Paying Tribute to My Motoring Roots

Who launched your passion for cars? For me it was my dad.

Cars were definitely a thing growing up in the DeGraff house. When I was stroller-bound, my parents used to roll me down the street to the corner of of Brown Deer Road and Pelham Parkway to watch cars drive by, rain or shine, for hours. Then came the abundance of tiny Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Micro Machines toy cars that caused traffic jams in the hallways, scratching up the floors, or raced in circuits around the table legs of our kitchen. I also vaguely remember being gifted a Hot Wheels or Matchbox car as a reward for successfully doing my duty during toddler potty training.

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Classic Captions Contest- 1999 Fiat Ulysse Edition

Welcome to another round of Hooniverse Classic Captions Contest, brought to you this week by Fiat.

I’m convinced Fiat has churned out some of the most bizarre, obscure, odd, strange, (you catch my vibe) vehicles. The whip you see above, the ’99 Ulysse, I’m guessing would have made the founding brothers of Fiat all of which with tasty,  pasta-esque surnames like Scariotti, Mayneri, Damevino, and Agnelli, quite perplexed and possibly ashamed. That red van thing is our subject matter for this week’s episode of HCCC. … Continue Reading

Classic Captions Contest – 1984 Mercury Cougar LS Edition

This week’s Hooniverse Classic Captions Contest comes to us on no other than, #ThrowbackThursday. How coincidental. Let’s jump back in time to the early 1980s, before yours truly was fortunately born, to the ’84 Cougar LS from Mercury. The image above tells a gentle story about Shirlena and Sheperd, who are just wrapping up a sunset evening of strolling along the bustling coast of Ft Lauderdale.

Before we continue this saga from 1984, let’s look at the last Hooniverse Classic Captions where a horde of skiers almost lit an Oldsmobile Firenza on fire out in Winter Park, Colorado, on their way to après-ski drinks at the local pub. Here are a few of the winning comments:

“Now available with a performance-tuned engine, complete with a KKK turbocharger! Oldsmobile. We build Cavaliers, too.”-stifshift

“‘Drugs, we all do it, just not at work.’
Firenza, the hangover car.”-

“It might be the ‘80s, but the budget didn’t stretch to cocaine.”-

Back to the beach. Sheperd, or “Sleazy Shep” his buddies in the old frat house use to call him, just scored a big promotion at his managing job of the local Kinkos and wanted to treat himself to something luxurious. Shep was convinced buying a luxurious car with a cat name on it, would win Shirlena’s good graces a tad bit more. Do you think Shep makes Shirlena growl like a cougar when he brings that 4.9-liter V8 to life? “Baby do the growl.” Analyzing the brochure image above a bit closer brings a few questions to mind:

  1. How on earth did Shep get his Cougar out on to the beach without kicking up any sand on the tires or rear fenders?
  2. Did he lock the keys in the car and, due to a massive line of cocaine that was minutes ago, snorted from atop that chrome side mirror cap, forgot the entry code? Which is clearly probably 1-3-5-7 or 69, twice.
  3. What is Shirlena looking at?
  4. Is that Shep’s uniform he’s wearing when he manages the chaotic counter at Kinkos?
  5. What song fits this image? I’m leaning more towards this, with a dash of crashing waves too.

Use the comment section below to tell the story.

Why I want Lincoln’s Aviator to soar

Remember the Lincoln Aviator? You know, the short-lived, classy brother to Ford’s Explorer? Probably not, as only a handful of people bought them and it disappeared after the 2005 model year. Well it’s back, making a surprise debut in the Big Apple weeks ago, and Lincoln really needs it to take off.

Lincoln showed us the Nautilus concept a few months back, an attractive and eloquent name slapped onto the back of some crossover thing (why?). Now we’re getting a preview of what will most likely be their newest entrant in the luxury sport utility club.

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Classic Captions Contest – 1987 Oldsmobile Firenza Edition

It’s a dark January night in Winter Park, Colorado, and you’ve wrapped up a solid day on the mountain destroying Mary Jane. With your skinny Rossignol skis straddled across your right shoulder, you hobble your way from the lodge after an hour of Bud Light-filled après-ski, towards the parking lot across the street. There’s snow falling on a towering horizon of lodgepole pines, the wind hollowing and temperatures continuing to drop.

But what’s hot is the Oldsmobile Firenza LC Coupe. I mean, look at that sexy rear C-pillar…elegance…sophistication. Then all of the sudden, you hear what you imagine to be a snowplow scraping a sheet of ice, but then you see five shadows holding torches descending on you.
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Classic Captions Contest – 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Edition

A few things before we begin this episode of Hooniverse Classic Captions Contest. First, can you believe this body style Camaro is now twenty years old? Will we start seeing collectors plates on fourth generation GM F-Bodies? I’m definitely looking forward to slapping a blue Wisconsin collectors plate on the back of my own beloved Camaro in a few years and laying off the absurd registration fees our pothole-ridden state has.

Second, I chose this old Camaro advertisement from 1998 because after seeing yesterday’s initial images of the refreshed 2019 Camaro, I needed a pick-me-up after the disappointment. The newest Camaro was looking so good and then they just butchered it. Aging Malibu taillights? Silverado and Imapala-esque front ends to differentiate each trim? Bad move, guys. What are your thoughts on this redesign?

