Automation Legacy Challenge Thread 2 - Round 5

Troll not yet complete; Take partial return to base
Cant wait on the air review :slightly_smiling_face:

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REVIEWS PART 4.4
A MAGNIFICENT MENAGERIE

Truck: Centurion 8300 and Jet Trailer, both by @ldub0775. Rocket above truck: ArcSpace SRT Araga Comms Demo-1 by @lotto77. Plane: Ilaris PT72 Tiger by @shibusu. On wings of plane: Canned Air and Air by @Djadania. To left of plane: Hikaru Power-Wash 100 and Hikaru-360 Mijikai by @MoteurMourmin. Under wing of plane: Superlite Alpha 15R by @Danicoptero. Fun fact: All photos in this review are unedited.

No Blue Shells Here

Well, isn’t this just the cutest little thing? The Superlite Alpha 15R is a simple, stripped down little kart, the ideal first foray into the world of custom track-only vehicles. A tubular frame and a sheet of metal are all you get for structure, but the frame has been laid out carefully to ensure driver safety, keeping the seat and engine in place while also offering protection against front, rear and side impacts. In fact, when you compare it to some other go-karts on the market elsewhere from the era, it’s as safe as houses. It still keeps everything as simple as possible though, allowing it to remain lightweight, reliable and easily repaired. While some other karts use fibreglass shells and all sorts of paint to stay recognisable, the Superlite sticks to a few badges and a complex enough shape to be a brand - which means they can stay in service for longer, and be repaired far easier. The fibreglass can crack, the fancy paint jobs can wear, but what do you need to repair an Alpha? Basic tools are about it really. Just chuck on a new coat of paint, redo some welds, replace some tubing and off you go really, good as new. As a result, dozens of tracks have purchased the little karts, and plenty of series have sprung up absolutely filled with them too. It really captures the spirit of karting, it’s the essence of a good, robust kart. It’ll probably increase interest in track toys and open wheelers going forward, strengthening the market Superlite competes in.

OKEINOTOKEI

From one cute little thing to another, here we get the Mijikai… And it’s really a well-timed car. With options for utility vehicles still a bit slim, and the economy starting to point downwards, a cheap goods transporter is really well suited to the market. The Mijikai is, of course, not without its downsides. As a motorcycle, the amount of goods one can legally transport with it is limited. In addition, a low top speed bars it from travel on any of the highways, forcing it to remain within the confines of the cities. The interior is an incredibly spartan affair, with very little padding and no radio… And now we get into the difficult question of how I should handle this. See, it really competes with cars. Not cars on the market right now, not really, but cars on the market from a while ago. This competes with used cars, old beaters being replaced. But those aren’t as available, and there’s more competition for them, what with the safety scare and all that. The oldest cars on the market are about six years old, so a 20% annual depreciation sends it down to about 40% of its new value. A car that sold for 8 grand, as the cheapest cars on the market then did, now costs 3.2. That’s cheaper than the Reliant Robin’s lowest van spec, adjusted to USD of the era then adjusted for inflation to 2012 USD (which are roughly equal to AMU). It’s cheaper than the 4.7k this was submitted as too - a potentially inflated figure, sure, but you get the idea. Whatever number I give this, it’s higher than a used car and you need a few years of sitting in your uncomfortable coffin-shaped kei truck to pay it off. I’m sure that there’s kei trucks just like this in particularly impoverished parts of the world, that are cheaper than my numbers, but they’re not paying western costs involved in certification, transport and sales. Oh, there’s also the hire car market, which saw a big influx of cars they’ll probably be getting rid of due to the bathtub curve of reliability. For the small business owners who might buy this, the question is simply “why not a used sedan or hatchback”? Even a somewhat beat-up ex-hire car will almost certainly be more comfortable. Perhaps the Mijikai has reliability going for it, but it is also barred from the highways as mentioned before. Running costs are low, yes, but so is the amount of goods you can carry; low costs are offset by low margin.

I had this image in my mind of a buyer for this. A farmer or similar turning up to a small market, tray loaded with goods ready to sell. But why would that farmer buy this rather than any other vehicle? Is a tray really that useful, compared to a wagon or a hatchback? I don’t really think so. It’s a shame, I want to love this car, but this just isn’t the right market for it, and I’m sorry for that. If Araga was somewhere poorer, somewhere with less money and the overhead involved in selling it was lower, it would have done way better.

What is the legacy of the Mijikai? In all likelihood, it’s the same in Araga as in reality; a tightening of laws. In Araga, the existence of the Mijikai proved illustrative of the need for product regulation. This is why we have rules on things, can you imagine someone taking this on the highway? Just look at it! In reality, it also proves illustrative of a difficulty inherent in the judging of non-cars: “What do I do when they compete with real cars?” I think that the best solution is, well, not allow them to. The rules will be tightened up in a future round. It’s not your fault, really, it’s just that my rules were too permissive. The Mijikai won’t be allowed as a non-car, because of how it’s shopped against actual cars.

Sud This...

Top: Power-Wash pictured in the tray of a Bazard BTH-8. Bottom: Kenmore Washer And Dryer from the 1970s, seen here.

The Hikaru Power-Wash is rather unlike machines of the era - but machines of the era were the way they were for a reason. Take a look at the real washing machine of the era I have shown next to it. You’ll notice many differences - the edges of the real machine are rounded off, the body is covered in white enamel, and the controls use white printing on a black background. Each of these serves an important purpose:

The enamel coating is cheap and easy to apply, protecting the body. It’s also easy to clean, which is good for the inevitable messes and spills in the laundry.

The rounded edges mean that nothing will get caught, and there’s no risk of any cuts or similar.

The contrasting colours make the controls easy to read, even under low light conditions and with other issues.

This does none of those. It uses a metallic silver paint - if it’s intended as paint, it’ll be easily scuffed and damaged. If it’s intended as exposed metal, then rust and corrosion are major issues. The edges are all hard and pointed, with exposed points right on the corners. The lettering, where it exists, is merely indents raised from the rest rather than a contrasting colour.

Even without getting into how it would look with interior design trends of the time (silver appliances would not be in until far more modern times), it’s a miss for me. One of these might be excusable, but all? I’m just not feeling it. It doesn’t really feel like a design of the time.

Centurion: A Division Of The Aragan Government

Ah, Centurion, you’ve done it again. The company was nationalised not because of any struggles but rather due to its strategic importance. Between being an important defence contractor to having its massively successful line of trucks, Centurion was vital to Araga. The government offered to compensate the existing owners and keep them on in leadership positions, in exchange for a slice of the action and a say in the future of Centurion… And the existing owners took them up on it. With government funds and plenty of confidence, they set to work on plenty of new models - including the 8300. The 7400 was successful because it happened to fit the new ISO-sized shipping containers, and they’ve come out with a new car that fits them even better. Compared to the 7400, the 8300 adds indicator lights, new styling and a livery, and a sleeper cab - plus an aerodynamic fairing perfectly suited to ISO containers, or the new Jet Trailer. The new 8300 is far larger, far heavier, far more imposing. It’s taller, partially due to the sleeper but partially because it’s just been scaled up. The design helps instil a sense of national pride and awe. Yes, your tax dollars are going to Centurion, and look what you get in return! It sells the investment really well. Thing is, they didn’t need to do that much to sell it to the truckers themselves besides the engineering they already did. Less drag meant less fuel costs, which means more profit. A sleeper cab meant consistent sleeping conditions, lower payments to road houses and the ability to take longer routes. Larger fuel tanks meant longer routes too, plus a greater ability to buy fuel in bulk in locations where it’s cheaper. It’s pictured here in a really beautiful Bordeaux Red Metallic with silver stripes along it that work from the cab down into the trailer, and it just looks absolutely to die for. I’d love to paint a car in exactly this shade, and I may just find a similar shade for whenever my next submission is. Operators, of course, painted theirs in a variety of liveries, many advertising their own brands - and with a simple, uncomplicated shape on the Jet Trailer, they were easy to paint or plaster with whatever messages were wanted.

Burnin' Out His Fuse Up Here Alone

The ArcSpace SRC Araga Comms Demo-1 is a pilot program, a forerunner of future projects set to take to the sky. In our world, the rocketry programs of the Americans and Soviets were driven on by the needs of nuclear warfare first, delivering untold kilotons of destructive power in small packages. The Juno II rocket used for the Pioneer 4 lunar probe was a development of the nuclear-armed PGM-19 Jupiter, while the PGM-17 Thor spawned the Delta family of rockets - a family whose descendents were launched as recently as 2022. The existing launch systems, then, exist in relation to nuclear warheads. The ability to launch satellites is an incidental fringe benefit, something gained off to the side. What do rockets look like in a non-nuclear world? What do they look like without the need to launch nuclear ordinance? They still look like they do in real life.

See, it’s easy to imagine that we started with the nuclear warheads and designed the rockets to fit, but that’s only partially true. Nuclear warheads do see diminishing utility once they grow sufficiently large, as the concentration of damage eventually outweighs the concentration of military targets… But that was only true in the fifties and sixties. The seventies brought with it the Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle, the MIRV. Now, a missile could be launched and target a dozen valuable targets. All of a sudden, there was a major benefit to be had in making larger missiles carrying more warheads… But neither major power did. The MIRV-equipped Peacekeeper and Minuteman III both utilised similar sizes to their predecessors. Missiles didn’t grow larger, because of how rocketry works.

See, in real life, we are used to economies of scale. We use trucks and heavy trains to move goods, because the amount of fuel needed to move cargo from A to B increases slower than the amount of cargo we move. We use busses because putting twenty people on a vehicle does not use twenty times the fuel. If rockets were stopped and held back by drag, maybe that would be the case, but it isn’t. No, the challenge of a rocket is the amount of energy you need to give your payload, and the amount of fuel you need to carry part of the way, and… You get the idea. Double the weight of the payload and you double the fuel required.

So, what is the ArcSpace? It’s a conventional rocket capable of delivering a satellite-sized payload up to orbit, that’s what. It’s a similar size to that Juno or Delta I mentioned before, perhaps a little larger. It has a large volume at the top, perfect for a nice large payload. It’s wide enough to carry a substantial payload, and to carry that payload up into a variety of orbits, providing a flexible and diverse array of launches. It is, in other words, a perfectly realistic and plausible rocket for the technology of the time. It even looks era accurate too! Now, how much will Araga use the capacities of the ArcSpace? Wait and see for the war, but it’s very effective and very well crafted, realistic and sensible.

Plane And Simple

The Ilaris PT72 Tiger is a casualty of standard automation jank, the sort of thing that easily catches you out and is hard to resolve. In reality, plane manufacturers take painstaking measures to smooth the surface of their cars as much as possible, to the point that even the paint is carefully chosen and maintained, an integral part of the overall package. The Ilaris PT72 Tiger, meanwhile, is constructed from a large number of small rounded segments. This leaves it with bumps and rough surfaces, the sort that would play havoc with the airflow and massively increase drag. The issue, of course, is that there’s really no alternative. What else were you going to do? So, I have to just ignore those parts, step away and look at the overall general shape and the details you could control.

Let’s start with a look at the overall shape. It’s a short T-Tailed propeller plane, and the short length renders it less vulnerable to one of the biggest flaws of that design. When an airplane stalls, turbulent air begins washing off the rear wings at an upwards angle… Right into the path of the horizontal stabilisers of said tail. Those horizontal stabilisers are vital for your ability to pitch up and down, so said ability is massively diminished. How do you get out of a stall like that? You pitch down. A classic catch-22. The issue is that you need to have the air actually wash out to the tail. With how short this is and how steep it is, that’d need your angle of attack to be over 20 degrees by my measurements. By that point, you’re well into territory you shouldn’t be. It’s conceivable to get there - the Tiger is actually manoeuvrable enough to get there with its layout, because of physics and how the tail acts as a lever and all that. So Ilaris introduced a computer to specifically prevent this, which is a sensible choice. Fly by wire is good, because humans are fallible. Like the ArcSpace Comms Demo, the Tiger is a really realistic plane using actual sensible fundamentals, it would have been achievable with the technology at the time.

So what do I see on the outside? Plenty of really nice things! There’s position lights, there’s deicing boots, there’s all the standard markings you expect to see, there’s pitot tubes and pull tabs and tons of goodies. The interior, meanwhile, is what you expect from a six seater. There’s no luxuries, no wide isles or drinks service to be had here, because there simply can’t be. It needs to be narrow in order to be fast, or you would use even more excessive amounts of fuel.

So, who is the target market? To put it simply, not airlines. No airline would assign two pilots to carry four passengers. Charter and airtour companies? They would likely purchase the non-turbo variants, with lower fuel costs and a more comfortable passenger experience thanks to the reduced noise. The well to do traveller who hires someone to be a pilot, like Frank Sinatra? Again, probably not, that traveller probably really wants that drinks service and wide aisle, there’s a reason Sinatra flew on Learjets and Gulfstreams. This is the Helios Turbo RX of the air. Yes, there’s limos you can pay someone to drive and be more comfortable in, but that’s not the point. The point is that you, the rich air enthusiast, can purchase this and have a ball flying it. That high speed and all that manoeuvrability makes it amazing for the pilot who cares about having fun, the pilot who has a choice in what they fly. And for that pilot? The compromises to provide the speed and overall performance are worth it. Nobody complains that a sports car is loud, because hearing the engine is part of the fun. Nobody complains too much about the small interior, because it’s all in pursuit of performance. And just like here, it works.

Is it a rousing success, in this configuration? No. Will it be one of the most successful planes of all time? Also no. Will it make back all its costs and provide a suitable platform to expand from, or technologies to apply and use elsewhere? Absolutely, definitely, very much yes.

Troll Actually Complete Now

Here, alongside the “BetterDeals Air”, you can see all the fucks I have to give about this. I mean, what did you expect? It’s a troll, sure, but… Where’s the selling point as a product? (In the photo). Where do you expect the consumer interest in this car to be? (In the photo). Where do you expect additional writing to be? (In the photo).

Okay, well, I’ve been saving this one. I suppose this is a potential novelty gag gift as some have pointed out - apparently it exists IRL, somewhere, so what do I know? I’ll still always see Spaceballs, but still, I can somewhat forgive that.

