introduced in 1981, the Q-car platform spawns several different cars. For the 1986 model year, the Andromeda Wagon is presented with the Crosstrail treatment, with a special off-road treatment. Power from the 3.3 V6 still moves the front wheels only, through a 4-speed automatic gearbox.
Entries are now CLOSED. I will finish checking the last few entrants here and working on reviews starting in a few minutes.
Minor spoiler alert: The Dormans, while retired, don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time test driving. They will select their top 10 for in-person investigation, with 24 being (GASP) insta-binned. There were a lot of good designs, but they could only select so many to go on to the next round. Also, for those of you whose designs WERE instabinned: the fate of your brochures is not necessarily a reflection of my thoughts on your design (though a small number were given to family members, which IS a nod for unique or cool design that fell short)
Round 1: The Culling
The time had finally come. Barry’s '66 Trinidad was sent to the junkyard the previous day, having served them for over 150,000 miles. The Dormans had cleared out most of their personal effects from Eve’s '74 Chancellor. It was time to sit down and do their homework, to research and cull through the wide field of cars available that claimed to suit their needs.
Eve poured two cups of black coffee from their electric percolator and brought them to the dining room table. Barry was already there, his thick glasses reflecting the light of the chandelier. Before him sat a bag of brochures, sent to them by their youngest son, Mark, after his visit to the recent auto show. He had collected everything that he thought might suit their needs, based on what Barry and Eve had told him. To his right were the latest editions of “Consumer Monitor” and “Motor Review World” magazines, sources that Barry trusted to help him through the process.
“That’s a lot of brochures,” Eve noted.
Barry nodded in agreement. “We may need more coffee.”
“There’s plenty more, don’t you worry.”
And with that, Barry pulled the first brochure from the bag.
FM HiWay Venture
The advertisement certainly looked like it was aimed right at Barry. A hatchback with a roof rack, sitting on the slope of a mountain, overlooking a scenic valley.
“Seems like a good start,” he quipped.
They paged through the brochure. It advertised features such as its 103 horsepower 2.2 liter engine, four-wheel drive system, ground clearance, and even sunroof. Full color pictures of the hatchback, shot from every angle, adorned the pages.
“Seems like it’s got some good power. Also says it gets over 21 miles per gallon. Not bad,” Barry noted.
Eve sipped her coffee pensively. “It’s okay, I guess. Kind of looks weird from the back. Doesn’t help that it’s so short, really.”
Barry scratched some notes in a spiral notebook. “Well, let’s see what the review magazines have to say.”
“…we found the HiWay Venture to fall short of other competitors in cargo space. Its high stance also leads to some less than ideal handling characteristics. For the price that FM is asking, we believe that there are better options.”
Verdict: No test drive. Barry keeps the brochure for a while, imagining the scenery more than the car.
The next advertisement to come out of the bag was an oddball manufacturer from India. Posed across a winding forest road, the Pastinuji Roamer-IV seemed to have a bit of an aggressive stance.
“Huh, weird,” Barry noted. “A 1.6 liter straight six?”
Eve looked over at the page. “That’s really small.”
“Still, puts out about 81 horses. That should be enough, I guess. Plus it still gets over 20 miles per gallon.”
“Think it will be good for your fishing trips?”
“Possibly. I don’t see anything about accessories here, but it looks pretty big, so maybe it will fit my stuff in the back. What do you think?”
Eve paged through the brochure quickly, looking at the dye sublimated photos. “I’d like to look at it closer. It’s pretty nice looking, and I like that two tone effect. Reminds me of when we were just starting out.”
Barry nodded and reached for the review magazines.
“…small cargo area. Overall, however, the Roamer will do just that; it’ll get you where your adventures take you, and back again. Just pack lightly.”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
The next brochure out of the bag of tricks was from DMA, for their W10.
The advertisement went into impressive detail about the standard features of the W10, as well as available options, as well as the 24 MPG fuel rating.
“This one’s pretty interesting,” Barry said. “This tiny little thing can tow a trailer.”
“One you can live in?” Eve shot back.
“Oh come on, it’s not that bad!” Barry protested.
Eve shook her head. “Those wheels… what the heck is going on with them? And it’s so stubby and plain.”
“Which makes it so much easier to go to the mountains with it,” Barry retorted.
Eve sighed. “What do the guides have to say about it?”
“…very competent off-road vehicle, despite its lack of four-wheel drive. Good cargo space and ample load capacity are also big bonuses. The W10 rides a little high for us, and caused some minor handling issues. And while service costs are a little on the high side, fuel costs are decidedly not, with this model being among the best in the segment for economy. That is, unfortunately, offset by its high initial purchase price…”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure went to one of Barry’s buddies at the VFW, who was interested in a camping and hunting rig.
MUD M40 Overlander
Out came the brochure for MUD’s M40 Overlander.
Eve was initially captivated by the long, graceful lines and sleek front end. But then her nose wrinkled. “Something odd about this. The farther back you go, the weirder or more plain it gets.”
“The farther back you go, the more boat I get to carry,” Barry snickered. “High power V6. Four wheel drive.”
