over the years – Ewing, Elmore, and later Geo and Saturn among them. But the stalwart favored five: Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac made up the bulk of GM’s holdings for much of the 20th Century. Today however, the company is far leaner.

At present, GM calls among its holdings only Chevy, Buick, Caddy and GMC trucks here in the States. In Europe, they still have Opel under their wing, as well as the British maker of Opel cloneware, Vauxhall to their name, while Holden still holds the GM flag in Australia. Asia has seen a major contracture from the American conglomerate, while the less said about the purchase and divestment in Saab the better. If you consider the brands that GM has left, like children on a Willy Wonka factory tour, which do you think is the best at present? If GM had to Sophie’s Choice a brand, which one would you say is least likely to get the heave ho?

Image: seeklogo.com

Hooniverse Asks: Are the Tesla Model X’s Falcon Doors Just a Dumb Gimmick?

Robert Emslie October 6, 2015 Hooniverse Asks


It’s hard to say what aspirant car maker in recent memory has been as successful as has Tesla. And of course by successful I mean hasn’t gone out of business within the first two years of releasing their inaugural model. You can stack up the failures that have come before – Bricklin, DeLorean, Fisker, Coda, et al – and while they each represent an interesting side bar on the automotive timeline, they’re also all 100% double live gone-zo.

Oh sure, Fisker is being reborn at Karma, but you know how that story will likely end – sorry investors. No, Tesla has been notable for not only entering the automotive market, but keeping its concern going long enough to add additional models. The latest of those is the Model X, a crossover based on the  Model S sedan, and which features even more of everything that makes that car such a hit.

One of the ways the X upstages the S is in its back doors. The “Falcon doors” of the X were one of the reasons the model was delayed for so long for introduction. Complicated and consigned to back seat passengers alone – the automotive world’s second-class citizens – the Falcon doors are slow, similar to the automatic sliding doors on many minivans today, and they do roll into the roof which might be a leakage issue down the road. The question is: are the necessary? What do you think, are the Model X’s Falcon doors a needed differentiator? Or are they just a goofy gimmick that’s going to be more trouble than they’re worth?

Image: GizMag

Hooniverse Asks: What Was John Z DeLorean’s Greatest Automotive Achievement?

Robert Emslie October 5, 2015 Hooniverse Asks


John Zachery DeLorean is one of the Automotive industry’s best known and most accomplished players. Over the course of his decades-long career he brought to market some of the most iconic and beloved models GM has ever offered as well as features like the lane change turn signal.

DeLorean’s career could have gone vastly differently if the stars had not aligned. His first automotive gig was at Chrysler in 1952, however only a year later he moved over to Packard. That company’s failing finances led first to a possible merger with American Motors and then to an actual alliance with Studebaker. DeLorean considered staying with the company after that, but chose instead to make the move to GM after that company’s Vice President of Engineering contacted him with the offer of a job at any of the company’s divisions.

The next decade proved that offer to be the right move for both parties as DeLorean led a string of successful models to market for Pontiac. A move to Chevrolet resulted in the first of DeLorean’s missteps. There he was the executive tasked with bringing the Vega to market and made claims in the press that the small Chevy would be the brand’s “highest quality product.” In 1973 he left Chevy to start his own auto company – DMC – which took nearly a decade to realize a product and drove DeLorean to a scandalous attempt at financial support to keep the foundering company afloat.

That proved to be the end of the extroverted executive’s career. An attempt in the ’90s to resurrect his namesake auto company failed and DeLorean died from complications due to a stroke in 2005. His work life was long, drama filled, and ended in a massive flameout, but he was able to achieve a lot over its course. In that time, what do you think was John Z DeLorean’s greatest accomplishment?

Image: BoldRide

Hooniverse Asks: Have You Ever Seen an Actual Traffic Accident Occur?

Robert Emslie October 2, 2015 Hooniverse Asks

a car accident in the snow

A whole lotta’ years ago my then-girlfriend/now-wife and I were sitting in my Spitfire at a curbside spot in Hermosa Beach, having just finished lunch, when immediately to our left a Ford Courier plowed into the back of a Volkswagen Superbeetle convertible. In my entire life, that’s the only accident, of which I wasn’t a party, that I have ever witnessed.

I myself have been involved in four accidents, two of which where my fault. The first was when I misjudged the rain-slicked road and tapped the back of a Triumph TR6, breaking a tail lamp. The second was when I put my ’66 Mustang on someone’s lawn due to an excess of speed in the place of good judgement, while the third was when a girl in a Datsun 610 hit that same Spitfire while she was attempting a left-hand turn. The last (knock on wood) was when I was T-boned by a BMW out near UCLA. The woman driving the black 3-series took off, leaving me with a now one-door Chevy Sprint. Needless to say those last two were NOT my fault, but still I didn’t really get the chance to experience any of them the way I’d like to.

