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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Cars named for mythical creatures

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Thanks to the fertile minds of Greeks, Romans, sailors, fantasy authors, and peasants living in thatched roof cottages, there is a nearly limitless catalog (or, if you’re Chris Haining, “catalogue”) of fantastical, nonexistent creatures. And fortunately, most of them 1) sound like they’d be pretty badass, and 2) have been around long enough to be in the public domain. And as well all know, that combination makes them vehicle marketing gold. So, as we do every Monday, we invite you to start your workweek by helping us assemble the consummate list of these vehicles named after mythical creatures.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • “Mythical” means it is widely known and has been around a long time. Not just any made-up name counts. For example, Tiguan (half-tiger/half-iguana) sounds like a plausibly mythical creature, except that it was invented by a reader of Autobild magazine specifically for VW. [Buzzer sounds, trapdoor swings open.]
  • Beyond that first big restriction, go hog wild. Manufacturer names, marques, sub-brands, models and trim lines are all good.
  • Concept cars, one-offs, race cars are fair game, as long as the name was official bestowed by a manufacturer, coachbuilder, or famous customiser/designer.
  • Motorcycles? Trucks? Sure.
  • Airplanes? Oh, why not; I’m feeling particularly liberal today. Just don’t let it get out of hand. — Whaddaya think this is, ?
  • Boats or ships? NO, because they all get individually named and every potlicker with a dingy thinks he has to come up with a majestic name for the thing.

Difficulty: This one’s a gimmie. In fact, I was somewhat surprised that I hadn’t pitched this one previously.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: , , Honda press photo that can be found about 20 gazillion places on the ‘net.

False Neutral #6: Richard Varner & The State of American Road Racing

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This weekend, the professional U.S. motorcycle roadracing season gets underway at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Fittingly, our guest this week is Richard Varner, CFO and co-founder of the KRAVE Group. Not too long ago, KRAVE was awarded the commercial rights to the AMA’s MotoAmerica pro racing series. Richard discusses the state of pro motorcycle roadracing in America and what we can expect this season and into the future. If you have even a passing interest in motorcycle roadracing, what Mr. Varner has to share will be well worth hearing.

Note: Due to the fault of absolutely no one, the sound quality this week leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, this is the sometimes unavoidable result of four open mics and four internet connections of varying quality, all being mixed down “raw” into a single digital track in real time. We processed this episode in post-production to make the source material as listenable as possible, but the result sounds a lot like listening to a homemade AM crystal radio. We promise that next week’s episode will be as rich, dulcet, and noise-free as a DVD-Audio recording of James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman reading . Okay, perhaps not quite.


False Neutral – Richard Varner of MotoAmerica

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: “We should add a hatchback version!”

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An old friend of mine once recalled his father car shopping at the local American Motors dealer in the fall of 1972. He was torn between the utility of the Gremlin and the styling of the Hornet coupe — both of which had been out for two years — until the salesman took him around the back of the building to see the very first Hornet hatchback they’d received, still un-prepped. His dad bought it immediately.

Hatchbacks have not been around nearly as long as coupes and sedans, generally speaking. In fact, the Hornet was the first American-built hatchback model. (The Gremlin was considered a compact wagon at the time.) More to my point, the Hornet hatchback has not been around as long as the rest of the Hornet line-up, and that is the subject of our trivia contest quest for encyclopedic knowledge today. I want you to name all the car models that had a hatchback version added later, after the car was first introduced. Now, “car model” is a somewhat nebulous term. So, just to be clear, I’m looking for hatchbacks that were added to an existing platform mid-cycle, not as part of a new generation across the model range.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Production cars only, obviously. If it wasn’t in meaningful serial production, it doesn’t fit this category.
  • 3-doors and 5-doors are both good, as are so-called “liftbacks.”
  • “Later” means LATER. As in, introduced after the car was shipping — preferably by at least half a model year or so. So DON’T mention that hatchback that was announced alongside the other body styles and just didn’t ship quite as quickly. (Yeah, THAT one.)
  • Non-identical cousins based on a common platform are likely to get a pass today. You can still nominate a “hatchback-come-lately”™, despite an earlier hatchback version, as long as it was only offered in a different wheelbase or in a different market. You might also be able to argue that an earlier hatchback version sold under a different brand name shouldn’t disqualify your nomination, as long as it wasn’t a blatant case of badge engineering.
  • Motorcycles? Airplanes? Boats? Sure, if you can come up with one, why not. Lots’a luck with those.

