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Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski August 17, 2018 Mystery Car

It warms my heart, which as you know is ice cold even in August, to see that the last Mystery Car was solved so quickly. Unregistered user bv911 (I’m guessing his real name is Bill Vance and likes 911s, possibly has one) has determined very quickly that we were looking at the front bumper of a Triumph Stag. Congrats, bv911, you are… The Person of the Moment

Middle of August is the time for me and family to be finally going away. I’ll leave with you the above picture that I took with the full intention of running it as a Mystery Car piece. The picture was taken with a proper DSLR camera and has not been edited other than resize and text, so there is no excuses. I expect full make, model, and engine. Good luck and please continue to keep my heart warm. 

Is this the Mustang Shelby GT 500 engine?

Kamil Kaluski August 16, 2018 All Things Hoon

We know that the next version of the Mustang Shelby GT 500 is coming. We also know that it will have a supercharged version of the GT 350’s 5.2-liter V8. We also know that the supercharged V8 in the GT 500 won’t have the GT 350’s flat-plane crankshaft because it doesn’t take well to supercharging, for many reasons. 

Autoblog’s Joel Stocksdale‏ is at some Woodward event from which he tweeted the above picture. In a presumably unrelated article he wrote about the new 2018 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet. Now, I’m not the sharpest tool in this old Craftsman toolbox, but I’d bet some money that what you’re looking at above is basically the engine from the upcoming Shelby GT 500. 

It’s a supercharged V8 but slightly bigger in displacement than 5.2-liters. Ford says the Cobra Jet is conservatively good enough for mid-8 second passes, call it high 7s or low 8s. Now this a tubed and caged racer with huge slicks in the back. Simple math suggests that the power should be in the mid-to-high 800-ish horsepower level, 900-ish, perhaps?

So take that engine, reduce it back to 5.2-liters, put some emission-friendly tune on it, perhaps a slightly smaller blower than this 3-liter unit, add A/C, power steering, and all that crap, and you may have a street engine with 750-800 horsepower. Or somewhere in the Hellcat region, or just north of it. Horsepower wars, baby! What a time to be alive! 

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Quick Spin: 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec – part 2

We looked at the new Acura RDX in detail some time ago. While I got a good idea of what it was about, I didn’t get to drive it enough. I wanted to see how Honda’s new 2.0-liter turbo performed in this heavier all-wheel-drive vehicle and how the new infotainment system interface performs in daily use of the car.

My time has come and I recently got to spend a few days with the RDX A-Spec. Don’t mistake the A-Spec with Type S models of Acura’s past. The A-Spec has always been a sporty appearance trim on Acuras and that is exactly what it is on the 2019 RDX. But Acura did say that there might be more Type S models in the future.

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Scary crash at the 24 Hours of LeMons Thompson race

Life got in the way and my teammates and I are skipping most of this year’s 24 Hours of Lemons season. But like any good show, the race goes on. This weekend at the Thompson, CT there was one very dangerous wreck. For an unknown reason the brakes on the 420 410 Integra gave out. In the video you can see the driver pumping the brakes with no result. Crap. 

Most importantly, the driver was fine. He actually went to work the next day. This video is amazing for many reasons:

  • First, the driver remained cool, he didn’t panic. 
  • Despite not being able to slow down or basically turn the vehicle, he didn’t hit anyone else in the crowded field. That’s amazing. 
  • The high quality video shows how fast everything actually happens. There is no time to think, it’s all instinctual. 
  • Both feet in. 
  • Front hit, as opposed to a side hit, minimized potential injury to the driver. 
  • Cage, race seat, harness, helmet, HANS – they all worked as designed. Remarkable. 
  • The kill switch was within easy access. 

Many of race these junkers and don’t really think of something like this happening but it clearly can. It’s scary. Perhaps this is a reminder not to skimp on safety devices. Perhaps it is also a reminder to practice flipping the safety switch and exiting your vehicle as if it’s on fire. Like everything seen here, it all has to be instinctual. 

Good luck and stay safe, everyone. 

Observations from driving a yellow widebody Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Gas mileage is awful. Around the city it’s in the single digits. On the highway you’ll crack double digits if you restrain yourself. You’ll actually laugh about that. Don’t expect more than 200 miles out of a tank. You’ll get asked about gas mileage.  

You’ll get all kinds of comments. Some women will question the size of your manhood. Many will compliment without even knowing what it is. Drunk bros will yell unintelligible things at you. Pictures, lots of pictures will be taken. Upon seeing it, many men in pickup trucks will question why they blew the same money on their fancy half-ton pickup.

The police will look at you more than anyone else. One cop will ask you to spin the tires – don’t. One will offer to preemptively write a ticket for a violation you’re bound to commit. Most will nod in approval. Few will roll their eyes or pretend to ignore. This one cop really should have pulled me over but didn’t. I don’t know why, but I’m glad he didn’t.

Kids will effing love the Hellcat. Several kindergartners will scream about an awesome yellow race car. Some will ask to sit inside. One will ask if it can transform into a robot. Another will question the choice of an automatic transmission – really.

Other drivers will be nice to you. They’ll let you merge. They won’t tailgate, as if they could, but not even in gridlock traffic. 

Everyone will understand you when you do something stupid. And everyone will expect you to do something stupid. Some will literally wait for you to do something stupid. Restrain yourself.

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Hooniverse Asks: Is the Jeep Wrangler reaching insanity levels?

Kamil Kaluski August 13, 2018 Hooniverse Asks

The new JL version of the Jeep Wrangler is really good. I reviewed the 2-door JL Rubicon this year and I loved it. Since then I had the opportunity to drive the 4-cylinder turbo 4-door Sahara with the soon-to-be optional One-Touch power soft-top/hard-top hybrid top and it was just fantastic. That top is really a game-changer for people who are unable to otherwise remove the hard-tops off their Wranglers. 

