The Car Shopping Round 136 - New Millenium, New (old) Beginning - ENDED

THE CAR SHOPPING ROUND 136 - New Millenium, New (old) Beginning

by mcp928 and mat1476

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CSR Rules


Extended backstory, does not contain any rules

This backstory is a flagrant parody of what is generally accepted as the most arrogant generation in American history (not to be confused with the current narcissistic one). These characters are a deliberate perversion, and accumulation of TV sitcom grade tropes, and should not be assumed as a representation of actual persons.

Welcome to my salt mine.

Andrew is a 39 year old man now 4 years divorced. Having married his highschool sweetheart at the age of 19 the couple quickly set to having children (with the first being born suspiciously close to the wedding despite the pregnancy not being announced until two months after). Having started a family so early Andrew had forgone higher education in favor of chasing his passion in automobiles.

Andrew had worked himself into a comfortable niche as shop foreman shortly after the third child was born. Starting in 1985 he earned an easy $30,000 a year before bonuses. A staunch Republican, Andrew attributed his good fortune to the swelling economy of Ronald Reagan, frequently pointing out that he had rejected all of the charity of the Carter era wasted on the lazy. “Only hard work gives you freedom” he would remark, typically when drunk.

As Linda played the stay at home mother, Andrew would ostensibly work 60 hours per week, although the actual working hours were closer to half that with the rest of the time spent at the favorite watering hole, and the ever present Moose Lodge socials to which Linda was never invited. As the marriage marched on Lindas work became increasingly automated, and she began seeking fulfilment outside the home. She began working for FundAmerica, and later Metabolife between ferring the children and keeping house.

As the 80’s gave way to the 90’s car companies began tightening down budgets to pay for the new safety, and emissions requirements and stay in profit. Cars were more complicated, tools were more expensive, and Andrews margins were shrinking. Linda was doubling down on her investments and kept all of the profits from her business, taking the stocking costs out of the family income. The Moose Lodge was losing members at the rate of mortality, and Andrews liver put a damper on his drinking. After 15 years of having separate lives in the same house Andrew and Linda were a full time couple, with teenagers.

Now making little over $36,000 without bonuses Andrew was now twice the husband at half the pay. The children, who had more lately been raised latch key with Linda traveling for work had embraced the new counter culture. The decor of the house was frozen in the late 80’s. The machines were giving out making more manual chores, and the Jones family down the street, headed Andrews highschool wrestling rival, were flaunting money from trading Enrons, whatever that meant. Andrew, and Linda divoced in 1997.

Enter late 2001, and the '02 models are trickling on to TV, and into showrooms. The youngest is now 18, and Andrew is no longer on the hook for child support. “Slick Willie” is out, and took his recession with him. Andrew has a class action settlement check from Berkely Nutureceuticals. It’s a new year, a new millennium, and time for a new, single Andrew. He takes a fist full of Oyxs for elbow pain, dials up AOL, and goes shopping for the car that will change his look forever.

Condensed Backstory
Dallas, Texas, late 2001. Andrew, now 39 is 4 years divorced. His youngest is 18, and he has full control of his time and finances for the first time since 1978. Like himself, the country is under new management, and he personally is flush with cash from a medical claims settlement. His hopes are high for the first time he can remember, and it’s time to carry that momentum into reinventing himself for his new life in this new millennium.


● Engine noise limit of 40. Andrew strongly prefers a throaty sound, but not raspy.

● Trim (not engine) emissions limit of 450

● Catalytic Converter, and muffler are mandatory

● ABS/TC are not mandatory yet, but are common enough the exclusion may be seen as cut-rate in anything less than a proper muscle car. Dual airbags however are mandatory in all new vehicles (advanced 90's or better, actual score does not matter). This is a mid-tier production car with several options.

● Trim ET/PU 130/130

● Engine ET/PU 120/60

● Model year: 1997-2002 Trim year: 2002 Body, and engine.

● The car should run on standard 86AKI (91RON), however mid-grade fuel is acceptable if supported by the surrounding engineering decisions. Your gamble.

● The car has to be legal for US markets: Since this is a car, it will be subject to the Green Levy, see chart below. Add the tax to the final sales price.

Green Levy Chart to add on final sales price


● Styling needs to be retro themed. This means a modern, roadgoing interpretation of old sports cars, including racers of a bygone era, hotrods, muscle cars, or even icons of the Route 66 cruisers (or their international equivalent).

● A convertible is preferred, but coupes, and utes are acceptable. The exact type of convertible top is less important, but it’s better if the roof stays with the car. Convertibles will be given some leniency competing for scoring because of the inherent nature of a detached roof. “Roof cutting” with the Negatape mod or Patchwork, or placing fixtures on a hardtop to make a convertible will be scored as a hardtop. Mod bodies are accepted. Big trucks and Meme bodies banned. If you doubt, please ask.

● Two bucket seats are required for the front row. Rear seats will not help, or hurt scoring.

● The Texas dust, and sun are brutal. Environmental resistance of 35+.

● All drive types, and engine placements are acceptable, but FR and FF are familiar and comfortable. This is a road going car that might see gravel, or dirt a few times a year.

● Andrew has a magnificent collection of The Cure, Gang of Four, Camper Van Beethoven, Sonic Youth, The cramps, and other classics he can’t find on CD. A tape deck is a must. Verify it is included in the tool tip.

● Andrew got about $150K in his settlement. He plans to buy his house, and car outright. Average housing prices are floating at $110k in his area, so there is a soft limit of $40k on the car. The less he spends on the car, the more he has for the house. Being a mechanic, Andrew is aware of the cost of low reliability, and he is leery of high repair costs after the warranty ends.