What I can’t forgive is the fact that this is just a bad can. See, in reality, the humbled can is a marvel of invisible industrial engineering. The top of the can is designed to fit into the bottom, so you can stack them on a shelf. The characteristic rimmed edges exist for ease of manufacturing and also distribute impacts from edge-on impacts. Material use is minimised, with labels relying on simple printed sheets or directly dying the material without changing the shape. In short, the modern can is the way it is for a massive number of reasons.

This can doesn’t follow the conventional form of a can, and it doesn’t have any good reasons besides, I suppose, convenience of production. The bottom is perfectly flat, preventing any attempts to stack the cans. The top protrudes substantially above the edges - which, lacking any rims, would be very difficult to matter. Lastly, there is the label, where additional material has been used to create a squared-off, protruding mass which would make these cans difficult to arrange horizontally in addition to vertically.

Perhaps, if you had taken the time to more accurately model a can, I’d be more positive. Some sort of shape on the bottom rather than just having it be perfectly flat. Using custom textures or similar to apply an actual label rather than whatever this is… The can has seventeen fixtures, of which ten are text; this review has seventeen sentences, of which six are waxing lyrical about IRL cans. I ate the bait, didn’t I?

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Troll complete; Return to HQ

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REVIEWS PART 4.5
BOTTOMS UP
ALL REVIEWS BY @Edsel

Left: Capable Conveyor and Conveyor Bolt by @Vento. Middle: Saguaro T-REE 1190 Wagon & Eco-Wagon by @MrdjaNikolen. Right: Squirrel 130 Standard & 150TCI Tourline Optijector by @passengerpigeon

Even after the crash of ‘69, Araga was still a relatively wealthy market. People were spending conservatively, but most people (not all of course) still had money. So while many Aragans were moving downmarket, they kept their higher-class and forward thinking expectations, and appreciated when higher costs came with suitably higher value.

Also, note that 5 years of sales after the safety scare wasn’t quite enough to replenish an entire market. Even with rental companies beginning to cycle out their oldest stock, there was still far more demand than supply, making used cars hard to find and still very expensive when you did. There was a stronger-than-usual need for low cost, entry-level new cars; but on the flip side, the disparity had eased enough that people weren’t desperate anymore, and if a model wasn’t pulling its own weight, they could and would move on…

All Expenses Spared

Middle, in focus: Squirrel 130. Left, out of focus: Bazard BVL8 by @Edsel, Hakaru Carica 1200S by @Executive. Right, out of focus: Swanson 225 SF by @Ludvig, Hamfa 3000 Sedan by @Ch_Flash.
Bazard, Hakaru, Swanson, Hamfa all from ALC3.

At $5810, An entry-level Squirrel was far cheaper than last era’s Hakaru Carcia, which 60’s Aragans had regarded as very definition of shitbox. As it happened, 60’s Aragans were very, very mistaken; the Squirrel’s interior, if you could call it that, was just a bare metal box, with the minimum gauges and controls to make the thing move glued in. The only comfort you got was a weak, tinny AM radio, that you could only really hear at stoplights thanks to the lack of sound deadening. It was also one of the very few cars in all of Araga with front drum brakes, and the whole overall package was just lacking in the refinement Aragans had come to expect from a mass market manufacturer.

So things weren’t great. But the thing is, nothing was really wrong with it either. The car didn’t feel rushed, or haphazard, being a modern, monocoque hatchback with FWD and 4-wheel independent suspension. Its 1.3L engine, with the same 50hp as the rest of segment, felt spritely and agile in one of the market’s lightest cars, and even had enough extra to keep up on short highway stints (if you were willing to sacrifice your health). The handling was balanced, rust protection was adequate, safety was fair for the time, and while its build quality did give it one of the worst reliability records on the market, parts and fuel for this thing were so damn cheap that even after a few breakdowns it’d still have the lowest running costs on the market.

The Squirrel was very cheap - much too cheap and much to uncomfortable for most luxury-accustomed Aragans - but it had its act together, without the glaring mechanical flaws that’d plagued the Carcia and with notable advantages. For the poorest of Araga, especially those in cities, this made an excellent alternative to the lack of used cars they could find. The rest of Araga, however, optioned up their Squirrels a bit…

In(ter)jection


Left: Squirrel Injection. Right: Phenix Metro Twin Cam by @karhgath, Kensington 3700i Premier Saloon by @Restomod, both from ALC3

Compared to the base model, the higher end of the Squirrel’s option range wasn’t that different in its overall package, but it did include some meaningful interior upgrades to at least (somewhat) appease Aragan tastes. The top-tier tourline interior had equipment on the nicer side of budget offerings, including an 8-track port, a clearer speaker, and enough interior padding to save you from back problems. But there was one range-topping option that particularly stood out in the Squirrel lineup- a fuel injected 1.5L engine option.

Now, fuel injection wasn’t new to Araga (Nerruci had had it in the standard segment in 1965), but it still wasn’t very common, and to have it at such a low price ($8.8k) was pretty impressive. Then consider that this fuel injection- named “Optijection” by the marketing -had gifted the highest horsepower in the segment (93hp; 0.5 higher than the 2000TC) to the lightest car model in the segment; a 10.2s 0-100 allowed Optijected Squirrels to keep up just fine with most of the larger, higher-end models around it, even on highways. Oh, and it achieved that with better fuel economy, and with about the same road manners and reliability as cheaper Squirrels (not that those 2 were any good on the base squirrel, but it’s still impressive they didn’t get worse)!

Now, VME hadn’t done much else to accommodate the extra power, having no interest in making these into performance cars. Still firmly tuned for economy and usability, the excess of power was known to overwhelm its thin hard tires annoyingly often in the rain, or when turning onto a street. They did upgrade the brakes, but just to a better set of drums, while all its competitors had front discs. The high-end tech now made it outprice its competitors too, in both upfront and maintenance costs, reducing its “budget” proposition.

But overall, it was still a fairly well-rounded compact car, just now with enough power to hold its own. So despite reliability complaints, Optijected squirrels turned into a fairly steady seller among lower-middle class Aragans, especially previously-wealthier ones moving downmarket, who were willing to take the hit to ownership costs if it meant not sacrificing the performance they were used to.

Conveying Meaning


Front: Capable Conveyor Bolt. Rear: Centurion H1000 by @ldub0775 from ALC3

Running the same 2.3m wheelbase as the Squirrel, Capable’s Conveyor was one of the Squirrel’s main competitors. But even though it was released a year earlier (1970 vs 1971), the Conveyor never saw quite the same success. Priced just short of 7k, normal for the segment but a grand higher than its rival, it outwardly had a level of build quality and refinement more fitting for a large-scale market manufacturer, including a par 5-seat interior with perhaps disappointing radio speakers but an appreciated 8-track slot. Looks wise, form may have followed function to a fault here, but after all the rest of the budget segment wasn’t winning any beauty contests either; and when it came to function, the factory roof rails and durable parking bumpers were notable perks (though the door handles were mounted inconveniently low).

Yet in an inversion of the Squirrel, the Conveyor’s shortcomings were mechanical; it was an old-fashioned ladder-frame affair, with a solid rear axle and RWD. Despite equivalent tires and power to the squirrel, the heavier and less-composed chassis gave it notably worse performance all around; including the braking, which despite front discs was bad enough to earn the Conveyor Araga’s lowest ADPR of 50! :tada: (tied with the Kyros Nike). And while the car was plenty easy to drive at its natural city speeds, it felt washy and uncertain, and was getting to be too underpowered for the highway with a 16s 0-100. Safe to say, when it came out a year later, the Squirrel proved to be the clear superior offering overall, and conquered Capable’s market.

What kept the Conveyor from being completely secondary, though, was that it did excel in the one place VME failed: It had the 4th best reliability record in Araga, as well as some of the best rust protection, with both being the highest anywhere near its segment. Its ladder frame also made the vehicle very durable, often surviving lower-speed traffic bonks with rarely more than cosmetic damage. Having the hardiness of a truck wasn’t enough to bring widespread success, but it was at least an advantage that resonated with and retained a handful of buyers (especially on the used market, after some “events to come” later).

Oh, and the Conveyor did have a few more advantages beyond that, but those were done even better by a 3rd big player…

Cactus Jack Says: Have A Nice Day

Middle: Saguaro T-REE 1190 Wagon & EcoWagon. They’re visually identical.
Left: Ilaris Icon GT Turbo-Cabrio Coach by @shibusu for a bonus between ALC rounds. Right: Ilaris Imperial Injection S, also by Shibusu

Also introduced in 1970, the Saguaro T-REE 1190 was the biggest of the budget offerings in both cost (starting at $7.4k) and physical size, with a dated design and cartoonishly-high clearance making it clear the vehicle was here for work, not pleasure. Its body was the same rough and lacking-quality build as the Squirrel, and sported the same unibody, FWD, and 4-wheel ind. suspension layout. Its 5-seat interior was on par with Tourline Squirrels minus the 8 track port, and with some very poorly made steering and throttle controls that felt so numb and imprecise, they helped make the T-REE one of the slowest, hardest, and least pleasant to drive in all of Araga- worse than most trucks! (albeit the Conveyor wasn’t much better). Corners were also cut on the body itself, with panel gaps and seams notably worse than the competition.

In many ways, the T-REE (and the Capable to a lesser extent) was kind of like an early equivalent to a crossover. It felt like a truck to drive; but also like a truck, it dealt with rough terrain very well thanks to a softer suspension and wide, high-sidewall tires. A fairly big trunk also helped, offering a lot of space for the price, and its normally-overpowered brakes made it unexpectedly competent at light towing. Its reliability and rustproofing was not as good as the capable, but perfectly acceptable, and while it didn’t have quite the hardiness of a truck, it was one of the more utilitarian cars you could get in that regard. And it was also the safest car in the budget range…

Well ok, that last statement warrants further discussion. See, its ADPR of 70 was exactly the same as the Squirrel’s. But the T-REE had more consistent-performing front discs, and wider tires to give it a slightly better stopping distance. And also, well, it just felt safer; It was bigger, it looked bigger, it was taller, there was more metal between you and the dangers out there. It was hard for the average Aragan to test drive the dinky little Squirrel without constantly noticing how much bigger all the other cars were, and how they all seemed so fast and aggressive and scary, and how the Centurion bumper in front of them was perfectly level with their head, and how their brakes could fail in the rain and leave them helpless to stop said bumper from Optijecting itself into their skull, and- you get the point. Regardless of how empirically safer it actually was, the subjective perception of the T-REE being safer certainly helped its Aragan reputation.

So Saguaro’s T-REE wasn’t a car many people wanted, but it was a car many people needed, especially in more rural environments where compactness wasn’t as important and rough conditions were more likely. The modding scene also jumped onto it, with tire and engine swaps being particularly common (the stock engines were fine, but given the T-REE’s size were just a bit underpowered for anything more than local commuting), as well as bash bars, roof rails, rock sliders, and even a couple pioneering 4x4 attempts. The Conveyor also had some ruggedness, but unless durability was a top priority, or the buyer specifically needed BoF, RWD, or support for regular gas, the T-REE was just better at it.

There’s theoretically two models, theoretically. Saguaro offers a larger yet weaker engine in the EcoWagon, with added balancing mass and a harmonic damper to completely destroy any semblance of responsiveness left after the woeful controls. That larger engine does increase purchase price (and taxes), but gives about 15% better fuel economy. It also kills all semblance of highway performance to the point that the safety inspectors almost flagged it - but it wasn’t quite bad enough to get that score docked. Just. That’s about the only difference. It’s so minimal and moves the dial so little that it may as well not exist.

Bolt From The Blue

Front: Conveyor Bolt. Back: Somboy Sembra 1600 GTX by @Restomod and Wara Irena 2.0 SR by @AndiD, both from ALC3

(OOC note: So it turns out the Bolt doesn’t actually have a rear seating row. Just the 2 seats. But the reason why is ‘cause its one of those cases where Automation has seemingly arbitrarily decided it can only fit jump seats despite there clearly being space for a full bench, so I’ve decided not to fault it for this.)

And finally, we come to a bit of an outlier within the budget price range. The most expensive car in the segment, though still under $10k even with taxes, the Conveyor Bolt (rimshot) claimed to have converted the unpleasant-driving, truck-like economy car into a sporting hot hatch. For anyone who’d driven the original, this claim was hard to believe at first. It certainly didn’t look that different; it had a lower, fastback profile, and some tweaks to make its face just a bit less dorky (that really should’ve been there on the main car too), but the way its trim level had been labelled like a filing cabinet was a bit embarrassing to be seen with.

Yet to everyone’s surprise, it… actually did it. Fitted with high end tires and a 1.6L making 82hp, the Bolt could get to 100 in exacty 10 seconds- as fast as possible without taxes - and now boasted handling and grip far ahead of any normal car (and even most luxury cars). While it could never compete with a real sports car, the Bolt’s well balanced and forgiving tune, with R&P steering and a very-slightly loose end, made it quite a hoot to chuck around. Capable had also hiked the quality of its interior materials for a much sportier feel. And yes, they’d done all this while keeping the car practical, drivable, and best of all, reliab- Oh, the pistons just exploded.

Yeah, uh, in a disappointing smear on Capable’s otherwise excellent reliability record, it turned out the engine’s pistons couldn’t actually handle the stress of full power, with many shattering within months of leaving the dealership. Also, the way they’d gotten a solid rear axle to have such balanced handling had been via staggering its tires, which inflated repair costs. On paper, it cost no more to fuel and service than a 2000TC (more on that later), but the mods necessary to make it any good, plus the kind of abuse youthful performance cars are often subjected to, inflated this car’s actual cost of ownership a lot. Still, the Bolt was selling in a blue ocean, being the only car on the market even trying to make a practical performance car for the masses, which gave it a bit of job security.