Difficulty: This one’s somewhat odd; the vast majority of the fruit is neither low-hanging nor truly obscure.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: , the that is , and manufacturer press photos.

False Neutral #5: Live From Lisbon with Cager On Two Wheels

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Popular YouTube vlogger Cager on Two Wheels joins us this week from Lisbon, Portugal. We discuss the differences between the riding environments in Europe and North America — culturally, legally and geographically. Our conversation progresses to how those differences shape which bikes become popular in various markets, and dream riding destinations.

Here are a few links to websites mentioned in this episode:




False Neutral – Cager on Two Wheels

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Single-Year Model Names

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Combine the effort automotive marketing men put into developing public awareness of model names with the intellectual property value of a legally-established trade mark, and it is understandable why car model names, once established, are often recycled over and over. But, some model names die fast and quiet. These are names tainted by a bad model, or reference a rapidly outdated fad, identified cars that were intentionally small-volume, limited-edition halo cars, or perhaps got slapped together just to use up a stockpile of odd parts. And every once in a while, a name just doesn’t play as well in the showroom as test marketing suggested it would. Even in these cases, however, model names usually get at least a few years to prove themselves before they’re cast into the dustbin of corporate history.

It is rare that a model name is retired after only a single model year, never to be resurrected; this is the topic for this week’s Hoonatica entry.

The Caveats (there are always caveats, and today more than usual!):

  • This is not about platforms or models, but model names. If it was used for more than one model year by a particular manufacturer, even on vehicles in different segments or decades apart, it doesn’t count. ONE. YEAR. ONLY.
  • Trim lines and submodels don’t count. The major model name must be unique. Yes, this also goes for homologation specials.
  • We’re talking world-wide. A model name marketed in ANY market (or combination of markets) for more than one year doesn’t count, even if it happened to be sold in some particular nation or continent for one year only.
  • Mass-produced vehicles only, obviously. Customs, kit cars, amateur-built cars, concept cars and prototypes need not apply.
  • Cars introduced within a year of their manufacturer’s bankruptcy (or other permanent suspension of production) don’t count. The model name must have been intentionally killed, not a victim that died of natural causes.
  • Model names that by definition were designed to change every year don’t count. The example I’m thinking of are the Chrysler 300 “Letter cars.”
  • In light of the above caveat, alpha-numeric names require a special dose of discrimination. Are the IS200d and IS200t really two different names, or just two versions of the same model name? [The latter is the correct answer, if you haven’t figured it out.]
  • Cars, light trucks and heavy trucks are allowed. Motorcycles REALLY, REALLY, REALLY don’t count this week, if only because bike models have so routinely died in infancy over the last thirty years. Airplanes? Don’t even think about it.

Difficulty: Thinking caps on! Very little of this fruit is truly low-hanging, but give the ol’ memory a nudge and perhaps engage in a bit of careful investigation; there is plenty here for everyone.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Source: .

False Neutral Episode #4: Dollars & Harleys & Buells, Oh My!

Eric and Pete welcome Redusernab contributor Wayne Moyer. Topics include Erik Buell, entry-level Harley-Davidsons, and why it’s so hard to make money manufacturing motorcycles nowadays. Now with bonus background noise!

As always, follow along with the photos below the jump, then leave a comment about which of our opinions you agree or disagree with. Please subscribe, rate and review us on iTunes.


