Hooniverse Asks – What Car Company is the Most Badass?

Brand personas are like people personas, which are frequently cultivated to engender a higher position on the pecking order. Some brands get realigned so as to remain relevant. Remember Mountain Dew? It used to be marketed as some kind of hillbilly sweat or something – which may have been the bee’s knees back when Nixon was an audiophile, but not particularly appealing in this day and age. Then the maker subtling changed the name to ‘The Dew,’ and started sponsoring X-games and X-treme sports events, if there was an X in the title, Do the Dew was plastered on banners everywhere around it. Thankfully, Malcolm X came out before this all started.
Car brands too have personas, and some of those are appreciably badass. The Shelby Mustang? Badass. Nissan GT-R? Badass. Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Caliber? Not badass, but lame-ass. You want a car that’s garnered a rep as a badass, in the same way you want to use baking soda toothpaste – because it make you look tough.
So there’s a couple of suggestions of cars that are badass, and a couple that most certainly are not. But cars are one thing, car companies are another. They have to appeal to a wide variety of buyer’s tastes, meaning not all of their products can be equally large testicled. But what car maker, in your estimation, is the most badass of them all? Is there a company that says eff you to conformity more than any other?
Image source: [Anthony Laurence]

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81 responses to “Hooniverse Asks – What Car Company is the Most Badass?”

  1. M44Power Avatar

    I doubt any of the larger car companies can really have a large level of badassery anymore. Careful brand management and media campaigns have really neutered most of them. (Joy? Seriously?!?) That leaves the garden shed car makers and, of them, I would put TVR at the top of the list.

    1. Brett MacPherson Avatar
      Brett MacPherson

      <img src="http://robson.m3rlin.org/cars/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/tvr_sagaris_1_2004-7.thumbnail.jpg"&gt;
      <img src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/jpg/200607/1998-tvr-cerbera-speed-12-7w.jpg"&gt;
      "Yes, all new cars must come equipped with crumple zones, traction control, ABS…"
      "Lalalala I can't hear you over the sound of raging awesome!!"

  2. Cynic Avatar

    Well, as an "eff you" to conformity, Mazda's the only automaker in the world running a rotary engine, and they're certainly the most sporty automaker on average in terms of their vehicles.

  3. tonyola Avatar

    When it comes to saying eff you to conformity, I'd say Tatra if they were still making cars. They've been unconventional all along but got really out there in the 1930s beginning with the T77. Then after World War II, they somehow managed to defy the overwhelming grayness and ineptitude of communist Eastern Europe to come up with some of the strangest and against-the-mainstream cars around, keeping with a rear-engined concept that just about everyone else abandoned by 1970. Sadly, once freedom came in 1990, Tatra's willful weirdness just couldn't compete against the well-established and more conventional bastions of automotive luxury, so they gave up on passenger cars and stuck to trucks.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      I have wanted one of those for as long as I can remember.

      1. packratmatt Avatar

        There was one on Ebay last week. Almost $23K but the reserve wasn't met.

    2. ptmeyer84 Avatar

      LS3+T56+miata=ultimate sports car

  4. ChuckyShamrok Avatar

    For a Major Company, I'd say Dodge. The Challenger, Charger and Durango are all bad ass looking cars, like a car I would not want to see while walking down a dark alley at night

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      I wouldn't want to be in any dark alley people are driving cars through!

    2. Deartháir Avatar

      Problem is, to my mind, they're bad-ass looking… and that's about it. The Challenger is the most milquetoast of all the "pony" cars out there, with the least effort put into actually being bad-ass.

      1. ChuckyShamrok Avatar

        Yea, but at least the cars LOOK badass. The only badass lookin car Chevy has in it's line up is the Camaro and the Corvette. Ford has the Raptor and Mustang. I hate to say it, but all the "Pony" cars out there are pretty much hair dressers cars. So if you remove Pony Cars, Dodge has two, while Ford and Chevy each have one.

        1. Deartháir Avatar

          Completely agreed. Although GM also has the Vette, and more importantly the Holden Commodore, while Ford also has the Falcon, the Focus RS…Still, I think the domestics are largely eliminated. I think BMW eliminates them all by themselves.

          1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

            …and is in turn eliminated by its own brand image of trophy wives in X5s and middle management in automatic 3/5-series – all leased, of course.