The only car truly anywhere near it was VME’s Optijected Squirrel, which made more power and similar acceleration figures for slightly less cost. But the Squirrel wasn’t hot - it was just a regular Squirrel, given caffeine - and it too would require significant mods to have any proper performance. So ultimately, those who wanted a sporty and practical daily had 2 choices - take a good car and make it fast, or a fast car and make it good. The Squirrel was cheaper, had the lighter unibody, made more power, and was empirically more sensible, but the Bolt had RWD, was a way better driver’s car out the box, and (other than the piston issue) came with Capable’s best-in-class reliability & build quality- remember, VME had the worst. Araga’s tuning scene never reached a consensus about which car was better; but enjoyed the excuse for some “friendly competition” regardless.

11 Likes
REVIEWS PART 4.6
Treat Yourself

Front: Knightwick Italia, Knightwick 2000TC, both by @mart1n2005. Rear: SM3 Ilaris Imperial S E10 by @shibusu, DCMW Kutshuriat by @moroza, Hikaru Katana HT by @MoteurMourmin

The premium segment, here, is defined by certain universal features - and a certain price range. Advanced safety and monocoques are universal in the segment, rendering safety differences a matter of the margins. Everyone provides a premium interior with a premium 8-track. Everyone uses unassisted steering and, with one exception, manual gearboxes.

The fact that it exists basically means that my attempt to split out the segments by picking a price in advance failed. The 2000TC was initially placed in Standard and reviewed by @Edsel . The Katana HT was initially placed in Sports and was pushed to Standard, also reviewed by @Edsel . The Ilaris Imperial S straddled the line between Standard and Prem/Luxe and was pushed to the latter. The Italia and Al-Sayaadim were initially in Prem/Luxe. There were also four further cars in Prem/Luxe which are solidly Luxe and being reviewed later.

There will be changes as a result.

The Car Of All Time

Middle: Knightwick 2000TC. Front: Fykselot Thunderclap by @SheikhMansour from ALC3. Rear: Swanson 217 GAF by @Ludvig, also from ALC3.
This review by @Edsel

And so, we start with what is perhaps Araga’s most generic car - and I mean that in a good way. The Knightwick 2000TC was priced at about $13k - which last era would’ve been in the middle of standard, but this era had shifted to the lower end of premium. And that alone foreshadows exactly what this car is - an expy of last era’s most successful cars. A humble, affordable D-segment car with a premium interior, 4-speed auto transmission, well rounded stats, and an unpretentious but tasteful visual design (which by the way, was submitted in exactly the same color as one of last round’s Hamfas).

It cut corners to achieve its price, but it cut them in the right places; its underlying parts were simple, especially its pushrod engine (only antiquated by Araga standards, but still-), yet refined and well built to give the car very balanced stats. Of particular note was its comfort, safety, and performance figures, which were competitive even compared to premium cars priced several thousand higher. Knightwick had kept costs humble while maintaining a high-class feel, and made a car excellent for any scenario from city to highway, with no significant flaws beyond being a bit boring (which is want you want a standard car to be anyway!). This was exactly the kind of car Araga was used to, and exactly the car it wanted, and from the moment it came out it quickly became the staple of the Aragan market.

Aesthetics follow the same “generic yet refined” formula. There is nothing particularly radical about it, with a generic shape and perfectly fine proportions. Everything is laid out sensibly, proportioned the right way, it’s just such a perfectly boring 1970s sedan. Nobody is turned away or ashamed to be seen in one, it fits the bill, it’s just… The car of all time. It’s even in metallic brown with a brown vinyl top and a brown interior.

Except… there actually was one place Knightwick had cut too far. This wasn’t something most buyers paid mind to when they first bought it, but especially given the, uh… “particularly harsh” conditions of next era, the horrendous rustproofing of these cars meant they ended up suffering very short lifespans in the wild. It didn’t help that, as a dull workday vehicle, the 2000TC went unvalued by the public, and by the time enthusiasts started to realise how important it’d been, almost all examples of this once-universal car had long been scrapped.

The Car Of All Time, But Sport

Front: Hikaru Katana HT. Rear: Hikaru Katana YR, from this round.
This review also by @Edsel

At first glance, with a sleek and sporty if slightly Seuss-ish profile, the Hikaru Katana (No relation to Hakaru the budget manufacturer by the way, I know it’s a bit confusing) looked nothing like 2000TC; which is why it’s always such a shock to find out just how similar they were. They had the same performance, and the same interior equipment. The same safety and comfort and wheelbase, the same taxes and service and price range. Buyers of the time, looking at the two, kept doubting that it could really be true, but underneath this hotshot facade was a competent daily commuter car.

Now to be clear, the Katana could never achieve the universal appeal of Knightwick’s sedan, as merely having 2 seats was just too limiting. There technically was enough space to squeeze in aftermarket jump seats for 2 more people… if you hated those people. But those who were willing to give up company were rewarded with a fair share of benefits; despite the Katana’s acceleration and handling evenly matching the Knightwick’s on paper, the lighter Katana had tuned its suspension and controls to make it much more fun to drive, and easier too. Smaller weight also paired with a smaller engine to achieve notably higher fuel economy and being 1k cheaper upfront.

So the Katana offered a great a-b commuter with an exciting flair, and saw a lot of attention among individuals and couples living alone, or as a second car for middle class families. It was a bit hampered at first by only accepting ethanol fuel (most cars ‘70 and onward were tuned for ethanol but designed to accept regular as well) but as ethanol got more common and news of the 2000TC’s poor rustproofing started coming out, its niche grew slowly and steadily.

Italia, In WWII

Front: Knightwick Italia. Behind it: Phenix Helios from this round, Phenix Callisto 2000 from ALC3, both by @karhgath

Here, we get the Knightwick Italia. The issue with the Italia is that it makes a lot of changes and really doesn’t improve that much, relative to the base spec 2000TC. This is a vehicle that costs an additional 6000 after taxes, almost 50% extra. Does it get you extra comfort? Maybe if you don’t need to put someone in the back, which has been shrunk from 3 full-sized seats to 2 reduced-size seats. Your extra money didn’t go to improving the already-nice interior of the 2000TC, not one iota. Is it sportier? Well, it adds performance intakes and sports tyres, but also a soulless slushbox and suspension soft enough to bottom out the 70mm of suspension travel. It at least manages to deal with the reliability impacts of those intakes, but only to receive equal reliability by spending massive quantities of money - running costs, of course, leave much to be desired. “Aha,” I hear you say, “well that automatic gearbox must make it more drivable!” Only marginally, the sports tyres are far less sufficient in poor conditions, the recirculating ball suspension is somehow inferior here, and the added mass from the soft top’s requisite strengthening makes it less nimble. Fuel economy isn’t better, rustproofing isn’t better… You get the picture. You are paying six thousand dollars for a slightly less practical 2000TC with a soft top. Few people did. Visually, you get a nicer grill up front and a coupe greenhouse, but that’s about it really. Yes, the sheer dull factor of the 2000TC was a large point, but still - it’s a really expensive upgrade, and where’s the value for money? Perhaps the one saving grace is that there’s at least some differentiation visually, so it doesn’t drag down the opinions of the 2000TC too much.

S Car Go

Front: This generation of Ilaris Imperial S. Rear: Last generation of Ilaris Imperial S from ALC3
So, the issue of the Italia was failing to offer substantially more than the 2000TC for a substantially higher price. The SM3 Ilaris Imperial S, meanwhile, fares better in both realms. You do pay an extra 1300 at the dealership, then an extra 200 AMU per year (mostly due to the speed tax on its 9.1s 0-60), but not a world away. Reducing the fuel usage by a third really helps the two come close per year. The chassis is actually galvanised a little, and you can actually feel connected through the road through the rack and pinion… But that’s not the big ticket. No, the big ticket is actually using Double Wishbone suspension front and rear. It gives a far, far superior ride quality, it makes the whole car far more comfortable. Despite having the engine in the back, it’s not at all difficult to drive, and can even be fun at times. That’s partially due to good tuning, but also partially due to the staggered tyres. Said tyres are more of a logistical issue than anything else, with the service costs only a small amount above the 2000TC. There are some reports of brake fade if driven sufficiently hard, but it’s really minor. The Imperial S really stakes a claim to be “Araga’s Other Standard Car”, just a bit further up-market than the 2000TC. It’s moderately more interesting too, aesthetically - you get some nice trim wrapping around, oddly angry headlights that might not be the best fit but at least look interesting, and the rear defroster lines are a nice touch. The interior this time is black and white, neutral shades working with any paint colour - such as the rather nice metallic green here, a nice difference from the monotonous brown of the 2000TC. It’s a nicer car for just a bit more.

I decided to put it next to the previous generation of Ilaris for the photo, and I’m really glad I did. The crease added on the middle of the hood and the reprofiling of the trim around the car are both nice touches, and the wraparound rear indicators are much nicer than the previous generation, and removing the fins on the rear really helps it step out of the sixties. It’s a generational improvement, an evolution but not a revolution - and that is something really nice to see, some good consistency between the two. Can I do this again this round? No, I don’t have a Hikaru, Knightwick or DCMW from ALC3, but I’ll be doing this again in future.

Kut Prices - Still Expensive

Front: Two DCMW Kutshuriats. Rear: WCV Grand River Packer by @Fayeding_Spray and Nerruci Phantom by @04mmar, both from ALC3
One could describe the DCMW Kutshuriat (Standard Four) in terms which make it seem incredibly forward thinking: Premium Hatchback. When I briefly scanned it, I was excited. How forward thinking, the Mercedes A-Class would not be around for decades! A small luxury car for the city dweller, so inspired! But that’s not what the DCMW is. It’s a hatch in the style of the Chevrolet Vega rather than the VW Golf - and that makes it about as large as the Knightwick and Ilaris. What do we get from it, then?

The overall picture of the Kutshuriat is that of a company trying to make a cheaper car than normal, and failing to properly allocate its resources. The bottom end is overbuilt in many ways, yet it does not offer headroom for tuners - the forged crank, conrods and pistons could all accommodate more torque and RPM, cast would generally be fine, but adding additional power is likely to overwhelm the lightweight pistons. A clutched diff theoretically makes it sportier, but a lack of grip from the tyres put it solidly below the Ilaris overall - brake fade notwithstanding. It is at least easier to drive, thanks to the provision of front-wheel drive - unique for the segment. The tyres theoretically use a hard-wearing, long-life compound, but they are of such low profile that the inevitable replacements will be expensive and difficult to source - and in the meantime, you will experience a poorer ride quality due to both the compound and the profile. Swapping out the tyres (profile of 50, hard compound) for ones more like the Ilaris (profile of 65, medium compound) would allow it to be as comfortable as the 2000TC without harming other stats too much. The low profile and hard compound cause it to be less comfortable overall than the 2000TC despite double wishbone suspension - using a more comfortable mechanism to put less comfortable rubber on the road will do that. That hard compound does at least help with fuel economy, allowing it to use well under half the fuel of the Knightwick… But it’s still under half if you swap the tires, thanks to a wide array of choices such as the highly efficient engine (partially due to how much money was spent on it), and the provision of a fifth gear. For most drivers, it’ll eventually come out even after enough distance, but “enough distance” is most of the life of the car. It offers competitive enough stats, trading a little bit of comfort for a little bit of drivability, worse upfront costs for better reliability and overall running costs. It’s a car that gets more impressive the more I look at it, really. I know I was down on it at the start but I’m just talking myself into it. It feels like a great word of mouth car - someone buys one, talks about how much they like the looks, how reliable it is (over 80 reliability, only beaten by much simpler utility vehicles), how little fuel it uses, then one of their friends buys one… It’s a car, then, that will see increasing sales throughout the era, steadily building momentum right until people start getting worried about the war.

What drives that initial purchase? Maybe the need for a hatch. Maybe a keen eye for fuel economy. Or maybe, just maybe, how good it looks. It’s pictured here in a somewhat odd paint that looks like pearl but is actually a really interesting application of PBR paint which ends up looking extremely black from some angles and green-black pearl from others, it’s kinda odd and I’ll probably still do something about effects like this coming too early. The front is reminiscent of the others in the segment, but the two clearly separate headlights seem to break up the space better, and I am personally a fan of the functional intakes on the hood. The side is a touch less ornate than the others, having nicely laid out trim on the windows but little below it; the dark paint hides the contours and shapes that would otherwise add character below them in all but the most favourable lights. It’s the rear that does it for me though, with the artful sculpting around the protruding light clusters allowing them to function as indicators, the clever nested lights to mirror the paired lights from the front but have four functions and the beautiful way the high centre brake light is integrated with an aerodynamic fairing that compliments the louvres. Is all of this particularly realistic or easy to accomplish? No, probably not, you’d likely need some expensive wizardry to be bright enough. It’s a break I personally can accept, though, because I already accept pop-up headlights and other items without accounting for their costs. Worth pointing out, but I’m still a fan of it.

10 Likes

Glad to know the Katana HT was somewhat of a success given the lack of seats - Hikaru hopes they will be coming into the market with a bang!

REVIEWS PART 4.7
DOLLA DOLLA BILLS, Y'ALL

Clockwise from Top: DCMW Al-Sayaadim (Superiority Six) by @moroza, Ilaris Imperial Turbo L by @shibusu, Minex SM33 Dragonar XD Full Utilisation and Dragonar F6H by @lotto77.

As mentioned before, this should be the same segment as the premium, if my whole price split had worked. It didn’t. There is a huge gulf in price, these are like twice as much as the premium cars. With the economic headwinds, the luxury segment is in an odd position. Yes, the market should be smaller than before, contracting, seeing difficulties… But I have to judge what I can see, and what I see is a series of competent luxury cars. I ran into something similar with the other segments, where the cars I see are pulling the market upwards. I’d probably allow that movement to happen if not for my future plans.

There’s a lot of ways to split up the luxury sedans on the market. I’m going to split between the sporty sedans, and the comfortable sedans. In the rarified air up around 30 grand, certain features are standard. Everyone uses luxury interiors with luxury 8-tracks, everyone uses hydraulic power steering, double wishbones all around, monocoques with some degree of rust protection, and the difference is really in the margins. So, let’s explore those margins, shall we?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's... Super Saloon!

Front: Dragonar XD FU and DCMW Al-Sayaadim. Behind them: Phenix Helios Turbo RX by @karhgath from this round on right, Minex Danazine F6H by @lotto77 and OMC California by @SheikhMansour on left , both from last round.

