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

Robert Emslie September 19, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


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


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


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

Hooniverse Asks- Can High-End Cars Have Transverse Engines?

Robert Emslie September 15, 2014 Hooniverse Asks

4332 Jaguar X-type eng

Think for a minute about all the aspirational cars there are out there. All the BMWs, Mercedes’ Aston Martins, Maseratis, etc. Now, think how many of those cars have come with a transverse engine in the front. Yeah, not too many. Even Audi, who started out with cars that were nominally FWD, had the good sense to hang their mills out long-ways. This positioning preference of course discounts sporty cars with their engines behind the seats.

Okay, now think about all the cars that were intended to be high-end, but were saddled with transverse engines. Yeesh, I know. Acura (‘member them?) tried it, as did Lincoln with the ’90s Continental, and Cadillac with most of their ’90s offerings. Perhaps the most famous failure of a car pretending to be fancy but rocking a sidewinder was Jaguar’s Ford Mondeo in drag, the X-Type. At least the brand had the good sense to make the car all-wheel drive, but even that embellishment couldn’t save it from derision. I think only Saab and Volvo have been successful in passing off cars with transverse engines as fancy here in America, and you know how well those two are doing these days.

That being said, there are a number of luxury car makers that are introducing cars with transverse engines. Cadillac has the new XTS, while Mercedes is presently pushing its new entry-level offering, the CLA. That Benz can be had with AWD, which, along with its size, makes it the titular successor to Jag’s unloved X-Type, albeit with a hot four instead of a somewhat lackluster six. What do you think about these new cars, do you think that their engine placement will have anything to do with their prospects? Can high-end cars have transverse engines?

Image: Weisco

Hooniverse Asks- Ecoboost Mustang, Brah! Or Blah?

Robert Emslie September 12, 2014 Hooniverse Asks



To date, the last Ford Mustang to roll off the assembly line with a four cylinder engine did so all the way back in 1993. Truth be told, the role of four-banger ‘Stang back then was to be played by the Ford Probe, the Mazda-based front driver that came within a hair’s breadth of replacing the Mustang entirely. The Probe ended up being a viable competitor to the plethora of FWD sport coupes that Japan seemingly churned out without effort in the late ’80s and well into the ’90s, but it was never – by any stretch of the imagination – a pony car.

Ford’s Mustang is not only a pony car, it’s the car that established the entire genre. Part of the DNA of the pony has always been a hot mill, and for the longest time that meant a V8. Ford’s pony has come through in that category since day one, with only the mid-seventies Mustang II to be called into question. The marque has also dabbled in an engine configuration that is not traditionally a pony car staple, i.e. four-pot mills. The Mustang’s descent into four-bangers had two paths, the extraordinarily lame and unsatisfying naturally-aspirated 88-horse (later 105) 2.3-litre SOHC Lima engine, and, the far hotter, and correspondingly vastly cooler, 145-horse turbocharged edition of that same motor.

As I noted, the last four-pot ‘Stang left the factory in ’93, while the last Turbo car rolled out in ’86. That’s a long time for the V8 and V6 to reign by themselves, a fact that even Ford seems to have realized. That’s because, starting next year, the Mustang will once again offer a four-pot option. In this case it’s a romper-stomper 310-bhp/320 kb-ft of torque 2.3-litre Ecoboost four, and what I want to know from you this fine Friday is whether or not that’s a good thing, or bad? What do you think about high-reving fours in pony cars like the ‘Stang, are they fitting, or totally uh-uh for the class? What do you think about the concept of the Ecoboost Mutang, is it Brah! or Blah?

Image: LateModelRestoration

Hooniverse Asks- How Will People Hot Rod in a Future of Only Electric Cars?

Robert Emslie September 11, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


I think that it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that private transportation – i.e. cars and trucks – will eventually all be powered by electric motors. I also think that day when all you can get is primary windings rather than piston power is going to come sooner that we all think.

One of the oldest, and richest sub-cultures of the automotive age has been that of the Hot Rod, exemplified by any number of vehicles modded by their owners to lower their weight and raise their number of ponies. It’s such a big niche that both print magazines and an entire parts industry exists to support it. That ecosystem however, is pretty much SBC-based. In fact, the most important aspect of most Hot Rods is the showing off of the romper-stomper mill. Bling may be a term invented to describe the shiny accoutrements of fashionistas, but Hot Rods were doing it for years before the word was even coined.

