ARM Chapter 11: The Decision
10:21 AM, Saturday, XX/XX/2021
Darrell sits in his bed, his laptop beside him as he reads his e-mails. He can smell the fragrance of coffee coffee and hear Julia and the kids’ voices from the kitchen, but his mind is elsewhere. Two weeks have passed since his initial request for restomod proposals, and he’s received four of them. None of them are from Lonestar Labs: his drinking buddy, Joe, has insider info that this local garage is busy with an $80,000 Fiero project.
BRM, Mons Customs, Sparky T’s and Sunset Garage. Darrell has heard of a couple of them. All four looked and sounded promising at first glance… So to make life easier, he invited the more mechanically adept Joe over to his place.
Joe arrives a loutish 15 minutes late, and after a relatively incident-free dinner with the Butler family (in which the guest mostly stays silent so as to not unduly expand the vocabulary of Darrell’s kids) demands to see the proposals his friend has received. After looking thoroughly through the e-brochures, the two discuss Darrell’s options.
The Godzilla is the first car they go over. While Joe praises the rock-solid powertrain of the drop-top and Darrell is impressed by the idea of a classy muscle roadster, the styling - with its bland front end and half-baked rear - clicks with neither man. Darrell in particular proclaims that a six-eyed Mustang is just distasteful. Joe notices a further particularly irritating detail: the tires on the beastly 4000-pound bruiser are stated to be skinnier than the original! Resolving to leave the Godzilla as a fallback option, the two turn their attention to the next proposal.
This car caught my eye at first, but only the middle of the car actually holds up even somewhat upon closer inspection. I liked the engine choice and all, but the way you handled handling (small tires huge downforce) is very unrealistic, and did not actually perform very well when I threw it onto a track. And to elaborate my earlier point about the car not being very striking, here's a split pic of it and the donor car. Which looks meaner to you?
After the overly rotund Godzilla, the lean, mean Canary has quite an impression. Darrell points that the rear of the car has had no serious improvements, and that he would have preferred a car that doesn’t scream “track toy” as loudly - the scaffolding in place of the child bench doesn’t help; otherwise, though, he is impressed. His hopes for the Mons proposal rise further when Joe goes into a long-winded rant about how the car is very well set up for spirited driving, will accelerate like a rocket, and has an engine to rival sophisticated OEM offerings like the GT350R. The Canary is an exciting prospect, but Darrell does push onto the other two proposals - if something can indeed beat this thing, it’d have to be absolutely stunning.
I am legitimately very impressed by the performance of this car; The sportiness stat is honed to a razor's edge, and actual performance was the most brisk of the group, no contest. I My biggest visual gripe is that the car has a fair amount of improvement on the front and then the rear is just near-stock, and it throws me off; and in addition, you broke out the stereotypical duke-style rims that just don't fit this Mustang generation's more techno look. Still, a Class-A effort.
Darrell’s review of the Speed Six begins with him listening to Joe bash Sparky T’s for cannibalizing Cobras and Falcons for its parts, and a thought occurs to the family man: The other proposals, all of which ask for pretty much his entire $30,000 mod budget, include fabricating bespoke suspensions, cylinder heads and the like. Meanwhile, the Speed Six seeks to skirt by on a somewhat smaller budget, but the end result is the most outdated product of the bunch - and the slowest, too, even despite its supposed track aspirations. And though Joe - apparently an old-school Need for Speed fanboy - likes the paintjob, the box-track car exterior does nothing for Darrel. It’s the only car of the four that retains the rear bench, but neither man is swayed by this.
I didn't like judging this car. The reason is that I really like the left-field approach with the engine and the attempt at a real-life parallel with the build, Cobra rear end and all - but all of that hampered the Speed Six's actual fighting chances. The choice of limiting the engine to its stock (if not slightly below stock) real-life output was one that only hurt you: after all, you're portraying a design proposal a tuning company. Tuning an iron-block turbo i6 practically *is* your job resume. Also, I apologize if the livery was not actually an attempt at an M3 GTR livery - but if it was, nice callback. I love that game.
Darrell knows that his jaw dropped the first time he saw the mad, radical convertible design proposed by Sunset Garage. And earlier on, when Joe was clicking through the e-brochures, he clearly saw Joe’s jaw (ha!
) drop even further. Whatever pang of sadness he should have felt at the erasure of his Mustang’s entire exterior is drowned in awe at the jagged edges and hyper-low profile of the Volante. Joe eventually picks himself up from the floor and explains that the Volante can be expected to handle and accelerate well, but will lose out to the Canary in most performance categories - a missing gear here, a fraction of a second there, a tenth of a g off, and so on. The active suspension system seems to be a culprit in the weight, and the engine isn’t quite as bloodthirsty (or generally thirsty) as either friend would prefer, but it’s all still very competitive, and goddamn
it looks good.