Our two sporty sedans both boast clutched LSDs, sport tyres, manual gearboxes and flat-six engines, plus price tags between 32 and 33 thousand dollars. What separates them?

Well, in theory, three years does. The Al-Sayaadim, like the 2000TC, was released in 1970. The Dragonar was released three years later, in 1973. That’s early enough for reports of the 2000TC’s frame rust to come out, allowing Minex to boast of its superior rustproofing… On the chassis. Minex paid careful effort to the joins and holes, sealing them and treating them with all manner of PVC and rubber coatings to provide a truly corrosion-resistant chassis atop conventional galvanisation. Which is where I take a break to question what the hell is going on with things as far as environmental resistance goes.

Crypt Goes Mad About Environmental Resistance

According to the tooltip, corrosion resistant steel includes corrosion resistant paint and galvanisation. It does not use a galvanisation plant, unlike regular galvanised chassis. So, kinda puzzled there, but bear with me. Now, the Dragonar XD FU is actually only 2.7 points ahead of the Al-Sayaadim due to having +7 body quality. As they, along with every other 4-seater, uses steel panels, dropping both to be 0 quality galvanised makes them equal. Now, what does +7 body quality do in order to be two thirds as effective as all that stuff in CR steel? I don’t know! Maybe it optimises the way the water flows or something to prevent it pooling up, maybe that corrosion resistant paint was just on the frame and body quality gives better paint for the panels. I wish you’d tell me, I don’t know. Oh, but we aren’t done: The Kutshuriat has an extra 1.7 points on the Dragonar for no obvious reason! No extra body quality, the Kutshuriat has a couple of minor quality improvements over the Al-Sayaadim but even removing that, it doesn’t change it, no, what changes it is the engine, but only partially, the Kutshuriat with the Al-Sayaadim’s engine and quality nerfed to be on par with the Al-Sayaadim is only a little bit worse than the Dragonar despite all the other similarities, the engine somehow makes a substantial difference here and I just don’t get it at all, I’m still missing stuff, who knows. The latest update added some changes to demystify reliability, and I really appreciate that change even if it meant having to come up with a way to visualise the complex system, because now I can understand it.

Now I can work out what helps or hurts a given car. I complained previously about reliability being a black box, in MCC, and now I see another big black box. It’d be really nice to actually say something about the impacts of the choice to use this better material but I just do not understand what’s going on here. So, that money spent on Corrosion Resistant steel? Bit of a waste, because I simply cannot untangle all of this. Is it a nice selling point at this price point? Potentially, yeah, but I can’t properly review it because it’s such a black box! I think engines have environmental resistance but that’s not even shown!

With that rant either over or skipped, we return to our regularly scheduled programming, where we again return to trying to find the differences between the two entries. Amusingly, they reach similar final positions from slightly different routes. Much like its down-market cousin, the DCMW is pushing the limits of existing tyres, running 55 profile tyres. The Minex uses thicker 65 profile tyres, which really help it here… But they’re wrapped around painted steel wheels, an odd choice at this price bracket while the Al-Sayaadim uses much nicer magnesium rims. In spite of a larger engine, the DCMW produces more power, probably due to its fuel injection beating the DCOE in the Minex; this places it in a higher speed tax bracket and equalises fixed costs, but the DCMW is a small amount better in fuel economy thanks to said injection, making it cheaper in the long run for what that is worth. This improved power is paired with improved grip from the tyres to provide theoretically superior acceleration, cornering and braking performance - but also paired with softer suspension which makes said performance harder to access. The XD FU, meanwhile, is easier to drive hard due to its harder suspension but this also happens to drop its comfort to the levels of the 2000TC, merely acceptable. The suspension is really the largest difference between the two - and while it may hurt this Minex in the eye of certain buyers, it helps it in the mind of others. It’s the sportier sports sedan, but this town’s big enough for the both of them. The Minex going further into the sports niche makes a lot of sense for the brand, because Minex also sells another car in this particular portion of the segment which is far more luxurious - while DCMW sells something lower down. Minex spaces its cars more, so they compete with each other less. Minex can at least point to market leading safety, while the DCMW is merely fine for the segment - but on the flipside, Minex makes the rare choice to use regular gasoline rather than preparing for ethanol. Doesn’t hurt as much for people of means, but definitely starts dragging later on.

It’s a similar affair on the outside. The Minex is clearly a sports car, with a racing stripe, spoiler and raised hood intakes painted black to contrast with the white hood. The red interior contrasts the white well too, and provides a real racy feel. Underneath all of these embellishments, of course, is still a Minex Dragonar - a stately, expensive object of desire that makes for a wonderful accessory. It’s a little more squared-off than the previous Danazines, following 70s design trends and following The Al-Sayaadim, meanwhile, is once again emblematic of a company spending lots of money but getting something in return for it - more on that later. Very little is shared physically between the Kutshuriat and the Al-Sayaadim. The grille is different, with headlights behind it and indicators separate now. Those clever nested circles no longer adorn the rear, replaced with an ornate teardrop sort of shape that integrates with the flares. The DCMW split windshield now reaches across the rear, and strakes have been added to the hood. Chrome trim now adorns the door handles and extends to fore and aft, and the rear doors have been changed to pillarless coach doors as well. There is certainly brand identity here, but the resemblances are largely mechanical. This is, of course, how it should be - you spent almost twice as much, you get something radically different. It’s less loudly sporty, but still carries sportiness well enough. The Al-Sayaadim is sporty and looks sporty, the XD FU is sportier and looks sportier. It works well overall, I must say, it’s what you want in the market. Both cars are well suited to their positions. They offer the comfort of a standard sports car, the comfort of a premium car (or improved premium in the Kutshuriat) and the practicality of a sedan. The market exists for that, for sure, but I have thoughts on said market below.

The Cream Of The Crop Always Rises To The Top

Left: Imperial. Middle: Dragonar. Right: AMCW Aerocoupe by @Madrias from last round.

My workflow usually leaves visuals for last, because engineering can be judged on a spreadsheet so it’s easier to do that first. Now, however, in the “comfortable luxury” segment, I am looking at visuals first. Why? Because they aren’t much different. Moving from the Ilaris Imperial S to the Ilaris Imperial Turbo L provides a small amount of additional chrome around the car, mostly along the lights and vents. A couple of other minor changes are there, like moving the aerials and changing the style of the wheels, but that’s about it. The Dragonar, meanwhile, is largely a matter of subtraction - gone is the wing, the hood scoop, the racing stripes. One of these is much more acceptable than the other. The regular Dragonar, at 27300, is over 5000 AMU cheaper than the XD FU variant. Subtracting a few of the sportier aspects is completely reasonable there - your additional expenditure goes to those cosmetic aspects, plus a few engineering changes. The Imperial L, meanwhile, is almost twice as expensive as the Imperial S. Remember how I mentioned that the difference between the Al-Sayaadim and Kutshuriat is what you want to see? Yeah, this is the opposite of that. You need to look hard to see the difference between the two, which isn’t great. Maybe it’s this fact that biases my judgement and makes me think that the Ilaris just feels a little cheaper than the Minex. At the same time, though, the squarer shape feels more contemporary, more like a 70s car, while the Minex is a car of the old world, of the past, with its more rounded, classical greenhouse rather than the straight edges of the Ilaris.

The pair trade blows up and down the spec sheet. Minex still leads the field in safety, while the Ilaris transfers some of the company’s aeronautic experience to deliver an electronic automatic rather than the hydraulic model in the Dragonar. Interiors are similarly well-apportioned, and taxed displacements are amusingly very close. The Dragonar is slightly cheaper to both own and run (thanks in part to the simpler NA engine), but the Imperial provides slightly better performance (thanks in part to the more powerful turbo engine). The Imperial is a touch more comfortable thanks to that gearbox, the Dragonar does better because of how much effort Minex spent there. Your additional payment over a premium sedan does not deliver drivability or sportiness or the like - no, it delivers a massive amount of additional comfort. Stepping up from premium to luxury may cost more than stepping from standard to budget, but the step up in comfort is even larger. That’s what you want here, right? You want to be coddled in luxury. It’s all just a question of what you prioritise, what you like more, and whether you can accept something that looks different to the cheaper options.

8 Likes
REVIEWS PART 4.8
MONOPOLY MONEY

Left: Centurion 100 and 120 by @ldub0775. Middle: Bazard CVL6 and BTH8 by @Edsel . Right: Empire Albert and Victoria Sportstock by @Fayeding_Spray

Normally, I start each round off with an introduction, with some musings on the state of the market segment and somesuch. The way that the market and review process went, however, both push those musings down the line, after the first review - which was written by @moroza.

Rule Brittania

No more cameos for now. Left: Victoria. Right: Albert.

Empire brings about two vehicles that look like they belong in a Circus Sideshow - the SportStock pair, with on-theme names of Albert and Victoria. Entering the market in 1972, they are essentially the same car with and without a cargo area roof - Al is a 3-door wagon or panel van, and Vicky a ute. Officially classified as utility vehicles, and duly earning the corresponding tax cut, in form and function they were at best a fanciful stretch of the definition of “utility”. Like many a bored aristocrat of recent centuries, these royals descended into decadence and leisure while paying lip service to actual utility, and are so out of touch with commoners’ reality that they fall flat on their (otherwise good-looking) faces the moment they attempt anything resembling that oh-so-plebian phenomenon called Work.

Visually, the bold, loud colors, stylish wheels, and flat-black hoods with a large scoop in the middle announce that they’re here to play, not work. The high-quality premium-grade interior is a nice place to be - one you’ll want to keep that way by keeping out things like tools and mud. The low ride height, protrusive chrome quad exhausts, and effectively nonexistent bumpers make it quite plain that they’d much prefer not to get their hands dirty or their knees or knuckles scuffed.We’re quite happy to stay in here and, uh, supervise. While appearances are generally not this segment’s priority, the initial impression given turns out to be quite accurate.

Both have legitimate cargo-only space of ample volume, but cargo weight capacity is adequate for light errand use only, at a mere 405kg for Albert, 411 for Victoria. Nor do the SportStocks get very far with what cargo they can haul; sporting Sport-compound tires - albeit fairly high-quality ones - and driving two of them with the ground clearance of a large skateboard, attempting to traverse any surface more challenging than some wet leaves is toying with the fates.

The one use case where they show some competence - if moderately - is towing. With the grunt of 362Nm (267ft-lb) at 3600rpm, and their own light weight - Albert at 1002kg, Victoria (unexpectedly) even less, at 958 - they can play tugboat fairly well. What in normal driving are overly aggressive brakes become more welcome with a load, remaining fade-free. The short wheelbase and relatively long rear overhang keep the SportStocks from excelling at this task, and in any case the proposition of buying one specifically to tow, like the idea of buying it for any purpose at all, is significantly hindered by the ATROCIOUS RUNNING COSTS.

From the utility market’s perspective, the biggest nail in this coffin isn’t Albert and Victoria’s less-than-stellar competence in utility, it’s the cost of upkeep commensurate with being named after long-reigning monarchs of a vast and wealthy empire. In the context of all vehicles entering the Aragan market this round, this pair of neon-colored nobility enjoy the dubious honors of…

  1. Fourth highest annual taxes (behind the Leviathan 490 and two full-fat luxury cars) at $1179,
  2. Third highest fuel consumption (behind the 490 and one much larger real utility vehicle) at 17.4L/100km, and
  3. Second highest annual service costs (behind only the Helios Turbo) at about $2825. Yes, it costs more to service than the Leviathan or the DCMW Al-Sayaadim.

But wait, there’s more! Those service costs are for routine, planned maintenance, and don’t include

  1. Unscheduled repair costs due to the fourth lowest reliability (67.8). And if all that were still not enough,
  2. The fourth-worst corrosion resistance (21.0, versus a median 34.8) means either no winter use, or labor-intensive rust countermeasures, or increasingly nonsensical body shop bills, or watching them decompose into small grimy piles of iron oxide. Then at least they’ll be cheaper to service.

As vehicles for actual utility use, they’re unequivocal duds. Where they might have redeemed themselves is as performance cars, but there too is a problem - while high-quality Sport tires and a lightweight full-double-wishbone chassis are a great start, it’s kept from a satisfactory finish by overly grabby brakes, inappropriate staggered tires, and sloppy, mismatched spring and damper rates, ending up with merely ok handling performance and comparably lackluster feel. What remains their strength is straight-line speed; by most measures, they are the fourth fastest and most powerful on the market and by far the fastest for the (initial) price. To spend any less, the next choice is the Hikaru Katana YR, with less than half the power. To go any faster on public roads means either the Helios Turbo (+$7k) or the DCMW Al-Sayaadim (+$13k) or the Leviathan (+$22k). Strong acceleration with mediocre handling would normally amount to a muscle car… except in Araga, with a bad taste in its mouth from previous failures wearing that label, there was no market for those.

In the end, their only saving grace was that a few tuners, whether out of boredom or dedication, figured out revised footwork that not only handled much better but was also significantly cheaper to run. The resulting trickle of sales was enough to keep the lights on at Empire dealers, but only just.

The Actual Introduction


Near row, from left to right: Bazard BTH8, Centurion 120. Far row, from left to right: Bazard CVL6, Centurion 100, Saguaro EcoWagon

With the sideshow ponies’ acts out of the way, we finally get to the real workhorses of the Aragan economy, a quartet of models from Bazard and Centurion… And here is where things get difficult, and it’s time to deal with the difficult reality of the challenge. It’s difficult enough that I (Crypt) have taken over from Moroza, because challenge considerations and editorial discretion must now dictate how things progress. Also partially because of time issues, but these considerations are part of it too.

The flip side of the massive amount of sports entries is, well, an absolute dearth of utility entries. There are six entries… But those represent three companies each providing two trims each. And one of those pairs, as covered above, is not really a great utility vehicle. Then, one of them is only available for the 1976 Model Year. That emissions waiver mentioned above? It’s because the segment, in canon, would have seen zero utility vehicles for 1970, probably. I can’t check and see if anything from last round happened to be compliant, because of how much has changed. Edsel initially intended for Bazard to withdraw and spend a year retooling, but the government is so desperate to keep the flow of utility vehicles going. As the submissions stand, Bazard effectively enjoys a monopoly over the utility segment from 1971 to 1975. I’ll probably have some mechanisms in place for future rounds to try and deal with these issues, but for now… What are my options here?

