Friday Fun: Forbidden Fruit edition

Source: CarAdvice

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Friday Fun. Let’s make it a good one, shall we?

Ah, the forbidden fruit. It lingers and teases the mind of every car enthusiast who knows well enough that not all of the best cars in the world make it to their own homeland. But that’s not the case for us ‘Mericans alone; many people drool over vehicles that weren’t, and never will be, sold in their country. Whether you’re into off-road trucks, Autobahn slayers, lightweight Japanese runabouts, or anything else your worldy mind can wrap itself around, there’s a seemingly infinite list of cars that everyone wishes they had access to and yet, don’t.

So let’s throw that away and pretend there’s no anti-import laws. No automakers keeping “the good stuff” to their home country. No nonsense of cars you can’t buy if you have the money. Your house has a three-car garage, your bank account has a cool $150k to spend on three vehicles to fill those voids in your life, your choice of vehicles is only limited to what your imagination is capable of. So have at it; let’s see what forbidden fruit everyone is salivating over.

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Dear automakers: bring back the sports trucks!

Source: BestRide

SVT Lightning. Syclone. 454SS. Ram SRT-10. X-Runner. Xtreme.

The street-oriented “sports truck,” a factory-modified pickup that could simultaneously pull off practicality and pleasure, is a sorely missed niche vehicle that would be a fun territory for automakers to explore today. Sports trucks were the antithesis to the supercar: they could put a big ‘ol smile on your face while still hauling a load of lumber, get around a corner better than their normal counterparts while packed with a bed full of mulch, and rip endless burnouts while carrying the furniture you’re moving. There’s a reason Utes are so popular in Australia and why people still talk about the Ranchero and El Camino, and that’s because the sports truck remains a great combination for those who want something with utility but don’t want to give up sportiness in the process.

2017 is severely lacking when it comes to sporty street-focused pickups, and now is the perfect time for the manufacturers to bring back them back. Hit the jump and prepare to wish the auto manufacturers were selling these outlandishly desirable vehicles today.

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Sampling 2004 Pontiac GTO: Is my Australian dream car any good?

The Pontiac GTO was the unloved bastard child of the muscle car resurgence of the 2000s. You don’t have to be an automotive designer to know the styling pushed the wrong buttons, leaving the LS1 engine to write checks the Holden-derived body couldn’t cash. That didn’t stop me from wanting one though. For reasons I’ll try to explain in the following “review,” something about the GTO just resonated with me whereas most Americans simply didn’t see it as the expression of aggression that was the retro-modern 2005 Mustang. Pontiac couldn’t sell 14,000 GTOs in 2004, and numbers declined until its demise in 2006. It disappeared without so much as a whisper.

What was to blame for the car’s failure? To start, it had no sharp edges, Australian roots, and a nameplate harkening back to one of the most memorable muscle cars of their golden years. It had little chance to win over the American people from day one. But maybe everyone was missing out; was Pontiac’s last rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered coupe any good? Was I insane for putting the GTO on a pedestal as a teenager, questionably making it an attainable dream car? Is the GTO worth pursuing in 2017?

Recently I finally found out what it was like to drive one of the cars I had dreamed of owning as a teenager. Read on to see if I left with my head held high or with my expectations crushed.

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Used Car Review: 1995 Land Rover Discovery V8 5-speed

This morning we revealed that of the more than 120 cars that Redusernab writers have owned, a Land Rover Discovery wasn’t one. While we can’t rectify that by just randomly buying one, Ross did take a quick spin in one. -KK

There’s something inherently charming about a two-decade-old big British four-by-four with a V8 and a stick. It’s reminiscent of the days of yore, oozing capability even without trying while serving as a somber reminder that manually-operated transmissions are now long-gone from the world of full-size SUVs. But as much as we can wax poetic about the disappearance of the enthusiasts’ favorite way to change gears, we’re not here to discuss this sad happening. Rather, I’m here to tell of my wonderful, far-too-short time with a 1995 Land Rover Discovery V8…with a manual.

Did you know that the first-generation Discovery was available with a manual transmission? The blokes across the pond might find this uninteresting but I honestly didn’t even know these vehicles were produced, or that they were sold in the ‘States. Newfound interest rabid, I headed to my friend’s house to give it a go.

So what are my impressions of a vehicle I was shocked by the existence of? You’ll have to continue past the jump to find out, but know that I was utterly shocked by the ‘ol Disco in more ways than one, in both good and bad. Read on for more.

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This is how the Borla S-Type Exhaust sounds on the Subaru WRX

There’s a lot to love about the current generation of Subaru WRX. It’s quick, practical, gets decent gas mileage, handles quite well, and is easy to live with every day. But even the best of cars have downfalls, and for the FA-powered engine that powers today’s WRX that downfall comes with how the car sounds. It’s not that it sounds bad, it’s just that the factory exhaust system doesn’t sound good, something that the model’s predecessor could in fact claim even with the stock system still in place.

You’ve probably heard of the and more likely than not you’ve heard one of their products in person as well. They’re one of the top-tier exhaust system manufacturers out there, and they very kindly sent over an S-Type cat-back exhaust system for installation and evaluation for my own 2017 WRX in hopes of remedying the less-than-inspiring noises it made stock.

