The Open Road [SUBS OPEN]

Pony Car Showdown: 1985 Bannack Sheridan BS20 vs Arlington Foxhound XRi

From Issue #1 of 1985

And before you ask: Yes, we did in fact stand these two muscle cars forty feet apart. Yes, we had both of them perform a highly unsafe and lengthy simultaneous peel. And yes, you may cut out this picture and use it as you see fit; we are not ashamed. Such are the lengths we go to here at The Open Road for dramatic effect. In any case, this is a showdown long in the making. Two of the hands-down most powerful pony cars on the market, both sporting high-performance 303-cubic-inch engines outputting over 230 horsepower. Both of them look pretty good, so we’ll assume ther is no “ugly” and try to resolve which of them is “the good” and which is “the bad”… Draw!

The Arlington Foxhound is in its fourth model year - pending, in fact, a major facelift for MY1987 - but looks as fresh as ever. The XRi option enters its third year, and second with the current engine. The Bannack Sheridan is a brand-new body, and signals the nameplate’s sharp pivot towards muscle - and it looks it, with a body that actually uses its taller body to add sharpness to its aero-optimized design - and also harkens back to the origins of the pony car class, looking more like a sportier compact car and not a stretched 2-seater. The strangest part about this impression is that it’s totally disconnected from reality: the Sheridan is the one riding on a unique - and simplified, for hot-rodders’ pleasure - chassis, whereas much of the Foxhound’s architecture will be carried over to Arlington’s next-generation front-drive passenger cars. We aren’t sure on whether or not the Sheridan’s design beats the space-age Foxhound with its bombastic rear bubble and outrageous windshield rake, but it does make entry quite a bit easier - and creates some much-needed contrast in the pony segment.

The ‘simplicity’ we were talking about in the Sheridan’s chassis refers to its suspension setup - a strut front end and a live axle rear. This isn’t a promising sign for the car’s ride, but it does mean it can handle lots of power and is good for straight-line starts. The chassis itself is a rust-proofed unit body, same as in the Arlington. The Arlington’s suspension setup - the first independent suspension on a pony car remains the same, with transverse leaf-sprung double wishbones in front and coil-sprung diagonal trailing arms out back. Two things put the Bannack into the more complex Foxhound’s ballpark: the larger wheelbase, which in fact is the same on both vehicles, and the year-one introduction of the factory-performance BS20 package. This option comes with a standard torque-sensing rear differential, a serious one-up on the Foxhound’s clutch-type, a high-output 303-cubic inch mill that we’ll get to later, and a sports suspension tune that makes the Sheridan deceptively good under hard cornering.

While we have mentioned that both cars have the same engine displacement, the engines themselves are not the same. The Bannack’s V8 is a carryover from mainline Bannack models - a “good ol” pushrod engine with an iron block and heads, as well as a distinctive 60-degree bank angle which is a result of sharing a production line with the company’s V6. The BS20 trim gives it extremely well-breathing ported heads, a high-lift camshaft and a big four-barrel carburetor. It’s like the engine’s just come from the 1960s, except now there’s some emissions equipment hanging off it. Even with all the dead weight, this mill manages 235 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Most of this firepower is owed to the head, which allows the Sheridan to breathe long after other OHV V8s of our time are out of steam. We expect this engine to be souped up immediately after purchase by at least a tenth of its buyers.

The Foxhound XRi’s engine, one we’ve tested before, is a different animal. “XRi” stands for X-Ram Injection - essentially two throttle-body injection units sitting in place of carbs on a performance crossram manifold. This system, unlike some competing units, is a good power makes due to the manifold being able to handle high airflow loads - but it’s not the only trick up the Foxhound’s sleeve. The system has been made to work with a true perpendicular-valve, rocker-arm-actuated, single-overhead-cam valvetrain. It still has 2 valves per cylinder, but due to the perpendicular positioning they breathe much better - and combined with the trick injection, make the same 235 horsepower as the BS20 mill with much milder, more efficient cams that also help yield 15 more lb-ft of torque. We believe that this engine has somewhat less tuning potential due to the complex technology that makes it tick.

Before our test drives, we thoroughly inspected both cars’ interiors. As larger, more comfortable pony cars, these two have to prove their worth in terms of interior appointments. The Sheridan has a solid, if old-fashioned, interior, with easily readable black-on-white analog gauges and a cover hiding the modern cassette player. Modern amenities are all available however, from modern air conditioning to electric windows. The rear is accessible, will hold short adults comfortably and has the middle available as a possible third seat. The Foxhound matches its competitor blow for blow; it also includes a digital instrument panel which we’re not entirely sure we want. The plastic cover on it bends and gives when you press onto it. The rear seats are separated by the full-length center console, and while legroom is okay and entry from outside is even easier through the worryingly long doors, there are serious issues with the headroom. Also, if you drive away from the sun, it’ll fry your passengers’ domes through the rear bubble window. The Arlington’s interior comes standard in a greyish-white color - a common Arlington feature that highlights the manufacturer’s Southern roots. The test car was not equipped in an optional black interior or anything of the like. Overall, the interior battle is pretty much a tie - with an edge to the Sheridan for practicality. It also gets an extra point due to having a real trunk instead of the dubious glass hatch of the Arlington.