  • I can make the Bazards compete against the 4.2 stats of last round’s utility entries… But the Bazard has to contend with the rebalanced bottom end system and tightened emissions regulations. It’s not fair to Edsel.
  • I can open last round’s entries in Ellisbury and just keep them as they are. This will probably generate some completely non-functional cars and awful reliability because of the changes, not great. I can make some tweaks, but that’s kinda hard and it’s not great for the challenge.
  • I can compare as if the Centurion was released earlier and ignore ages a little. To an extent, I’ve done this elsewhere… But the only other car from 76 was the BetterDeals, and a lot of entries skew early enough in the era that the year isn’t the biggest difference, and there’s plenty to compare otherwise. Some of the biggest benefits of the Centurions hinge on tech that really only becomes viable late, it’s not fair to Edsel.
  • I can manually reduce the model year of the Centurions to simulate it being rushed out… But as mentioned, some of the biggest benefits are tech that’s only viable late in the round. It’s not fair to Ldub.
  • I can simulate a genuine monopoly where Bazard could sell literally anything and have it succeed. This makes for boring reviews with little in the way of comments, but rewards Edsel for accurately spotting an underserved market - remember, there were issues with how many utility vehicles were submitted before.
  • I can come up with some nebulous idea of where competing stats should be, and try to review on vibes as though competition exists. This allows me to have at least some comment on the Bazard. Then, I can look at what the Centurion does when it hits the market.

I’ll be doing the last two. I like rewarding people for identifying market trends well, but I also want to have some level of comment. Plus, the idea that an entire segment like this with relatively inflexible buyers would completely be abandoned is just a little bit far for me.

C Plus Plus

Edsel tells me that, in the lore, the C-Line includes utes. The Bazard lineup is a lot like the real truck lineups of the time, where you’d submit an order form with multiple selections, cars offered with plenty of options. In real life, there were dozens of potential Chevrolet trucks; in Bazard lore, there would be dozens of potential Bazard trucks. Here, however, I have the CVL6, a van. For posterity, CVL6 is similar to a monitor name or similar, for C-Line Van, Low trim with a 6-cylinder engine. Thing is, I won’t implement options like that so I can only really judge 2 but… You get the idea. This is a 72 model, because the C line is entirely new from that year - a downsized version of the larger new-spec B-Lines, which launched in 71. I’m doing it first because of the last 2 letters - low-trim 6-cylinder. It is a perfectly acceptable van. Fuel economy is higher than most commuter cars at 15.6 L/100km, but there is good reason for this - a simple pushrod V6 with a single 2 barrel carburetor pushes it forward, while the body has been optimised for cooling rather than drag. Said V6 is also only 2.3 litres large in the C-Line. It can be bored and stroked out to over 4, but you get 2.3 here. Although it reaches 100 km/h in a perfectly acceptable 14.3 seconds, that’s almost as far as it goes. You’ll have to wait another 12 seconds to reach 120 km/h, and you’ll slowly creep from there to the top speed of 127 km/h. This performance is not bad enough to score points off on the ADPR score, but something is very odd if you get passed by a C-Line Bazard on the freeway. The 4-speed gearbox leaves few options at highway speed, but it’s worth it for simplicity and cost. Braking performance is similarly just adequate enough to pass the ADPR’s 65m threshold, stopping in 58.2 metres - the somewhat heavier B-Line takes 60.8 metres. Not great performance, but still sufficient.

At least it keeps the tax low, almost crossing into the territory of negative taxable displacement. The lowest level of the acceleration tax is higher than the tax on a C-Line Bazard. The included hard tyres, the simplicity of the engine and interior, all of it keeps the running costs incredibly low. Similarly, the simple construction keeps reliability high, at 81.8 - a mark only beaten very barely by the C100 (more on that later).

Features are reasonable, with some standout areas. Rather than the “barely acceptable” marks in performance, the CVL8 receives commendations for its safety features - for 1972, it is on the cutting edge of safety with the sorts of features that are standard for premium models, but not universal on the budget end. The ladder chassis brings the overall score down, but buyers in the segment generally know the benefits of such a chassis. The radio is sorta cheap but at least it’s an 8-Track, and the seats and padding aren’t the bottom of the barrel like the VME Squirrel is - even though sources like this note the presence of a headliner (one of the differences between basic and standard) as a premium feature in trucks of the time, Bazard provides them as standard even in their lower trim. Hydraulic power steering is another feature that is by no means standard at this time, but it is provided by Bazard. It’s not needed when the vehicle is empty, but the load capacity is more than the vehicle’s weight - so it’s a welcome piece of assistance when you load it up. Brake fade is pleasantly absent, formerly a spectre of the segment but now a thing of the past.

Partially because it’s the more compact one and partially because it’s just well designed, the C-Line is not particularly difficult to drive. The performance is a drag, but for just regular driving around the city, if you can handle a stick, it’s fine. Comfort is around the lower tier of the market, level with the cheaper, lower-tier commuter cars, but that’s fine too. It’s a perfectly fine vehicle to make money in. You wouldn’t drive it out of choice, but you would drive it to make money. That’s really all it needs to be, isn’t it? What more does the lower end of the utility market need than a competent, cheap, reliable appliance? In 1971, whatever nebulous competition may or may not exist aims to equal and compete with the Bazard. The monopoly could allow Bazard to cut corners, but they haven’t. It’s just a solid line.

That'll B Just Fine

The Bazard B-Line boasts a massively improved load capacity, partially due to being larger. We’ll get to some of the impacts of that, but let’s focus on the issues created more or less directly due to the load capacity.

Crypt Rants About Brake Fade

The C-Line Bazard uses slightly high-performance brake pads, setting the type to 64. The front brakes have two pistons, are as large as possible (275mm) and have the maximum amount of cooling. Reducing the slider to the default 50 causes some utility brake fade to manifest, so all of this is really needed.

The thing is, utility fade is based on cargo capacity. So despite the rims on the B-Line Bazard being larger to accommodate 50mm larger brakes, those 64-rated pads are no longer sufficient. Even my best efforts to retune at 64 by adding an extra piston still have about 4% utility brake fade. Still not going to have issues with the ADPR, but on the edge. The B-Line has zero fade. How? By using ninety-five rated pads. These are not pads I would expect to find on a utility car. These are not even pads I would expect to find on a sports car. These are race pads.

They are one of two evils, and I’m not sure whether they’re the greater or lesser. On one hand, there is brake fade, which I have taken points off for in the past. On the other, there is a moderate hit to drivability and comfort (around 6-7% compared to the pads in the C-Line, but that already gets a 2.5% hit to comfort and a 1.5% hit to drivability). Those race pads are also adding an extra 75 bucks to your service costs - which is a decent amount in this market!

There is, of course, a solution which is probably more palatable here but not in other challenges - vented front discs. Perhaps it’d be a realism bin elsewhere and that’s why you didn’t do it, or maybe you just didn’t think about it. Vented discs completely solve these issues, and I’d probably allow them, especially seeing what solid discs do with fade. They’re cheaper than these race pads too, by quite a lot actually. You kicked too much ass and got penalised for it. That kinda sucks? If you cheesed your suspension and reduced load capacity, this wouldn’t be an issue except your load capacity would be smaller and…

Utility is kinda weird, I guess, and utility fade especially. Maybe if I could see fade at a specific load, it’d allow for better decisions, but as it stands… Sportiness is similar, I suppose, but cars that can get up to massive speeds have good reason to use exotic brakes. I feel mixed about it all, really, so I’m going to sorta mentally update things I guess, I don’t know, I’ll have to work it out, I just wanted to write this all out, it’s almost cathartic. The existence of vented discs won’t actually make me do it, so let’s say aftermarket parts came out (yay, more soft-required modifications in the utility market!) to apply those vented pads. They offer a small increase to comfort and drivability and are decently cheaper. This situation possibly shouldn’t exist, you picked a kinda bad solution when a good-for-here one exists, so that’s the results.

Summary of the rant: Aftermarket vented brake kits give free svc reduction, for better drivability and comfort. It’s only about 75 bucks saved per year and a couple of points for each stat, but still moves the dial. Back on track, there are a couple of upgrades to the BTH8 (B-Line Truck High 8-Cylinder) over the CVL6, but they mainly come back to the size. The size is really the big draw here, the cargo space is nearly twice as long and a little wider too, while the carrying capacity is approximately doubled too, with only a modest 60% increase in empty weight. That’s the difference between a B- and C-Line. That size brings with it increased weight, of course, causing poorer fuel economy - and it’s also accomplished by a larger turning circle, meaning poorer driving dynamics. The tyres have been swapped from the long-life compound to a heavy duty one, which makes sense given the massive potential load on the tyres now. That extra weight is pulled by a larger V8 - take the V6 we saw before, add two cylinders, bore and stroke it a little and add injection and more balancing mass, plus a higher redline. This does all make it a bit harder to maintain and a little less reliable, but it’s a worthwhile trade. It’d be technically acceptable for performance with the V6 in it, but the V8 is absolutely needed. Especially if it’s loaded with cargo. Finally, we get some creature comforts and options. For comfort, there’s four speakers for the 8-track, and nicer ones too. There’s also an offroad pack, with side steps, lifted suspension, an offroad skidtray and a manual locker. It’s still really just a car you spend your 9 to 5 in, some positives here and there. The general philosophy is “buy what you need” - only need a C-Line’s worth of cargo space? Save on weight and fuel. Need to fill up a B-Line? Get the big one. Want some extra grunt? It’s there. You add an extra 5000 or so going from the bottom-spec CVL6 to the BTH8, which feels like a normal spread through a model line. You could buy a premium car for the price of a BTH8, but you get a whole lot more vehicle with the BTH8 - sacrificing comfort for utility, as this market is wont to do. It’s really a successful philosophy, and makes me wish that options actually existed in Automation. But they don’t, and I’m not adding the complexity to include them. Probably.

Heaven Cent

The Centurion 100 slots in between the CVL6 and BTH8, in terms of price, a little closer to the BTH8 - and remember, this is the cheaper one. Price-wise, it’s closer to the BTH8, on the lower end of premium cars. It brings one major feature that is a first for Araga - improved safety features. An airbag is present in the steering wheel, and the column and pedals are designed to collapse on impact. This puts Centurion ahead of the curve. They even went and polished it up a fair bit, whereas Bazard merely went for standard levels. Without a 76 MY submission from Bazard and with the amount of techpool that goes into the safety, I’m inclined to call this an on-theme win for Centurion, and one that makes their government masters happy.

The Centurion is also between the CVL6 and BTH8 in terms of running costs too, and exactly between them for fuel economy. There’s less room to make the engine bigger after the fact, but otherwise the two are pretty close - except that the Centurion uses an inline six rather than a V-engine, reducing the number of parts involved. The Centurion is marginally more reliable, but that’s largely the result of several years of advancement in techniques which Bazard would surely mimic, a dead heat on that really. It’s substantially better against the elements, for some inscrutable reason (see previous rant). Alloy rims are included, and the tyres are somewhat softer and more comfortable too, more normal. Centurion is also definitely used to its time on big trucks, where staggered tyres aren’t as much of an issue - they don’t raise the service cost too much here, but they do make things a touch more complex than on the Bazard.

The Centurion does use coil springs rather than the leafs employed by Bazard, and the quality of the 8-Track mirrors the superior H-trim one rather than the cheaper one in the CVL6. Add in some extra effort on polishing the interior, and it all makes it substantially more comfortable than either Bazard - you’d need to venture into the premium segment to get more comfortable. You could head there for the price of a Centurion 100, but some people just need a bed on their truck.

As for cargo capacity, it’s once more between the two Bazards. A larger (and hence more comfortable) cab means that the bed length is only a small amount longer than the C-Line Bazard, despite being equal in overall length to the B-line - a larger (and hence easier to work in) engine compartment is part of that too. The suspension is tuned more towards cargo capacity than that of the Bazard, but the coil springs cause it to be closer to the C-Line than the B-Line there, about one third of the way between the two. The wheel arches sitting in the middle of the bed restrict options for some loads, such as a washing machine, but it’s fairly set between the two.

In short: The Centurion 100 is in the middle ground between the C and B lines. In raw “value for hauling”, it’s probably a little worse than the Bazard pair… because some money went to being a more comfortable, safer experience. Neither option is the wrong choice, really, if you’re a small business owner, there’s a nice array of options. Want your work car to feel nicer than your commuter? Pay a little extra for a Centurion. Just want to make money? Buy a Bazard. It’s a small difference, but it’s there, and it finally, in 1976, makes for a good market. The Centurion 100 slots in well.

Upgrade Complete

But what if you really want to spend extra, for something really nice? For that, there’s the Centurion 120. Remember how I said you’d have to spend premium dollars for the better-than-standard comfort in the Centurion 100? Well, you can spend top-of-premium dollars for the top-of-premium comfort in the Centurion. You get an extended cab, plus they’ll strip out the passable standard interior and put something truly premium in, swap the i6 for a similarly-constructed V8 for extra power, swap the transmission for a fancy electronic automatic while they’re at it, tune up the brakes and give you a nicer grille… All for about 4 grand more. The result is a car that can compete with the premium cars on the market for comfort, at a premium price. Sure, the more complex interior has more to go wrong with it and it’s a little less economical due to the extra weight and displacement, but omelettes and eggs and all that. It’s a sensible optional upgrade, really. Not a whole lot of changes, but enough to be a solid package… Just seriously consider whether you want them to retune the suspension. It’s a large part of how the car can compete with premium… Because it’s far softer, and can carry less cargo as a result. Of course, refusing said change puts it merely in the middle of premium for top of premium prices.