As Darrell braces himself for a difficult decision, his middle child, Rex, walks in, notebook in hand - probably to ask for some help with his math homework. As soon as he notices the Volante on his father’s computer screen, said notebook falls to the floor. As does the poor kid’s jaw.
I gave the styling of this car very high marks, if not perfect ones, because it *just* pulls it off. If the shapes were melded any worse, if there were but a couple more of those warped cone shapes, my suspension of disbelief might have been broken. But you did pull it off, you did make it look beautiful, and the stainless steel look does a lot to complement it - so your gamble paid off. On engineering, your car was not as rational as, say, the Canary, but it definitely held its own - and I'm not binning something that good just because the DCT is a speed short.
Placing - and the Verdict
As the evening draws to a close, Darrell gets his thoughts in order and at last comes to a decision:
The Speed Six (4th Place) is the first to go. While there are some very nice ideas behind the design and engineering, it ultimately ends up a leopard fighting lions, with below-par gear and the weakest engine by a very wide (~60 hp) margin, and Darrell dislikes the boxy fenders and the bizarre, nonexistent pseudodiablo door mirrors.
The Godzilla (3rd Place) is next on the chopping block. While the car has probably the manliest and coolest powerplant of the group, and compensates for the shortcomings of its manual transmission very well, it falls flat in the style department. The idea was great. The execution? Well, when Darrell first saw the taillights he though the BRM people screwed up their rendering. And that’s not acceptable.
Darrell was very close to picking the Mons Canary (2nd Place) after Joe’s impassioned speech on its engineering virtues. The car is remarkably solid and rational with that regard, with just the right amount of spending allocated to everything… Expect for the styling. While Darrell prefers the Canary to the prior two entries, it still looks as if somebody took his Mustang and put modern LED rice on it - and though it’s done tastefully, it has the vibe of a tryhard tuner. And that is why it was beaten by a car with much more irrational, flamboyant engineering…
Eh, it’s process of elimination, you knew this was coming. The Sunset Volante’s flamboyant approach to engineering is more than rescued by its equally flamboyant approach to styling. The whole visual package, from the color (or lack thereof) to the mean fenders and the lightstrip-based illumination, comes together in a shocking design, as evidenced by the reactions of Darrell’s entire family. Darrell was also impressed by the well-sorted suspension that takes away the woes of a low ground clearance or the inherent harshness of the car’s sporty ride, and the wonderfully upholstered seats. It was far from an easy decision, what with the Canary being both faster and more nostalgic, but in the end, the Volante’s charm won out, and Darrell wired a $30,000 dollar sum over to the West Coast.
Darrell is ever independent, but he is also a show-off. Having taken delivery of the most stylish car in the county, he was anxious to stick it to the snobbiest and most competitive of his peers and neighbors. So one might be surprised to learn that he hid the thing in his garage for 2 whole days after delivery - right up until Rex’s karate practice that week. It was the only family chore a 2-seater was capable of performing, so when the time came, Darrell lit up the streets for the very first time in the Volante, catching stares whenever he went. Picking up his son from practice was even more satisfying, though: watching fellow parents and kids alike freeze in place and stare as the Butler kid nonchalantly made his way to the stainless-steel beast, hopped right over the door into the passenger seat and was driven away in a glorious cloud of tire smoke.
“That dirtbag Darrell’s new toy” was the talk of the suburb for the next couple weeks - no wonder, seeing as it made the normally quiet area come alive with flat-plane barks and yells. Tales of gapped S550s and LC500s were told, and the price of Darrell’s new car was the topic of every wife’s (and husband’s) gossip. And Darrell was happy, and more smug than a fox: after all, he hadn’t bought a new car. He just spent $30,000 to make everybody like his “pathetic piece of junk” Mustang GT. The only question that remained was when to divulge that fact to everybody else… Something to look forward to.
Gripping the wheel his knuckles went white with desire,
The wheels of his Mustang exploding on the highway like a slug from a .45.
True Death: 400 Horsepower of maximum performance piercing the night!
THIS IS BLACK SUNSHINE
- This article should have been released a week ago. I simply hit a massive, embarrassing block when I realized I don’t know how to write out and punctuate dialogue. And then it took me a week to commit to deleting my existing dialogue and doing everything from third person. This is probably my biggest failure here: I should have just dropped the frills and sent it. But that’s a lesson for next time, now.
- The suspension cost was originally supposed to be $3000 per end - but after a mishap that had me retyping most of the prompt, I forgot to mention it. And if it’s not in the rules then it does not exist, meaning the DW/ML combination most people went with was valid.
- The judging spreadsheet should be up in several days. Gotta swat a space-dyn exam before that, though.
- It’s been tremendous fun hosting this round, even if attendance was a bit lackluster. Congratulations to @HelloHi for the victory - Now I plan on winning your round (Or whoever actually agrees to host), so I can torture y’all some more!
- If I messed up this post, please tell me.