      2. ptschett Avatar

        The Challenger makes more sense if you think of it as the latest form of the intermediate-sized musclecar, the class that most recently was represented by the GTO.

  5. Maxichamp Avatar

    Bristol. It f&^ks with, and embraces, convention.

  6. P161911 Avatar

    Either Zonda
    <img src="http://www.fastcoolcars.com/images/wallpaper7/pagani_zonda5.jpg"width=500&gt;
    Or Morgan
    <img src="http://www.morgan-motor.co.uk/sales/roadster%20web%20large.jpg"width=500&gt;
    eff you , we don't need to change anything, we might build you a car if we feel like it.

  7. rocketrodeo Avatar

    Porsche and Bugatti. Granted, there have been a few entry-level Porsches, and the Cayenne remains a WTFmobile, but nobody can doubt what their focus is. Their competition history is unmatched. They've stuck with a difficult engine configuration for their marquee vehicle and made it work by sheer overengineering. You will make compromises to fit yourself into one, via either your comfort or your wallet. Likely both.
    The Bugatti nameplate, OTOH, has never been affixed to anything less than totally badass. The 1920s-30s cars were totally uncompromising, and the Veyron didn't dilute the brand one bit when it was reconstituted. I suppose there isn't much dynamic judgment that can be made regarding the Galibier yet, but by styling alone it's going to make a Panamera appear insignificant parked next to it.
    One could say that Lotus has been a similarly uncompromising brand, but IMO they've never been very charismatic cars. They're the martial artists of the auto world–can totally get the job done, but with next to no swagger. That's not badass.
    Mini, perhaps? They've made tiny cars cool again. A bit too chic-boutiquey, perhaps, and what swagger they've got is in a Napoleon-complex kinda way. As far as conformity goes, though, I think they're setting the standard in their class.

    1. IronBallsMcG Avatar

      I like the Cayenne. It's capable as hell, the right models have metric shit-tons of power and they're helping to provide the capital for the 918 and other goodies. As long as I confessing I might as well say that the Panamera is beautiful as far as I'm concerned. I sat behind one in traffic last night and that rear end just confirmed my beliefs. And I cannot lie, you other brothers might deny.

      1. tonyola Avatar

        While the Panamera might not be the most beautiful Porsche ever, I think its supposed ugliness is way overstated on the blogs. The Pan looks lower, smaller, and sleeker in real life than it does in most pictures, and the interior is seriously nice.

        1. IronBallsMcG Avatar

          I haven't gotten the chance to get into one yet, but my good friend who has, expressed the same in regards to the interior.

  8. OA5599 Avatar

    Boss Hoss, for building a car that has only two (or sometimes three) wheels.
    <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_nsfFCnwGVlc/TJpxXeBrVwI/AAAAAAAACR4/MdOT4gI3B-8/s640/BossHossRad.JPG"&gt;

    1. rocketrodeo Avatar

      And sometimes one.

    2. PCmills Avatar

      What's more badass is that is a pic of my buddy.

  9. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    Among the somewhat mass-market offerings, the pickings are slim.
    I find Audi badass. The R10 and R15 help that , but there's something to be said for the very German-ness of their products. M-B seems more feminine to me and BMW is close, but is a bit metrosexual.
    On another front, since inception Lamborghini is nothing but a middle finger to everyone.

  10. muthalovin Avatar

    <img src="http://allasport.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Slide-Lamborghini-Gallardo-LP-550-2-Valentino-Balboni-Concept.jpg&quot; width=500>
    No SUV's, no sedans (yet), just pure, unadulterated performance coupes and convertibles. Sure, the same could be said for Ferrari, but eff Ferrari, anyhow.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      "No SUVs"??? I'm pretty sure this qualifies as a SUV, but it also qualifies as pretty Badass.
      <img src="http://thecarloos.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/lm002.jpg"width=500&gt;

      1. Syrax Avatar

        It could also qualify as a sedan and pickup too. That's how badass it is!

  11. fhrblig Avatar

    If only they made a manual-transmission Raptor.