The thing with the Centurion lineup is that it’s poorly timed… For the domestic market. In 1976, businesses are preparing for a war that’s clearly on the horizon. In early years it was a question of if. In 75, the answer tilted towards probably… And in most of 76, it’s a question of when, and the answer is “probably soon”. So business owners want to save their money a bit, just in case. A couple of people bought Centurion 100s, but if you had the extra 4000 for a 120… putting it under the mattress looked nice.

The nice part for Centurion is that they didn’t need to worry about going bankrupt over the war. The 100 and 120 was a solid platform, certainly not awful enough to sink the company - and by making the 120 so similar to the 100, there’s not a lot of an impact from unsold stock. The V8s would sell elsewhere, the extended cabs could probably have a standard interior fitted, so they’re just left with the unsold premium interiors, not that much money in inventory. If the war starts? They won’t be in danger of going bankrupt, and could probably make more 100s and 120s after the war. That all hinged upon an Aragan victory, of course, but official policy was that strategic plans including war should assume an Aragan victory.

The ability to trade premium trucks for arms and armaments was an unspoken plus.

Look Like You're Working

Of all the markets in the world, the utility market is perhaps the least sensitive to aesthetics. “Don’t be completely atrocious” is generally enough. That’s probably why there’s no metallic paint here in the segment. That’s why the CVL6 has exposed hinges on its rear door and lacks chrome in its grille. But all the entries here don’t just barely clear the bar, they leap right over it. The front fascias of the Bazards look much better than many commuter cars in my opinion - the rears are a touch more basic than the fronts, but that’s perfectly fine, really. The Centurions, meanwhile, are a tad more intricate with some more touches to the grilles and more complex rear lights. The Centurions and the BTH8 are both shown in really nice two-tone designs - the C120 uses a nice red to go with its premium position, while the C100 and BTH8 both use simpler (and probably longer-lasting) brown and tan colours. The CVL6, meanwhile, has a pleasant mint colour that would look great on other cars. Functional design elements are aplenty here too, with chunky bumpers on the Centurions, tow balls on the Bazards and even a modelled rail for the sliding doors on the van. It’s really well done, from both model lineups.

Bringing The Wood Back Up

Believe it or not, this section was actually Edsel’s idea. Edsel also advocated for the Mijikai, incidentally. IC, it directly harms Bazard - but Edsel is a serious professional and a jam up guy. So: How does the one wagon on the market do for utility?

This was an idea we tried last round, with more wagons on the market but also more utility vehicles. The Saguaro T-REE 1190 is available in two specifications - the Wagon, and the 350 AMU more expensive EcoWagon. The EcoWagon will set you back an extra 500 bucks at the dealership and an extra 40 per year in fixed costs… And it’s absolutely the one you want here, because the Eco means fuel economy, dropping underneath half that of the C-Line (the most economical of the above). It’s about as fun to drive as the C-Line Bazards, and holds about half the cargo (once you remove the rear seats). Running costs are similar, but the purchase price is a cool 1500 AMU cheaper.

This is perhaps the clearest nebulous competition to the Bazard C-Lines. Had the C-Lines sucked and offered awful cargo capacity or comfort or the like, the Saguaro would have been a sensible replacement for it. Many Bazard buyers would have checked out the big cactus. Instead, the T-REE is really only great for a small niche. The cargo needs to be relatively light, but stuff like sand and mulch aren’t great - you really want a bed there. The buyer needs to be particularly concerned with keeping costs down, and ideally benefits from having three seats in the rear, perhaps to run the family around in addition to work.

Is there potential for some utility buyers to save that little bit of money, deal with the slightly more difficult access of a wagon over a van with sliding doors and a nice wide rear door? I think there is, yes, but not that much. We are talking small amounts of money here after all, for relatively targeted buyers. Are those buyers enough to keep a model afloat? Is it enough of an niche for a somewhat unloved model to find some success? Can it turn a “not quite” into a “yeah, sorta!”? Yeah, sorta! It’s a weird little hybrid work/family wagon and someone, somewhere will want to buy it.

7 Likes
REVIEWS PART 4.9
POST MORTEM

Well, it’s done. Round four is done, right at the 1 month deadline!

Normally, this would be the time where I put together a lobbying post, which is quick enough to do and could come tomorrow. However, there will be no lobbying post now. Why? Because there’s a war coming. Because Araga isn’t going to bring in new laws based on consultation, but rather based on military necessity. Also because spending won’t really make sense, and I’ll say that everyone stocks up some money.

If you are curious, you can see this spreadsheet for stats of the current cars. Given the expected lead time to the next update, these stats should be relevant to the next few rounds of the challenge. I’ll also take stock of how many spending tokens everyone has, and add it to the sheet soon.

Now, to the meat of the post-mortem.

On Fuel
Only a scant few entries used regular gasoline. I had hoped for more of a diversity of choices here, and as I wrote, I realised that there wasn't much I had set up to get into the differences. Had I included some actual price numbers, it might have allowed me to have some more differences. Had I given actual numbers, again, more differences.

Still, the impact of the reality is clear: The transition to ethanol was far swifter than expected, the increased demand causing more farmers to switch to ethanol-producing crops and helping reduce the use of foreign gasoline. Nice.

On Photos

I cannot take credit in any way, shape or form for the idea of including additional cars from prior rounds in the photos I take. That was Edsel’s idea, and I will probably be retaining and expanding on it. What do y’all think of it? What do you think of including additional props as well, like people, if I have the time before the month-long review goal? Today, I did not have time for that. In future, I may.

On Time and Cohosts

You may notice that the reviews for this round came out with massive delays, and in fits and spurts. Bins after just a few days, then almost 3 weeks of radio silence, then three sets of reviews (none of which involved cohosts), then another week, then four sets of reviews posted in under five hours. What happened? Well, three things happened.

First of all, this happened:


Weather in Perth for March. Not Pictured: February sucking too
See, I have a kinda shitty 1-bedroom flat. When it gets hot and stays hot, so does my flat. I have no AC. So, what happens when my living environment is hot? My sleeping environment is too. This messes with my ability to sleep, which just makes everything suck and makes me less productive. It took time to get back to proper amounts of sleep and pay back the debt. I’ll hopefully be moving house to somewhere with AC by next summer. So I started the month behind schedule a little, and this also led into the next two issues…

The second issue was my mental health. It’ll happen, this is why I keep an entire month for reviews I can do in a relatively short span. A whole lot of these reviews were actually done pretty quickly, I could’ve done it in a shorter span if I had been in a good place the whole month and not had sleep issues. It is what it is, it will continue to be what it is, this is a chronic condition which I am now able to manage to a fair extent. I set myself up with achievable goals - and while the radio silence is not ideal, those goals were indeed achieved.

The third issue has to do with co-hosts. There’s a few issues that have come up with co-hosting:

  • Co-hosts have a tendency to push towards finishing their reviews right around the deadline, just like entrants. Makes sense, co-hosts are pulled from challenge entrants and have other things to do. When co-hosts are 50% done with their end, there’s nothing postable - just a half-done segment. When I’m 50% done, that means at least one or two segments done and just needing photos.
  • While I set some theoretical guidelines for what I wanted to have done and by when, I didn’t do much to get people to follow them and they weren’t fully followed. So, co-hosts got behind.
  • The schedule slipped for co-hosts. While Edsel was able to produce a full set of reviews with 36 hours or so left, Moroza would have only been able to do a rough draft by today due to medical issues and the final product would have been even longer away - partially due to medical issues from his end. This is, incidentally, why my milestones included having a rough draft much earlier in the process.
  • Having to restructure the segments meant that Premium reviews referenced Budget. Then my Luxury reviews referenced Premium once I really looked at the segment. Then Utility did the fun tangent thing too, so that needed to be after Luxury. I wrote reviews with a satisfying narrative arc and opted to wait just a little longer and release as one big burst to follow said arc. Most had finishing touches over the past few days, so it wasn’t too long a wait.

Now, some of this may sound familiar. Co-hosts having issues and me having to step in late, long periods of radio silence… We saw all this in ALC3 too.

There’s another issue with co-hosts too, which is the difficulty of defining segments and the potential issues it causes with the collab system. In this challenge, we saw cars completely changing segments (the Katana HT) and we also saw the lines between segments being entirely redrawn (13k and below vs 17k and above becoming luxe interior, prem interior, other interiors). Fortunately for this round, all the movements didn’t cause anyone to play any part in judging their own segments or their own collaborations. But they could. But there’s no guarantee that they won’t in future.

It is for this reason that I will be stopping the use of cohosts going forward, somewhat regretfully. I have immense thanks for everyone who has been involved in co-hosting, Edsel especially for delivering two full slates of reviews on time with little required to be done on my end and for providing numerous ideas and viewpoints, some of which actively went against the interests of your own brand.

On Lobbying

We did a little experiment in between rounds, by having a little debate regarding the colour of indicators. The results, in brief, include:

  • Requiring orange illumination for indicators. Clear glass will be allowed. Red (and other colours) will be banned once more.
  • A bunch of proposals for additional lights to add to vehicles for safety reasons. If it wasn’t for the upcoming war putting a bunch of strain on the economic capacity of the country, I would implement these… But there’s an upcoming war!
On Rules

Personally, I’m fairly happy with the rules. Some people wanted things to be more concise, which they will be in future. There’s also some issues with the definition of a non-car, which I’ll tighten up. I’m gonna throw out two questions though, at the end of this:

  • How do y’all feel about the ADPR? How do you feel about the way points are assigned? How do you like the way it works in general? Would y’all prefer going back to just using the ingame safety score, or do you feel like it adds nice flavour? What would make it better? What would make it worse?
  • Would people be interested in being allowed to submit additional entries? Would that be worth potentially increasing how long it takes to write reviews? I have no problem with reviewing extra cars. I do have a problem with reviewing extra cars in the same timeframe.
8 Likes

Nice round, looking forward to the next one.

As for the two questions:

  • I prefer the ADPR system over the ingame one

  • I would like submitting more entries and I don’t mind having to wait longer for reviews

1 Like

I too prefer the ADPR system, but don’t have a strong opinion either way.

Regarding additional entries: I propose allowing more, perhaps a lot more, but guaranteeing an in-depth review of no more than two. A solid part of my building time was just trying to decide how to allocate my two slots. I came -this- close to doing a ute instead of the hatchback, and had there been no same-chassis restriction, I wanted to do a whole small line of trucks and vans.

Including NPC - non-participating cars - for backgound flavor makes perfect sense.

I don’t mind my piece being edited (and thank you for the kind feedback!), but you removed my bit about a Hieronymous Bosch painting, possibly my favorite visuals comparison and one I’d rarely get to make (it also started the circus theme).

The paint “effect” on the Kutshuriat is nothing more than my crappy monitor, showing me straight up medium metallic green, and more fancy monitors some pearl/black shade, apparently.

Kudos for seeing the limo through the eyes of its intended user and not by bare stats. Indeed, you describe the Dalluhan/my personal ideal of a driver, one skilled enough to drive a manual smoother than an automatic.

I hoped to make a better first impression with the Kutshuriat, though it seems halfway through the review you understood what its purpose was: to be the Mercedes 240D of its era. Steep initial price, but once that hurdle is crossed it’s smooth and happy sailing for a long time.

As for the Al-Sayaadim, its point went slightly missed, or at least deemed not that important. The engine was - unusually for me - tuned to sacrifice responsiveness for being turbine-smooth, matching the car that wasn’t meant for corner carving, rather for impressing passengers. It too references a personal ideal of a car and its driver: one that puts passengers to sleep, who then wake wondering how they arrived so early.

I’m sorry for the intemittent and late contribution to writing. Medical issues aside, it was particularly bad timing. I tried to be as transparent and upfront about these hindrances, and I’m honored you liked my writing enough to ask me to do it anyway, but I didn’t try hard enough to decline outright.

While it did nothing to free up time to actually work on FC1, participating in this round, particularly as a co-host, has given me more clarity and direction for where to take that comp. It’s not set in stone, but may well morph into another legacy/history challenge, albeit with a narrower setting.

Protip for hosting legacy challenges: Really like judging.

I’ll probably have a large novel’s worth of reviews by the end of this, in the space of around a year of IRL time (broken up by the time between the rounds). While you could do a more restricted/shorter legacy series with less writing… It’s still multiple challenges, with expectations for it to be back to back to back.

1 Like

Awesome conclusion to the round! I’m very honored I was able to be a part of it, and am looking forward to where it goes from here. For some notes on the questions presented:

  • I love the ADPR system, it’s a kind of unique quirk that sets the Aragan market apart. I know this is a discussion for after the war, But I’d love to see it expanded and fleshed out even more- like, taking into account disc vs. drum brakes, or adding vehicle size into the equation (I know overvaluation of vehicle size was the main problem with the old system, but it’s not negligible either).

  • Additional entries sounds cool, but I think there still needs to be a limit to prevent scope from ballooning. Perhaps entries beyond a soft limit of 2 incur some penalty. Or perhaps additional submissions need to be earned by successful entries in previous rounds. Maybe it could even work with the token system, where an additional entry costs a large number of tokens that then can’t be used for lobbying.

  • Also, I would advocate for removing the rule that all entries must be on the same chassis. I don’t think it’s really saving that much judging timel on one hand, we already have entries that are way different in application anyway, like Vento’s Conveyor vs. Bolt and Moroza’s Kutshuriat vs Al-Sayaadim; and we also keep complaining about cars like the Saguaro T-REE and Hakaru Carica that don’t do enough to separate their trims. Besides, I think rule may be part of why markets like Utility and sport get disproportionately under/overserved (and same in LHC), the specialized nature of utility vehicles means if you want to make a utility entry, you either have to exclusively make hardcore trucks for the round, with limited potential for variety within the lineup, or make a light-duty car-based ute. Similary, to make the sports car (that many people really want to make) means you have to sacrifice the rest of the market to do so. The challenge encourages companies to try and have the widest reach possible in their lineup, but some types of platforms have more variety potential than others, and I think we’d see more variety if people could differentiate their entries more.

