Reversing the trend: The future of automotive design

Ross Ballot December 7, 2018 All Things Hoon


I have a theory about the future of automotive design, and it’s one I’m reasonably optimistic about too. And I’m about to share it with you.

Once upon a time cars had great visibility. Hoodlines were low, bumpers were only knee-high, pillars were small. Windows were big; greenhouses were big. You could see things in front of you, and you could see things behind and to the side of you.

Then something peculiar happened, much of which can be traced back to Chrysler debuting the 300. Its styling, marked by bold angles and a high beltline, captivated the automotive world and the buying market. The car that was supposed to rejuvenate Chrysler somehow did something else, kicking the realm of car design into one focused on dramatic design. Coincidentally, and relatively simultaneously, safety technology for drivers and occupants as well as for pedestrians was accelerating towards making its impact on design as well.

In turn, we got things that are both good and bad. High beltlines, tall bumpers, massive pillars; safer cars to drive and to be driven in. Concept car-like styling, and the decreased visibility to match.

But I don’t think it will stay that way.

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Hooniversal Opinion: 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show

It seems that year after year the Los Angeles International Auto Show gets bigger and bigger. This coincides with the decline in interest in the Detroit Auto Show and the automakers embracing the buying power that is the Los Angeles automotive market. That the fact that SoCal is quite a bit nicer than winterized Michigan means that L.A.’s own auto show is growing faster than ever. And with a large number of big reveals, this year was further proof of just that.

This was a show of heavy hitters. The Jeep Gladiator. Porsche’s 992-generation 911. The new hatch and sedan Mazda3 pair. Audi’s E-Tron GT. Lincoln’s production-spec Aviator. Honda’s reintroduction of the Passport nameplate. And that’s not to mention a whole slew of other wild-cards like Toyota’s Prius AWD-e, Corolla Hybrid, Rivian electric pickup and SUV duo, the Genesis G90, Hyundai’s Palisade, the Kia Soul, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, Bentley Continental GT Convertible, BMW iNEXT, Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro, and so on.

The 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show was home to a relatively massive amount of new things to talk about in the automotive world, so we’re going to do just that. Hit the jump to read our writers’ respective opinions on what was revealed at the 2018 LAAS.

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Review: /DRIVE on NBC Sports – Season 5

Ross Ballot November 28, 2018 Featured, TV Shows

The age of the internet being available anytime and anywhere has allowed the world of automotive film media to evolve into one of diverse, ever-growing outlets of perpetually varying quality. In one corner lies the new-age YouTube “shows” covering everything from vlogs to publication-backed productions and everything in-between. In the other lives long-standing television stalwarts with familiar names like Top Gear.

Somewhere in the middle — and falling directly into the overlapping part of the internet/television Venn diagram — is /DRIVE, a show that began its life as an internet experiment. It’s also the evolution of of the various hosts and their other existing work, and it’s only continued to evolve ever since. Sometime after becoming one of the early attempts to test the paywall model, the show eventually moved to a mainstay on NBC Sports. Now on the tail end of its fifth season, /DRIVE returned earlier this fall to a familiar formula, a duo of new hosts, and the automotive and production goodness we’ve come to expect from it.

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I’m Thankful For: Adventure

Ross Ballot November 22, 2018 All Things Hoon

I’m not one for big, sweeping New Year’s Resolutions, but going into 2017 I made an all-important, life-changing one: explore more. Or, rather, as I like to call it: see more new, cool shit. A mantra to eschew the stagnance that was, and to make the most of life going forward.

This year, after nearly two full turns of the calendar of a big change in mindset and doing my best to get out and explore more, I’m thankful for just what I set out to do more of: adventure.

I’m thankful to be fortunate enough to have the support and means to follow my passions. For the ability to see new sights; for having new sights to see. For building relationships through trips and for the people that come on them. For the vehicles that make getting to these places possible, and for the journeys along the way. For the feeling that comes when experiencing something new, and breathtaking. For always knowing there’s more to do, and more to see.

