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1979 Oil Crisis Challenge [Finished]

While almost anyone familiar with cars knows about the 1973 oil crisis, few know about the second crisis that struck in 1979, at the height of the malaise era. This time, however, automakers were more prepared, with smaller and more efficient models utilizing more technology. Overhead cams, fuel injection, and turbo chargers were becoming more common- even in small, affordable economy models. These advancements in technology would help bring a new type of car to the market: the hot hatch.

This challenge seeks to emulate the success of those early forerunners in the realm of economical and practical fun. While you can choose from sedans, coupes, and wagons along with hatchbacks, your goal is to build a vehicle that captures the spirit of the VW GTI, the BMW 3 series E21, the redesigned Fox-Body mustang for 1979, the Renault 5, and other classics from this era. While most cars were making low power numbers and offering a brain numbing driving experience, these models took their ho-hum economy car roots and become performance legends remembered and admired even some 40+ years later.

While true performance wouldn’t return until later in the 1980s, 1979 was a major step in the right direction.


Year: 1979
Body type: sedan, coupe, wagon or hatchback
Chassis type: any
material: steel
Engine type: any
Must use hypereutectic pistons
2 valves per cylinder only
Standard Intake
Regular Unleaded fuel
Must have a cat. and at least 1 muffler
Engine position: front or rear
Drive type: any 2WD
Gearbox: manual only
Tyre compound: hard long-life or medium tyres
Tyre width: up to 175mm
Wheels: Steel rims up to 14"
Disc brakes only allowed on the front
Rear brakes must be drums
Car must have 5 full seats
Standard 70’s safety
Entertainment: anything but None
Fuel economy in Automation: 25mpg US or better
Max. price 15.000$

Judging criteria:
Styling, Fuel economy, Performance in BeamNG (Automation Handling Course, Hirochi Short Circuit, Industrial Site Curved Race Circuit)

For styling, each car will be given a score from 1-10
For fuel economy I will take the Automation numbers and the 10 best cars will get points. 10 points for 1st place, 9 for 2nd, …, 1 point for 10th place. 11th and lower get 0 points
For the races, the 10 best cars will get points. 10 points for 1st place, 9 for 2nd, …, 1 point for 10th place. 11th and lower get 0 points

Deadline: September 26th, 5pm CEST
Race 1: September 26th 6pm CEST
Race 2: October 2nd, 6pm CEST
Race 3: October 3rd, 6pm CEST

Cars for inspiration:



(although the 323i would be a bit too expensive for the purposes of this challenge)

Renault 5 Turbo

Ford Capri


Drum brakes only? Even up front? North America started using disc brakes up front as standard equipment around 1970 or 1971. I’m not sure I understand that one.

Yeah, the last car with 4 wheel drums was the '75 Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant. This wouldn’t be very realistic. Front discs/rear drums would have been the standard.
The other thing I sort of question is the max 14" rim. 15" was quite common at this time.

I’m ok with 14" rim requirements. These are small cars. I don’t know about Europe, but at least in America at the time, 15" rims were only found on full-size cars and sports cars. I’m sure Europe was ahead of the game in that department, though.

You are mandating a front engine setup but showing the Renault Turbo as inspiration.

Updated the rules. I would agree that more and more cars were starting to come with front discs as standard by 1979


that may have been a mistake on my part, and I’m sorry. I intend on allowing rear-engine cars, I must have forgotten to put that into the script.

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The only compacts using 15 inch wheels in the late 70s Europe was relics from the past that still survived. VW Beetle (even if that was cancelled at that time), Saab 96, Citroën 2CV etc.

Does it count if a galvanised or corrosion-resistant steel chassis is used? Besides, it was very unlikely that most mass-market cars in 1979 offered engines with aluminum blocks, with very few exceptions. And even mechanical fuel injection hadn’t been widely adopted in cheaper cars (except for the Mk1 Golf GTi, for example) by then, so I’m suggesting we all go with carbs instead unless someone suggests otherwise. Moreover, single-point EFI was also very rare in 1979, so that could be excluded as well.

yes, any kind of steel if you can fit galvanized or corrosion-resistant into your budget. Since the budget is rather tight, you will probably have to make some compromises with your design and engineering choices

What about DOHC with 2 valves? Can we use that kind of valvetrain? Especially since some premium and sports/performance cars from the era came with it as standard (although lesser cars made do with SOHC or OHV heads).

Is it supposed to be 1979 for all the years or 1979 for the trim and the actual car can be based on something older? It’s not 100% clear.

Yes, any engine head type but limited to 2 valves/cyl. DOHC 2v is fine

@mart1n2005 it can be based on something with an older model year, but trim and engine variant year have to be 1979

I just made a test build for this challenge - an FF hatch with a 1.8L DOHC NA I4 delivering 100 bhp in a sub-850kg body. So far, I’ve managed to get 26 US mpg with the use of a 5-speed manual gearbox, mechanical fuel injection, and a 3-way catalytic converter. That said, getting >25 US mpg with a 3-way cat and regular unleaded in 1979 is a challenge (especially since multi-point EFI is not available until 1982) - but 26 mpg is more economical than what most contemporary muscle or pony cars could manage.

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I’m struggling to get it above 22 MPG but maybe with some fine tuning I can get it too.

You got some good numbers, I’ve been trying almost everything with a 2L OHC turbo and got about 85 hp. Maybe the turbo is not a good idea, but I can’t find better ways to get 25mpg

Edit: I jut got it up to 101hp, but still you have very good performance for a smaller NA engine

I used the three-door version of the '71 Fiesta body for my test build - it’s small and light, which helps with economy and performance. And despite having only 100 bhp (less than a Euro-spec Mk1 Golf GTI listed as inspiration in the OP, but more than the later US-spec version), I was able to reduce the 0-60 mph time to under 9 and a half seconds (with the catalytic converter required for this challenge - it should be faster without a cat or unleaded fuel).

As for the wheel size and material restrictions: All of the cars listed as inspiration were available with alloy wheels (either as standard or as an option) at some point in their lifespan, at least on higher-end trims - but in 1979, alloy wheels were rarely found on low-budget mass-market cars - hence the requirement for steel rims. But after voicing my concerns, shouldn’t alloy (but not magnesium) wheels be allowed as well?

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Ah I just realised my issue, my car weights 200kg more than yours lmao (it’s probably a bad idea doing a sedan for this challenge)

Apart from that, I used all the stuff required by the rules

Feels like a lot of hatch 3 door eco boxes gonna enter this challenge. Maybe lower the MPG rate requirements a tad bit?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, and to prevent something like what happened in the 1st challenge: Since lap times are the main factor score: if we build cars within the rules, they are good? Even if they turn out to be more like fuel efficient track day cars instead of stock hot hatches?