  • And on the debate experiment, I loved the opportunity for companies to get more active in debating regulation. My only complaint is that it got a bit too steered around real world data, and looking for the empirical “best” solution. Living in 2024, we have a lot of hindsight and research as to what lights are empirically useful, which they didn’t have in the 70’s. Plus, when it comes to fictional challenges, the “best” or “smartest” solution isn’t necessarily the most fun one…

5 Likes

Yeah, I’d say that this round was honestly really good. I’m glad that Hikaru didn’t get completely shafted, and that the Katana pair ended up being a relatively successful pair, even considering that the Mijikai was a bit of a dud and the Powerwash was just unnecessary. I certainly do have a little hope that in fifty years in Araga, an old 70s Katana will be looked at the same way a 70s Skyline or Capella is looked at by us, a quirky and possibly slightly flawed Japanese runabout.

Anyway, it would be nice if I could get a bit of input in on Crypt’s questions.

  1. ADPR: Yesh, honestly this was a really good syatem (partially because I put far too much effort into overusing it), and I honestly would like to see a version of it in the next round. The ingame safety score has always been a bit if a deusy, and having a safety score that’s a bit more accurate to what would have been looked at when the car was made is far superior. If i could say anything, I would hazard against changing the rules near at all next round, considering that a government at war would have greater priorities than sorting out safety standards.

  2. EXTRA SUBMISSIONS: Yes, it would be excellent. I’d say that if extra submissions were to be allowed, like an extra two submissions for example, it should be an encouraged (not enforced) to submit an extra car family as opposed to either just having four editions of the same car or four cars entirely. I know it may be selfish to ask you to expend more of your time, but i’m sure all of us would happily wait longer if we could release closer to our whole lineup. I’d also like to second what Edsel said about using the same chassis - the Katana HT at least to me seemed to be getting a little bit of flack for looking exactly the same as the sports model of the car, but having none of the sports credentials - it would be far better if there was more reason to use a different chassis. If I could have used a smaller chassis on the HT, I would have. 2.5 metres for a 2 seat economy cruiser? Seems a bit ridiculous. But that’s just me, I could be dead wrong.

Anywho, this was honestly a great experience and I hope the next round will be just as good. All of my criticisms are really quite minor and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, after all I just admitted that the challenge was excellent!

I like the idea of increasing a ‘soft cap’ to entries (up to four?) through previous success or spending tokens (= meaningful choices!). I’d vote to keep the ‘body family’ rule though (all entries from the same body, different WBs are possible), mainly to make it more straightforward for the participants but also the host (in-depth reviews would then mean having to really learn each company line-up and backdrop).

Based on LHC experience, I found three entries to be a good sweet-spot, allowing for meaningful choices out of a body family, and design (ha!), engineering and lore stays within reason. I found stuff like CSCS much harder with several independent cars of the same era to make (still enjoyed it, but only because I had big gaps to fill in my 2000s line-ups anyway…).

2 Likes

I’m reluctant to introduce a soft cap like that, because keeping parity between entrants means a lot to me. Having some people get more opportunities just because they’ve been in prior rounds isn’t really something I want to do.

Author’s note: I genuinely posted this early, thought my editing window was my test DM and not live. This is subject to change for the next 24-48 hours.

ROUND 5
WAR! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

The round will be open until 11:59 PM UTC on May the 4th, 2024. While the era is from 1977 to 1979, all models are to be submitted as the 1977 model year, to simulate drastically reduced development.

Aperitif For Destruction: How We Got Here

No war truly comes without provocation, no, wars are the result of a buildup over months and years. This is how it was for the war between Windon and Araga. As the seventies continued along, the situation grew more and more tense…

  • November 19, 1969: Investigators at the ATO announce the their investigations into Andante, McElroy and Harrison, causing a contagion event with numerous runs on banks and investment firms. Expected impacts on the economy are incredibly grim.
  • March 10, 1970: A Coalition agreement between the Modernist Party of Araga and the Organised Labour Party is announced, with the MPA holding slightly more seats and thus electing the PM. The OLP’s policy of selective expropriation and nationalisation is accepted by the MPA. The Aragan Stability Party enters opposition. The coalition also holds a majority in the upper house.
  • April, 1970: Legislation is drafted including potential targets for mandatory nationalisation. The regional divisions of several Windonian firms are included in the list - legally independent entities for the purposes of decreasing taxes and getting around ownership regulations. This legislation is leaked to the media by a member for the ASP. Windon immediately protests the legislation.
  • May 19, 1970: Both parties have engaged in spirited debate about numerous pieces of legislation, each aiming to prove their independence. The leaked nationalisation legislation is passed with minimal amendments from the leaked version six months after the Tax Crisis.
  • May 20, 1970: Suspicious fires break out at many of the Windonian firms listed under the legislation. A police report concludes that arson is the cause; the capacities of the firms are permanently damaged, and the firms must be absorbed into others. Windon claims that this is evidence of a biased investigation and threatens sanctions.
  • Later in 1970: Spurred by government spending, the worst predictions of the crisis do not come to pass. A moderate contraction occurs, and much restructuring is occuring, but things are better than they could be. Discussions between the government of Araga and representatives of Centurion begin.
  • January 1971: The coalition government releases its budget for the year. A large amount of debt has been taken on by the government, and the budget is in deficit. representatives stress that this is an essential part of the strategy. The ASP claims that it is evidence of severe economic mismanagement.
  • November 1971: Windon elects a new President on a fiercely anti-communist platform, one who promised to stamp out the “spirit of national masochism, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”
  • July 1972: Windon passes the Arms Trade Act (1972), disallowing sale of arms from Windonian companies to all foreign nations greater than 2 million square km in area. While technically not violating Windonian laws against targeted trade restrictions, commentators point out that Araga is the only such nation besides Windon itself.
  • August 1972: Araga passes a retaliatory law imposing identical restrictions. As an additional retaliation, the arms trade between private companies and the Eudaimonia Pact is loosened, with greater volumes and newer models allowed to be sold to the governments of the east under strict confidentiality agreements. Windon immediately protests; they are ignored once more.
  • November 1972: The first shipments of Aragan arms land in the Amidor W.S.R. They are earmarked for the Runicza U.W.R., currently locked in a frozen conflict with the Windon-backed Kingdom of Cridicza. Campaigning for the 1972 election begins, with the ASP calling for a reduction in military spending to help balance the budget, a sale of the nationalised firms to balance the budget and a rapproachment with Windon.
  • February 1973: During the campaign for the 1972 election, classified military briefing is mailed to several major press outlets detailing military exercises and buildups on the Windonian side of the border. This leaves the ASP’s calls for reduced spending and rapproachment as an albatross around their neck.
  • March 1973: The election sees the ISP, formerly the largest party, reduced in size, holding fifteen seats with assorted minor parties and independents holding twelve. The revelation of Windonian buildup is revealed to be a major factor reducing trust The OLP holds 35, while the MPA holds 38 - the populace was split over which was responsible for the soft economic landing. The ruling coalition strengthens its position.
  • January 1974: The 1974 budget includes the voluntary nationalisation of Centurion, with the current owners kept on in leadership positions. Reasons given include the vital strategic importance of the firm, and the current lack of competition in the utility market. Centurion announces development of a regular-sized platform, which will become the 100 and 120.
  • January 1975: A budget is released five years into the plans of nationalisation, forecasting a balanced budget for the coming year off the back of increased spending, with surpluses to come.
  • March 1975: A ship reported carrying grain from the United Islands to the Kingdom of Cridicza is struck by a rogue wave in international waters off of the coast of the La Ren Free State, causing the front to fall off. The vessel is found to be carrying large quantities of arms.
  • April 1975: Following the incident the prior month, La Ren instructs its customs department to begin searches of all vessels from Windon when they dock in ports. Other Aragan-aligned countries along the northern parts of the continent follow suit. Shipments from Windon to the Kingdom are now more difficult, requiring either long distances without time spent in port or a circuituitous southern route resupplying in the Islander League and one of the unaligned eastern nations such as the Swanwing Isle.
  • May 1975: Active General Quinns “Cannonball” Jespersen is spotted at a protest calling for increased benefits to veterans.
  • August 31, 1975: “Cannonball” Jespersen delivers a private briefing to senior members of the Aragan Government. At 6 P.M. that night, on the nationally televised news, those same members of the government are joined by Jespersen when addressing the media, when the general delivers a bombshell speech. She reveals that she was approached by representatives of the government of Windon who wanted to her to participate in a coup to remove the existing government and install an ASP-led, pro-Windon one with the support of private businesses. Jespersen gives an impassioned speech on the importance of civic duty, and the respect that the military must have for civilian bodies.
  • September 1, 1975: The ASP and Windon government both immediately deny the accusations. An official enquiry is immediately launched into the matter. The ASP is invited to join the commitee; they refuse, then decry the investigation as biased.
  • November 1975: The incumbent president of Windon is elected on a far larger majority, having claimed that Araga was now in league with the evil communists of the Eudaimonia Pact to undermine freedom and liberty, and to defame the character of Windon itself. Windon’s military spending is substantially increased.
  • January 12, 1976: The government announces a budget which returns to deficit on the back of a surge in military spending; even with said surge accounted for, the budget has merely remained balanced due to reduces in consumer confidence with the spectre of war on the horizon.
  • January 13, 1976: Early into the election campaign for 1976 and right after the budget is released, the preliminary report into the plot is released. It concludes that there is definitive evidence of a plot, with intent by foreign agents to cause a change in government; however, no definitive evidence of involvement by specific local agents can be identified at this stage, nor can the progression of the plot be fully addressed.
  • April 12, 1976: The election result is a landslide which absolutely buries the ASP, reducing them to just 6 seats. However, many of the seats do not flow to the ruling coalition, instead flowing to economically right parties and independents; the OLP picks up 2 seats while the MPA picks up 1, forcing the coalition to continue. This sees twenty-six seats held by other parties, with the once-formiddable ASP really just another member of the fractured opposition. Importantly, however, with a fractured opposition and just one seat between the other, it is possible for either member of the coalition to pass or block legislation against the other’s wishes with a large enough section of said opposition. Analysts predict a fractious relationship for the coming years.
  • May 1976: Secret talks between the highest levels of government in Araga and Elefthera take place, with secret agreements made. Araga will provide covert support for a renewed war between Runicza and Cridicza and allow Eleftheran engineers to study advanced Aragan techniques, in exchange for Elefthera providing their industrial capacity and allowing for increased Aragan influence in the Greater Amis Republic and Winsaland.
  • July 1976: The government takes delivery of a heavily armoured, highly classified limousine from DCMW. An offering from Rosanda was reportedly considered, but turned down. The cost is considered extremely high and there is considerable debate.
  • September 1976: A group of snipers shoot at the limousine during an official state tour. High-calibre bullets are aimed at the windshield, windows, hood and tyres. All occupants are unharmed, the engine continues to run and the car is able to escape with flat tyres. The car quickly flees the scene; the bullets are found to be of a calibre commonly used in Windon. The Aragan government demands the authority to perform an extensive investigation in Windon, with investigators from the Aragan National Police allowed to do whatever is needed to find those involved; Windon refuses.
  • January 1, 1977: Windon declares war on Araga, claiming that Araga is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and preparing to commit atrocities against Windon. Sweeping emergency legislation is immediately passed, with the OLP and MPA both committing to a government of national unity.

Further information on the events of the war will be released after the war.

ALLOWABLE SUBMISSIONS, NAMES

I am putting this in as another rules area, due in part to the Mijikai and in part to the war. For submissions, there will be five categories, plus the bonus. You may submit to up to three of them, with up to two entries per category. As before, the two entries in a given category should be related. The categories are:

  • Cars aimed at the standard market. It is highly recommended to have at least two rows of seats for this category - while cars with just one row could succeed here for bachelors and the like, the additional practicality is at a premium in these times of war. Title these ALC5S1 or ALC5S2, for Standard. Utes are technically allowed here, but should be light enough to work for the mass market and not just commercial buyers.
  • Cars aimed at the utility market, which qualify for the utility tax exemption by having a large cargo space. Title these ALC5U1 or ALC5U2, for Utility. If a car would be used by the military and is light enough for Automation to properly similate (for instance, the Willys MB), put it here and it’ll be considered by the military as well as civilians.
  • Non-military non-cars which would not be cross-shopped with regular cars. Bikes and motorcycles are fine, adding a third wheel or a body isn’t. Going with a big rig or a bus which are no longer in the same sphere as cars is fine. Title these ALC5N1 or ALC5N2, for Non-cars.
  • Military non-cars. Any item which would be used by the military short of a really light jeep goes here. Submit your light jeep to utility instead, the military will meet their needs from there. Title these ALC5M1 or ALC5M2, for Military. Please see the recently added note to the military section of the worldbuilding thread - there are no nukes!
  • A hybrid non-car category. Your submissions to this category may be military or civilian, and do not need to be related to your others. Your first submission can be military and your second can be civilian, or both can be the same. Title these ALC5H1 or ALC5H2, for Hybrid.
    – For instance, if you want to make a tank and a plane, submit one of them to military and one of them to Hybrid.
    – If you want to submit a non-car which can have civilian or military uses, such as the AT-802 and the OA-1K Sky Warden, submit them both to Hybrid.

For completeness, cars for the bonus round are to be titled ALC5P - no number, you only get one there.

This system will be continued for future rounds - but the categories will change to standard, prem/luxe, sport, utility and such.

I’ve had suggestions to allow multiple families per category. Please feel free to discuss and comment on this.

LOBBYING & SPENDING

No lobbying occurred following the previous round. Techppol is as before. For some reason, suspension is not being set, I can’t tell why. Make sure to check that.

Techpool
Family,6.0
BottomEnd,7.0
TopEnd,6.0
Aspiration,7.0
FuelSystem,6.0
Exhaust,5.0
Body,8.0
Chassis,7.0
Interior,7.0
DriverAssists,8.0
Safety,7.0
DriveTrain,9.0
Tyres,7.0
Brakes,6.0
Aerodynamics,7.0
Suspension,8.0

ADDED/TWEAKED STATS

The ADPR will be retained, with most scoring staying same - note the moderately increased impact of positive quality.