  12. M600 Avatar

    The Noble M600 is the ragged edge of sanity, a surgical maul among scalpels, and even looks sinister in baby blue:

  13. Lotte Avatar

    <img src="http://www.autodesign-review.info/images/dodge-caliber%20(2).jpg" width="500">
    "Hatchbacks? Eff that! Ya really want one, take this!"
    And then the proper cars they have passion for are just awesome. I hope they don't die…

    1. Lotte Avatar

      It seems I need to offer an explanation: Dodge is capable of making good cars. Chrysler is a major manufacturer of cars in America today. But, the Caliber is not a good hatchback. It does not fit into the ethos of the brand. There could very well be a way a small hatchback solution that satisfy both the economical aspects inherent in a car like that coupled with the very masculine, big-cars only feel of the brand, but the Caliber is not it.
      Now, ‘being badass’: I took it as a company’s attitude towards making cars; whether they stick to what they believe and their cars speak a clear statement of who they are regardless of the / a clever retaliation of the culture they are a part of. I’m thinking non-conformists; Harley-esque reckless abandon yet still being able to sell somehow. I’m not suggesting ‘Dodge does not care’, but rather their focus was on something else.
      Back to the Caliber; it seems like they did not spend the time to conform to the culture of hatchbacks, and therefore ignored the important things hatchback users are looking for. But Dodge didn’t care in this case; they deliberately made a brand new car their way. Did they subsequently change it in response to complaints and bad press? Sure, they did what they could. But the old car came across to me that way.
      Sorry for rubbin' y'all the wrong way.

    2. Lotte Avatar

      Fuck me, I'm laying low for a while. Carry on.

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        Ya gotta be real careful commenting to those Hooniversalists. They just really like their hatchbacks.

  14. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    <img src="http://www2.diariomotor.com/imagenes/soichiro-honda-cumple-100.jpg"&gt;
    Back when it was under the management of people like Soichiro Honda and Shoichiro Irimajiri, Honda was pretty bad-ass, in a "We don't murder people, we murder their products" rat pack/corporate gangster/high-roller sort of way. When they were ready to take something from you (a World Championship, market share, some technological advantage) they just did it, and you didn't have much say in the matter.
    Since Soichiro died, it's been a long, slow slide towards acting more like William H. Macy in The Cooler.

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      Hahahah I love that last bit.

  15. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I'd also add Spyker to the list of badass upstarts. Pretty aggressive cars, plus buying Saab showed some corporate balls.

  16. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Sure, but the Veyron's sheetmetal screams metrosexual, not bad-ass.

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      Who says a badass can't dress well and take appreciable care of their facial skin? … Pftthaha.

    2. OA5599 Avatar

      I have a hard time considering any car with an original sticker price over $99,999.99 to be badass. At or above six figures, it becomes contaminated by douche owners who buy for the wrong reasons, namely to show that they can afford it and you can't, or because it attracts a better class of prostitute.
      A true badass car is owned by an individual who was already badass before purchasing the car, not becaise of it.

  17. kenwood Avatar

    Take a look at many of the mentions here; Bugatti, Lambo, Audi, Porsche…Guess who is the puppetmaster of them all? VW's very own megalomaniac, Doktor Ferdinand Piech. That's my vote. Oh, and hey Ferrari, you'd better be looking over your shoulder when walking down any dark alleys.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Pfft. Ferrari wouldn't even go near a dark alley. "No! It'th thcary! I'll break a nail!"

    2. IronBallsMcG Avatar

      I think Herr Doktor may be the most BAMF in the auto manufacturing industry.

  18. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Here me out on this….
    BMW (During the early 00's)
    They hired Clive Owen and big budget Actors and Directors for a series of short films for advertising their new products. That's pretty badass.
    <a href="http:///http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK87YLmagt4"></embed&gt;” target=”_blank”>/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK87YLmagt4"&gt;&lt;/embed&gt;

    1. facelvega Avatar

      Wait, advertising and marketing strategies are badass? Ones with pretty boy celebrity spokesmen? That's kind of the opposite of badass in my book. And I even like Clive Owen.

  19. Black Steelies Avatar

    Porsche. They continually make cars people don't think they wan't, and then continue to sell them like hotcakes!
    <DIV style="OVERFLOW: auto"><img src="http://fancytuning.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/mansory-porsche-cayenne-955-1.jpg&quot; width=600>
    Oh and when the majority shareholder of your company is a dyslexic athiest that looks like this, you know your car company 'brought it'
    <img src="http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/11/5396a-ferdinand_piech_a_70_ans.jpg"&gt;

    1. kenwood Avatar

      He is a natty dresser though, isn't he?

