Ten Years Later: Off-Road Hoonage

I’m closing in on ten years representing a quarter of my lifetime. It’s crazy to think that ten years ago we only had one kid (we now have four) and were driving him around in a 2005 Toyota Tacoma.

In the past ten years, I’ve left my career as a middle school teacher, starting my own auto review blog, got a job at an automotive aftermarket company, met Jeff, asked him to let me write, acquired a 25-year-old Land Cruiser, and have been slowly turning out articles.

My Own Blog

When I started my own blog, I would walk into car dealerships and ask to test-drive vehicles. First one was a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS. The salesman went on the test drive with me. While on the highway, I commented about the girth of the C-pillar, his immediate response was that I would be able to accelerate away from anything that might be in my blind spot… It was exciting to drive new cars and not have to pay any of the monthly payments.

I’ll never forget having two kids in car seats in the back of a Fiat 500 Abarth and starting to panic because there was a new noise in the car. It was an odd noise that rose and sank with the engine revs. It took a couple of traffic lights before I realized it was Kid 2.0 behind me mimicking the sound of the Abarth’s exhaust. It wasn’t crappy Italian manufacturing quality, just my own blood figuring out that loud exhaust can be fun.

Kid 1.0 & Kid 2.0 in a Jeep JK

I even used my crappy blog to convince the folks at Top Gear into giving me a media credential to attend a Top Gear Live stadium show in London. Seeing an Eagle Speedster in person outweighed the Veyron, Noble, and other cars there. At the time, it was a journey to what I considered the Mecca of the automotive world. It was a great time.

Top Gear Live

Off-Road Hoon at Heart

I reached out to Jeff while I was working at an automotive aftermarket company as soon as he bought Hoon Truck. I’ve always enjoyed Hooniverse’s steadfast nature in supporting car culture that is a little “off”. Yes, we discuss the latest supercars, but here we also rejoice in 80’s shitboxes, weird vans, and generally anything that sparks our interests. The way the Slack channel lit up recently discussing a Soviet-era shitbox for communal consumption is what makes Hooniverse feel like home.

I’ve always enjoyed vehicles that get off the beaten track and here we can talk about Pinzgauers, UAZ-452, Synchros, Delicas, Unimogs, Defenders, and Land Cruisers and the majority of those involved know what we’re discussing. Hooniverse is our safe space. The commenters here are some of the best on the Internet. Rarely have I read a comment that actually had no valid points. Also if you’re wrong, the majority will politely point that out and not light you on fire for it. I love it.

Thank you, Robby DeGraff, for convincing me to come write more about cars. Also, Jeff, it’s Robby’s fault I’m here. *winky face*

The Land YachtLand Yacht in Bison

I acquired the 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser to get my boys in nature more. To get them away from their electronics and to appreciate that the world doesn’t stop when the batteries on their devices die. This plan has worked out well for a couple of years. My older boys have enjoyed numerous camping trips in the reliable Land Cruiser. What has changed though, is that we unexpectedly added a little girl last January. Kid 4.0 has been the missing piece that we didn’t know we were missing. She really has completed our family. She also means that we are back to having two child safety seats for the foreseeable future.

While the Land Cruiser does have three rows of seating, the 25-year-old seatbelts are not the ideal method for installing car seats. I am going to have to find a replacement. The kids literally are outgrowing our vehicles. I’m on the hunt for a 2012-14 Chevy Suburban, preferably the Z71 package with the 6.0L V8. I’m certain that particular configuration is a Unicorn because every listing I’ve found is equipped with the 5.3L V8. I know the 6.0 came in the 2500, but that means that the second row has to be a 60/40 bench. I want to captains too. It’s going to be a long search.

The Future

My biggest takeaway from the last ten years of automotive experience is that I’m no longer as concerned with the latest and greatest models. Yes, there are amazing versions of modern sportscars that abound and I’m sure that they are all fantastic to drive, but my world consists of smaller expectations. When you’re introducing your kids to handbrake turns in a Fiat 500 Abarth, they don’t care that the driver position is ergonomically wrong or that the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT isn’t trail-rated. They just want one more blast of launch control.

I’ve enjoyed my time driving new vehicles and will always want to drive more, but I’m content to utilize a second-hand Suburban to show my kids as much of this country and the world as I can.

After my kids get old enough, I’ll look at adding a reliable sportscar to our fleet, maybe a BRZ.

Whole Tracy Family

 

 

 

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