Real Design Challenge

The Real Design Challenge is an ongoing challenge directly rooted in the real world.

Have you ever wanted to design for a real car company? Thought you could do better than the real designers? Or maybe you just want the challenge of making a car within an existing company’s constraints?

If you said yes to any of those, welcome to the Real Design Challenge!

The premise is simple: each round will feature a real world company (or car model) and you need to design and engineer a car within those constraints. This could either be a revival/continuation of a cancelled model, it could be an attempt at improving a model that exists, it could be a new model for a segment the company has not entered, or it could even be a model that predates a real one.

A few examples: Saab didn’t die and needs a next-gen 9-5. Make a better Pontiac Aztek. Porsche wants to enter the hot hatch market. The retro Mini revival happened a decade earlier.

With the tie-in to real companies, this challenge does have limits of what you can do within Automation (so no diesels, rotaries, hybrids, EVs, etc), but the real fun is trying to fit with a real company in the ways the host chooses.

Maybe the engineering is pretty open-ended other than “realism” and it’s mostly a design challenge, maybe the host will provide a replica of a real engine that must be used in the entries, or maybe there’s a whole platform or body constraint to go with that engine.

As is the norm with ongoing challenges, the winner(s) gets to host the next round or pass it along to the runner-up.

Round restrictions are:

  • Must be a real world company that has actually built cars
  • Production models only (this is not a race car or concept car challenge)
  • Stick to the realism side of things on this one
  • Consider body availability and Automation engineering constraints
  • No tie-ins to fictional Automation brands

These general requirements are in no way final and may be modified based on feedback.


Real Design Challenge: Round 1

It’s the late 1980s and the American companies are gearing up for the 1990s while still struggling through the malaise period that started in the mid-70s. With advancements in technology, the 90s prove promising for a return to form against the onslaught of imports that have been taking important market share over the last decade and a half.

At Chrysler, development is turning to a new full-size car. The top of the lineup is currently occupied by downsized FWD parts bin cars and ancient boats that are due for retirement. While there is development of new FWD full size cars in the works (Chrysler Concorde, Dodge Intrepid, and Eagle Vision), there is also talk of bringing some performance back to the lineup…

The executives want to revive the Dodge Charger for the 1993 model year. No, not the 80s subcompact. The classic muscle car.

Of course the bean counters won’t allow a ‘true’ muscle car as the company finances are still not entirely healthy. The compromise is for a modern full-size RWD car that can appeal to both conservative buyers and muscle heads and take on the competition from Ford and GM­. To play it safe, they will be using an already developed V8 engine for the launch model.

What these executives and bean counters want is an appealing package that offers good value for what it is, something neither too basic nor too pricey.

The Challenge

You’re building a revival Dodge Charger in the year 1993 as a full size car. The engine to be used will be the Chrysler Magnum 5.2L V8 (more on that later).


  • Model/trim set to 1993
  • +3 techpool on all Car Tech
  • Coupe or sedan bodies only (2 or 4 doors, no convertibles/targas)
  • 2.8-3.1m wheelbase
  • Front engine, rear wheel drive
  • 5 or 6 full seats
  • Maximum approx. cost of $32,000

Here is the car file that includes the lightly revised Magnum 5.2L V8 with specs as close to the real thing as I could get: (13.7 KB)

Drop this into your CarSaveImport folder so you can use the engine in your build.


Cars will be judged on a points system for different categories with the points tallied up. The categories of higher importance have more points available, so make them count.

Scoring will be balanced depending on the entries.

10 points

  • Overall styling
  • Period correct design/engineering
  • Does it looks like a Dodge
  • Approximate cost (in Detail Stats)

5 points

  • Recognition as a Charger
  • Service costs
  • Drivability
  • Comfort
  • Practicality

3 points

  • Fuel economy
  • Sportiness
  • Acceleration time
  • Safety
  • Interior styling

Submission rules are the usual. DM me the .car file here on the forums

Model name: RDC1 - yourusername
Trim name: Dodge Charger (feel free to give it a trim as well)

Since the engine is provided, please keep the Chrysler Magnum 5.2L V8 name on it.
I’m also requesting at least one screenshot of your design to be posted before the deadline.

The round will officially open 2024-04-30T23:00:00Z
Deadline for submissions is 2024-05-26T23:00:00Z


Dodge Styling

Dodge Intrepid

Dodge Stealth

Dodge Viper

Dodge Spirit

Dodge Daytona R/T Concept

Dodge LRT Concept

1966 Dodge Charger

1969 Dodge Charger

1974 Dodge Charger

Potential Competitors

Ford Crown Victoria

Chevrolet Caprice

Ford Thunderbird

Pontiac Bonneville

Mercury Cougar

Any suggestions for the rules of this round or the overall challenge? Now’s your chance before this round is officially open.


Fantastic idea! I love the premise, especially for this first round.