“And how much time are you going to spend at the gas station?”
Barry sighed. “Kill my fun, why don’t you? Only 14 MPG.”
“That’s not so bad. That’s what my Chancellor got.”
“Yeah, but it was a V8. And 10 years old.”
“You going to read the magazine reviews or not, Bear?”
“Yeah, yeah. Hold your horses.”
“…Overall, a very competent entry into the world of Sport Utility Vehicles. We are not completely without concern, however. Most notably, long-term MUD owners have reported rust-through issues on their vehicles. With something geared for playing in the mud, we wonder how much this might pose as an intrusion for owners.”
Verdict: No test drive. Eve doesn’t like it enough to spring for it, and it’s out of Barry’s budget. Their oldest son, Travis, ends up taking the brochure, as he’s interested in similar vehicles.
Mitsushita Lorux Lusso-G Panel Van
Fishing into the bag, Barry pulled out an advertisement from Mitsushita, for the Lorux Lusso-G.
“Oh, look! It’s a Lorux!” Eve giggled, pointing to the huge letters adorning the quarter panel of the truck-like van. “And you’ll never forget it!”
Barry ignored her. “100 horsepower 2.1 liter straight six. Good. 19 miles per gallon. Not bad. Locking 4 wheel drive transmission, yeah that will get me anywhere.” He paused for a moment and whistled. “Look at the room inside this one!”
“I bet I could redo the entire garden in one load with that thing,” Eve replied. “Ooh, look at these seats! Deluxe veloured corduroy seating surfaces.”
“Yeah, I’m sure Buck will love slobbering on them,” Barry rolled his eyes.
“Oh, don’t be like that,” she playfully slapped his arm. “It looks good. What do we know about these things?”
Barry reached for the review periodicals, adjusted his glasses, and cleared his throat.
“…cavernous cargo area that unfortunately doesn’t match the excessively hard tuning of the rear suspension. This ride also translates to harsh handling over every day obstacles such as speed bumps. Also, with a fairly high initial cost and steep service costs, the Lorux Lusso isn’t exactly a bargain. This should be made up for in the long run by solid reliability.”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
Out came the literature on the Harosuka Grizzly. This was the first full-on SUV that the Dormans had come across.
Barry’s smile from finding what appeared to be a large woods-mobile quickly was wiped from his face. “Sixty one horsepower?” He sputtered. “1.7 liters? I don’t think I could get this up a mountain road, even if it was being pushed!”
Eve was equally puzzled. “Bear? Where does the gas go?”
Barry flipped back and forth between the pages, over and over. “I think they just used mirrored shots. This has got to be just one side. I mean, they can’t design a car without a gas cap… can they?”
“Do I even want to know what the magazines say?” Eve pondered quietly.
“Oh, sure, why not.”
“…despite voluminous cargo area, we found the Grizzly’s actual load performance to be subpar, hindered mostly by the woefully underpowered engine. This is further evidenced by the poor fuel economy, as the Grizzly’s 1.7 liter mill struggles to move it, even under ideal conditions.”
Verdict: No test drive. The brochure will end up being rolled up and used as a play toy for Buck.
Karearea Kereru Ruru
Karearea Kereru Ruru. That’s what came next.
“Where the hell is THAT from, Finland?” Eve asked.
Barry flipped the advertisement over. “New Zealand. Ooookay.” He flipped it back over and opened it up.
Full colored photos popped at them, showing contrasting scenarios and locations. Barry noted that it had a reasonably powerful 3 liter V6, modest 18 miles per gallon, and a standard 5-speed with 4WD system. Eve was enjoying the view for the most part, but the back end didn’t work well for her. Still, there was nothing that either one could point to as a glaring flaw, so out came the consumer aid publications.
“…tuning of the suspension seemed a bit off. The ride was very soft, and sagged badly when passengers were in the back. Mechanically, the Kereru Ruru should last its owner a long time. However, it might be wise to stockpile body parts from wrecks early on; Karearea owners have reported widespread corrosion issues on suspension and body parts. Its low initial purchase price should allow owners to save up for such repairs.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure ended up being used for origami.
CSM Nash GPE
Barry drew out the CSM advertisement next.
The Nash GPE was a rather shocking revelation when it came out. Technically classified as a van, it looked more like a hatchback with shrunken quarter windows.
Some of the features were no less shocking. Rather than a conventional seating arrangement for a 2-door hatchback, the Nash GPE had a pair of rear-facing, fold-down jump seats, allowing for a fully flat cargo floor. And its 1.7 liter 4-banger had a turbocharger on it, churning out a whopping 144 horses through an all-wheel drive system.
“Frankly, this thing scares me, in both good and bad ways,” Barry gasped.
“It just scares me,” Eve added. “I mean, I think the grandkids might like it, but the sides… they’re hideous!”
Barry stopped her and reached for the magazines. “Hold on, I’m curious about this thing.”
“…gloriously fun for the young. But for the more frugal, the Nash GPE begins to break down. Overall reliability is projected to be well below average, and high maintenance costs complicate the matter. No doubt this quirky car will find its way into the annals of automotive history, even if it is as a fun, niche footnote.”
