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CSR 73 - The Fight For Freedom


Mine is definitely over-engineered.


Mine wasn’t, but it was economical even on 80 RON, and had no extra equipment other than a bull bar up front. And since it made the cut, I’ll be proud of it no matter how high it places.

I did not realize how big it was, though - although its size gives it a useful cargo area - or that a dual-live-axle setup would have made it much better off-road.


February 21st, 1986

Jim Franks hung up the phone and sat back at his desk. “Well that’s it then, Domingo, Tech is finishing up the arrangements to ship the finalists out to BLIZZARD for our evaluation. Director Knight wants me to assemble a team to go out and conduct the DEMEVAL. You interested in a week’s paid vacation to the asshole of the earth?”

Domingo smiled wryly; “oh hell no boss, I’d rather spend a week in the Hole doing SERE training instead!”

“That can be arranged, you know…”

“I was joking, boss. And besides, someone needs to keep an eye on the place while you and South are out freezing your cajones off!” Domingo fired back.

“You think you can handle the office in our absence? Things are really starting to heat up over in Archana these last few weeks.” Jim said.

“Yeah boss, nothing I can’t handle. We’ve got good people here.” Domingo replied.

“Alright,” Jim said, taking a moment to rearrange his desk, “I’ll take that fat stack of briefings and reports you’ve been holding for me for the last ten minutes!” Domingo handed the bundle of files to Jim and turned to leave the office.

Jim sat back and lit a cigarette, Damn, I really need to start cutting back on these things, he thought to himself. Rifling through the folders, he came across a suspiciously thin file, swallowing hard as he opened it. Inside, there was a single typed page, once again:


Jim took a deep breath as he set the file down, putting down his cigarette and wiping his face with his hands. He looked out the window, then through the glass partition to South’s temporary office, where he was on the secure phone, pacing about the office as he spoke. This is huge, now that the Gasmean Central Bureau of Investigation is involved, Jim thought to himself. Whatever South has got himself into, he’s in for a world of hurt it looks like…

The final evaluation, along with the riveting conclusion of the story, will be posted sometime tomorrow!


I genuinely laughed at that description of mine.


Finalist Reviews

February 24th, 1986; BLIZZARD Test Range, in the Gasmean Alps

Jim Franks and Olaf South stood in the lee of the garage, huddled away from the cold February wind. Jim took a peek around the corner and saw the last of the seven finalists being lined up at the start of the test course that the Tech Division had laid out over the previous couple of days. A loop nearly thirty kilometers long, this course would take the vehicles through a simulated urban setting, along a rather quick, winding paved road, a steep and narrow dirt path strewn with rocks up a steep hill, then back down along a forestry road, to return to the main center of operations at BLIZZARD.

“Cold as hell today, Franks.” South exclaimed, stamping his feet on the pavement with his heavy boots. “You know, I miss getting out of the office and doing stuff like this!”

“Uh-huh,” Jim replied absent-mindedly as he read the briefing on a clipboard, “the weather is going to close in tomorrow, so we best get a move on if we want to finish all seven of these today. Which one do we want to take first?”

“Let’s start with that one…” South said, pointing to the first truck in line.

MUD Ouray DLF 2.5

Jim and South set off in the beige Ouray, slotting the shift lever into D. “The automatic transmission is pretty nice in this thing,” Jim said as the truck glided out of its parking spot effortlessly, “it’s almost as smooth as my Buick is, not bad at all!”

Immediately, the Ouray found itself in trouble in the simulated Dalluhan village, with Jim inching along though the narrow, cobble streets, darting his head back and forth in an attempt to keep track of all four corners of the truck. South winced, “Shit, this is a tight fit here, Franks, take it real slow!” Crawling along, the Ouray just barely cleared the narrow archway and was back on the road, eating up the corners with zeal along the access road.

“So South, you’re a spook, I’m a spook, and there’s nobody else around here but us. What did you see in my project that you felt the need to urgently co-opt it like you did?” Jim asked as he slowed down to turn off the road and on to the dirt track.

“An opportunity,” South replied, “to further my own objectives. You know Franks, you’ve impressed me a fair bit over the last month…I could use a guy like you, you know.” Jim steered the Ouray up the dirt track, struggling over the rocks and loose surface.

“This thing isn’t so good up here, I’m really struggling to keep going here.” Jim juiced the accelerator a little and launched the Ouray over the last little hump, and on to the forestry road. “I’m not all that impressed with this one.” Making their way back to the garage, they parked the Ouray and recorded how much fuel they used on the jaunt.