Just a question, though — doesn’t +3 seem a little low for a mass-market automaker like Chrysler? I think allowing for a higher “base” techpool (i.e. +6-7, maybe?) but limiting actual quality sliders to a range (say, 0 to +3) could be best. A high-volume manufacturer this mature should probably have above-default (>+5) techpool IMO, but limiting what can actually be put into the car to keep the accountants happy should work. This way, nice things can be had cheaper, but said nice things can’t be so nice they break the bank (or resemble a slice of American cheese).

Also, 6 seats seems like a lot for '93. Weren’t bench seats in the front kind of out the window by then? The original Charger could be had with rear bucket seats, if I recall correctly — a 2/2 split. I’d say 4-5 seems like a better goal to hit, for comfort and safety alike.

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Good points to make, though the game techpool is mainly in place for campaign so you can include features that will be out by the time your car enters production after several years of engineering time. By placing the challenge in 1993 for a 1993 model year car, techpool isn’t necessary. It does allow for more bodies to be unlocked and the possibility of being ahead of the curve with a few features, but nothing too wild.

As for the number of seats, this revival car is a full size coupe or sedan, whereas the original was a midsize coupe. Front bench seats were still very much the norm on full size American sedans in the 90s, and even some midsize models, so that option is there should someone want to explore it. While I did include a few coupes that seat 4 as competitor references, those are smaller than what is being required from this challenge and would also limit the market that Chrysler is attempting to enter here.

To put it bluntly, you’re building something more akin to the modern revival Charger than the original Charger for maximum market appeal.

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Alright, makes sense. Sounds good to me, then. One more thing: Is this just one trim as a sort of concept proposal, or would showcasing, say, both a coupe and sedan model be possible? Maybe a regular coupe and a T-top or convertible variant? (I know this is big and muscle oriented, but it couldn’t hurt to try and take a bite out of the Mustang or Camaro, right?)

You are making one car. It is up to you to decide what is the best thing to showcase to the Chrysler executives. I’m hoping that the point system can allow for a few different approaches to work. Also remember that points will be balanced depending on the entries.

Lastly, no convertibles. I’ll specify that in the rules; a convertible would negate the mass market appeal needed here.

The game likes to count T-tops as convertibles. Would that also apply to the convertible ban? (Sorry, I just love those!)

No t-tops either, revised rules are for no convertibles/targas. I haven’t included the Mustang or Camaro in the possible competitors for a reason.

Fair enough. Big boat it is!

This challenge reminds me of what CSC would be like if the client were a real-life car company.

Question about how this engine fits in the lineup: Is this the highest output engine that will be put in this alternate history Charger? Knowing this will help inform us on what trim level we should be aiming for in terms of what has historically been offered.


Would a tune be allowed? I feel like 230 hp isn’t enough for a modern Charger R/T.

No tuning the engine in any way, it is up to you to decide how to best use this parts bin V8 for the car. You can try to make the most of the 230 hp or make a case for more powerful trims above it in the future. There are many ways to go about this challenge.

What is being developed here is the launch year for this generation of Charger, and Chrysler is playing it safe by using an existing engine without any modifications. Anything after that is still an undetermined future.

(I’ve added this last bit to the brief for added clarity.)

what about tie-ins to real world brands? like Lexus and Toyota, Porsche and Volkswagen, Porsche and Mercedes, stuff like that?

I don’t see how that would apply to this round other than the Chrysler bit, but yeah

Would i be allowed to increase the emissions optimization?
Its 0 on the provided engine which means itd be quite difficult to make it hit the regs
Besides emissions all it affects is the throttle response

@DoesStuff I mean… The entire point of this challenge is to make cars for real brands. I don’t want it to be turned into anything related to Automation brands, either designing for one or using one as the ‘designer’.

@bdub1 nope, no touching the engine. I don’t know what regulations you’re referring to considering I have not asked for anything in regards to emissions.

Following a suggestion for a general price expectation, I am adding an upper limit of $32,000 (chosen after a bit of testing, let me know if it should be higher) and a little clarification:

The approximate cost points are not purely about getting the lowest price possible, but rather the best value. A slightly higher cost that offers much more is a better proposition than a rock bottom price with no features whatsoever.


Big announcement!

Following a fruitful discussion with @Texaslav, the engine for the challenge has been revised to be closer yet to the real thing, and should prove to be an improvement in both performance and economy than the previous version.

To try and avoid confusion, I’ve renamed the car to Placeholder 2.0 and the engine to Chrysler Magnum 5.2L V8. Make sure to download the new placeholder and add the revised engine to your cars, the old one will not be accepted.


This is implying that Dodge wants this new Charger to sit above the Intrepid in its line up, yes?

The Intrepid, along with the other LH-platform cars, were all FWD (but with longitudinally mounted engines - a holdover from their AMC/Renault roots). So yes, the Charger will be positioned above all of those, given the wheelbase range and RWD requirement for this round.