This year my “big trip” was out to CA– twice. Once to SoCal to explore the beaches and mountains, and then shortly after to the SF Bay Area to drive the coast and to see the sights in a duo of trips that made dreams come true. On top of that, there’s been numerous trips out to PA for off-roading, and the icing on the cake has been countless hiking trips to new and to favorite spots. As far as going places goes, I’m extremely lucky to do what it is that I do for fun.

For me, adventure is what makes life worth living. And for that, I’m thankful.

Toyota comes through, replaces Paradise hero’s Tundra

Ross Ballot November 22, 2018 All Things Hoon

Source: on Instagram

A piece of light in a very dark and tragic time, a Paradise city civilian came to the rescue of many folks endangered by the California wild fires and in the process sacrificed the well-being of his truck to do so. As we reported last week, Toyota stepped up and commented on the Instagram post that kicked this whole thing into the news, offering to replace Allyn’s charred truck in honor of his heroic actions.

Ever that to pitch in and help out when help is needed, the automotive community took to the news immediately. And it should: Allyn did what it took to save human lives, and put his own possession in jeopardy in order to do what had to be done. Toyota took notice, and news spread rapidly that they company was planning to give him a new truck.

Yesterday, Toyota came through and delivered Allyn the vehicle serving as a replacement for #ProjectMarshmellow. In a post on , Allyn introduces his new 2019 Tundra TRD Pro, the new truck that will hopefully never have to see what its predecessor saw in the last few weeks. In a time of disaster, this serves as a piece of light. It’s a great story, and we all wish Allyn the best with his new Toyota.

(Though they might have a new truck, the family still lost their home and belongings in the fires. If you want to donate to the Allyn’s family in their time of need, check out the .)

Good guy in a Tundra helps save lives in Paradise fire

2020 Jeep Gladiator breaks cover, brings AEV Brute to production


One of the most anticipated reveals of recent automotive times has been leaked ahead of its LA Auto Show debut, and it finally lets us rest our eyes on the upcoming pickup of many folks’ four-by-four dreams.

Here it is: the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. In its most basic description it’s exactly what you’d expect: a Wrangler Unlimited shod with a bed. But it’s more than that, and it promises the company’s legendary off-road heritage with a good dose of hauling-and-towing capability. For many, it will be the perfect do-it-all truck, and for Jeep it will be the perfect competitor to trucks the likes of the Tacoma, Colorado/Canyon, and upcoming Ranger. In a growing segment, the Gladiator cannot come soon enough, and now we finally know what it will truly look like (though didn’t we all along…?).

So, finally, Wrangler capability with a pickup bed. I suspect that some kind of development was shared with a little company by the name of AEV, and there’s plenty more to unpack here from what are the first “official” unofficial pictures of Jeep’s new cash printing machine. Hit the jump with me and let’s dissect what there is to make of things.

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Up for sale: 5-speed manual 1995 Land Rover Discovery

Ross Ballot November 9, 2018 For Sale

The Land Rover Discovery is an extremely capable, long-standing warrior in the wheeling-meets-commuting world of shared missions. It’s a versatile, competent vehicle and one that has made an impact on the market it competes in and that has established itself as a nameplate of significance therein. From the Camel Trophy to the suburbs, the truck can seemingly do it all. Today’s Disco is– as we have found out time and time again— has built on the original’s purpose as a do-it-all SUV, something that can get you to and through the trail in equal comfort. Over the years the truck has evolved a substantial amount, but once-upon-a-time it was available with what now looks to be a very special option.

Back in early 2017 I drove a a 1995 Discovery with a V8 and a 5-speed manual a somewhat obscure example of the Series I run. Prior to my friend telling me about this specific truck, I didn’t know they even sold one with a stick. In hindsight it’s not surprising; the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, 4Runner, and so on could all be bought with a third pedal. And while the truck I “reviewed” was far from the best example, I loved it. Hell, even our own Jeff Glucker briefly considered buying it. The style, seating layout, V8, 5-speed, and British charm made for it to be a true gem. And now, another has turned up for sale.