When we end up with ohms instead of octane, and electrons in place of exhaust note, how will this most venerated of car cultures survive? Do you think that hot rods will be one of the last vestiges of the internal combustion engine age? Or, do you think that they will adapt and we’ll see a new generation of amazing – but eerily quiet – hot rods that embrace this new paradigm?

Image: Inhabitat

Hooniverse Asks- What’s Been the Most Notable Good Car/Bad Engine You’ve Ever Seen?

Robert Emslie September 10, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


When car makers design a car, every element of it is examined by the bean counters for ways to cut costs. One of the most common of those is to dun what is otherwise a brand-new car with a cast-off engine, as usually the old wheezer already meets smog requirements and the factory is happily cranking them out. That’s why we have received amazing cars like the Pontiac Fiero, saddled with execrable engines like the Iron Puke four. Oh sure, the Fiero could be upgraded to Chevy’s laudable 2.8-litre V6, but that doesn’t eliminate the taint of the terrible four.

Every once in a while great cars do come with awful engines. The Fox body Mustang is amazing, both for the prescience of its design, but also for its longevity. But which Foxstang do you remember? The V8-powered GT of course, and perhaps the weirdly wonderful turbo 2.3 SVO. Do you however, look back with fond memories over the 88-ponies produced by the non-turbo 2.3 that powered the car for a long, long, long time? No? I didn’t think so.

A bad engine can stain a car for time immortal, turning an awesome car or truck into a pariah to be shunned and only spoken of in harsh whispers. We’re above all that however, and today I want to hear from you what you think are history’s best cars that had the worst engines.

Image: Autominded.net

Hooniverse Asks- The New Miata Will Spawn an Alfa Romeo, What Other Marques Should Get Miataized?

Robert Emslie September 9, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


So the new Miata has been out for about a week now and already the news is reporting that enthusiast’s drool is up to people’s knees. Or, maybe that was a flash flood in Arizona, I can’t be too sure. What I am sure of is that the new edition of Mazda’s perennial hit parade is likely going to have a sibling, and an Italian one at that. The rumor is that the new Miata will serve as the basis for an even newer Alfa Romeo, perhaps anointed the Spider, or maybe, the Duetto.

Whatever it’s called, this melding of marques brings a whole new chapter to the Miata story. For decades now, the little roadster has been the king of cheap-seats sports cars, and no other maker has come close to offering even a pretender to the throne. Most are too expensive, while others are just nowhere near as compelling. It’s the Miata formula that seems elusive to all other makers, but as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Alfa has waved the white flag and will supposedly share the Miata’s mojo in a car co-developed with Mazda and sharing much of the Miata’s hardware. But why should they have all the fun? If the Miata is so great, why shouldn’t other makers get to play? Think of all the money Mazda could make selling the Miata’s mojo to makers like Ford, BMW, or maybe even to the Chinese for the rebirth of a classic British sports car brand like MG! If they were willing to do so, what makers do you think would most benefit from getting Miataized?

Image: Mazda USA

Hooniverse Asks- What Were Your ‘Wheels of Choice’ When you Were a Little kid?

Robert Emslie September 8, 2014 Hooniverse Asks


Think back to when you were a little kid. Do you remember the first time you felt the wind in your hair and the sun on your face the first time you hit the open road, er, driveway? Whatever the era, little kids for generations have been given – well, the lucky ones at least – some for of wheeled toy that let the kids experience a sense of independence and the thrill of speed. Sometimes it also gave them the opportunity to find out what crashing into a parked car feels like, giving them a great story to share over juice and graham crackers at school the next day.

Trikes and toy cars have been around since almost the dawn of the auto age. If you are from a certain generation then you might remember having a pedal car – or perhaps more often a pedal fire truck – when you were a kid. If you grew up later then maybe a Marx Big Wheel was your ride, and you can remember the thrill of shifting the seat back as you grew. More recently kids get fancy electric cars in which to terrorize the neighborhood’s sidewalks.

For many, this is a first test of your driving acumen and it’s easy to tell early on who’s going to be capable behind the wheel of a grown-up ride later in life, and who should probably stick to the sidewalk. Do you have a fond memory of this earliest offering of freedom and how it made you the driver you are today? What were your wheels of choice – likely your parent’s choice – when you were a little kid?

Image: famigo



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