[ARM] Automation Restomod General Rules and Guidelines

This is the rules/guidelines meta thread for Automation RestoMod.

disclaimer: many of these ideas/rules/guidelines are heavily inspired by/borrowed from the CSR rules thread


Automation RestoMod (ARM) is a challenge series that has been running since early 2021. The premise of each round is that a particular client, described by the host, wants to have their car restored/modified according to whatever needs and desires they have. The host provides a challenge brief and a premade car. Everybody who wants to enter downloads the provided car, modifies it, and submits the modded car with a sales pitch hoping to convince the client to buy their car.


What cars are suitable for ARM?

Donor cars from any time period, category, or genre are permissible*. Hosts are encouraged to think about the popularity and the moddability of the cars they want modded. If the donor car inspires creativity, then great, you have a good candidate?

Note on complexity
Can you replicate a real-life car to 100% accuracy? Great! However, if it takes 100s of fixtures, patches, and 3D work, then it might not be best donor car for this challenge. Contestants should not have to sift thorough 100s of fixture items to modify the car’s looks. So a general rule of thumb is: keep it simple! A good approximation that is recognizable with 20 fixtures is better than a near-perfect replica with 200 fixtures.

Note on lore cars
Not only real-life cars are allowed. Lore cars are also welcome as donor cars! However, since this is a story-driven challenge series, you should provide appropriate lore for your car, so that contestants know where it fits into the car-verse. It would tremendously help in the approach to modding lore-based cars.

*Note on time periods, BRS etc…
Originally ARM focused on classic/older cars that are traditionally RestoModded in real life. A few months after ARM started, a different challenges series called the “Boy Racing Series” (BRS) was launched. BRS focused on the modern tuner culture, so there was no overlap with ARM. However, after 2.5 rounds, BRS died and the OP abandoned the series. After some discussion, it was deemed a good idea to simply combine BRS and ARM, since they have the same premise of modifying an existing car. So this opened up ARM to all time periods, and any kinds of mods (including racing and tuner cars).

How do I join?

  • Look at the OP of the current round thread for the client and car information and the car they are looking to modify
  • Download the .car file from the OP
  • Ask questions until you are clear on the rules
  • Clone the original car (if you don’t know how, see hidden note below!)
  • Build your modified car. Name the cloned model and engine family [ARM current round] your usename and the trim and engine variant whatever you like
  • When finished, double-check that your modified car adheres to all the rules stated in the OP
  • Export the finished modified car
  • PM the host of the round your exported car
  • Post an ad with pictures and relevant information on the thread for some advertising
  • Wait for the results
  • If you win or you are the highest placed available user, you’re the next host!
  • It is strongly recommended that when you enter an ARM challenge, you already have a donor car ready to go for the next round, just in case you’re the winner. This way, the delay between rounds is minimized.
Note on cloning the car

Before the big new patch comes out (4.2), cars have to be cloned manually by each contestant. Here is a video detailing the process. No excuses not to do this right; not cloning your car properly will always result in an instabin!
Watch cake_ape’s tutorial to learn how.

How do I host?

  • Hopefully, when you entered the previous round you already had a donor car ready to go. If not, create one ASAP. Delay between rounds should be minimized.
  • Within 7 days (at most) of the previous round ending, make a new thread with the title [ARM] current round: title of the round
  • Link to this page: [ARM General Rules and Guidelines]
  • Define the client, give some background on the car (especially important for lore cars) and how the car should be modified
  • Make sure your rules are clear and be prepared to answer any questions within reason, and update your OP accordingly
  • Set a deadline, preferably within 14 days of the round starting
  • Write your reviews and post results to determine the next host in a timely fashion (ideal timeline should not be longer than one-half day per number of cars submitted; shorter is better (i.e. if 10 cars are submitted, results should be posted within 5 days)


ARM is slightly different from other challenge series, because the host provides a donor car, which is downloaded, modified, and send back to the host by the contestants. Here are some basic guidelines for a good rule set.

  • Keep the cars simple! (see note on “Car complexity” above).
  • Explain how to clone the cars properly and link to the video (you’d be surprised how many people get this wrong!)
  • Set the desired target year for your modded car (i.e. in which year is it being modded?). So far all rounds were set to 2020 - so that all game options are available - but this is not a rule. You can choose any year. So if you want your '50s car to be restomodded in the '80s, that is fair game.
  • Set ET/PU/Price/Stat limits and minimums as you would in other challenges. A good set of rules is challenging to achieve, but not unreasonable. Building a few test mules is a good way to determine appropriate rules.
  • Define judging priorities, which may include objective measures such as stats, subjective measures such as aesthetics, and (unique to the ARM series) authenticity.