“I wasn’t keen on that one either. Let’s do the next one in line here, the ZAR.” South replied.

ZAR 2616 Export

“That’s a bit of a climb up, isn’t it?” South exclaimed as he clambered in to the driver’s seat. “Nicely organized and well-thought out in here, though…definitely better than the other truck.”

“Yeah, it’s still a bit on the larger side for my preference though.” Jim replied as South set off through the urban area. Unlike the Ouray, the ZAR slotted through the streets without a huge amount of hassle. “Much better this time around, wasn’t it?”

“Night and day, Franks.” South replied as he gunned it out of town and up the road, the ZAR driving every bit as nice as one could hope.

“So, what would you need a guy like me to do, South?” Jim asked.

South took a deep breath and looked around, conspiratorially. “I am doing something that isn’t exactly on the books, if you get my meaning. My group is working to, shall we say, facilitate, groups similar to the DLF, like you are.”

“Oh?” Jim asked curiously, trying to ignore the flash of adrenaline that rushed over his body. “How so?”

“By providing funding to them, just like you.” South replied.

“But if you’re off the books, how do you do that?” Jim pressed cautiously.

South steered the ZAR on to the dirt track, which it devoured with ease. “OK, that was pretty impressive, don’t you think?”

“It was, absolutely…much better than the Ouray.” Franks replied, keeping his emotions in check as best as he can. South steered the ZAR down the forestry road with ease, parking it up in its former spot with the others.

“That’s the best one yet, if you ask me!” South exclaimed.

“Out of two!” Jim laughed, nervously.

SARA Varappe

Jim and South made their way over to the beige offroader. “I like the looks of this one quite a bit, South.” Jim exclaimed as he walked around it. Opening the door, he did a double-take at the cabin; “oh my…this is rather spartan, isn’t it?”

South clambered in shifted in the passenger seat, “Just wait until you sit in it…trust me, it gets worse.”

Jim climbed in, hauling himself in with a grip on the wide, thin steering wheel. “Oh wow, it really is uncomfortable! Not a lot of space in here either, for such a large vehicle!” Jim started the engine and lurched off, slowly threading the Varappe through the narrow sections of the simulated village. “Not so good through here - it’s too big, and the steering is really unpleasant!”

“It hops and skips over bumps too, not exactly what I’d call a pleasant vehicle to drive.” South added as they pulled on to the road, rolling and bouncing everywhere.

“So tell me more, Franks…your offer is intriguing to me!” Jim shouted over the road noise.

“Basically, we have found someone looking to buy weapons from us - at a pretty hefty premium - the proceeds of which we will send to another group of people fighting to restore our interests to power!” South shouted back. “Let’s carry this conversation on later, when we’re in a vehicle that isn’t so deafening!”

“What?!” Jim shouted back, as he steered the Varappe on to the dirt track, zipping up the steep road without even so much as a hint of trouble.

“Real nice, that!” South yelled as Jim steered the vehicle back down to the garage, eventually parking it up beside the ZAR. “Man, that thing was great off-road, but my goodness it’s not pleasant to be in, one bit!” South exclaimed.

“Too bad, really…come now, it’s your turn. Let’s take the Bush out next.” Jim said.

Bush Hiro B

“I like this one a lot,” Jim exclaimed, running his hand over the front fender of the truck. “It’s like that ZAR from earlier, but tougher and more macho looking.”

“It’s a real looker, alright,” South said as he climbed in and started it up, “Let’s see if it can deliver on its appearance.” Releasing the clutch, the Hiro started off smoothly and made its way to the mock village. “Huh, very nice, this thing’s got a five-speed.” South mentioned off-hand as he slotted the truck through the narrow openings without much trouble. “Nice steering and good brakes too.”

“It’s decently comfortable in here; nothing special, but better than the last one we looked at.” Jim added. “So, I’m guessing you’re mixed up in this Nicaragua business, South?”

“That’s correct – we’re trying to find a way to get funds to the Contras, but we know the government would never agree to it, what with everything they’ve done to paint themselves in a bad light.” South replied.

“And that’s where PUBCRAWL comes in – a small procurement program that’s being run out of discretionary funds that don’t need accounting for.” Jim replied.

“Precisely. I was able to make some contacts with some high ups in the auto industry, who would help us divert some of the funds from this, into my project.” South stated as he steered the Hiro onto the dirt track and devoured it with little difficulty.