Let’s look at a few of the winning comments from our last Hooniverse Classic Captions Contest where we took an intimate look at the perplexed Ross family, who recently purchased the hottest car on sale in 1982, the Plymouth Reliant K.

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Classic Captions Contest – 1982 Plymouth Reliant K Edition

For this week’s run of Hooniverse Classic Captions Contest, we shoot back to 1982. The setting? A quiet farm house on the outskirts of hoppin’ Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The Ross family takes a moment from supper, to pose with their whip- the stunning, sexy, sophisticated ’82 Plymouth Reliant K.

But before we write this classic 1980s Chrysler advertisement’s backstory- let’s applaud the following two comments from last week’s Classic Captions Contest that featured a 1956 Cadillac.

“Kitty had a little known story. Jack Ruby ensured it stayed that way.” – 0A5599

“Lenny the bag man was right on schedule, and started to cross the street. Floyd reached for the Racing Form with the microfiche tucked inside, ready for the hand off. But, Lenny being Lenny, he never passes up the opportunity to gawk at a passing dame. That’s all it took. In a split second, Spike mashed the gas on the Cad, and Lenny got up close and personal with Spike’s whitewalls. A coup de grâce with a Coupe de Ville.”- I_Borgward

And we’re back to the glorious ’80s. When I was browsing through my favorite online database for old car advertisement photos and brochures, I caught this shot, from a year when we spelt “moneysworth” all as one word. This spontaneous family photo is a bit perplexing. Grandma Eleanor doesn’t seem to mind the quick, casual break from the meal she spent all day preparing. Her tallest son, Roger Ross, in the orange trucker hat had just finished up an exhausting twelve-hour shift at the local Mercury Marine (or “Merc,” we true Wisconsinties call it) shop down near the shores of shallow, sturgeon-filled Lake Winnebago. He really wanted to finish G’ma’s potato turkey bake and get back to work. “Gotta get those boats ready to go in the morning (strong accented emphasis on the “o,” folks),” Roger said to his wife, Dotsie, who smiled uncomfortably waiting for the camera’s shutter to click close. We can’t forget about Edgar Ross, aka “Old Man Edg,” who just decided to out-class his entire family by wearing a bow tie and wool sport coat to dinner,  and demand everyone pose for a Christmas card photo in front of his new, 1982 Plymouth Reliant K.

Your turn to tell the rest of this rural American family’s story or create your own, in the comments section below. Get to it.

Classic Captions Contest – 1956 Cadillac Edition

Can you believe the last time we did a Classic Captions Contest here on Hooniverse was back in January of 2017? If you missed that run, travel back in time to this adventurous family, wearing matching khaki “outdoorsy” outfits posing in front of a rad 1987 Toyota Van. Clearly the father, Scott, is armed and ready to photograph the living daylights out of anything “nature” he sees with his green vest. For this revamp of our hilarious Classic Captions Contest, let’s step back even further to this brochure for Cadillac’s 1956 lineup.

It’s a shame that Cadillac today isn’t the Cadillac they used to be. They made cars that were dazzling and high-class. A sophisticated Detroit image you’d park in your driveway (backed in, of course), to show off to friends, family and the neighborhood that you’ve made it; you’ve accomplished something. Dig up any old sales brochure for Cadillac and you’ll see people dressed to the nines wearing white gloves, hats that belong on top of Frank Sinatra’s head, and pressed suits that almost matched their car’s leather-bathed interior.

Sure, today’s Cadillac still builds a fleet of quality, luxurious and even track-ready vehicles, but they all lack that proud, ambassador-esque flair that, say in this case, a 1956 Series 62 Coupe De Ville (pictured) had. You can’t help but see the image above, and then look at shots of the new XT4 crossover and feel depressed. The posh just isn’t there.

Analyze the advertisement above and write your own story for it. We see a swaggered-up couple walking towards a red Coupe De Ville, while behind them, a mysterious man in a black suit nervously holds what appears to be a styrofoam take-out box clutched tightly under his right arm. Our second mysterious thick-rimmed glasses man, on the right seems to be in-stroll and grasping a brown leather dossier with ____ inside.

You finish the rest. Let the comments section below be your script.

Rotten Rental Car Review: 2018 Toyota Camry

Whenever I travel to Colorado, renting a car is always a gamble. Yes, there are mountains out here and yes it snows, but each time I decline that additional insurance at the rental car company’s check-in desk, the clerk behind the counter starts some persuasive monologue in an attempt to sway me out of my current choice of wheels. It’s almost hilarious, and at times I just want to play along with their game.

Disclaimer: Ignore the word “rotten” in the title. This rental deserves praise rather than comical criticism.

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Hooniverse Fleet Update: The Saabaru at 210,000 Miles

You know that point in vehicle ownership, where your aging car might not be worth a whole lot, things are starting to break and you should probably spend the dollars elsewhere, say on…a new car? Well I’ve reached that with my 2005 Saab 9-2x. But truthfully I love my Saabaru too much.

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