NCDC 1: The New West

Welcome to Normal Car Design Challenge 1! The goal of the NCDC is to challenge players to create ordinary cars with extraordinary attention to detail.

The New West Part I
The place: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The time: 1980. The customer: Matt, 25.

Matt has just turned 25 and is already the patriarch of a young family. After graduating from a prestigious East Coast engineering school back in '77, the world was open to him. However, like his ancestors a century ago, Matt was drawn to the words of Horace Greeley: “Go West, young man.”

Matt and his wife, expecting their first daughter, packed up their few belongings in their trusty 1971 Ford Maverick and headed west to the booming military town of Colorado Springs to work for an Air Force defense contractor.

Fast forward two and a half years to 1980, and Matt’s family is thriving- but Matt’s car isn’t. Two brutal Rocky Mountain winters haven’t been kind to the Maverick, and with a growing toddler and another baby on the way, a change is needed.

Matt wants an SUV to cope with the Colorado weather and have room for his family and all his new outdoorsy hobbies, but the battered, basic Jeep CJs and International Scouts populating used-car lots around town don’t meet his standards. Besides, with his new job making “Defense Technology” (child-killing death machines), Matt has the cash to splurge on a brand-new sport-utility. One sunny morning, he and his family set out to all the dealerships in town searching for their car of the future.

The Brief: Create a SUV that can fit Matt and his growing family in comfort, handle bad weather and rough roads with ease, and match Matt’s active lifestyle.

The Rules:

  1. Trim and Variant must be set to 1980. Model and Engine must be set to 1980 or older.

  2. Body must be classified as an SUV by Automation (no converted trucks) and can be any body year 1985 or older. Any body, including mods, that fits this rule and rule 4 is legal.

  3. Quality of any part must be a maximum of +3 and a minimum of -3.

  4. Vehicle must have a minimum of 4 seats (2+2 is legal) as classified by Automation.

  5. Chassis type must be Ladder, and rear axle must be either Solid Axle Leaf or Solid Axle Coil. Chassis material must be Steel, Galvanized Steel, or Corrosion Resistant Steel. Panel material must be Steel or Aluminum.

  6. Engines may have a maximum of 8 cylinders. DOHC is not allowed, and overhead cam engines may have a maximum of 2 valves. All engines must be naturally aspirated.

  7. EFI is not legal, but MFI and carburetors are. All engines must run on unleaded Regular fuel.

  8. No tubular headers. Cars must have a catalytic converter and two mufflers.

  9. 4WD or AWD is required.

  10. Tires must be radial Hard Long Life, Utility, All Terrain, or Chunky Off Road.

  11. Interior and Entertainment can be no better than Premium. Safety must be at least Standard 80s.

  12. Maximum in-Automation cost is 14,000.


Three Stars:

Practicality: The biggest reason Matt needs an SUV is for his growing family, so this needs to be a practical family car, not just a hardcore 4x4.

Off Road: Matt will need to contend with rough roads, snowstorms, and mountain conditions, so confident off-road ability is a must.

Reliability: A new car is a big investment and should last Matt and his family for years to come and maybe even be passed down to his kids one day, so reliability is a must.

Two Stars:

Looks: Matt isn’t too worried about looks, but he wants to impress at his new job and in the school pickup line. This SUV should project masculine but understated confidence-a goofy-looking, over the top, or ugly 4x4 simply won’t do.

Drivability: Matt thinks of himself as a decent driver, but he hasn’t ever driven a truck or SUV. This should be relatively easy for both him and his wife to handle in the city.

Cost: Despite Matt’s good job, a new car is still a big purchase, and with a young family, Matt is always trying to stretch his dollar. An expensive luxury SUV isn’t an option.

One Star:

Fuel Economy: Matt knows an SUV isn’t going to match his old Maverick for fuel mileage, but a thrifty vehicle will still be nice for those long road trips.

Safety: Matt is concerned about the higher rollover rates for SUVs, and wants his car to be relatively safe for him and his family.

Comfort: Although an SUV is primarily a utility vehicle, it won’t hurt to have a comfortable ride as the miles go by, especially over rough terrain.

Not considered:

Sportiness: Anything that can do the speed limit on Interstate 25 is good enough for Matt.

Prestige: Matt only cares about prestige if it makes his car more comfortable or reliable. A fancy brand name just for the sake of it doesn’t matter to him.

Scoring: Scoring will be conducted by assigning your car a points rank based on how it compares to the other entries (first place out of 10, for example, earns 10 points, second 9 points, and so on until last place earns 1 point). Three star priorities will be multiplied by 2, 2 stars by 1.5, and 1 star by 1.

Practicality will be decided by Automation score, with the tiebreaker being combined cargo and passenger volume.

Off road will be decided by a BeamNG test in Johnson Valley where I attempt to make it as far up a mountain trail as possible, with the tiebreaker being Automation score.

Reliability will be decided by Automation score, with the tiebreaker being environmental resistance score.

Looks will be decided by a Google Forms vote which will be made available here and on discord, with the tiebreaker being my personal opinion.

Drivability will be decided by Automation score, with the tiebreaker being a subjective city driving test in BeamNG.

Cost will be decided by Automation cost, with the tiebreaker being service costs.

Fuel economy will be decided by Automation fuel mileage. Tiebreaker is a BeamNG test where cars are filled with 0.1 gallons and left to run at 60 mph until they run out- winner makes it the furthest.

Safety will be decided by Automation score, with ties broken by skid pad scores to simulate crash avoidance.

Comfort is decided by Automation score, with the tiebreaker being prestige.

Inspirations: Inspirations for this challenge include the International Scout II, Ford Bronco, Chevrolet K5 Blazer, Chevrolet Suburban, Dodge Ramcharger, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wagoneer, Suzuki Samurai, Mitsubishi Montero/Pajero, Land Rover Defender, and Land Rover Discovery.

Deadlines & Submissions: Submissions will be due in two weeks, on July 7, 2023 at 11:59 MST.

Any rule changes you wish to request may be requested in this forum or in the Autoworks discord server, and I will respond as soon as possible.

Submissions may be either here or in the Autoworks discord server, NCDC channel. Make sure your car has NCDC 1 in the model name.

Good luck and happy building!

1 Like

What are the techpool requirements for this one? Is it the default setting (+5 everywhere)?

Yes, default techpool settings :+1:

Any transmission preferences?

No, only what’s in the rules, sorry for late response