Custom pricing different mods

Custom pricing for different modifications have worked well in past ARM rounds. While the guidelines in this section are worth consulting when making your challenge, don’t think as host that you are bound by what is written under the pricing sections. These tips are really just meant to be a guide if you want a more in-depth challenge but are stuck.Here are some suggestions for hosts that may help you out defining your rule set:

  • Chassis changes should NOT be allowed, as it would change the entire platform of the car. The only allowable change should be rust proofing a bare steel chassis. The recommended price for this is $2000
  • Panel swap costs are pretty well covered by the face-value costs in-game. A nominal fee of $1000-$2000 is recommended, however
  • Suspension swaps could be anything from face-value costs to $1000 per axle, depending on the car
  • Engine placement changes require some more major modifications to the car, and could cost about $5000
  • Changing the engine block is also a major engineering change, and could cost up to $5000; this could be combined with the engine placement as a single budget item. Also, note that some cars were designed with engine mounting points for crate engines in mind, so those should have a zero (or low) cost for this kind of swap
  • Head and valvetrain swap costs could run up to $2000
  • Most items in the “Engine Trim” panels should be covered at face-value (i.e. no extra cost); although an argument could be made that adding VVT changes the valvetrain and should be included in those costs
  • Most items in the “Trim Designer” panels should be covered at face-value, unless there is a compelling argument against
  • The big one: external (fixture) modifications… this deserves its own section :arrow_down:

Custom pricing of changing trim body style, fixture-based modifications, and morphs

It is no secret that with fixtures (especially 3D work), the entire car can be made to look vastly different from the donor car - at essentially zero cost! This is highly unrealistic. It is therefore proposed that there be a (significant) cost associated with this kind of modding. In real-life, this would cost a LOT of money too. It is proposed that the cost of modifications are based on car chassis type and severity of departure from the original car.

Rationale: A body-on-frame (ladder) car is basically a fully functional car with a shell on top of the chassis. For these cars the body can simply be lifted off the chassis, and swapped for something different, as long as all the mounting points align. Welding minor additions to the car, or chopping stuff off is also much easier without interfering with structural integrity. For a space-frame design it is harder, but not impossible to alter the space frame itself, so modifications are possible, but more costly that for a ladder frame. For a unibody (monocoque), however, it is exceedingly difficult in terms of engineering and labour to significantly modify a chassis to make it into a different shape. For unibody cars, therefore, a large cost penalty should be applied for significant patchwork/negatape/3D work. If allowed in the rules, then a similar rationale should be applied to choosing a different trim body style (e.g. switching from a sedan to a convertible should cost some money for ladder cars, and significantly more for a unibody car).

Morphs have thus far been free, because of the difficulty in enforcing a “no morphs” rule, and the issues with the morph reset bug. However, after morphs become sliders with exact numerical inputs in the 4.2 update, morphs will be folded into this section.

I propose a three-tier level of modification: “minimal,” “moderate,” and “significant.” Granted, this is a little subjective and has the potential to generate disagreement. The best way to prevent salt is to ask the host for specifics. Here is an illustration of my interpretation with three cars from the ARM11 round - modding a Ford Mustang:

*Photo cred: thanks for @Texaslav for the base car in ARM11, and @AMuteCrypt and @HelloHi for allowing me to use their mod cars for this illustration!*

In the above example we have the unmodded original car (blue). The yellow one I would deem “minimally” modified: there are only a few bits and pieces stuck to the original chassis and panels. The red one I’d deem “moderately” modified: it has the roof chopped off and has major changes to the front and rear fascia, but the general shape of the car is retained; it received some changes to the chassis and panels, but it is not completely redesigned from scratch. The last (silver) car I’d deem “significantly” modified: the original chassis is obviously heavily modified and not a single original panel is retained; this would require a major job to change the chassis as well as completely custom design and manufacture of all panels.

I propose the following pricing matrix for these kinds of changes:

Chassis type Minimal change Moderate change Significant change
Ladder $0 $5000 $10000
Space Frame/Semi Space Frame $0 $7000 $12500
Monocoque/Light Truck Monocoque $0 $10000 $20000

Pricing conclusion

Yes, these are significant cost figures. But modifying an existing car is not cheap, especially if you want the car significantly modded from its original form. The host should, therefore, think carefully how they want their cars modded, and incorporate these costs into the ruleset. Do you want to make a modern hypercar out of a 60s muscle car? Do you want it look completely different from the donor car? That will be expensive, and this should be reflected in the rules.