False Neutral – Dollars & Harleys & Buells, Oh My!

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Cars named for speed


Cars are marketed on the promise of many different characteristics: practicality, mobility, luxury, social status, or perhaps some sort of vague feeling that you live in another city. Since outright speed seems a bit dangerous, allusions to high performance are often couched in terms such as “Sport” or “GT”, rather than an overt reference to how fast a car goes. But the latter is what we want today: car names that overtly refer to speed.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • We are looking for cars named for speediness itself, not just things that are fast. Neither Comet nor Falcon belong in this category, even though those are both speedy things.
  • It doesn’t matter if the vehicle itself is fast. I can think of several downright sluggish rides with speedy names.
  • Manufacturers’ marques, model names and trim lines are all fair game. Slang and nicknames are not.
  • The names of concept cars and prototypes are only allowable if it was an officially-bestowed name by an automotive manufacturer or recognized coachwork/styling house.
  • Purpose-built race cars are specifically prohibited.
  • Cars, light and heavy trucks, motorcycles are all fair game. Definitely NO airplanes.

Difficulty: Grasshopper, when you can snatch the low-hanging fruit out of my hand, then you will be ready.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Source: and .

False Neutral Episode #3: Custom Bikes


Eric and Pete are joined by prospective co-host Vince Ma for a discussion of custom bikes, bikes as art, and the tension between form and function on two wheels. We talk about the role of individuality in motorcycle choice, discuss visual design theory just a bit, and name the bikes we think are perfect as they came from the factory. As always, follow along with the photos below the jump, then leave a comment about which of our opinions you agree or disagree with. We want False Neutral to appeal to YOU, the Redusernab reader, so suggestions about our content and format are always welcome. Also, please rate and review us on iTunes.


False Neutral – Custom Bikes

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: DOHC Straight Sixes


‘Round these parts, we love straight sixes. But they can sometimes be regarded in America as outdated, low-tech beasts (except for BMW fanbois, of course). But the inline-six engine has progressed over the years into something as advanced and sophisticated as any other internal combustion configuration, including the use of dual overhead camshafts. In fact, DOHC inline engines have the advantage over vee engines in weight, cost and complexity, since the cam drive apparatus does not need to be duplicated for two separate heads.

So let us celebrate the DOHC straight six by compiling a comprehensive list of all the different iterations of this configuration.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • We are listing engine designs, not cars. The number or variety of different vehicles an engine ended up in doesn’t matter.
  • Conversely, different generations count separately. If it’s got a new block or new head casting, it’s a new entry.
  • We’re looking for mass-produced, road-going engines. No grand prix works specials.
  • Diesel and petrol are both allowable.

Difficulty: Medium Hot (as long as you don’t bite into the jalapeño seeds).

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Source: and .

What Would Your Fantasy Track Look Like?

Writing last September’s profile of motorcycle flat track racing renewed my long-dormant interest in TT racing, in which the typical oval track is tweaked into a sort of kidney shape that features at least one turn in each direction and a jump, but that opposite turn is typically rather subtle, almost vestigial.  That got me thinking about track design; how much “enhancement” would a basic oval track need to provide real right and left turns? At first I considered something very close to the traditional dirt oval, scaling down one end of the oval and reversing it within the outer track, with 180-degree curves between the inner and outer half-ovals, creating a simple “C” shape. But there was one big problem: no runoff areas.  On the inner track, bikes and riders sliding toward the outside of the turn could either slam into a wall or slide into the traffic on the opposite end of the course. I began to ask: how I could incorporate the whole gamut of turns — right and left, increasing and decreasing radii, wide sweepers, chicanes and tight hairpins —  within a minimal length (1/2 mile or so) and the fewest number of turns? I wanted a “teaching track,” with well-defined, predictable turns that would be easy for student drivers to classify and study. That question blossomed over several months into a full-fledged circuit design exercise.

I can’t be the only one here who has attempted to sketch out his dream circuit.
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