This white 1995 Discovery has the right look and the right foundation. The 3.9L V8 that wooed me is present, and the white wheels match the paint for a very safari-esque (real safari, not “safari” in the sense of the trendy Porsche movement going on now) look that would be perfect on the trail or prowling about New England during the fall and winter months. It might need a little work, but what 20+ year-old vehicle– and especially, what 20+ year-old Land Rover– doesn’t?

Should you want a stick-shift Discovery of your own, hit the link to the For Sale ad .

Teaser: Changes coming to the Stormtrooper 4Runner

Ross Ballot November 9, 2018 Project 4Runner

It’s finally happening: the Stormtrooper 4Runner is about to receive some very desperately needed upgrades.

“What’s in the box?,” you ask? No, it’s not ARB armor– though that is what the company has come to be known for here in the ‘States. Rather, the contents of the deceptively large package are goodies from Australian suspension company–and subset of ARB– Old Man Emu. The Stromtrooper 4Runner has been in need of repairs and upgrades for a long time now, and the parts in the box pictured above are a vital step towards it becoming more comfortable, more capable, and more reliable as a long-term off-roading tool/toy. Of course, as is the case when working on a truck of this age and of the abuse that it’s seen, there’s a lot of “repair/replace that too while we’re in there” going on, so a few other parts have been acquired in addition to those from OME so as to make for a clean and structurally solid starting point going forward.

Yes, this is a deliberate and shameless teaser-plug to keep you and myself excited for things to come. It’s difficult to contain my excitement, and looking at the box on the floor every day– and not looking at the parts on the truck– is just shy of torture. Things should come together within the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more.

Spied (Again): 2020 Land Rover Defender 2-door SWB

Ross Ballot November 5, 2018 All Things Hoon


As the off-road community continues to hold its breath amidst fear of the Land Rover Defender getting Independent Front Suspension for the first time, the namesake’s overhaul and subsequent release is getting closer with every passing day. And, as is tradition for automakers now, that means taunting us who care by testing the upcoming vehicle out on public streets wearing not-doing-much-to-fool-us camo, as a deliberate tactic to keep us on the hook for the reveal as much as it is to see how it performs in the real world. And with the company rolling out a new vehicle as important– conceptually and with regard to its significance to the brand, at least– as this, they have to do every bit of recon they can.

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This 1991 Toyota Mega Ace is for sale and it’s extra-rad

Ross Ballot November 5, 2018 For Sale


Not all vehicles are created equal, and this 1991 Toyota Mega Ace 4×4 is one that is a cut above the rest. In fact, this one is better than that: it’s so good that I’d be willing to put in my Rad Hall of Fame. And it’s for sale, so you can own this incredible piece of ’90s van greatness.

It ticks every box: It’s right hand drive. It’s Japanese, and from 1991. It’s short-wheelbase, cab-over configuration. It’s got fold-flat seats, skylights, a diesel motor paired with a 5-speed gearbox, and styling that gives off the impression it was designed for an early-’90s sci-movie. It’s got the right rad-tastic paint, and it’s even got the right name, Mega AceEven the ad lists it as a “spaceship window van,” which, barring the fact that we know it is very unlikely to be an actual spaceship, is a very accurate description. Having grown up in the 1990s, this is everything my childhood self would have dreamed of as cool.

This Mega Ace brings up visions of selling everything, learning how to surf, and living out of the van for months at a time while your dog lounges under the shade of an awning and your only worries in the world are what to throw on the BBQ for dinner and how spectacular that night’s sunset will be. Or, you know, just buying it and driving it wherever the hell you point it, regardless of terrain, because with ground clearance and dimensions like it has, you probably can.

Somebody, please buy this amazing example of early 1990s Toyota greatness and give it the home and life it deserves. Should you have the funds to put it in your garage– or simply want to torture yourself by looking at the ad and then doing your best so as to not drool on your keyboard, as I have been– click for the Craigslist ad .



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