Have questions still? Look here for the answers

But that’s not how most cars are modded in real life??? Also how is this fair?

Yes, this isn’t necessarily how modding a car works in real life. It’s also highly subjective. The data and the numbers that Automation metrics provide are interpreted and weighted in varying ways per round and that’s part of what needs figuring out each and every round. Aesthetics is also very subjective, so keep in mind that the apple of your eye might be an ugly contraption to the host. And that is fine.

I’m not clear on the rules, help!

  • The golden rule of all challenges is, if the rule isn’t written in the OP, it doesn’t exist.
  • Always ask questions to your satisfaction before making and submitting your entry.
  • Remember this is a subjective challenge, so asking to be spoonfed on exactly what kind of car the client wants may not be reasonable. Use your judgement.

I feel like I’m crap, I don’t think I’ll ever win!

  • Winning an ARM is 3 parts meeting the brief, 1 part X-factor, and 6 parts luck.
  • Don’t stake your perception of self-worth or even relative worth to the community by your ARM track record, it’s a game, and this is a forum about a game.
  • If you find yourself getting salty over how your unique approach to each round’s rules isn’t netting you any accolades, take a break and go outside.

I actually won! What next!

  • Did you say you couldn’t host? If not, you are the next host!
  • Follow the instructions above.

What is a timely manner?

  • ARM usually has low numbers of participants, so judging is usually not that arduous. Please try to follow the timelines outlines in the “How do I host?” section above.
  • Some small allowances may be made, depending on the consensus of the participants, if extenuating circumstances are highlighted in advance.
  • However if it’s all going awry, refer to the Troubleshooting section below.

What kind of rules should I use when making the round?

  • Basically you only have the right to judge as strictly as your rules are clear.
  • At the very least you must give people an idea of what kind of car mod you want, or even what kinds of car mods you will consider. Figure out whether every single parameter is important to you.
  • If you didn’t mention it in the rules, you shouldn’t mention it in the reviews. People will get salty at you for doing this.
  • It is okay not to be absolutely strict on everything, e.g. you may choose to say “the car can not consume more than 7L/100km” or you cay say “I would prefer the car to consume no more than 7L/100km”. But saying “fuel eco is sorta important” is getting vague. Maybe too vague. The only way that would be acceptable is if you said something like: “fuel economy is not a strict factor, however, between two cars with equal stats/desirability, the car with better fuel economy will win”.
  • It is also okay to declare that you are going to favour subjective parameters like looks or “the feel” of things over hard stats like drivability, comfort etc. BUT be warned: people don’t read minds. If you aren’t very good at communicating your impressions you will get roasted and rightfully so. Choose wisely.

Please refrain from using the phrases “be realistic” or “be sensible”. In in the context of ARM they are fairly useless. Instead, give specifics of what is and what is not allowed. Something not explicitly mentioned in the rules does not exist as a rule!

Lots of people said they couldn’t host. How many winners do I pick?

  • Try and rank your entries in an ordered list long enough that somebody will be able to host.
  • If that’s too difficult don’t worry. Troubleshooting will have you covered.

There are a lot of submissions. How am I going to write everything up on time!?

This is an unlikely scenario for ARM, but just in case here are helpful tips on how to manage a large number of entries.

  • To help yourself try if possible to start writing as soon as you get the first car
  • And put all the relevant information on a spreadsheet
  • It’s generally okay to write short blurbs (<100 words) for each car if you intend to go into more detail with a short list later.
  • It can also be okay (if you are confident) to start off with a “Bin” post that immediately discards all the cars that completely failed to meet the brief.
  • Just make sure whatever you write conveys that you did properly consider the car and not ignore it completely.

What if the circumstances/conditions of my round change mid round?