A full written review of the kit can be found here, but be sure to check out the video above. In it you’ll find my impressions of the system as well as the most important thing in an exhaust review: pure exhaust sound clips. This is my first time in front of the camera and first time making a video since high school, so take a look and let us know what you think.

Review: Borla S-Type cat-back exhaust for 2015+ Subaru WRX

Listen to as many YouTube clips as you can, it’s always the first startup that makes the biggest impression. Then you dive further into the video, assessing the other crucial checklist items: Will it put a smile on your face under hard acceleration? What does it sound like when you drop down a gear and floor it? Is it going to drone on the highway? And yet, as much as you can prepare for how an aftermarket exhaust sounds, you never really know if it will satisfy until you hear it in real life.

Although the current-gen Subaru WRX is a great car, it is severely lacking in the combustion-generated sound department. Sports sedans are usually backed by a noise that encourages one to drive hard, by vocals that match the sporting intentions; that simply isn’t the case with the stock WRX. The problem for the FA-powered car is that factory pipes just aren’t exciting, which leaves it in the hands of the owner to improve the situation.

Knowing this, the kind folks at Borla sent over an S-Type cat-back exhaust system for my own 2017 Subaru WRX. After a few weeks of testing, I wholeheartedly love the newfound character that emanates upon coaxing from my right foot. The Borla setup is truly a great kit and has only improved the car. Click past the jump for a more in-depth review.

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Stormtrooper 4Runner: First off-road trip report

Photo credit: Steve Schultz

Off-roading isn’t anything that’s new to me. I’ve been around the hobby my entire life, having grown up with my dad’s lifted YJ Wrangler taking us on weekend excursions to local wheeling spots. I came home from the hospital in a Jeep, spent most of my childhood and young adulthood dreaming of off-roading something of my own. Then my dad sold the YJ and we got into ATVs, engrossing ourselves in a completely different side of the four-wheel-drive world. Over a decade passed between our last trip in the YJ and the events told herein, which marked my first off-road adventure as the driver in a street-legal 4×4.

But things didn’t go just as smoothly as I had hoped. And yet, the day still panned out into a fantastic experience and an afternoon spent happily in the woods at Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area. Read on for the story of my first off-road experience in the Stormtrooper 4Runner.

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2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: Near-Production Images

Ross Ballot March 30, 2017 All Things Hoon

Source: JLWranglerForums

After months of waiting, speculating, and hoping that the design lives up to those of yore, we may finally know what the upcoming JL Wrangler Unlimited looks like. Two photos were , a site for which you can probably guess the purpose, showing us what very much look like legitimate images of the next-gen Jeep.

I wrote at length about what I/we would like to see from the 2018+ model year redesign of the iconic vehicle, and finally we may have put some nails in the coffin as to what the design entails. It seems likely that the JL will remain visually similar to the JK it replaces because, after all, why mess with a winning formula? Or as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…right? Turns out that very well might be the case. Hit the jump to see what JL looks like sans-roof, and what we can deduce from the images.

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“There’s no bad new cars anymore”

We’ve all heard it before, and with increasing regularity: “Twenty-thousand miles? That’s just getting broken it! It’s practically new!” In the times of once unimaginable engineering and manufacturing processes, 20k truly is nothing these days. But where twenty-thousand miles isn’t “new” though is with the machines that so regularly get treated with reckless abandon, the vehicles that take a licking and (usually) keep on kicking: rental cars.

A twenty-thousand-mile rental is one that usually shows signs that it’s at, or nearing, the point of hating its own existence. Dying seats, a tired engine, interior and exterior panels that look like they were subject to a demolition derby, and invariably a smell you can’t place coming from a location you’d rather not examine. Twenty-thousand rental miles are tough on a car unlike any other because, after all, most people treat a rental like the damage-waiver-bearing piece of machinery it is, not the personal possession of your own that you love and care for.

Recently I spent a day in the Hyundai Accent pictured above and came away with some thoughts on the car itself and on cars as a whole. The little sedan had more of an impression on me than I anticipated, so read on to see what came of my time with the “Nissan Versa or similar”, as Enterprise calls it. 

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Friday Fun: $100K on/off-road dilemma

Ross Ballot March 17, 2017 All Things Hoon

And we’re back, another Friday Fun here to clear your mind at the end of what was a very snowy week for many. Last time we had some fun pretending our bank account had limit and yet there were only five garage spaces worth of real estate to fill, so this time we’re on to something entirely different.

Here’s this week’s situation: you have all-inclusive access to a race track, a course you can use at your disposal any time you want, that just so happens to have an optional dirt, rallycross-style section. Thing is, there’s five miles of dirt, ruts, and rocks separating the nearest paved roadway and the park entrance. And, for whatever reason it may be, you can’t store your track car at the facility. You have a cool $100K to burn on either one vehicle to do it all, or a two-piece combo to better suit your wants. So what would you buy? A dirt-capable truck, and a track car you pull on a trailer? Or one vehicle to make the best of both worlds?

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