The ADPR
  • 50%: “Safety technologies” - this refers to the safety tab plus driver assists - but with ABS being unavailable in this era not yet developed, that’s just the safety tab. The following values are designed to roughly line up with the effects in the game
    – Basic 70s Safety scores you 10 points.
    – Standard 70s Safety scores you 20 points.
    – Advanced 70s Safety scores you 30 points.
    – Advanced 80s Safety scores you 40 points.
    – Each positive point of quality adds 2 points. Each negative point of quality subtracts 6.
  • 30%: “Body rigidity” - this is to simulate that certain body types just do better in crashes. It’s also based on ingame stuff.
    – Monocoques (full or partial) get 30 points.
    – Space frames get 20 points.
    – Ladder chassis get 10 points.
    – Fibreglass panels lose 10 points.
    – Each point of negative chassis quality subtracts 1 point.
  • 20%: “Driving characteristics” - this is the special sauce, this is what we add. Cars start at 20 points, then lose them based on certain test failures. For this, the tests are:
    – Terminal Oversteer - any amount as shown under drivability in detailed stats loses 15 points.
    – Insufficient highway performance - taking more than 20 seconds to go from 0-100km/h loses 10 points.
    – Insufficient braking performance - Effective braking distance is your 100-0km/h braking distance, increased by your drivability brake fade. For instance, a car with 45m braking distance but 10% fade on front and 15% fade on rear has 56.25 meters effective distance. A car with over 65m effective braking loses 10 points.
    – I reserve the right to penalise cars here for anything else that I view as unsafe, such as excessive body roll, lift sufficient to send the car flying, etc.

In addition to that, I will be introducing a deeper system around fuel costs and range. See the collapse for the system itself, and the reason for having it.

Fuel Costs, Range

One of the issues with judging last round was how little I really had to differentiate between E10 and pure gasoline vehicles. So, I’m adding a system to address that issue and give me some more stuff to discuss. So, here’s how it all works:

  • Each type of fuel will have a certain cost associated with it.
  • I’ll list how much driving will happen within a segment, on average. It’s worth noting that these may vary based on how you position your car - a trackday hero may be judged alongside a practical sporty coupe, but one will be driven a lot more.
  • Your car will also have a fuel tank size based on footprint and weight, because I did some brief research and found nice numbers that correlate. As before, you get 3 litres in your tank per square metre of footprint, and 0.02 per kilogram. Range is determined by taking your km/L fuel economy and multiplying this range. We can discuss the formula after the round. The more your car is targeted at rural areas, the more important range is - a little mini city car will always have a station nearby, while an offroader driven along dirt trails will take longer between them.

The numbers for this round are:

  • Fuel Prices, Availability:
    – E10 Fuel: 1.70 AMU/L
    – E70 Fuel: 1.00 AMU/L
    – These prices reflect a 1.80 AMU/L cost of regular petrol and a 0.70 AMU/L cost of Ethanol.
    – Both types are available at all stations.

  • Travel Distances:
    – Standard cars will be driven approximately eight thousand km per year during the war. This is a reduction from the existing everage of twelve thousand km, as people are going out and travelling less.
    – Utility cars will be driven anywhere from fifteen to thirty thousand km per year, depending on the exact nature of the business. “Work vehicles” will be on the lower end, while “delivery vehicles” will be higher, if that makes sense.

FIXTURE RULES

The laws are largely unchanged from prior rounds, with some slight changes.

  • Headlights: at least one pair required. Must use yellow or white glass. A total of 20,000 square mm must be illuminated.
  • Turn signals: When looking from the front, there must be two clearly visible on the front face, towards the left and right corners. When looking from the rear, there must be two clearly visible on the rear face, towards the left and right corners. When looking from the side aligned with the rear axle, there must be a rear side indicator clearly visible. The same is true for the front. Wraparound lights are allowed. All turn signals must be orange when illuminated; clear glass is allowed. (Changed from previous era)
  • Tail lights: at least one pair required. Must be red and must use different bulbs to the brake light.
  • Brake lights: at least one pair. Must be red and must use different bulbs to the tail lights.
  • Reversing lights: at least one pair. Must be white.
  • Light visibility rules:
    The light measurinator test has been removed; it was planned to be reworked for the future, but the war has meant the development of the new testing apparatus has been halted. (Changed from previous era)
    – Headlights must be 100 square cm or larger. This means a 10x10cm square, a 5x20cm rectangle, a circle with 11.3cm diameter, etc.
    – All other lights must be 25 square cm or larger. This means a 5x5cm square, a 2.5x10cm rectangle, a circle with 5.7cm diameter, etc.
    – There will be leeway for complex shapes in this. Also, if a light is broken into multiple parts, they’ll all be added to the area. Four 5x5cm headlights is fine.
    – Just about every single unscaled vanilla light fixture (and most mod ones) is legal for this.
    – This measures the illuminated area, not just the bulb.
    – These measurements will be taken with the ruler aligned to the cardinal directions, rather than following the surface of the light. In particular, this means that only the portion of a wraparound light which faces a certain direction counts. I’ve posted some images in the discord about this.
    – Hidden headlamps and the like are legal, but should be noted with your submission and/or have the mechanism clearly visible/extended when submitted.
  • Mirrors: One on each side required, may be mounted anywhere but should be fairly visible from the driver’s seat.
  • Gas cap: must be mounted externally, placement is free but should make sense
  • Wipers: one wiper required on the front. Windshields are also required.
  • License plate: any (unscaled) plate will be allowed, in the narrow, wide EU size. Images of the plate format can be found below, but this design does not need to be used. Single plates are allowed.

OTHER RULES

Changes are all in bold. Note that some of these are all

  • Standard cars may cost a maximum of 10,000 AMU after tax. The standard cars with standard interiors from last round were all in this range. Utility cars may cost a maximum of 12,000 AMU after tax.
    – Even if your car is eligible for the utility tax break, if it’s titled as ALC5S, you should be 10k or less.
  • Your car should have the trim and variant years set to 1977. Model and family years may be earlier, but there are drawbacks for some of this - as the VME Squirrel found.
  • 70s safety is required, and a positive ADPR is required.
  • ABS is banned, to simulate no new innovations coming out.
  • Race interior, race tyres and loudness over 55 are not road-legal.
  • To preserve resources, all vehicles must use Standard or Basic Interiors and Standard or Basic entertainment. Premium, Sport, Luxury and Hand-Made are all banned.
  • Emissions standards have been waived for this era. However, 10 additional spending tokens will be given to cars that could comply with WES5 with a catalytic converter. It doesn’t need to have a cat and pass now, just needs to pass if when I modify the car to add a 3-Way Cat.
  • E10 and E70 are the only fuel available.
  • Tyres: Radial tyres are strongly dominant on the market.
  • Cars should follow the naming system outlined above.
  • Vehicle Taxation:
    – The existing displacement tax has been retained. The new equation is Tax=1.7^((displacement-3000)/1000)*500, and new cars will be charged 3x this value upfront. Cars with turbochargers will be treated as if their displacement is 60% higher. There is a 2000CC tax break on cars with dedicated non-passenger spaces around 35% of length or more “bona fide utility vehicles” - this applies after the multiplier from turbos. I’ve forgotten it a few times, and nerfed it down from last round to account for this, and I will be checking it this time. Cargo space is wild, y’all. Because some people have made mistakes, some notes:
    — Taxes are always positive.
    — If you get a zero or negative taxed displacement due to the utility modifier, your taxes are still positive, and still greater than zero.
    — Decreasing your displacement will always decrease your taxes, and vice versa.
    — The more your displacement goes up, the more it costs to add more displacement, and vice versa.
    – Cars with a 0-100km/h time below 10 will also incur extra tax. Times between 9 and 10 seconds pay 150, times between 8 and 9 pay 300, times between 7 and 8 pay 450 and times below 7 pay 600.
    – Note that these taxes do not apply to non-cars, or to track-only cars not intended for road use.
    – Because people keep making mistakes, I have made a tax calculator. Make a copy and fill it out to find your taxes.
  • Advanced trim settings which do not mirror existing engineering choices are free. Those which do are somewhat restricted. In general, if something can be achieved by engineering - even if it takes multiple steps, like changing morphs then widening wheels - the trim setting should not be used. If you have already used the maximum possible, however, it’s allowed. The settings to be careful with are:
    – Wheel offset, wheel width, wheel diameter, camber
    – Tyre diameter. To a small degree, all tyre settings.
    – Ride height, unless the two add to zero. +2 front and -2 rear is valid.
    – Wheelbase offset. A little is actually fine here, but around 10-20 is starting to get a little suspect - can you use a different model?
    – Engine scale, exhaust size. The game is actually accurate with this sizes, as far as I can tell. Small changes for aesthetics are fine, large ones aren’t.
CURRENT EVENTS, MARKET SENTIMENT

Current events… Araga is at war with an adjacent superpower. There are no other events.

Market sentiments: Premium, luxury and sport are all non-existent in the market at the moment - not just by market sentiment, but by explicit governmental decree. All vehicle production must be pragmatic and sensible. Premium (or better) interiors and entertainment are all prohibited from sale; in recognition of the usefulness of radio as a tool for informing the populace, basic and standard entertainment options are still allowed. People want practical, useful, reliable vehicles that they can get for cheap, because resources and funds are highly limited. Offroad capability is now more valuable, as Araga’s once-pristine roads are being worn down by tanks and shelled as well.

Realistically, regular cars should be banned or heavily restricted too… But this is ultimately a challenge ina car making game. I still want y’all making cars, just… Cars that make sense for the era. If you choose to make a car that complies with the letter but not the spirit of the law, however, you will still be allowed to be sold and may even see additional benefits. Creativity will be rewarded when well-executed.

LOBBYING OPPORTUNITIES

There will be no write-in lobbying for this round. Instead, there will be a debate in the discord towards the deadline surrounding what to do with the peace deal following the war, and a broader forum on rules changes and direction going forward. I invite you to participate, and to come up with your own proposals in advance of this debate and the forum.

IN-ROUND BONUS: PARTISAN RALLY

So, a bunch of you can’t make sporty cars for the main round. I’m not gonna be a complete killjoy here. Hopefully the opposite, in fact. The bonus for this round revolves around small groups of partisans modifying their vehicles for assorted purposes.

The Partisans

For those unaware, Partisan here is used in the sense of WW2 - irregular forces of insurgents working against an occupying force using guerilla tactics. Get in, get out, stay alive and make occupying the area difficult. It’s not used in the more modern political sense. So who are the partisans? They’re a ragtag bunch of guerillas who aren’t officially state sanctioned but who have the tacit backing of the government. Of course, they need vehicles… Fast vehicles, which they’ll get by taking regular ones and modifying the heck out of them.

The actual rules for the vehicles then:

  • Name the car ALC5P - YourForumName.
  • Cars do not need to be road-legal, but it is appreciated if they look like they used to be.
  • Regular pump gas should be used, either E10 or E70.
  • For simplicity, use regular techpool and set the year to 1977. It’s not really accurate to the capacities of these people, but roll with it.
  • There’s no set budget; I’m expecting cars around 20 thousand, but it’s not a hard limit. You want to offer more performance for more money, be my guest.
  • Entries can be completely original designs, modified versions of your own designs from previous rounds or modified versions of someone else’s design from a previous round - if you want other people to use your design, please let me know and I will post the .cars submitted previously in the Discord.
  • I’ll find a use for anything from a modified Helios to a big heavy armoured van.
  • You get a bonus 5-10 spending tokens for including a character with your vehicle.

The following elements are all desirable:

  • Reliability. A car that needs to be repaired often can fight less often.
  • “Ease Of Service”. This will take into account both your service costs, and why they’re high. Cramped engine bay and no filters to keep the inevitable dirt and leaves out? Yeah, that’ll hurt even more. Just using expensive tyres? Those are a bit easier to replace. If it can be maintained from a shed, it’s better.
  • Sportiness, Drivability. These cars will be driven hard, and making mistakes has a massive cost.
  • Offroad - sticking to official roads means checkpoints, controls, etc. Heading off of them means you can get around all that, and hopefully lose any pursuers.
  • Aesthetics, including visual modifications. Wars are fought not just on the ground but also in the hearts and minds. Looking good has many perks. Adding stuff like additional armour, bash bars and the like are all appreciated too, potentially including weapons.
  • Rule of cool. Being cool can get you pretty dang far!
Inspirations

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Entries will receive between 0 and 30 spending tokens on average, with room to deviate from these two.

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Bawron Shipbuilders CRAB
CaRgo Air Buffer.

Bawron Shipbuilders (featuring investment from the Empire Automotive company) presents a Sea-to-Shore transport option for the Aragan Navy.

The CaRgo Air Buffer (CRAB) features a near-eight meter wide cargo deck, with the capacity to carry up to 60 tons of equipment. Powered by 4 Gas-Turbines, two for the rear fans and two for the skirts. The CRAB allows for much increased coastal access for the Aragan Navy giving them a tactical advantage in the incident of war. Through concepting phase in the early 1970s, the CRAB is prepared to enter service in 1976 or 1977 depending on what the Navy requires.

The Target is for a 25 to 30 year expected service life, with capacity for a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for anywhere for a 15 to 25 year gain.

The adoption of the CRAB massively increases the capacity for operative effectiveness for the Aragan Navy and Army in the effect of an outbreak of war.

Detail Shots






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IMPORTANT UPDATE

Turns out that beds are uhhhh… Kinda broken. Numerous bodies are completely incapable of passing, but come within mere centimeters of doing so. Worse still: Most of the morphs that change where the cab ends and where the bed starts don’t actually do anything mechanically. I know because I checked, on multiple bodies, with numerous morphs. The only things that matter for cargo and interior are morphs that change length.

So, you can just cut out part of the cab, turn it into more bed, and Bob’s your uncle! So, if you want to use certain bodies, you just have to do a bunch of 3D fixture work to lengthen the bed at the expense of the cab… that’s a horrible rule. I don’t want to have entries legal but only if you do a bunch of work to modify them and… No. Just no.

So, the cargo bed rule is now suspended. Something new will be implemented in a future round. For now, it’s “bona fide utility vehicles”. Submit early, I’ll review your vehicle and let you know if you qualify and what you need to do if you don’t qualify. Submit late, run the risk of not getting the break.

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