Verdict: No test drive. This brochure ended up with Mark, because he thought it was a cool little ride.
Maxon Argus 4S
Barry’s next pull was the Maxon Argus 4S. Another advertisement that struck him right away, with mountain scenery. He was beginning to long for the scent of fir and pine needles. As if he knew his master’s feelings, Buck wandered over, nuzzled against his leg, and laid down at his side.
With 103 horses from a 2.1 liter six, better than 20 miles per gallon, and apparent load of space, the Argus definitely had Barry’s attention.
It had Eve’s attention as well. They went through the brochure, nearly silent but exchanging smiles, at least five times.
Barry looked up this model in his report guides.
“…soft suspension and concerning noises from the rear end. For its initial layout, we expected better balance and quality. Don’t despair, though. The Argus is highly rated for reliability. For those who need a simple cruiser, this could be a wonderful selection.”
Verdict: No test drive. Their oldest daughter ended up with the brochure, as she was looking for a new family car.
The LLA K16C was the next brochure out.
A deep green hatchback peered back at them from the folds of the pages. Its designers highlighted some of its best features. 21 miles per gallon from an 81 horsepower 4-cylinder, 22 cubic feet of cargo room, and a relatively simple front wheel drive.
Eve wasn’t thrilled with the back-end view of the K16C, but appreciated the interior photos, as well as the other angles of the exterior.
The Dormans took a moment to look at the reviews.
“…there were numerous flaws shown in our testing which, individually would not stop us from endorsing the K16C. But the high projected cost of maintenance, the low projected reliability, and a history of LLA vehicles rusting out do not bode well. Couple that with a weak rear suspension and lower than average cargo capacity, and we just can’t recommend this model.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure was “borrowed” by Buck, and found shredded and thoroughly slobbered on.
PMI Companion Wagon 1.7
The next offering was from PMI, in the form of the Companion Wagon 1.7.
Barry nodded. “Decent economy. Standard roof rack. Maybe a little under powered, but looks like it’s got a lot of space. It’s a pretty simple, straightforward design. Good.”
Eve looked at the car from every angle. “It’s nice looking, too. I also like how the… wait.” She paused. “Are you seeing this, too? There’s no radio.”
“What?” Barry asked, shocked.
“Look! There’s no radio there.”
“What on Earth?” He scrambled for the magazines, paging through them for the PMI’s entry.
“…very inexpensive to buy and to run, though fuel economy does leave a bit to be desired. Still, the PMI is not expected to be troublesome, nor to rot out quickly, even on salted roads.”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
The Dormans took fifteen minutes’ break time. They both took a turn in the bathroom, and Eve poured more coffee and made ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch. When they resumed, the Albatross W310 came up.
Barry was intrigued by the blue hatchback that graced the pages before him. With 143 horsepower coming from a 3.1 liter V6, the 20 MPG combined rating was a surprise. “Hey honey, look at this one.” He slid the brochure directly in front of her.
“That’s nice, dear,” she said, then went back to her sandwich.
He paused for a moment, almost insulted that she didn’t share the same enthusiasm for the car. “Nice?”
Barry rolled his eyes, made more notes in his notebook, then referenced the Albatross in his guides.
“…found it hard to load bulky objects into the rear, thanks to a high and awkward hatch opening. Furthermore, there were concerns over the long-term reliability of the W310, as well as well-documented cases of frame and body rust. The W310 has a very reasonable starting price, but owners on the East coast may find that is not enough to overcome the deficits that this model presented.”
Verdict: No test drive. The brochure was lost for a long time, and ended up being found years later when the family was cleaning out their house. It was sold on eBay to an Albatross collector.
ACA Traveller Wagoneer
Though the stack of brochures in the bag was dwindling, there were still plenty to go. ACA’s Traveller Wagoneer was the next one to come out.
A big, champagne-colored wagon dominated the cover. Barry turned the page and got a bit of a surprise.
“Turbocharged?” He gawked. “Turbocharged four-cylinder. In a beast that big.”
“Is that a bad thing?” Eve asked.
“Not sure. I mean, turbos are kind of a new tech. I’m not so sure about that. Though with 113 horsepower, it at least sounds like it should have enough power.”
“Hey, is that a sunroof there?” Eve pointed at one of the pictures. “Turn the page. Ooh, I like this!”
“Whose car is this now, huh?” he grinned.
“Mine. You just get to borrow it,” she shot back playfully. “Seriously, though. I like it. So what is the issue with this turbocharger thing? I mean, they wouldn’t put it in the car if it didn’t work, right?”
“Oh, I’m sure it works. The question is for how long.”
“Well, you know how to find the answer to that, Bear,” she said as she tapped the review magazines.
“…low-slung wagon, seemingly as at home in the driveway as it would be on the main drag of the town. While the crusing culture of the 50’s and 60’s is long gone, the nostalgia isn’t. Fashionable suburbanites should not be afraid of the Traveller, as long as they have money in their pockets for maintenance and repair. The costs for both are among the highest in the segment.”
