Hooniverse Asks: What's the "Starbucks Holiday Cups" of the automotive space?

One year, we actually made Hooniverse holiday cars and sent them out to various folks we’d worked with over the course of a year. It was fun. And we managed to work in Tim’s old 1967 Ford Country Sedan as the poster child for the postcard greetings. But not every image is filled with holiday cheer. For some reason, folks can’t seem to enjoy the holidays when it doesn’t fit in with their vision of the holidays. 
Be it Starbucks cups, TV specials, the wrong color lights, or any other perceived slight that really isn’t… the holidays can be a confusing time for some.
What’s the automotive equivalent of the Starbucks Holiday cups? A means of reaching out to folks with what one perceives as happiness that in the end is received as the opposite by a group of folks. Maybe the Nissan 370Z Clubsport 23? The Roxor from Mahindra? Or quite possibly a machine we’re not even considering… so tell us about it below.

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41 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What's the "Starbucks Holiday Cups" of the automotive space?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    Maybe the VW bike cars or much of the Jeep branded stuff.
    From what I understand the included bike on the Jetta Trek was sort of lower mid range at best and scoffed at by serious mountain bikers.
    Also, Jeep has slapped their name on just about everything. While a Jeep Wrangler is seen as one of the best off road vehicles and used by very serious off roaders and people that like to get off the beaten path, most of the Jeep branded camping and outdoor gear is probably equal in quality to the Walmart store brand, Ozark Trail.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      There were (maybe still are) Jeep brand baby strollers.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Yep, the Jeep Compass of strollers.

      2. danleym Avatar

        I have a Jeep diaper bag to go with my Wrangler…

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      This is very interesting. What were VW executives thinking? “We’re lower mid range, so let’s get fitting bikes”? Or were they trying to sell auntsy Jettas to true MTBers? Volvo has been working with Cannondale forever on this front, but I’m not sure they have pushed this combo.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Oddly, here in the US, the Jetta has always been seen as young and hip, not just a Golf for older folks. Same goes for most Hondas here, very popular with the younger crowd. Here in the US, the over 60 set goes for Buick, Toyota Avalon, Lexus, Lincoln, etc, with a few outliers such as the Honda Element (“Hey this is tall enough for me to get into without hurting my knees/back/hips and not too big.) that are big with the geriatric crowd.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          This just gets more fascinating. How did a slightly uglier Golf with a fatter ass attract young people? Compact sedans have reliably been retirement cars in Jurop. Insurance rates for Jettas and Golfs are wildly different, since Jettas per cliché don’t see many miles and most minor fender benders are just repaired and never reported. Golfs get ejected out of curves every single day.

          1. P161911 Avatar

            I don’t understand VW Fan boys at all.

          2. Alff Avatar

            I kind of do. My Mk1 Rabbit was one of the best cars I’ve ever had. The newer stuff doesn’t hold the same charm.

          3. mdharrell Avatar

            I liked my ’74 Bug but eventually grew tired of all the different maintenance and repair procedures that began with “Disconnect and remove engine…”

          4. neight428 Avatar

            They even put a VW badge on a Dodge Minivan over here. VW has some weird voodoo in the US market.

          5. Maymar Avatar

            I think VW’s been pretty perpetually a young people’s brand in the US, in addition to sedans being less stigmatized than hatches.

          6. nanoop Avatar

            Eye opening comment – When your parents had a land yacht, the Jetta is a tiny nimble squirrel-y car. When grandpa moved up from a Golf to a Jetta when he got his golden handshake, there is little attraction in it.

          7. P161911 Avatar

            Maybe it was seen as a poor man’s BMW? The E30 made European sedans a hot item in the US.

          8. Smaglik Avatar

            In AZ, Jetta = white girl car. Virtual guarantee of one behind the wheel, starbucks in the cupholder, and yoga mat in the back seat.

          9. Sjalabais Avatar

            This is an eye-opener. Next you tell me manual diesel wagons aren’t the default choice for families?
            Btw, you’re in Flagstaff, right? The Norwegian state broadcaster reported from there for your elections.

          10. Smaglik Avatar

            I am. Was he/she on vacation, and phoning it in? Not much here but hippies, hilljacks, and students. And a big hole in the ground 90 miles away.

        2. Joe Dunlap Avatar
          Joe Dunlap

          I am 70, and my Gti and I sneer at your pathetic assessment.

  2. neight428 Avatar

    Purity of purpose and distilled joy to emasculating punchline, depending on the crowd.

  3. Sjalabais Avatar

    “We are reviving the MINI”
    Builds a cute, unreliable compact instead of a super efficient miniature vehicle.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Given my interpretation of the Starbucks cup thing (people getting offended at the benign actions of a company they probably never shopped from anyhow), the Mini sort of fits, but going the other way. Yes, the new Mini is much, much less mini, but if BMW could somehow convince a bunch of governments to just let the O.G. Mini be rebuilt exactly as is (let’s be generous, and say they could build it to MY2000 spec), no one would buy it because it’s a deathtrap, and for less money you could just go get a used Camry (at least North American buyers would feel that way).
      Although I would bet a reincarnated Alec Issigonis would hate the new Minis, but love the Honda Fit/Jazz.

      1. crank_case Avatar

        He’d like the Fit, but he’d LOVE the Honda N-Box

    2. crank_case Avatar

      I like parking the Cappuccino next to even “regular” BMW MINIs just to mock them.