“That’s…not exactly legal now, is it?” Jim asked nervously, as South maneuvered the truck back toward the garage, fussing a bit as it made its way down the gravel road at speed.

“That’s a pretty strong word to use, illegal,” South replied, “after all, this is a legitimate order from someone in command.”

“Who?” Jim asked.

“I can’t say, even to you Franks.” South replied as he parked the Hiro.

NCP Vagabond Pickup

“This thing…” South scoffed as he looked around the small, orange offroader.

“Well, it’s here on merit and nothing else,” Jim replied, “let’s see how it stacks up then.” Jim climbed up into the driver’s seat, fussing around the steering column and shifting to get comfortable in the seat, to no avail. “This is even less comfortable than the Varappe was!”

“No kidding, this is awful!” South said. “C’mon, let’s get this over with then.” Jim started the Vagabond, put it in “H” (whatever that means), and started off toward the mock village. Once there, the Vagabond zipped through the obstacles as though they weren’t even there, though the clunky transmission and clutch certainly didn’t make it easy.

“That did rather well, don’t you think?” Jim said as he launched down the road.

“Yeah, not bad, I have to admit.” South replied gruffly.

“So South…once you get the money, what then?” Franks asked.

“Well Franks, our customer has a need for a number of anti-tank missiles, both man-portable and vehicle-launched. They’ve been paying top dollar for them too.” South replied.

“Why don’t they just directly buy them from us?” Jim asked, a little confused.

“Because they can’t.” South replied flatly.

“They can’t?” Jim asked, suddenly a little alarmed. “What, are they another paramilitary group or some such?”

“Not exactly…” South said as Jim aimed the Vagabond up the hill, finding it struggling and bogging occasionally on the climb. “This isn’t doing as well as the others up here.”

Jim nodded as he steered the Vagabond onto the gravel road and back toward the garage, feeling his heart pounding in his ears as he pulled up to the rest of the candidates.

Albatross T100

“I like this one a lot, Franks.” South said as he made his way around to the driver’s side of the truck. “Tough, rugged-looking and made in America!”

“Making it easier to commit an act of fraud with no doubt…” Jim muttered under his breath.

“What was that, Franks?” South asked, a little annoyed.

“I said, ‘making it harder to dismiss it, no doubt!’” Jim replied, a little nervously.

“C’mon, we’re going to run out of daylight if we don’t get a move on!” South said as he started up the T100. Starting off, he was impressed with the thoughtful cabin and comfort level inside. “This isn’t bad at all, you know!”

“Careful now, South…it’s a bit on the larger side of things, and might be a squeeze in the village.” Jim replied as they reached the first narrow street.

“Yeah, it’s not so bad actually!” South said as he slotted the T100 through the village, but not before slowing down quite a bit from his previous speed. Making the turn, he sped down the road towards the dirt track.

“So, if not a paramilitary group South, then who?” Jim asked.

“Iran.” South said nonchalantly.

“IRAN?!” Franks exclaimed, “For fuck’s sake South, are you fucking kidding me? Iran?!”

“Hey, they need the missiles…they’re getting their asses kicked in this war with Iraq.” South said. “And if you tell anyone about this, Franks…I swear before the Almighty himself that I will have you thrown into the deepest, darkest hole the GCID has…or worse.” South added, with a sudden menace to his voice. Turning off the road and on to the dirt track, the T100 made its way up the steep, winding path reasonably well, struggling on only the most difficult sections. Wheeling back into the compound with the other vehicles, Franks felt an icy pit in his stomach as he climbed out of the T100.

“We’ve still got to clean this up, Franks. Let’s get on it.” South said curtly.

Norris WX-T200DE

Both men looked around the Norris, with Jim being careful to avoid South, but not make it look like he was overtly doing so. Satisfied with their inspection of the vehicle, Jim climbed into the driver’s seat and started it up.

“Not too bad in here, is it Franks?” South said. “Too bad we’ve already chosen the Albatross then…”

“Yeah…too bad…” Jim said as he slotted the Norris in gear and set off. Winding its way though the village, the Norris showed the benefit of its small size, navigating the obstacles with ease. Pulling on to the road, the Norris accelerated away with relative ease.

“You see, Franks…people in your line of work don’t have the same overall vision for the world that I do, or my group. They are constrained by an arbitrary set of rules made by people who don’t realize just how dangerous communism actually is, and turn their backs on the threat in our own backyard every day…” Jim accelerated more and more down the road, pushing the Norris harder and harder, the body rolling and the tires protesting.