Verdict: No test drive. This brochure ended up as scratch paper near the phone for a bit.
IP Boulevard Star AWD Turbo
The next one in the stack was the IP Boulevard Star. This appeared to be a rather unique micro-sized van.
“Hmm, I bet Buck would love jumping in this thing,” Barry said. “Super easy for him with all these doors and whatnot.”
“Good, he can live in it,” Eve wrinkled her nose.
“Not a fan?”
“No. Not at all. It’s just so… gaudy! I can’t even imagine driving it.”
Barry read on. “Not sure I could, either, reading more about it. 1.3 liter turbo engine, and it gets some pretty tragic gas mileage. Just out of curiosity, let’s see what the rags say.”
“…much lower than average predicted reliability, and many rust issues reported by previous owners. Also, fuel economy was found to be well below average. The Boulevard Star does have a very attractive purchase price and features, though.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure collected dust for a while before being thrown away.
HSR Oracle 4x4
HSR’s Oracle brochure came out next.
HSR’s literature touted its big 2.5 liter 4-cylinder that churned out 121 horses, its standard roof rack, as well as its advanced four-wheel drive automatic transmission. Other specifications didn’t sit as well with Barry.
“Fourteen miles per gallon. Out of a four cylinder. Yikes.”
“Still at least as good as my Chancellor,” Eve reminded him.
“Half the cylinders. Would like half the use as well.”
Eve persisted. “Well, I like it. What are we talking here in long term costs?”
“…cargo area is much smaller than average for the segment. The Oracle also had among the worst fuel economy of any car we tested, particularly the four cylinders. Its below average projected reliability and high maintenance costs are not helpful to its case either.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure ended up lighting charcoal in the Dormans’ barbecue.
Bogliq Boxcar Entrigue
Moldovan manufacturer Bogliq had shown up at the auto show, and their literature on the Boxcar Entrigue found its way in front of the Dormans.
“Do they have any other colors?” Eve prodded.
“Hmm? That’s what you’re picking on right away?” Barry asked.
She shrugged. “We’ve seen Bogliqs before. But have you ever seen one that WASN’T light blue?”
Barry thought about it for a moment, but decided it wasn’t important. In front of him sat a small hatchback whose small motor still produced a respectable 77 horses. That, mated with a 5-speed manual, produced a very impressive 27 MPG combined.
Apparently the Moldovans had given the Boxcar a focus on cargo, as its rear seats were pop-up jump seats, rather than full size fold down seats.
Eve continued to gripe about the lack of aethetics of the hatchback, as well as the absence of a radio, but Barry was interested enough to look up what the professional reviewers had to say, and insisted that a radio could be added later.
“…overall well-balanced hatchback. Bogliq is known for bargain-basement entries, and the Boxcar Entrigue is no exception. It doesn’t even come with a radio from the factory. However, it is one of the least expensive models in the segment, offers low service costs, and, bar none, the absolute highest reliability and fuel economy in the class. With good rust-proofing measure in place, the quirky Moldovan car is sure to last for years to come.”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
JHW Ursus 280 4x4
They were more than halfway through now, and the JHW Ursus 280 was next on the table.
“Nice cargo area there,” Barry noted. “Not bad on the power, either. Not great on the fuel economy.” He saw Eve was about to speak. “Better than your Chancellor. Barely.”
She smiled and took a sip, then looked at the color spread. “Well, it’s pretty nice looking, I guess.”
Barry was still studying the mechanincal specifications. “It’s a 4WD, but it looks like it’s less complicated than some of the others.” He reached for the review mags.
“…serious deficiencies in the suspension of the test model. It struggled to handle even a full load of passengers, let alone any cargo on top of that. Its also markedly poor fuel economy and relatively high initial cost are not helpful to the Ursus’s cause, either.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure used as scratch paper by the phone before being thrown away.
It was big and brown, and its plush interior called to Eve. It was the W&R Huron.
“It looks so inviting in there,” she cooed. “Makes up for the weird looking back end.”
“If you think the back looks weird, don’t look under the hood,” Barry scoffed.
“As if turbos weren’t concerning enough, someone decided to stuff TWO under the hood of this thing.”
“So? Look at all that space, and that roof rack. It’ll carry all of your stuff!”
“Again, for how long?”
Eve snickered. “Look it up, silly!”
“… reasonable fuel economy and sublime comfort. Unfortunately, that’s the best part of the ownership costs for the Huron. Regular service costs are projected to be much higher than average, reliability much lower than average, and the Huron commands a price premium at purchase that sours what would otherwise be a fantastic entry to the segment.”*
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
Contendiente Conquista Tourer
Their homework session was briefly derailed when their phone rang. Barry answered, and ended up having a 10 minute conversation with his doctor about diet and his heart. This young healer had strange ideas in his head like bacon and eggs being bad for your health. In the end, neither side budged, and the call ended inconclusively. Eve took the time to clear their lunch plates and start a load of laundry.
She had a moment to take a sneak peek at the next vehicle without Barry. Contendiente’s Conquista was a fine looking machine, well proportioned and crisply styled from every angle.
