The voting is over, the campaigning has come to an end, and with a great deal less pain and a great deal more excitement than any actual political election, the Hooniversal Car of the Year has been decided. For anyone following the epic, nail-biting drama, this should be no surprise. The results were there for anyone to see all day yesterday, but let’s make it official. The winner, by popular decision, is… Now, I’m feeling a little guilty about this whole thing. I suggested the Hooniversal Car of the Year concept, and I nominated The Beast, and I’m doing the final write-up, so I suppose it could look a little rigged, but rest assured it’s all on the up-and-up. Aside from the enthusiastic campaigning I may or may not have done for the Beast. And the bribes. And the blackmail. But other than all that, it’s totally legit. It has to be said, however, that I am already looking forward to next year’s HCOTY competition. I practically begged all the other writers to do up a nomination, and they all came through in spades. The articles were excellent, and the nominations were all completely worthy. That, and the second-place nominee was a suggestion from the commentariat; there’s a reason I adore Hooniverse, and this experience has made it pretty obvious. But let’s talk about the Beast for a minute. I am admittedly biased, but I honestly and truly do think it’s a worthy victor in our inaugural Car of the Year award. The reasons have been expressed multiple times already, so I won’t go into that; there is a larger point to it however. While watching teh intarwebs over the last few weeks of 2009, I realized that everyone and their dog was awarding a Car of the Year award, and let’s face it, they were all very much the same thing. Which car won? Why, the car nominated by the automaker that spent the most advertising dollars with that particular publication, of course. The reasons were varied and diverse, and almost universally disingenuous. I wanted our COTY award to be different. I wanted it to represent us, our community, our philosophy and our love of cars. I didn’t want it to go to the new Buick subcompact for its “groundbreaking and innovative new design” (read: huge advertising budget) or the latest Toyota appliance for its “dependable, efficient and consistent ergonomics” (read: huge advertising budget). I wanted it to go to a car. A car we love, and a car we think deserves the award. When I saw the nominees, I honestly didn’t care who won anymore. I’m very glad that The Beast was chosen, but it doesn’t matter. It’s our community that makes the award matter. The Beast, meanwhile, is just icing for me. The fact that our inaugural award goes to a car that is so loved, so unique, and so obsessed over in the face of all odds and all (very good) advice to the contrary, well, somehow it just feels right. When rebuilding The Beast for the third time, they found a great deal of hidden rust. The simple way to repair this would have been to just swap on a new outer shell, but that would have made the car less of “The Beast”, and more of “The Vehicle Formerly Known As The Beast”. So instead, Bana and his mechanic spent well over 800 hours rebuilding individual panels, one-by-one, from scratch. That’s the kind of stupid obsession that we at Hooniverse can understand, and wholeheartedly encourage. Thanks for your votes, but more importantly, thanks for making the award actually mean something, and making them actually matter. Now start collecting nominees for 2010! We’ll begin accepting them on December 1!