TOP priorities:

● Style. Andrew likes the new retro styling vibe that has been going on, with the manufacturers having guts to put their crazy concept cars to production. It has to follow that theme one way or another.

● Comfort, and prestige. Andrew is middle aged, and possibly dating again. The car needs to have some kit, and some flair.

● Power. The car needs to feel enthusiastic, but remain tame for casual driving. Power numbers are easy to quote, but the real test is between red lights.

● Reliability. Andrew is a mechanic. He can spot a shoddy car from across the street. That said, he can fix his own even if the car is much better with the hood closed.

● Fuel economy. Andrew doesn't actually know the gas guzzler tax is still around, but he does know how bad it hurts to drop $20 at the gas pump (savor that for a moment, or press F).
● Maintenance costs. Also depends on why they are high. Is the engine complex, or just hard to access?
● Sportiness. This is not a sports car, but anything that can earn a big stupid smile on an empty road is more than welcome.
● Safety. If you can keep this car out of a class action claim, it’s fine
● Drivability. Basically anything that doesn't actively fight back is fine.

● Utility.
● Offroad.
● Practicality.

Heritage or backstory around the car is not necessary. Use the references below. We hope to see creative designs that take good inspiration of the late 90s, early 00s retro-modern fashion. We will not look for the ultimate level of detail, especially on the interiors. A simple, realistic looking design that works really well is much better than an overly detailed but unrealistic one. Design in its nature is still a particularly subjective matter, and there is no exception here.




Car and engine model name: CSR136 - FORUM USERNAME
Car trim: Brand and model of car
Engine trim: Engine model and variant


Round opens Friday April 9, 20:00 EDT.

Submissions end Sunday April 18 20:00 EDT. Live countdown will be provided



With that in mind, I think the standard, premium and even luxury CD options for entertainment may be accepted, given that all of those also incorporate a tape deck.

Follow the tool tip for the options. It’s the question mark above the selection. I looked back at it, and it looks like every radio in 2001 has a tape player, so all of them are acceptable.

Dual 'bags are any safety option that SAYS they are there in the description, correct?


What about a car whose exterior design is both retro and exotic at the same time? Will Andrew accept that?

Retro is the main theme here. I fixed it so theres less confusion

Okay, I got me a test mule. Quite frankly, a 30 sportiness rating sounds really steep both in terms of Automation and in terms of the cars we’re talking here. I mean, none of the inspirations listed here have so much as a prayer as far as getting their sportiness above 15-20.

Is it just me or is there hardly any convertible body available between 1997 and 2002 in stock Automation? 1995 has tons, and then only very few for the next couple of years?

1 Like

After discussing with my collegue, we lowered the sportiness requirement to 25.

I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around the Comfort of 45+ combined with a cassette player. Are we foregoing the usual CSR mantra of only one stage difference between interior and entertainment?

I will further clarify that the example cars are more about style cues, than engineering examples. Andrew is looking for something in the category of a fun lite sports car (think pony cars).
This is based on the question “What if the Plymouth Prowler met the original design criteria, and was successful”
There is no exact real word example of the car to base this on.

I know the cassette thing is and odd requirement, but the Mercury Marauder, a famous sleeper of this age had remarkable comfort, and a tape deck. This CSR is about embracing some weirdness.


Tape players were still not unusual even if they were on their way out. In late 1999 my grandfather bought a brand new Mercedes E-class with a tape deck, and that wasn’t exactly a cheap car either.

Honestly, after attempting building a car, I think 45 comfort is quite the moonshot. The best I can really do while still meeting all other criteria with realistic suspension tuning, no minmaxing and semi-realistic components is 30 or so, after a good amount of tuning and fiddling. Setting the minimum requirement any higher than 25-30 would, in my opinion, be asking for realism to be thrown out the window in pursuit of comfort, possibly some French companies just to justify hydro suspension and lots of minmaxing/quality spam. Most of the other requirements seem reasonable, but this one seriously needs to change. The brief is really interesting, I am otherwise enjoying this one (although my eyes are not!). Can’t wait to see how everyone else takes this!


I managed just about 45 along with 25 sportiness, but it’s too tall an order for a minimum requirement. That’s like saying that if the car doesn’t have the sportiness of a Mustang, comfort of a Grand Marquis and env-res of a truck all while costing significantly less than a Prowler adjusted for inflation, deadbeat boomer Andrew will immediately turn up his nose (instabin). I mean, those stats would be more reasonable if the target car weren’t a convertible, which instantly tanks sportiness via several factors at once and moves you at least a whole bracket down the guzzler tax table.


I know I’ve struggled with stats in the past, but it’s good to know I’m not the only one having issues with meeting the minimums. Then trying to fit it under the price cap while factoring in the gas guzzler tax. I’ve gone from eco–turbo V12 to I6 to V8 and I still can’t make all the ends meet. Maybe set it so your car has to meet at least one of the comfort/prestige/sportiness requirements, and the closer it gets to meeting the other two the better it ranks?

Rules have been adjusted. Sorry for the inconvenience!
We deleted this line
“Comfort, and prestige of 45+. Sport of 25+.”
We’ll keep the budget, and the legal requirements, and just shop for the best in that envelope.


One more thing: How much will service costs affect Andrew’s decision?

On top of that, 86 AKI is equivalent to 91 RON if I’m not mistaken.

So… Standard-grade petrol in the USA…

Yes, 86 AKI is 91 RON. Mid grade is also an acceptable tuning if it is consistent with the cars apparent market segment.
Service costs will me a moderate consideration. Our buyer knows how warranties work, and will do most of his own work when possible there after. Reliability and possibly engine fill (depends on how similar all the entries are) will be higher up the list. The actual number just misses the top 5.

Mod bodies are accepted as long as they fit the design requirements.