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        A chalk stripe gangster suit, cufflinks, and a unicorn tie. Not sure what natty means but I'll agree.

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      I had to +1 that if only for that spare tire mount.
      I read a magazine article about driving one of these through Alaska in winter. I don't remember when or which mag but it was definitly sorta badass.

      1. facelvega Avatar

        Anybody can be badass in a lamborghini. Only a badass can be badass in a Smart.

        1. Black Steelies Avatar

          But anybody can be a smart-ass, myself included.

  20. Jim-Bob Avatar

    GAZ. Allow me to explain. It was started in 1929 to build Ford model A clones when Stalin decreed that the USSR needed to build cars. The American Ford workers who went to help set the plant up were later killed in the first purge around 1933 or 35 (memory fails me right now). Later on they would go on to build the cars used by the KGB to round up non-persons and make them disappear. If you saw a black GAZ Tchaika pull up at your door you knew you were doomed. They also built police cars out of the Volga with the Tchaika's V8 under the hood and I think they were even involved in the rotary engine production for Lada 2105 police cars in the 1980's (interesting tidbit: The Soviets built more rotary engines than Mazda, but most went into aircraft). So, as a brand, GAZ is more associated with murder and repression than any other and as so is the most bad ass of them all.

  21. Deartháir Avatar

    They've got a single corporate parent, just to be pedantic. Which would, of course, be my nominee. A company that stuffs W8, W12 and W16 engines into anything they can make it fit into; and a company that isn't afraid to get a little bit… weird?
    <img src="http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/plugins/PostviaEmail/images/1991_Volkswagen_VW_Golf_Country_Synchro_4x4_For_Sale_Canada_resize.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      I might very well have said VW, among major makes, until the 2.0 Jetta returned. I don't give three slick shits, there's no excuse for 115 horsepower out of a petrol two-litre anymore. It's as though they tried to make it as limp-wristed as possible.
      That said, they can still duke it out with Ford and Mazda.
      EDIT: I'm thinking of the brand, not the group. The group, yeah, as far as heavyweights go, VAG is the least pussified… somehow.

    2. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

      In the heavyweight division Who is more badass than the MoCo that is Fo? The answer is none. None more badass.
      Founded by someone so badass he took a plaything for the rich and turned it into the way the world moved and got laid in the back seat. He minted pennies with his own face on them, founded a newspaper to bash Jews and chartered a boat to try to stop a world war. Misguided genius or total madman? Either way, total badass. Disagree and Harry Bennett will dig himself out of his grave and break your legs in ways you can't imagine.
      Speaking of the car that started it all. The model effin Tee. A car so badass it devoured market share like Micheal Moore devours donuts. Want a red one? Eff you. You get black! (at least for a while) This car was so badass that we are still grilling our steaks with its leftover pieces of wood scraps.
      How does Ford get away with treating the rest of the industry like its bitch. Rouge Complex. Steel, glass and rubber companies, eff you. Give me iron, coal, sand, and rubber trees and I'll take it from there. Badass!
      Fast forward a little (I've got to get my son to orchestra practive, he plays string bass, clearly the most badass of the strings), Model T and Model A hot rods, Mercury Led Sleds and Mustang all invent their own categories. Mustang and Crown Vic eventually (for a while) scare the other fish out of the pond. GT40 wins LeMans like its a stroll in the park. Steve McQueen (yeah, I went there) rocks the world in a Fiat 500? No. A Ford Mustang.

      1. Alff Avatar

        String Bass. BADASS.

    3. jjd241 Avatar

      When I saw this on BAT I had to hide my carboner from my wife so she wouldn't think I was looking at pron!

  22. muthalovin Avatar

    Ever time I have tried to embed a vidja, it failed. I think maybe one time I got it to work, but I blacked out, so I couldn't tell you what I did.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Not in the past 20 years. Lancia is now a sick old man on life support totally dependent on Fiat's generosity and goodwill.

    2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      Rebadged. Fiat. People carriers.
      That's all.
      Lancia's definitely got one of the more badass histories, though, from a purely automotive perspective.

