No worries man. I’m just glad you’re ok. The good part about the PDC challenges though is that you can let the numbers do most of the judging, so if our trucks suck it’s our own fault lol.
This got delayed slightly again as I really did agonise over what to prioritise, I’m so anxious judging these things. I can’t see myself ever hosting a challenge again, but at least I learned that now.
In light of proposals for tightened fuel economy standards under the New Century American Vehicles Act, and some Republicans expressing concern that this may cause backdoor attacks on the very viability of the highly popular light truck market, the Committee has invited manufacturers to produce blueprints of “potential future light truck models built to exceed current economy requirements.”
A number of submissions have been provided. One of them was comically referred to as the “Independent Taxevasor” (c/o @Admiral_Obvious) - which sparked muffled laughter in the room. Its naturally-aspirated engine delivered a promised 17 MPG on chunky offroad tires, with a little more on hard on-road economy rubber. However, it was relatively expensive to service and lacked torque, peaking just under 275 lb-ft. This quickly paled in comparison to rivals.
One of those was from Australia’s MTC. They offered up their “Creek” (c/o @WelcometoCostcoILU) with an aggressively undersquare 4L/244ci straight-six turbo, offering 392 lb-ft of torque at 2,400rpm and a proclaimed 1,850kg (4,085lb) payload from the combination of power and solid-axle suspension. The 17.2 MPG headline number was significantly bettered at speeds under 60mph, a rate of knots the Creek could hit in under ten seconds from a standing start. The angular, chrome-heavy styling was also seen as appealing to traditional truck buyers.
Dudecia’s “Ecotruck” (c/o @mgobla) apparently delivered spectacularly on its name, claiming over 58 MPG with similar levels of torque to the Taxevasor. One staunch liberal on the committee kept pointing to this as “the future of trucks” and as evidence that regulations could and should be made significantly tougher; some others claimed the number had to be wrong, and/or were unsure this square 3.2L/196ci straight-six turbo had enough low-end power. The Ecotruck also looked very car-like, and even had a FWD torsion beam setup. Either way, Dudecia needed to be consulted properly about this potentially revolutionary product.
Making slightly less lofty economy claims was the “Brawt” (c/o @Xoury), but that still offered a proclaimed 31.5 MPG on on-road tires - falling to just under 29 MPG on off-roaders - and, more impressively, it did so with Super Duty-esque torque, 401 lb-ft at 2,500rpm, courtesy of a 6.1L/373ci turbocharged V6 “BF Turbro” that promised a muscle-esque 5-second 0-60 and 173mph top speed. Furthermore, this came at a potential starting price of under $23,000 - albeit with an assist from very spartan trim.
Unable to keep up with that was the “Armor A150” (c/o @GassTiresandOil), despite its innovative use of a “direct injection” fuel system previously confined to one Japanese manufacturer. The 2.8L/170ci straight-six turbo only managed 18 MPG whilst lacking for straight-line speed, and the direct injection system was also expected to be expensive and/or time-consuming to produce. Furthermore, a prototype was reported to be hard to drive due to understeer.
The “Morton #8” (c/o @CriticalSet9849) paired a 4L/242ci oversquare engine - slightly less so than the Creek - with an unusual small-turbine turbo that delivered a wide high-torque band, hitting 300 lb-ft at 1,800 rpm and slightly increasing from there until the 322 lb-ft peak was hit at 3,500rpm. That was good for a near-25 MPG claim, and it was backed up by premium interior trimmings and an aggressively-geared six-speed auto gearbox that helped that torque play up on the trails.
Completing the submissions was the “GEC GU2 4.0T Fleet” (c/o @abg7), another 4L/244ci straight-six turbo - undersquare this time - offering 20 MPG on offroad tires and another flat torque curve. Leaf springs, businesslike styling, and quality internal components caused a perception of high market appeal
It became clear that there was a future for pickups in the Gore era - just that it’d probably involve the naturally-aspirated V8s of old giving way to turbo-charged options of different shapes and sizes. Blueprints gave way to prototypes, and while an immediate mix of enthusiasm and cynicism greeted the Dudecia in particular, there was a consensus that 17 MPG was easily attainable for even a heavy-duty truck, and that CAFE standards could be tightened over the next few years. Several of these vehicles would turn into production trucks, but which ones would succeed?
Sorting the top three was almost impossible for me, hence the latest delay. So congratulations to all three of the podium-dwellers - all offered very interesting quality entries.
@Xoury’s Brawt combined impressive economy with load-lugging power and get-away-from-the-tornado speed. Although its lack of environmental resistance and comfort were drawbacks, there’s plenty of budget to improve those in production models.
@CriticalSet9849’s Morton #8 was the most comfortable in the field, and easily the best mudplugger to clear the economy bar with ease. However, owners would likely sour on its high service costs and marginal reliability.
@mgobla’s Dudecia Ecotruck offered staggering efficiency and “enough” torque, but even less comfort than the Brawt, and the torsion beam suspension limited its utility potential. Definitely more “eco” than “truck.”
Just behind all of these was @abg7, who got edged out by the Morton #8 offering more economy and comfort at a lower sticker price, but still delivered a solid performance.
Ultimately, it was the Brawt that delivered the most economical truck with true “truck” potential, and had simple upgrades (better interior trim, treated rather than bare steel for the body) that would make it deliver on that potential. So congratulations to @Xoury for your victory! @CriticalSet9849 wins second place and the award for “best pure truck,” and @mgobla third and the award for “best green machine” - both nailed one part of their brief, and I imagine the Ecotruck in particular gaining cult appeal as “the Prius of trucks.”
This took me way too long because of anxiety and I’m so sorry if I messed up in the judgement too. Thanks for bearing with me in this ridiculous time. If only we could go back to 2002 IRL.
I’m somewhat relieved you didn’t notice that I forgot to include a front indicator.