“Whatcha got there?” Barry asked as he returned to the table.
“It’s a Spanish car. Conquista. Gorgeous thing.”
He took the advertisement from her and looked over the specs. The engine was impressive both from a power and efficiency standpoint, and it had a nice, simple front wheel drive setup. It was one of the smaller wagons, however, and the cargo room wasn’t immediately listed.
“Definitely need to look this one up,” he said, licking his thumb and paging through the reviews.
“…great fuel economy. Unfortunately this comes at the cost of both higher than average maintenance cost and significant outlay at the dealership. The wagon from Spain is expected to hold up well, with no corrosion issues reported and only modest mechanical issues reported. Overall, this is a strong contender in the segment.”
Verdict: No test drive. Eve kept the brochure for a while, imagining the looks of envy on the faces of her gardening club peers.
Aeros Router XA244
A small hatchback from Aeros was next. The Router XA244 was only a 2-door, and appeared to be on the smaller end of what they had seen so far.
“Another one with jump seats in the rear,” Barry noted.
Eve glanced over. “Does anyone ever put adults in the back of cars that small anyway? I’m sure it’ll be fine for the grandkids.”
Barry shrugged. “Once upon a time we did. This thing is nice and powerful, though. 106 horses, 23 MPG, and four wheel drive.”
Barry flipped the page, and they both winced.
“I don’t know who invented those pop up headlight thingies, but they need to go back to design school,” Eve groaned. “It’s wrecked the look of the whole car.”
Barry had a slightly different take on it. “Wonder what happens if a rock or something gets in the track for those and it gets gummed up.”
“You’re probably going to shatter something on one of those forest roads.”
The retired professor put down the ad and reached for his trusty magazines.
“…lower than average projected reliability and somewhat high service costs are at least mitigated by an attractive initial purchase price. The Router, though having a decent cargo area, is still lower than average for the class. This model makes sense for those on a limited budget, but bear in mind the long term cost of this investment.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure is used for a bit as scratch paper next to the phone, then discarded.
A German wagon was next on the list. The BF SLF-Kombi was adorned with a standard roof rack, and utilized a gigantic 2.7 liter inline 4 to power its front wheels.
“This could be an interesting choice,” Barry said. “Front wheel drive, looks fairly simple but solid. And it gets over 20 miles per gallon to boot.”
Eve pursed her lips. “Needs a little something on the side.” She flipped the page. "But it’s very beautiful on the inside.
Barry paged through the reviews to find more details on the BF wagon.
“…very good balance between capability, economy, and handling. It falls short of its competitors on reliability and cost of repair, however, so prospective buyers should be aware. Still, BF makes a compelling argument with the SLF-Kombi.”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
Whether it was a short wagon or a long hatchback was up for debate. Still, the brochure for the Bramble Fenrir had made its way from the show to the Dorman dining room table.
With a 127 horsepower 2.3 liter straight-6 and simple FWD setup, Barry was interested. However, its 11 MPG combined rating put a damper on that.
“Hey, Eve. Finally found something that drinks more than your Chancellor,” he teased.
“Oh, hush you. It’s a fine little car… I guess.”
“Well, I mean, besides how high up those side lights are. Those make it look weird. Other than that, it’s nice.”
She dragged one of the consumer magazines in front of her and found the entry for the Bramble.
“…somewhat small cargo area restricts its flexibility. Its straight-6 motor is decidedly uneconomical, and it lopes badly at idle, making it uncomfortable to drive around the city. Predicted reliability is average, but a low purchase price may make some buyers overlook its shortcomings, particularly with the fun factor given by the brawny, raucous engine.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure collects dust for a while before being thrown away.
Ios Cross-Rover Deluxe
The next car to come up had both of them picking up their jaws. It was the Ios Cross-Rover.
“It’s so… distinct! And ugly!” Eve exclaimed. “I mean, it’s so ugly that it’s cute!”
Barry burst our laughing.
He took a minute to get back under control. “OK, I think that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard you say about a car.”
“But it’s true!”
“Well, hang on here, now. Let’s take a look. Almost 140 horses out of a 2.8 liter V6. Almost 93 cubic feet of space with the rear seats down. And this sky-roof thing looks really interesting.”
“So do the seats,” Eve added. “I love these veloured seats!”
“Alright, let’s see what else we can find out,” Barry said as he grabbed one of his magazines.
“…cavernous cargo area. The Cross-Rover also gets high marks for reliability and corrosion resistance. It’s not the cheap way out, however; initial cost of ownership, fuel economy, and maintenance costs are all well above average.”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
RCM Mattawa Borealis
The unread pile was now dwindling. A neatly styled brochure featuring a wagon underneath the Northern Lights was then under scrutiny.
“RCM Mattawa Borealis,” Barry enunciated every syllable. Boy, that’s sharp looking, isn’t it?"
“Very much so!” Eve replied. “I want to see more!”
She was not disappointed. Though she was not a fan of small hatchbacks, this one in particular caught her eye, being both distinct and fresh from every angle.