Jim started to boil inside as South lectured him. “That’s nonsense and you know it, South. You’ve betrayed any sense of duty you had to this country, and you’ve let your own delusions of grandeur get to your head. And that’s where you and I are different, is that I understand that no one man is bigger than their mission, or their country. You’ve gone and perverted your values – and my values – with this undertaking of yours, and I won’t have it, not one bit.” Jim slammed on the brakes and swerved the Norris up the mountain path, gunning the engine and racing up the track, struggling only a little bit as it wound its way up to the top.

“Is that so?” South said, shouting now. “And you think you can stop me from completing this? Please, you’re way out of your depth here. Even if you did try and stop me, I could break you, just like I did everyone else who thought they could stop me as well!”

Jim threw the Norris around the corner and down the forestry road, as fast as he dared drive the truck, as South continued, “In fact, I think it would be rather unfortunate if something befell you on the way back to the capital…an unfortunate accident of some kind? Perhaps a motor vehicle accident? We’re a long way from hel – OH SHIT!” South screamed as Jim slammed on the brakes; up ahead in the road, a helicopter had landed, a team of heavily armed soldiers training their weapons on the truck. “GET US OUT OF HERE, FRANKS! FRANKS?!”

Suddenly, a team of camouflaged men surrounded the vehicle, one of them opening the door on South’s side of the vehicle.

“Olaf South?” The masked man in the door stated, “you are under arrest for bribery, conspiracy to commit treason and misappropriation of government funds. Step out of the vehicle, NOW!”

“You’ll pay for this, all of you!” South screamed, red in the face. “Especially you, Franks, you fucking traitor!” South was hauled off into the helicopter, fighting the whole way, as Jim sat back in the seat of the Norris, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes for a moment.

February 28, 1986; GCID Headquarters

“Jim, what the fuck happened out there?” Domingo asked, “South got arrested for treason?”

“Yeah Dom, he did…and a bunch of other stuff too.” Jim said with a sigh.

“Well, the whole GCID is buzzing about how you’re some kind of hero for this,” Domingo exclaimed, “they’re saying you might get the Intelligence Star for your actions.”

Jim smiled thinly, sitting back in his chair. “I’m not sure I entirely deserve it, if you ask me. I was just doing what I was told, after all.”

“Yeah speaking of that, we still have no idea who was sending you these messages all along?” Domingo asked.

“Not a clue.” Jim replied.

“Huh, weird.” Domingo said, off-handedly. “Anything else, boss?”

“You’ve been over the final report from the DEMEVAL – anything you want to add?” Jim asked.

“No, you covered everything boss,” Domingo replied, “The ZAR 2616 is definitely the vehicle for the job.”

7th Place – NCP Vagabond Pickup - @thecarlover

6th Place – MUD Ouray DLF 2.5 - @abg7

5th Place – Albatross T100 - @ZSCHMEEZ

4th Place – SARA Varappe - @flop404

3rd Place – Norris WX-T200DE - @Urbanliner

2nd Place – Bush Hiro B - @Leonardo9613

1st Place – ZAR 2616 Export - @NormanVauxhall

Congratulations @NormanVauxhall on your victory in CSR 73!


May 30, 2018, Dalluha City

Jim Franks, the National Security Advisor for the government of Gasmea, sat in the office of his counterpart in Dalluha. Thirty years ago, after a long and bloody conflict, Dalluha won its independence from Archana in what has now been jokingly dubbed “The ZAR Wars”, after the ubiquitous truck of the DLF, seen the world over on CNN and the evening news. While there have been hiccups along the way, Dalluha has undergone a tremendous transformation in only a generation; it stands now as a powerhouse in trade, technology and transportation, and the recent discovery of a major oil and gas deposit offshore has only further enriched this small country.

Sayyar Gajos died a national hero soon after Dalluha declared independence, his dying wish that all Dalluhans strive to build a tolerant, secular and democratic state, in direct contrast to the brutal rule of the Archanans. And from where Jim Franks sat, it appears his old informant’s dream had come true in every way. Just as Jim smiled about it, he was interrupted.

“Jim Franks, my old friend!” Defense Minister Haamid Matos said joyfully, striding up with him with his hand extended.

“Haamid, how good to see you!” Jim said as he shook Matos’ hand.

“Thank you for attending our independence celebration, I hope you’ve had a chance to take in some of the sights!” Matos asked with a boisterous, booming voice.

“Not yet, I’ve been cooped up in meetings all day long, plus, the big state dinner tonight.” Jim replied.