  • If the rules are written and the round is open this is rare
  • However sometimes a big update that changes the playing field may drop in the middle of the round
  • If the problem is big enough this may necessitate restarting the entire round. Usually Dev Updates that wreck the game balance come in advance so this can usually be scheduled around


  • CHEATING: Exploits, hacks and alt accounts are obviously forbidden. You get called out, I get called in. If you’re proven to have done a dodgy, you’ll be barred from ARM indefinitiely. On a lighter note sometimes it’s just an honest mistake and there’s a mod or a body that behaves funnily. There’s no need to punish anyone there, just have to make a note of those and move on.
  • FAILURE TO COMMENCE ROUND: the new host has failed to post round rules within 7 days after the end of the previous round without notice. The next available host on the list of winners takes up the mantle. If there are none, then the highest ranking available user of the previous round will host.
  • FAILURE TO CONCLUDE ROUND: The host has failed to post round results in a timely manner (see timeline above) after the round submission deadline without notice. Usually there’s some reasonable explanation. As long as the host remains communicative, the round may be concluded in a reasonably delayed manner. If this is not possible in a timely fashion and the consensus from participants is to move on, then the round is considered abandoned, and a poll will be held and the winner decided by all. The winner of the poll hosts the next round.
  • ABORTED ROUNDS: Sometimes shit happens, and sometimes, your premise which sounded great in your head ended up a steaming pile of shit that just won’t work. Sometimes it’s better to pack it in at this point. It’ll be treated as a failure to commence round.
  • SERIOUS DISAGREEMENTS ABOUT THE RESULTS: Generally, ARM has been a very friendly place and no serious salt has appeared. However, if things get derailed by a truckload of salt, then feel free to tag me (@cake_ape). If I am a participant in the round, or the host, then the Mods will come in with their banhammers. So yea, please keep the :salt: to a minimum. We’re all here just to have fun.


  • Don’t tag people to congratulate them on winning or placing. It ruins the surprise for them. Muting isn’t a practical solution.
  • As the host you are allowed and even encouraged to tag people when reviewing their cars
  • The host is there to pick the winning car, not the winning host. If you are suspected of sending a car to the :wastebasket: because you don’t want the user to host, bad things will happen.

Why “Chapters”?

ARM is a heavily story-driven challenge series. Role playing is encouraged. Many have set-up their lore custom shops for modding cars, and reviews are encouraged to be in “story style” by role-playing the client as they review the cars. So, “chapters” seems to make sense, as each rounds writes a chapter in the history of ARM.



Previous Rounds
Round Host Brand Model Year Winner
1 cake_ape Volkswagen Golf mk1 1974 AMuteCrypt
2 AMuteCrypt Chevrolet El Camino 1968 cake_ape
3 HelloHi International Harvester Scout 1965 cake_ape
4 cake_ape Trabant 601 1974 karhgath
5 karhgath Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA 1965 cake_ape
6 cake_ape Alpine A110 1600 VB 1971 karhgath
7 karhgath Buick GNX 1987 HelloHi
8 HelloHi Volkswagen Transporter Type 2 1972 cake_ape
9 AMuteCrypt Ford Festiva 1992 ldub0775
10 ldub0775 Pontiac Fiero 1988 Texaslav
11 Texaslav Ford MustangGT 2002 HelloHi
12 cake_ape Cadillac V16 1935 Prium
13 Prium IKA Torino GS200 1973 cake_ape
14 cake_ape Porsche 356A T2 1957 Texaslav
15 Texaslav Cadillac Eldorado 1982 Maverick74
16 alen.alic1983 Alfa Romeo GTV6 1985 karhgath
17 karhgath Ford Econoline Pickup Deluxe Cab 1963 cake_ape
18 HelloHi Renault R5 TL 1982 alen.alic1983
19 karhgath Leyland P76 1974 Ludvig
20 Knugcab Volvo 480 ES 1987 Texaslav
21 machalel BMW E21 1975 HelloHi
22 Knugcab Opel Rekord 1968 Ch_Flash
23 Ch_Flash Mazda Mx-5 1992 HelloHi
24 abg7 SVP* Bearclaw 1987 karhgath
25 AMuteCrypt AMM* Sarek 1979 cake_ape
26 cake_ape Collis* Celer GT-R 1959 Knugcab
27 Knugcab Mercedes-Benz 230 1970 cake_ape
28 Maverick74 Chevrolet Corvette C4 1987 Knugcab
29 Knugcab Arva* P21 Nachalnyk 1949 TBD

*Lore vehicle

Until these rules are fixed, please provide feedback/comments/concerns. This is still a live document.


you’re supposed to put the punctuation inside the quotation marks

I understand the rationale for this rule, but I think it would lead to less creative use of fixtures if implemented. For me, some of the fun of ARM is completely redesigning the car, and if there was such a heavy penalty for doing so, I wouldn’t really want to. I put in the “free morphs” rule in 10 for basically just that reason.