The new Wrangler’s popularity is clearly visible here in the northeast – they’re everywhere, like Defenders on Nantucket. My good friend recently bought one, and while he loves it, he had one big issue with it – the price. His 4-door Sport S with automatic transmission and a hardtop cost him more than his full-loaded Sahara from a few years back. Configure your own 4-door Rubicon on Jeep’s own website and you’ll be knocking on $60,000 door

According to JLWranglerForums Jeep is introducing the Moab edition. It is based on the loaded Sahara model and includes a ton of stuff that would otherwise be optional, and some trim-specific stuff. Click the link to see all the details. The price for that will be $51,200 plus destination, options, BS fees, yadda yadda. That’s a lot!

AEV and other modified Jeeps have been selling for a lot more for a long time. Old crappy Defenders have been in six-figure territory forever. Old Land Cruisers and Broncos have gone up in price tremendously and people are obviously willing to pay for them. In my opinion the new Wrangler is better than all of those old vehicles and still has that old school charm despite being brand new. And yet it’s still priced much lower than some of these overhauled classic 4x4s.

So how far is this going to go? When will we see a six-figure Wrangler in a few years?

Review: Yakima HighRoad upright roof bike rack

Transporting bicycles has always been an issue for me. I looked for the optional folding rear seat when I bought used BMWs. In my early WRX I had a roof rack. Once I had kids, my SUVs had hitch-mounted racks. The truth is that there were always compromises and the only ideal solution I found thus far is to not transport my bikes at all, which is not a solution.

Some time ago I reviewed the Yakima FullSwing hitch-mounted rack. It’s a solid rack but despite its ability to swing open it isn’t easy living with it permanently attached to the back of my 4Runner. It takes more time to access the cargo area. Taking it on and off frequently for the purpose of me getting an hour of biking in wasn’t ideal either. It worked really well when traveling but sometimes fitting kids bikes only it was tricky due to the size of those bikes.

I decided to opt for a roof-mounted single bike rack that would attach to the existing factory cross-bars of my Toyota 4Runner. It would allow me to transport my own bike for those times I run away from my family and responsibilities, and can stay attached to the roof all season long. After way too much research I decided to try out the Yakima HighRoad rack. This is Yakima’s new upright bike mount.

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Build your own 2019 Ford Ranger

UPDATE: Ford got wise and took away the link. And then they said that the prices were not accurate. Bastages. 

Ford likes to announce their new models long before they actually become available. They start off with a hint. They follow it up with a concept. Then there are test mules running around. And then it gets teased on their website. Technically, you’re not suppose to “build your own Ranger” (quotes for emphasis and irony, as well as quote purposes) yet. But yet, now you can build on Ford’s own website. 

Follow this link. You have three cab choices, one engine choice, and two driveline choices. Looks like the regular cab is available in the poverty XL 4×2 model only. That makes sense as those are only purchased by exterminators. Otherwise, the XL looks pretty damn cool with the steel wheels. Price for that XL model starts at $24,000 whereas the SuperCrew 4×4 with all the bells and whistles will run around $45,000. Cool looking truck, how will you configure yours?

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Ace Performance – performance shop with something for everyone

I have mentioned Ace Performance many times on these pages. It is the performance shop that was started by my good friend Baer Connard almost ten years ago. I frequent it often. Sometimes I just go there to have lunch with an old friend. Sometimes Baer calls me to come over and check out some weird/interesting car. Other times I take my own cars for service there. Sometimes Baer finds out that I’m sporting around in something fun and says that he just has to see it. 

In its ten years of existence Ace Performance grew significantly. But what I respect about Baer and the shop is that they are never afraid of new projects, they never reject work no matter how large or small, and they do really quality stuff. They have built racecars, extremely powerful street cars, helped a handicapped friend from Norway who was driving across United States in a BMW 850Ci, tuned-up a million-mile Lexus, sell Ariel Atoms and Nomads, they are stuffing a Hellcat motor into a ’68 Charger, assembled and modified a Zenos and are building an MkII Escort rally car with EcoBoost power. That’s in addition to taking care of customers with normal stuff, like me, and participating in LeMons racing and other track events. 

You’d think that a shop with such large array of projects and events would make a good reality show. But no, it wouldn’t. All those reality television shows are not about cars, they’re about people. There are characters and all of them want to be actors. And then there is drama which usually comes from people’s inability to plan, schedule, manage, and communicate. That’s what makes good, or at least dramatic television, but that’s also a bunch of bullshit. The real reality if those TV shows is that they show how such businesses should not be operated. And that’s exactly what Ace Performance is not. 

When I recently went there to drive Matt Farah’s Hashtag Million Mile Lexus, I took a walk around the shop and I took some pics. It is not the quantity of vehicles that are there but rather the differences between. Those include various Ariel Atoms, road racing Porsches and Bimmers, dragster Camaro, 90’s JDM exotica, an Escort Mk II rally car, drift cars, classic Americana, and McFly’s 4Runner. Check out the pictures below. 

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Not Classic Captions Contest: Jaguar F-Pace Edition

For years now we have had the Hooniverse Classic Captions Contest. The rules are simple: we provide a classic stock photo or an advertisement of a vehicle and you, the readers, provide your best caption for it. Everyone has a good time and the winner gets nothing but our deepest respects. Simple and fun, right?

On last week’s NEWS piece, the astute outback_ute pointed out that Jaguar has an interesting promo photo, which can be seen above. And he is right. That is one the most interesting such photos that I’ve seen in a while. Chances are that we would run it in the captions contest twenty or thirty years from now. But why wait? Have at it!