Barry noted its good fuel economy, standard roof rack, and selectable 4 wheel drive system.
Of the Mattawa Borealis, the consumer reports had this to say:
“…good economy and relatively low cost of ownership. Reliability is projected to be above average, although its high initial cost is a factor to be considered as well. Still, the Mattawa Borealis should fill the needs of many families quite nicely…”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
“Nurim,” Barry blurted.
“Huh?” Eve was puzzled.
“Just… Nurim. Is that a brand name? A model name? Both?”
“Why are you asking me?” she retorted.
“I guess it’s just Nurim. Like Cher. Or Chanel,” Barry quipped.
Eve snapped the brochure from his hands and thumbed through. Something warm spread through her like fire. “Oh, my, Bear… this…” she seemed to choke up. “This looks so much like my Chancellor, only…”
“I don’t know. Intimidating. Strong. I mean, not that my Chancellor wasn’t strong, it just had… soft bits.”
He took the ad back, and couldn’t help but notice some distinct similarities. Where the Nurim departed, however, was in the fuel economy department. With over 23 combined MPG, it would definitely spend less time at the pump. It was also a relatively straightforward mechanical design, and the long, sloping hatch looked to provide ample storage for his gear.
“Oh yeah, this could do,” he said as he reached for notes and reviews.
“…sleek and sexy. Sure, it’s a bit more expensive than some others in the class, but it’s uncompromising in its ability to be anything the owner wants it to be. It’s also projected to be one of the most reliable in the class…”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
Star Xeno 4WD
Star’s Xeno 4WD was a very unique contender. It was the only coupe of the lot, yet wasn’t shy about advertising its role as a 4WD runner all over its long doors. A point that Eve mocked mercilessly for a couple minutes before her husband got her to get serious.
“Bear, we’re grandparents. A little coupe isn’t the right way for us to go. And the lights up front… they’re just hideous.”
“I’m working with you here, Eve, but we’ve got to make sure the other needs are taken care of before looks.”
“Oh, the hell they are,” she snapped.
He flipped through the pages displaying the bright red machine. “I don’t know if it will matter. Doesn’t look like there’s much cargo space, and I don’t see anything about a pass-through. Or a roof rack, or anything like that.”
“Ugh, the inside is just so plain, too!” Eve complained.
This is what the pros had to say about the Star Xeno:
“…the Xeno caters to a very specific audience. While it is a very delicious, enticing package, its appeal is likely to be limited to a very few people who want both a competent off-road vehicle as well as a sleek coupe. We don’t foresee a great demand for this particular model. And while we had fun driving this, at the end of the day, it’s not a vehicle that any of the testers would choose to own.”
Verdict: No test drive. Their oldest grandson ends up with the brochure, because a boy’s got to have dreams.
Maesima Celento 1.5 Trailtrek 3AT
Nearing the bottom of the pile of condenders, they pulled out an ad for the Maesima Celento 1.5 Trailtrek.
“Uh, I’m confused,” Barry admitted. “What is this? A 2 door wagon? A van?”
“I thought you were all about space inside,” Eve ribbed. “It’s got that at least, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, I suppose. The engine’s tiny, though. 1500 cc, only 70 horses. It just looks too big for that to be right.”
“It’s also beige,” Eve noted.
Barry paused a moment, confused. “So?”
“It’s BEIGE, Bear. Really, really BEIGE.”
“Gotcha. Still gotta do our due diligence, though.”
“…for a van it is surprisingly difficult to load. This is probably because of the depth of the cargo bay, but having only one portal from which to load it. Those hoping to use it for an active lifestyle would also be disappointed by its performance in off-highway scenarios. Furthermore, we’ve found that Maesima vehicles have a propensity to prematurely rust out…”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure ends up as tinder for the Dormans’ barbecue.
Wallys Grand Tour
The Wally’s Grand Tour showed as a walnut-brown mid-sized wagon. Its powerful V6 and simple RWD setup caught Barry’s attention. Even with a 17 MPG combined rating, it didn’t seem to have any significant flaws.
Eve agreed wholeheartedly. Though she felt it a little too bland and conservative from the front, it had long enough lines and a nice rear end to keep her interest.
The reporting magazines came out.
“…The Grand Tour has a decidedly surprising Achilles heel, however. Underneath what appears to be a robust wagon lies one of the worst rear suspensions we have ever seen. To that effect, we cannot recommend this car if you intend to have an active lifestyle. Or, for that matter, if you have speed bumps in your local grocery store parking lot.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure ended up being folded and used as a shim for Barry’s workbench in the garage.
With only a half dozen brochures remaining, Birmingham’s 8000x came out of the pile.
It was a short 2-door hatchback, blazed in full-gloss gold glory within the pages. Touted as being available with an all-wheel drive automatic transmission and upscale creature comforts, this one provided a conflict for Eve.
“It’s pretty good looking, especially inside,” she remarked. “But I don’t like those wheels. They’re too dark.”
“Wheels can be replaced, dear,” Barry replied. “Engineering shortcomings can’t. I think these guys are on the same page, because they’ve over-engineered the living daylights out of this thing.”
