Question of the Day: Hoopties Past, Present… and Future?
A hooptie is a once-semi-luxurious car that’s depreciated down to just-above-scrap value and is getting its final owner some quality, low-buck miles before being crushed. The Buick Electra 225 was the archetypal hooptie of the 1980s and 1990s, but how about today? More importantly, which current models will be the hoopties of 2025?
I think the Chrysler LH (Dodge Intrepid, Eagle Vision, Chrysler LHS/Concorde/300M/New Yorker) is the King of the Hoopties in 2011. If you see a big car with red tape for taillight lenses doing 90 on the highway with a space-saver spare on the front nowadays, it’s probably an LH.
The LH has all the hooptie qualities: it was a powerful, luxurious machine when new, the build quality was bad enough that non-essential components such as window regulators and weatherstripping crapped out in a hurrry, the paint and trim looks like hell after a decade or so, yet the running gear is tough enough to keep the thing surviving in true cockroach fashion. Like the Electra of the late 1960s, the LH started life as a good-looking car; it’s faded glory that really gives a car an edge in the hooptie battles.
Another indication of hooptieness is the quantities you spot in the high-turnover self-service junkyards. These days, the LH is outnumbered in yards’ Chrysler sections only by the Neon. Vast junkyard parts availability is critical for hooptie survival, because a hooptie’s owner never has more than 100 bucks in cash at any one moment.
A case could be made for the GM H Platform cars as King of the Hoopties, particularly the LeSabre of the 1990s, and the ’92-up Panther Grand Marquis makes a strong hooptie statement as well. I still say that, were Sir Mix-a-Lot 20 years younger and just starting out, “My Hooptie” would have featured a ’97 Concorde.
However, maybe this debate needs a real wild card. The late-80s/early-90s Toyota Camry is second only to the Chrysler LH in the 90-MPH-with-space-saver-spare count on America’s highways today, and it looks particularly unsavory with faded paint, a trashbag for side glass, and a coat hanger for a radio antenna. This generation of Camry was essentially immortal, which means that members of the hooptie-driving demographic can get away with the usual 60,000-mile oil changes, curb-bashing, and general duct-tape maintenance. The Camry isn’t exactly glamorous, but it has always been a sufficiently upscale car that a wretched one looks especially terrible.
What about the King Hooptie of 2025? Jonny Lieberman suggests the V6-equipped Chrysler 300, and I think he may be onto something. Perhaps a truck? Hyundai Sonata?
Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.
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