You see, I don’t believe that accidents actually occur. I think they are staged after the fact – maybe by the AAA – just to slow down traffic. In my experience, the events are always something that you happen upon, and never see actually happen. What about you, have you ever seen an accident occur, right before your eyes? What was that like?

Image: WorldinCanada

Hooniverse Asks: What’s the Longest You’ve Spent Behind the Wheel?

Robert Emslie October 1, 2015 Hooniverse Asks


I have driven across the continental United States multiple times, most often at a leisurely pace in trips that stretched to over a week coast to almost coast. A couple of times however I’ve made the trip with the intent to beat the clock, and on those occasions, while spending less time overall, I have spent a lot more time – about 12 hours a day  – behind the wheel. That’s pretty much my limit.

What about you, have you attempted a long distance trip all in one sitting? What is the longest contiguous time you’ve spent behind the wheel?

Image: Kali-Majapahit

Hooniverse Asks: Do you Think Your State/Country’s Driver Licensing Requirements are Adequate?

Robert Emslie September 30, 2015 Hooniverse Asks


I don’t go to Costco a lot. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the savings, or buying things in comically large quantities, lord knows I get a kick out that. It’s just that, upon entering the warehouse building, most the shoppers at my neighborhood Costco become hypnotized into thinking they are the only individuals left on the planet. That results in them careening around in search of that last un-sampled free sample without consideration for others. Alternatively, they like to stop the freakishly wide shopping carts in the middle of the aisle so that they might scratch their ass, or maybe ponder how they got there, or just how long a gallon of light sodium soy sauce will last.

I recently came to the horrifying conclusion that this behavior isn’t confined to the bargain hunter’s paradise that is Costco, the people in my neighborhood drive like this too. That has led me to believe that California’s competency requirements for drivers has become sorely lacking, if it ever was anything to be held up as a bastion of greatness. It seems as though everybody gets to drive around here, and ability is not a factor in handing out licenses.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now (and yes, I bought it at Costco), as I think I have railed against my area’s standards for driver’s licenses long enough. I’d now like to hear yours. Do you think that your state/prefecture/country has decent standards for who gets allowed on the road? What would you do differently?

Image: emgcartech

Hooniverse Asks: What’s the Best Used Starter Bike?

Robert Emslie September 29, 2015 Hooniverse Asks


Do you remember when a Harley rider was a guy with a huge beer belly, more huge beard, and a lady on the back of his bike who wasn’t adverse to showing what nature gave her? At some point in time that stereotype changed to yuppies in designer jeans and macrobiotic lunch plans. Not only that but way too many of the people who ruined Harley Davidson for social reprobates bought the big twins as their first ever bikes.

That’s pretty much totally wrong. Riding a motorcycle is not like driving a car, even though they both share the same roads. If someone gets the urge to slough off unnecessary wheelage and get to know the joys of wind in the face two-wheel travel, it’s best that they start with something a little less unwieldy than a Harley. And, preferably with some motorcycle riding lessons. We can’t do much about the latter, but we can do something about the former, which is to recommend a good bike for the neophyte rider. Which of those do you think is best? What is the perfect used starter bike?

Image: zombiedrive

Hooniverse Asks: Do You Trust Volkswagen Today?

Robert Emslie September 28, 2015 Hooniverse Asks


Lying has become such an integral part of our society these days that it’s almost become de rigueur. Politicians unabashedly make things up and then double down on the lie without any shame whatsoever, turning instead the blame to those who call them out, claiming that the accusers are somehow the ones who are morally in the wrong. It’s a topsy turvy time in which we live.

Of course, after decades of tobacco company executives telling us that smoking isn’t dangerous when it so obviously is, we expect corporations to lie to us when it’s in their best interest. It still however smarts when those lies are uncovered, especially so when the lie comes from a company we support.

Volkswagen is the latest addition to the Liar’s Club with the discovery that they have been gaming emissions testing for their diesel engines – super villain style. That admission of what is plainly a monstrously stupid act of corporate malfeasance may cause the company billions in fines, lost revenue, and brand equity in the short term, but in the long run it won’t matter much. The question however, is if they have been lying about this, what else have they been hiding? Has Volkswagen’s diesel scandal made you less likely to buy from or support the brand? Do you trust them at all any more?

Image: roadtest.kr

Hooniverse Asks: Have You Ever Joined a Marque Club, Without Actually Owning the Marque?

Robert Emslie September 25, 2015 Hooniverse Asks


Do yo enjoy being at social gatherings where you don’t know anyone? Yeah, I hate that too. That hasn’t stopped me however from joining a couple of car clubs even though my entreé was a project car a long way from being participant in club events. You know what, some people go even further than that.

Most car clubs are more interested in the dues you pay than whether or not you actually own the represented marque. That has led to a great sea of wannabes and aspirants joining while not representing.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, and in fact it’s a great way to determine whether or not you actually want to buy that particular marque. The question is, have you ever done that? Have you ever joined a marque club without ever actually owning that marque?

Image: focsandiego


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