“What do you mean?” she looked, curious.
Barry pointed to a figure on the last page. “This insane little thing has a one and a half ton rating.”
“Aren’t cars that size usually about that?”
“No, Eve. They’re not talking about how much it weighs. They’re talking about how much junk you can shove in it, and still expect it to drive around.”
“A ton and a half?” she gasped. Barry nodded. “Well, what the hell are they expecting you to put in that thing, Fort Knox?”
Barry chuckled. “Let’s see what the so-called experts say.”
“… rust holes have been reported in Birmingham models as new as 1982. With slightly subpar predicted reliability, high maintenance costs, poor fuel economy, and a high initial cost, it’s hard to recommend this model, even if it was one of the most comfortable ones tested.”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure ended up as scratch paper near the phone, before being thrown out.
ZAR 1700 S Export
Hailing from the Czech Republic, ZAR showed up at the auto show as well. Thus, literature on the ZAR 1700 S model ended up making it to the couple.
“Again with the black wheels?” Eve griped.
“Again, they can be replaced,” Barry retorted.
Eve shrugged, then gave a sweet smile. I think this one looks better than the last one, anyway."
Barry cleaned his glasses and took another look at the specifications. “75 horses from a 1.7 liter. Not bad. 22 MPG, also not bad at all. Roof rack, check. This might be a good one.”
Eve, feeling a little left out at the moment, decided to commandeer the consumer magazines at this point.
“…for an inexpensive runabout, the ZAR is capable. Maintenance is inexpensive, and fuel economy is among the best in the segment. Like the cars from ZAR’s associate company Znopresk, there is little to fault.”
Verdict: TEST DRIVE!
Debner’s Macedon became the next focus of their critique. The pewter colored hatchback didn’t particularly stand out aesthetically, but Barry was still on the hunt for perfection.
“Almost a hundred horses,” he noted. “And it still breaks 20 MPG.”
“Fuel mileage isn’t everything, Bear,” Eve chided. “You’ve got to have a certain flair.”
“I’ll make sure the mountain lions are aware of that fact when I talk to them,” he replied dryly.
“Roof rack this, spark plugs that. Live a little, huh?”
“We’ve lived a lot, my dear. What car we choose won’t stop that. Unless of course it breaks down all the time,” he smirked.
“We’ll see about that,” she said as she flipped to the Debner’s review.
“…rather small cargo area. Reliability is projected to be well above average, though that is paid for up front in initial acquisition cost. Fuel economy is average, and maintenance costs are below average. The biggest problem, as we have found, comes from previous Debner owners reporting major through-rust problems on the body panels and weakening of the chassis over a few years…”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure becomes kindling for the Dormans’ barbecue.
Arai Kyori Touring
The third to last brochure to come out of the “new” pile came from Arai, for the Kyori.
“Another turbo,” Barry sighed. “124 ponies, but still.”
“Oh, get over it,” Eve grumbled. “I’m going to die of boredom if we have your way with a car.”
“Better than dying on the side of the road by some Charles Manson escapee hitchhiker,” he retorted.
“Seriously, Bear. It looks like it has all you want, and that’s what you’re griping about?” She rolled up her magazine and gave him a solid THWACK in the arm. “I’m starting to think I should just steal your checkbook and lock you in the shed for this whole thing.”
“Whose car is it?” he asked again, this time interrupting her. “Ours. Not yours.”
“…A great car for those on a budget, both from the perspective of initial purchase, and fueling it along the way. Service costs are average. We found the suspension to be a hair on the soft side, and it had noticeable bounce in the rear going over bumps. For active families, this might be an issue…”
Verdict: No test drive. The fate of this brochure was never determined; no one recalls throwing it out nor finding it.
Baltazar Andromeda Q Wagon Crosstrail 3.3
Brazilian manufacturer Baltazar ended up being next, showcasing their Andromeda Q Wagon series. The Crosstrail 3.3 had been circled by their offspring prior to being placed in the bag.
“There we go. Space, power, standard rack,” Barry smiled. "What more could a guy want?
“The approval of his loving wife of 41 years?”
“Yeah, yeah. Besides that.”
“You going to harp on its fuel economy yet?” Eve rolled her eyes.
She gave it a scrutinizing eye. “It’s okay, I guess. Almost looks too long. Maybe it has something to do with the color?”
“My God, you’re picky,” he signed.
“If that’s not the pot calling the kettle black…”
Eve found Baltazar’s entries in the consumer books.
“…overall balanced package for an intermediate sized wagon. Given the Brazilian manufacturer’s penchant for small cars, that is no small task. However, chinks can be found in the armor of the Andromeda Q Wagon. Exorbitantly high maintenance costs and low fuel economy make long-term ownership expensive. Still, we expect the overall ownership experience to be good for those who take the plunge…”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure ended up collecting dust for a while before being thrown away.
Maestro Bravura 2300b
The very last brochure belonged to the Maestro Bravura 2300b.
Showcased on that particular page was a long, dark blue wagon with all-wheel drive and a larger 4 cylinder motor.