  4. Maymar Avatar

    Pretty much any complaint about Toyobaru power – it’s a four-seat Miata (a vehicle we accept to be just fine with an N/A four, unless you were never going to care about that kind of sports car), and yet there’s incessant complaining that it’s not either getting the WRX engine, or Toyota’s V6.
    Now, it is a bad engine, simultaneously torqueless and not exactly great to rev out. But, if all you want is a cheap sports car with a great thwack of power, the 370Z still exists, and no one buys those either.

  5. Alff Avatar

    Any new BMW model. It’s going to be ugly, probably a crossover and as far from the Ultimate Driving Machine as a Camry.

  6. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    CUVs. In an attempt to be the least offensive to the most people, they piss off the fundamental Hooniversalists.

  7. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    Scooters. They are supposed to fun and friendly, but at least in North America, the loathing for them is amazingly pervasive and extreme among so many people, riders and non-riders alike.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      Except for the Ruckus. Somehow, eschewing bodywork was the secret recipe to making a scooter that motorcyclists don’t hate.

      1. Zentropy Avatar

        The Ruckus is popular? It looks like the carts offered by Walmart for disabled customers, only with two wheels. Why the hell would anyone want to own one of these?

        1. Alff Avatar

          Around here you see them travelling in large packs.

        2. Tank Avatar

          I live in a college town, if I see a scooter its usually a Ruckus or a chinese knockoff

    2. Alff Avatar

      …and that’s a shame. Not so great in our sprawling metropolis but they are fantastic in real cities.

    3. nanoop Avatar

      Most scooter users here have a grim expression, either “wait until I’m old enough for a car” or “I hate it but it’s way cheaper than a car.” Looks like urban commuting is hardly fun, and the people in the photograph are smiling because she just told him that the new VW Polo will arrive next friday.

      1. Alff Avatar

        I used one extensively when I lived in downtown Los Angeles, thought it was an excellent way to get around.

      2. Victor Avatar

        Harley riders have that same grim expression ” Riding Harley..Must look Grim ” .

        1. crank_case Avatar

          They can’t escape reason they bought one in the first place, they’re effectively straddling the creeping awareness of their own mortality as it thumps beneath them, like the grim reaper knocking from the under the tarmac.

    4. P161911 Avatar

      Probably has a lot to do with the fact that the majority of scooters are the <50cc models that don't require registration and in some states don't require a license. Those are also limited to a max of 45mph, not a big deal in a urban area, but a problem any place else. I know in South Carolina the <50cc models are often called liquor 'cicles, because if you lost your drivers license from too many DUIs, you can still ride one of those.
      I don't ride, but when gas was staying around $4/gallon and I had a less than 10 mile ride to work, I was eyeing a cheap <50cc scooter.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        45mph? The lowest license here (class M) has a ceiling of 45kph/50cc/~3.5kW – outright dangerous in cities where 50kph is the standard limit. The internet is riddled with 16yos demonstrating how to remove the restrictions..

      2. crank_case Avatar

        Nail on head, and this is why not every Euro country embraces scooters either. You’ll see loads of them in Italy of course, and tons of maxi scooters in France where you I believe you can ride a 125cc on a B license (the EU wide classification for a regular car license) if you do a 3 hour course. I think the Netherlands still recognizes velosolex type stuff as legal and not need any license (essentiall a bicycle with an engine and limited to 30kph)
        However, the UK and Ireland put up bigger barriers, despite both really needing to get with two wheel accesiblity due to crap public transport and congested roads (more so in the UK, though Irelands congestion in relation to its population is ridiculous). You need can only ride a 50cc on a B license, after that you need to sit a theory test (even if you already hold a car license), do a CBT course and pass the test for the appropriate category A1/A2 or AM depending on your age, which may limit you in CC or power. There is some logic to not letting you get straight on a Hayabusa of course.
        For old farts born before 88 like myself, you can just do the CBT and go straight onto an A license, which means I can get on whatever I like, even though I’m a n00b.
        Add to this that if you pass your test on a twist and go type bike, your license will limit you to riding automatic bikes forever more.
        Effectively what this means is that apart from transmission, the law makes no differentiation in term of license between a sensible shoes twist n go piaggio and the most evil spit you in to the ditch and laugh 20,000rpm twitch machine of doom.
        Even a 50cc moped doesn’t always stack up due to the cost of insurance here, so pragmatically, two extremes make sense – an electric assisted bicycle,which requires no insurance/roadtax/license and the state will even subsidize quite heavily (I get all my income tax back on its cost up to €1000) and can ride along the canal banks and take cheeky shortcuts which mitigates the 15kph top speed I lose to scooters – or get up on a 600cc + geared motorcycle and look cool. Everything between those two is hard to justify here.
        I get you do need to make sure people have proper license and stuff, but the system here in Ireland has sort of created an “all or nothing” approach that reduces the overall uptake of motorized two wheelers.
        Here is a hilariously complex diagram of the process to make your brain hurt a little more… http://www.rsa.ie/PageFiles/7701/motorcycle_licence.png

        1. P161911 Avatar

          Here in my state, anything over 50cc requires a motorcycle license. That being said, half the old dudes riding giant Harleys just have a car license and never bother to get a motorcycle license until they get caught.

  8. Manxman Avatar

    I think the Honda Motocompo scooter was meant to fold up and store in Honda’s city cars. The Honda City had a special storage place fot the scoot – sort of a cup holder for your little Motocompo. I saw one recently and I swear in the folded up configuration it was about the size of a carry-on bag. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2c90b0485f54c0c40b4bcf6cce84a7bccb906efa00bcf49ed6a1bd9e5c6eb7ae.jpg