“Come, come…I have something for you!” Matos grinned as he motioned for Jim to follow him into the building’s courtyard. Jim smiled when he entered the yard, seeing an old ZAR 2616 sitting there, all cleaned up and restored. “We’ve had her cleaned up and restored to like new – it would honor my people and I if you were to put it in your GCID’s Museum of Intelligence!”

“Well Haamid, I will do what I can – they’re pretty fastidious about what goes on display there – but I can pull some strings. It’s definitely worth having in there, though!” Jim replied.

“I have one more gift for you too!” Matos said, reaching into the bed of the truck. Smiling, he pulled out two glasses and a bottle of the finest Dalluhan brandy that money can buy. “Come now James, a toast!” he said as he uncorked the bottle and poured a couple of drinks.

“To freedom?” James said.

“To freedom…” Matos replied, clinking their glasses together and savoring the moment.

Stats Synopsis

Total Entrants


Judged Stats

Category Low High Average
Vehicle Cost $6,980 $14,037 $9397.10
Reliability 62.7 78.0 72.4
Offroad 31.3 78.0 56.8
Fuel Economy (L/100km) 31.8 12.2 18.9
Utility 1.4 39.8 20.9
Practicality 15.6 51.0 30.9
Driveability 5.7 66.6 37.4
Operating Costs $351.80 $682.20 $441.12
Safety 21.2 41.7 31.8
Comfort 0.6 17.8 3.7

Technical Stats

Category Low High Average
Engine Displacement (cc) 1600 4526 2658
Power (hp) 79 140 99.6
Torque (Nm) 119.7 242.1 162.5
Vehicle Weight (kg) 790.5 1672.9 1256.6

Thank you all for playing!


That was a really great read. Congrats to the winner!


Another convincing win for Normanvauxhall (grats to him), with Leo close behind yet again - seems like these two are seriously OP when they’re building cheap cars!

Let’s hope that the next host (whoever it may be) doesn’t pick yet another off-road theme for CSR74 - otherwise we might have to consider renaming this contest the Truck Shopping Round - but whatever the next round’s theme is, the host must make it worth the while.

I really should have gone for a dual live-axle setup, though, and swapped some comfort for extra off-road capability in the process. But I have no regrets about my submission.


I got excited when I read this. Still, 5th place is not too shabby. Thanks for providing an interesting story to read.


Many thanks to @MrChips for the fun challenge and the excellent backstory there. Though I still think those gasmean spooks are spoiled by their pampering cars, and that 0.9 comfort is good enough when trying to liberate a country :wink:

The ZAR looks like an amazing truck, congrats on Normanvauxhall


Wow, and he didn’t even need someone to shout that to his ear! That’s how you know Jim’s military, he combs all fine details before you can bat an eyelid…

Joke aside, I definitely had a grin on my face reading Olaf’s fall from grace. There’s no spelling of “I” in either “army” or “freedom”. And when you try to force open the door, you will be hit from behind by whoever’s defending those values! Take that, General Santa…

All in all, this was a very interesting experience. Building a car to contend with low quality fuel, rough roads… I never had to consider such things when making an Automation car. Taking all that into consideration, it’s very impressive that the Nash didn’t fall flatter than it did!

As for one last word, props to flop for nearly clinching a podium with a jeep in a pickup-dominated class. SARA can share some of that victory champagne…


Amazing enough for me to imagine Harrison Ford, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone riding in one as they fight against the oppressive Archanans. They were among the biggest action stars back in '86, after all.


This was a good one! I’m kinda sorry I didn’t join in. Can’t wait to see what NormanVauxhall chooses for the next round!


Checking the stats out it seems like I managed to pretty much make the “average” car :smiley:


Wow! Thanks Mr Chips to host the challenge and choose ZAR for your business.

I’m keen to host the next CSR. I need 24/48 hours to see if I can.

I’m sorry for Leo… Again, second.


Second, again. You must be ducking with me.

And I can’t host this month, so if Norman skips it so will I


So… I’ve find a theme that I’m really intrested in, but it will be another “off-roadish” and I think it will not be the best at the moment. I will keep it if I’m going to win another round in the future.

@Urbanliner It’s up to you now.


I have no experience in hosting and I do not have any ideas, so @flop404, your turn please.


I have a few ideas floating around in my mind, in the event I get to host the next round - which will only happen if the rest of the top five also choose to pass.


How long has it been since the end of the round? I’m so tempted to hurry things along just to see what happens.


almost 48 hours, sir strop.