Question of the Day: Hoopties Past, Present… and Future?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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?

Sir Mix-a-Lot pretty much said all there was to say about the Electra as Über Hooptie of 20 years back, and other hoopties of that era are measured by their similarity to the Deuce-and-a-Quarter.

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
Murilee Martin

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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  • The Dark One The Dark One on Mar 21, 2013

    Around 10 years ago I would chuckle when my Mother-In-Law refered to her brand new Nissan Xterra as her "Whoop-Tee"; obviously she was clueless on several levels.

  • Stereorobb Stereorobb on Sep 18, 2013

    Hoopties! Aaah the junker we eather love or hate. Here in Florida in my region I remember when I first started driving in 2000, the hooptie car of choice was usually beat up 1980s Nissan maximas and stanzas -remember those? And square body Mazda 929s which are virtually all but extinct now, also anything full size and American that was RWD with a v8, (my personal hooptie choice when I was younger) I had a 87 box Chevy caprice, and a 92 Buick roadmaster which both started out as really decent cars but by the time I was finished with them they looked like every other one on the road, taped tail lights, no hubcaps, missing glass, no muffler, cracked leather seats, only starting when they want to etc. my own hoopties were pretty standard for the day lol. Now the old 80s box Chevys are becoming classic cars and people are starting to love them again, but not so for the big butt Buick roadmaster. Currently hoopties are like stated above, eather semi luxury or very tired dogged out full luxury, stuff like the early rounded Lincoln town cars, first of the FWD v8 devilles, early Lincoln navigators are really starting to go downhill with that hideous red paint that looks like tanned peeling skin, garbage bagged windows, a zillion miles on them, blown rear air shocks so the bumpers are almost scraping the ground etc. I really don't think well see early navigators anymore in a few years. The old infinity q45 were big hoopties a few years ago but they are so old now they simply don't exist, another Car that has taken a HUGE turn for hooptie status is the Lexus Ls400, which is sad cause its my car of choice and I've had 3 of them. My current car is a 95 Ls400 but its absolutely immaculate and is perfect as a almost 20 year old car can get, the early 90-94 models though have achieved true hooptie status, the early ones have been considered old now for a decade and are still hanging on at almost 25 years old and 500k miles on them, with bulletproof engine and drive trains but everything else goes on them, what IS killing off the old ls400s is the $800 timing belt job and the $900 starter replacement that most people won't bother with on a tired beat up 800 dollar Lexus and now there starting to fade away. Remember the golden rules for hoopties They gotta haul people They have to be very cheap to buy They have to have some sort of status even if its faided out They have to be fun to drive They have to run on next to no matinence for awhile And they have to be easy to throw away I would go as far as to say for at least Florida, the Lexus Ls400 is the true king of the hoopties, cause its a luxury car, there old enough now that most people don't pay attention to or care about anymore so you can get one dirt cheap, you can absolutely drive them to death or till the wheels fall off (this happened to my first one, a 1990 model btw), they are RWD and surprisingly fast and handle well with the v8 engine so there's the fun factor, and when they start to go they look absolutely horrible. Another example of a Florida hooptie that's a common sight is the 95-01 BMW 740il. Seems like I pass one that looks like a rolling wreck every 5 cars, they don't live as long as the Lexus though. Big body SEL Mercedes were everyware as hoopties a few years ago but there another one of those cars that are just so old now they Are not around anymore which is also sad cause I always had a soft spot for a big tired old Benz with worn out interiors and peeling paint. Unlike the bimmers the classic SEL Benz, even in there final days on the road, had soul charicter and a nostalgic feel. I know cash for clunkers took alot of them which is probably why I saw them everyware a few years ago but don't anymore. Hoopties of 2025-2030? ANYTHING American from this era that's larger, the Chrysler 300c has future hooptie written all over it as well as the chargers, avengers, darts, but especially the challengers cause there ment to be abused. The last of the panther platform fords if there's any of them left I think the current Hyundai genesis and azura will also be bigtime stink bomb hoopties of the future Ford flex, the Lincoln mkx, all those weird crossover caddy wagons if they last that long. The Buick lacrosse and Lucerne will be the dirty taillight taped garbage bagged window hoopties for sure by then. The Chevy Malibus and cameros will also be horrible in the future, the camero already looks ugly as hell. Another doozy will be the current mustang, -think about how grotesque looking most 1995-04 mustangs look already! What I DON'T think well see on the roads 15-20 years from now is the current Honda and toyotas. They are not as well made as they were in the early 90s and I'm already seeing the 2004-06ish ones running around looking like ass. Same goes for the maxima. But I think we're still gunna see alot of the 2003-2007 Altima only cause they made so damn many of them As for the euro and Japanese luxury cars well, like now as pretty as they are, the BMW 745li is still unreliable dog poop and now they don't even hold up as well as there predecessors but I think we'll see alot of the lower end 5 series and 3 series around. I think we'll see tired ready for the crusher 2004-2007 CLS550s running around. The current non air suspension s550s will still be here as hoopties. Just forget about seeing old Audi anything considering they've always turned into crap after 10 years, along with Volkswagen passats and CCs. Idk about the current jaguars but if there built anything like the x-type and s-type of ten years ago, forget it! Now, over the last few years it seems like Infiniti has really stepped up there game and Lexus has taken a major backslide in quality. I don't think we're gunna see too many 20 year old Ls460s 20 years from now but the GS has some hooptie future, as dose the IS. I do think well see alot more beat up m45s and g37s on the road and they have styling that may look sharp and edgy now, but are gonna look dated and stupid in a few years thus adding to the hooptie effect. Same goes for the current Acura line, but I think we'll be seeing alot more 2012-2013 Acuras in primer flat black, with fart microphone exhaust all riced out than as true hoopties So hoopties of 2025? I think I've about covered everything but only time itself can truly awnser that question to see what survives the elements, wear and tear, human neglect etc. should be interesting to see what rolling wrecks of the future will be.

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