  23. PowerTryp Avatar

    Lotus. Yes I know they're owned by Malaysian company Proton but they tune average cars and the cars that they do make now are amazing. Also a stretched Exige frame is used in the production of the 1000hp Henessy Venom GT.
    <img src="http://carguideblog.com/wp-content/uploads/Hennessey-Venom-GT-11.jpg&quot; width="600">

  24. CptSevere Avatar

    Jeep. Winning WWII is most definitely badass.

    1. JoeyM Avatar

      …and they have one of the best ads ever.[youtube 1uIBL_ei5VM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uIBL_ei5VM youtube]

  25. Ruckus Avatar

    +infinity for Lancia

  26. Alff Avatar

    No current major car companies are badass, 'cause it is nearly impossible for badasses to make it into the executive suite. It wasn't always that way, and we all know who I'm talking about.
    Ratan Tata and Carlos Ghosn may yet be badasses, but one of them is more (rightfully) concerned with putting his countrymen behind the wheel while the other squanders his company's heritage (I see Nissan as the Japanese equivalent of Chrysler with traditional "there's no replacement for displacement"philosophy) and will have to channel his Lebanese heritage to overcome his non-badass rarefied French upbringing.
    Sergio may also be a badass, but, true to his roots he's thus far demonstrated it in the boardroom instead of the tarmac.

  27. Alff Avatar

    Oooh, I thought of one. "Whale Penis Leather"

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      A joke all its own.

      1. IronBallsMcG Avatar

        It never gets old.

  28. gooseboy78 Avatar

    ford trumps them all. i watched the film history of ford, starring cliff robertson (remember him?) ford owned the name dodge brothers suplied the steel, and caddilac the finance. caddy suggested that all fords should be caddides big henry gave 'em the single digit and told him to rotate. ford owns half of mazda, and all of land rover, volvo. to me all the porches look like the 911 model ferrari and lamborghini make good tractors (look it up) rolls royces are now bmw 7 series. tata has the licence for jaguar lets hope they dont scew it up. bmw is boring to drive, lancias have rusted away. mini and vw bug arent badass they were both outdated years ago. the fastest cars and the most bad ass are the ones built in garages by you and me. and my mate is making his own boss hoss

    1. Jim-Bob Avatar

      Spell checking, capitalization and not sounding like a redneck will go a long way towards getting respect on a blog such as this. As far as porches go, I see plenty of them that do not look like a 911. Now if you were speaking of Porsches I would tend to agree with you. They have lost their ability to be stylistically creative as of late and thus most come out looking like some variation on the 911's theme.

  29. TimWilliams Avatar

    Both Ford and Dodge seem to sneak things by if you know the right codes to order.. you can buy a turnkey racing mustang from Ford , as well as quite a few streetable, but not necessarily practical vehicles from them also. (raptor, 500hp Mustangs, super Focus' etc)
    Dodge has quite frequently been out therre with things like the Viper asnd that whole blunt force line, and look at what they do to their trucks.. nothing says Amurrica like a full tilt blacked out Dodge ram 3500 crewcab dually with a turbo Cummins and a Jake Brake. Driven by guys named Eddie who are 5.5 tall.
    but the question who is the BAMF?
    probably the most consistent player has been Porsche.. except they have lost their way making SUVs.. and still making 911s under whatever name. forever.
    Think I will go with Ford. They didn't take gov't bailout money and still made a profit, plus I like the SHO motor.. oh, thats a Yamaha..
    forget it.
    Because Steve McQueen.

    1. Alff Avatar

      Funny you should put it like that. I have a friend named Eddie, a heavy equipment operator, who drives one of them there Big Rams. Even in his mid 40's, he still has "Eddie" in script on the door to his pickup and can still hold a wheelie up a rocky hillclimb. I've known him for 25 years and in that time, all 5.5 feet of him have been BADASS.

  30. TimWilliams Avatar

    Both Ford and Dodge seem to sneak things by if you know the right codes to order.. you can buy a turnkey racing mustang from Ford , as well as quite a few streetable, but not necessarily practical vehicles from them also. (raptor, 500hp Mustangs, super Focus' etc)

  31. TimWilliams Avatar

    regarding the picture at the top of this article.
    Goth Jamie Lee Curtis eating a donut in front of a flaming BMW
    so, what is the symbolism of this picture?

    1. JoeyM Avatar

      just a movie poster.
      <img src=http://anistabetreviews.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/girl_fire_27x40_6.jpg>

      1. Alff Avatar

        More like Annika Hellin.