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Drips & Dregs: The Hooptie War Wagon Redux

Drips & Dregs comes out every Tuesday but Rock Fight newsletter subscribers get Drips & Dregs on Sunday. Click here to sign up.

My first car was a 1987 Oldsmobile Delta 88.  It looked like this.


Mine wasn’t the same color and didn’t have the same wheel covers but that picture is the same model. To say that this vehicle did not help my romantic pursuits is…well…accurate.

As a new driver I inherited my Dad’s old Business Mobile just before my senior year of high school when he got a new Business Mobile and in the fall of 1993 I left for college in this sensibly designed and produced steed by Oldsmobile who would cease their operation of manufacturing sensibly designed Business Mobiles about 10 years later.  

It was there on the campus of Widener University in southeastern Pennsylvania that I learned the value of using a Club on my steering wheel after my Delta 88 was stolen and then recovered. It was also there that my pal John took the Delta 88 to his family's auto shop and fixed a broken driver's side window. And it was at this time that I learned to navigate the streets of Philadelphia and was forced into finally mastering the parallel park.

In the fall of 1994, the Delta 88 and I returned to Widener for my sophomore year and almost immediately I met another Colin who spelled his name with two “L’s” and went by his initials (CB) thus making it less confusing for all of our mutual friends.

(Quick aside, it’s a scientifically proven fact that two “L” Colin’s are poseurs. Anyone out there that named their son Colin but spelled it “Collin”? Just know you did your kid a disservice. Two “L” Colin’s reading this: I don’t hold it against you. It’s not your fault. But you do have the option to legally drop the second and unnecessary “L” and become a full fledged real Colin. Keep it in mind.)

CB also had an Oldsmobile Delta 88 but his was a 1984 model and it looked like this.

He called his Delta 88 The Hooptie War Wagon. And as soon as we started palling around together, my car became known as The Hooptie War Wagon, Jr. Because you know, it was younger than CB's Delta 88.

As far as I can tell, calling your car a Hooptie isn’t really a thing anymore. According to the

great American poet Sir Mix-A-lot, a Hooptie is a beat up car that is barely getting by.  A deeper dive on the topic reveals that the word Hooptie comes out of the 1960’s as an abbreviated description of a 1940’s Cadillac Coupe de Ville that was then reduced to “Coup de” as slang for an older, well used and worn Caddy. The phrase then became a descriptor for any older, uncool, beat up and cheap car.

Like Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Buick.

Anyway the Hooptie War Wagon, Jr made its exit from this world in 1996 and was replaced by 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier that was also a Hooptie in its own regard.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well it’s because I have a new Hooptie War Wagon, only it’s not an automobile. It’s a bike.

Introducing the Hooptie War Wagon Redux. It looks like this.


That’s right I turned my precious Surly Karate Monkey into a gravel/mountain hybrid war wagon!  While riding my original gravel bike, a Surly Straggler (I fucking love Surly), I was saddened to discover that I had begun developing some roadie style tendencies. Typical things like:


  • Being concerned about my average mph

  • Wondering if I should ditch my baggy shorts

  • Worshiping satan and punching old ladies


And it also really started to affect the enjoyment I got from riding my bike aka the same enjoyment I get on my mountain bike. 

So I had my buddy Chuck at Adams Ave Bicycles (look them up the next time you’re in San Diego) make a few changes to Kimmie the Karate Monkey to be more friendly on my go-to hybrid gravel rides while keeping the essence of all that I love about a rigid mountain bike. 

Now I know this is the part where bike nerds are going to expect me to run down all the parts I changed, the names of the tires I used, did I change the wheelset blah blah blah. I don’t know. In Chuck I trust. And in his shop on Adams Avenue, Chuck birthed a set up that is perfect for me on the days when I want to ride from my house and make use of all the decomposed granite bike paths I have nearby.


And the other day as I was bombing around on my newly rejiggered bike, my hands positioned on the drop bar in a way that made me feel like Batman on the BatPod in The Dark Knight it occurred to me that this thing was no nimble carbon fiber speedster, nor was it a slick aluminum mountain bike. My chromoly steel Surly (which is sort of the Hooptie of bike brands to begin with) had been transformed…into a War Wagon. 


And so the baton has been passed. From 1994 to 2024 and from the Hooptie War Wagon, Jr to the Hooptie War Wagon Redux. Who knew I'd get to have another Hooptie in my life. Thanks, Chuck.

Drips & Dregs is the weekly column from Rock Fight Founder Colin True.

Sometimes outdoorsy and always outdoor adjacent, check in weekly to see what is on his mind.


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