You’re correct about the grammar, I’ll change that.

I don’t necessarily agree that it would stifle creativity. It would rather encourage hosts to think carefully about the rules (budget) they set. If you want a fully customized exterior with heavy modifications to the panels/chassis on a unibody car, then set a higher maximum budget accordingly. It would - in my mind - create an interesting trade-off for the contestants. You have a huge budget, and know that the host wants a radical car… but do you really want to spend that $$ on the custom body work, or perhaps sink it into better engineering/better parts/more quality? I see this change as adding more depth, rather than taking away. I’d like to hear more opinions on this! :slight_smile:

You do bring up a good point. Despite saying this morning on Discord that I’d add a blurb on morphs, I totally forgot, and will add that now :slight_smile:

I feel like it just depends on the round. Adding an extra layer of difficulty could be really interesting in some cases, but letting people just go crazy might be more fun in others. I guess it, like many of the good ideas and suggestions above, is up to the host to decide weather it makes sense for their round.

(I know with the planned theme I’ve made in case I ever win a round, that rule wouldn’t work at all, since the whole point is for people to go radical.)

1 Like

One element you’ve missed is the option (or not) or changing the body style. Generally, it’s not allowed - some rounds, however, have allowed entrants to change the body style for a fee, or presented multiple donor cars with different styles on the same body. I’d probably suggest putting that in or around the section on 3D fixturing, especially given that it’s possible to accomplish everything a body swap does with fixtures (for example, Hi’s entry in ARM9). If allowing body swaps, future hosts should probably note that 3D fixturing a body swap will still attract the same fee.


It’s covered here. Perhaps I can reword it to make it clearer what I mean with “different trim body” by adding the word style? The first tag at the bottom of the screen where you choose the body style is actually called “Trim Body.”


I think with regards to body changes and such we can take serious action after 4.2 gives us morph sliders and all that. This would allow us to go fully custom on what we do or don’t want people to change, like making bumpers and wheel arches free, adding a cost penalty for roofs and completely banning modding firewalls and quarter panels.
Furious negataping and/or body elimination - as seen with that Mustang Hi made - were natural extensions of the glitched morph era, seeing as you can pretty much radically change the car using the morphs alone.

What about the model/trim year of the stock car? Must the former be more than 20 years old (i.e. 2000 or earlier)?

There’s no hard limit - and, indeed, the most recent ARM features an '02 Mustang, which is under 20 years old. There’s just a guiding principle that the current idea is “take an old car and mod it” rather than “take a brand new car and mod it” - old and new are, of course, subjective, and it’s all a matter of opinion.

I do want to make a suggestion for the OP though, @cake_ape . The way I choose deadlines is “the next Sunday that’s at least 2 weeks away”, so that everyone gets 2 weeks to submit and they get a weekend to do any final pushes of design. It’s an alternate approach, and may be worth mentioning.

Edit: Oh, also, a word of warning on morphs, for all future hosts. If your car resets on you once, it’ll probably reset again. It might be worth burning your car and starting over.

Yep, a lot of these rules/guidelines are forward thinking to 4.2 when we will have real control over the morphs. Once we know how that system works I’ll probably put in guidelines on how hosts can incorporate morphs into their round’s rules.

Already covered here (and also see the *Note on time periods, BRS etc… that explains in more detail why cars from all time periods are now accepted):

On a slightly relevant note, the current poll for the next round includes a Nissan GT-R… from 2012. But right now it looks like it will lose and will not be featured in the next round. :slight_smile:

I don’t see a problem with this. The current rules state that it is preferable to have a deadline within 14 days, so there is some leeway for hosts to make it slightly longer.

General question: should I make the distinction between “rule” and “guideline” more clear? I don’t want hosts to think they are bound by what is written in the guidelines, especially the pricing stuff. Those are really just meant to be a guide if someone wants a more in-depth challenge but are stuck.


Maybe you could just add a note like this to your original post, at the top of the section.

“While the guidelines in this challenge are worth consulting when making your challenge, don’t think as host that you are bound by what is written here, especially the pricing stuff. These tips are really just meant to be a guide if you want a more in-depth challenge but are stuck.”


This is a good point. While ARM does need to stick to something at least remotely resembling a blueprint, making the rules flexible and low-pressure can make the difference between keeping our desired vibe for this challenge series (that is, laid-back and friendly) and turning it into a mini-CSR.