“Huh. 3 speed auto,” Barry remarked. “Most of these have been 4 speed.”
“Big deal?” Eve queried.
“Well, 4 speeds are probably better for highway cruising. And gas mileage.”
“18,” Barry replied. “Not bad, but there have been a lot better. But that cargo area definitely should work for me.”
Eve nodded silently.
“You don’t like it?”
She shook her head.
Barry sighed. “Why?”
“Oh, for the love of…” Barry buried his head in hands. “What do the experts say?”
“…significant room for all of an active family’s gear. The Bravura boasts a modest purchase price and reasonable fuel economy within the segment. It may not be the ideal car for the outdoorsy, as its lack of ground clearance could become an issue…”
Verdict: No test drive. Brochure ends up being scratch paper before being thrown away.
Congratulations to the 10 moving on to Round 2. Those of you advancing have a mission now, however!
Barry and Eve still have the Chancellor, and want to make sure the car is REALLY right. Please PM me a list of color schemes available for your vehicles (note which one you sent the submission as, if possible). I will send you back which other color scheme I would like to see (theoretically, what color they would search for, and custom order if not in stock). Please send back a glamor shot of your vehicle in that color scheme. Hope you can do this ASAP.
Edit: to clarify, this list includes the following people:
I’m not surprised about the Grizzly’s awful engine being its downfall, I was sort of going for the underpowered early Japanese cars like the first Crown to come over to the US (albeit about 30 years late to the party) and those were not exactly popular. Forgetting to add a gas cap though, that’s really embarrassing.
Regardless, congratulations to the finalists and that was a fantastic writeup! There’s a good diversity of cars in that final ten, and I honestly can’t say who I’d expect to win this.
I would like to thank you for your constructive review. Honestly I did not know who it was for, myself. This is what I was trying to go for.
Unexpectedly not binned. I’ll provide you the colour list tonight.
Woot, I did something for Buck!!!
It does mean you made a mistake in your list at the end though, I was binned
Great job on the write-up. Will read all entries when back at home.
Really enjoyed this, you made them feel like a legitimate loving couple of 41 years. It was fun to read through.
I already provided a color list, but will PM you one, with pictures of each
Correction: my submission is powered by a straight-six, not a V6. But it was too average to be considered for a test drive anyway. At least someone is considering buying the big wagon I submitted. Whatever you did with those reviews, you actually made them look like they were written from an older couple’s perspective - great job!
Actually, the end list was correct. You weren’t binned, you’re on to Round 2. I’ll go back and correct that blurb in a little bit. Mind you, I worked a 10 hour work day, came home, and spent another 8 hours straight doing those reviews… lol… I was a little tired at the end.
@undercoverhardwarema - I totally saw it. And while I personally love/appreciate that (and would love to have an old Eagle coupe), it just wasn’t the right fit for these two.
Oh, good news, thanks! I’ll provide you with the available colours (and the underlined optional radio - something that at least Europe was very common for 80s cars).
Regarding small errors, dude, perfectly understandable. I can fully relate to the busy work days, and can only imagine the tons of work that goes into producing reviews like this, where every reviews appears to be of nearly equal quality.
@VicVictory about the suspension issue, which warning do you get? Sometimes, when you fix that and you reload the car, the warning reappears
I wasn’t paying heed to the warnings/suggestions on any of the cars. I was paying attention to reported information in the game. If I recall, yours had one of the lowest max load capacities in the competition.
As a general note, which may help some insta-binned people who are scratching their heads, I mentioned in the beginning that they were looking for something that was balanced. While there were quite a few well-balanced cars, there were a few out there that were heavily focused on one particular stat or image, and that hurt the overall package.
That said, I wouldn’t have changed a thing, and I loved seeing the variety that was presented and the angles from which everyone approached the competition. The last 3 cuts to get down to 10 were really hard to make. Ordering the top 10 is going to an even higher level of scrutiny (and pain).
Fck this, I’m so bad at designing Economic engine (and any engine in general lol), I don’t know how to do a more economic one (I did the tutorials )
Next CSR may be ^^
Anyway, wp everybody, there is some good designs here!
It takes a bit of work, you actually need decent power, then look at the efficiency curve and try to match the gearing to the end of the peak. It took me something like 4 iterations on the engine and transmission tuning with the first one getting something like 14mpg (US).
Well I guess getting passed on to someone else doesn’t quite mean insta-binned.
Well, that’s how I got the price down. Corrosion resistant steel is very expensive, don’t you know. As to the awkward hatch design, I’ll have a word with the engineers at Albatross (i.e. me), and try to fix that in the future. Thanks for the honest review.
Most cars were rustbuckets in the 80s anyway.
Hmm… I still wonder what killed the sides. It’s very likely that it is a toss up between the opera windows and my attempt at red striping.
Since I’m a terrible betting man my chances are eternally rubbish, but I’ll lean towards the latter. Sometimes less is more, and in the end that applied to a lot of the Nash’s problems.
Sad that Buck didn’t dig it, but at least I inspired a future generation to dream. Not bad for a CSR first shot!