Those points, however, are not maintained in regular driving - and that’s putting it lightly. The Sheridan has a very harsh ride courtesy of its sports suspension - not helped by the fact that half of it is, indeed, the beefy rear axle. Even on a well-paved highway, don’t expect a relaxing ride; if there are potholes about, God help you. Another factor contributing to everyday discomfort is the somewhat short overdrive gear - if it can indeed be called that, given that top speed in this car is reached at the peak of said gear. Worse still is the fuel economy, sitting flush with the bottom of the barrel in this market sector. Contrast that to the competition: The Arlington, which is in fact a softer car on top of having an IRS, soaks up bumps much better if not necessarily well - and has a proper, honest, generous overdrive 5th gear. Just don’t let Arlington forget that they only added it last year, trailing much of the industry. Finally, the fuel economy… Well, it consumes a third less gas compared to the Bannack. Overall, it’s just a nicer car to drive around.

Things were more interesting on the track. The two cars are virtually identical in their 0-60 and quarter-mile times, with our tests showing the Sheridan actually sweeping the board in passive performance - likely due to those shorter gears. It almost matched the Arlington’s taut cornering - an impressive feat for a solid axle - and had much more progressive breakaway. The Arlington continued showing that one flaw of its independent suspension that we all know and hate - scary liftoff oversteer, a natural consequence of the diagonal geometry. The two posted similar results around the test circuit; we are dead sure that the Arlington could have done better, but we couldn’t make a proper, practiced fast lap because by the time we got the oversteer sorted, it faded its brakes off. The reason? The rear is equipped with drum brakes, and discs are optional. What an oopsie, Arlington.

So: your choices in the premium pony market are a traditional pocket rocket that slays on the track but has issues remaining at all drivable, and a high-tech renegade that would’ve won it all if not for a rear end in serious need of an upgrade (ironic, considering it’s “independent” and all). The latter option also costs a significant AM$2,400 more than the Sheridan. That being said, despite coming out 3 years later, this Sheridan generation ended up being the old traditionalist in this comparison against the Foxhound’s onslaught of innovation, on nearly all fronts - even the name ‘Sheridan’ is that of a Civil War general, whereas the Foxhound shares its name with the latest Soviet interceptor jet. Tradition and value-for-money facing off against the most advanced and unconventional pony car of all… So, which is it?

2nd Place - Bannack Sheridan BS20

The Sheridan’s first-year showing is a good one, but there are several area that make it… Less than entirely optimal. The suspension is too stiff, the gears are shorter than desired, the engine eats like an old-school Big Block and the tires are a tenth too thin - with better and wider units, it could have actually, decisively toppled the Arlington on the track. That last point is not to be ignored, though: The Sheridan was that close to punching out a bigger fish. Maybe in a couple years it will, perhaps with an updated engine and better wheels. For now, this package is still worth buying if you want an easily tunable dragster.

1st Place - Arlington Foxhound XRi

Yep, this thing’s still dominating. The ride is absolutely class-leading, performance is very good, even economy is acceptable - and it still looks like an angry spaceship. This test does show, however, that all is not well - that some sub-optimal components in the Foxhound’s arsenal must be updated quickly if Arlington hopes to keep justifying the hefty markups its sports coupe commands over other ponies. Rear disc brakes should really be standard on a top performance model, the suspension shouldn’t send people into orbit unabated, and - like with the Sheridan - larger wheels and tires are becoming an absolute must. Sure, they made it easier to shoot that magazine cover, but “wheelspins are fun” is no excuse to cheap out on rubber.

The Texan coupe emerges from this fight bruised, but ultimately victorious. Arlington execs have been touting upcoming updates featuring true port injection, tuned headers and perhaps more valves to keep improving on the Foxhound’s unique cammer; we wait eagerly, but cautiously. As for Bannock? The ball is in their court to catch the Foxhound at the next cycle.

By The Numbers

Arlington Foxhound XRi

Body and Layout: OOOOOIOOOOOO3-door hatchback, longitudinal front-engine rear-drive

Engine: OOOOOOO303ci V8, 16-valve SOHC, iron block/alu head, twin throttle body injection

Suspension(F/R): OOOOOOOOOOOIOOOOOOOO Control Arms/Semi-Trailing Arms
Brakes(F/R): OOOOOOOOOOOOIOOOOOO 12.4in vented steel disc/11.0in steel drum
Wheels: OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOIOOOOO Alloy rim, 215/65VR15 tire


Acceleration, 0-60 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 6.3 s
Best-fit Gear Passing, 50-75 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOI.O.OOOOIOOOO 4.0 s
Braking Distance, 60-0 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOIOOOOO 121 ft
Roadholding, 200-ft circle: OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOIOOIOOO 0.91 g
EPA Fuel Economy (Combined/city/highway): OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.O 16/15/18 mpg

Bannack Sheridan BS20

Body and Layout: OOOOOO.OOOOOOO2-door coupe, longitudinal front-engine rear-drive

Engine: OOOOOOO.IOOOO303ci V8, 16-valve OHV, iron block/iron head, 4-bbl carburetor

Suspension(F/R): OOOOOOOOOOOIIIOOOOOO MacPherson Struts/4-Link Live Axle
Brakes(F/R): OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 11.4in vented steel disc/10.2in steel disc
Wheels: OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOIOOOOO Alloy rim, 205/60ZR15 tire


Acceleration, 0-60 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 6.4 s
Best-fit Gear Passing, 50-75 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOI.O.OOOOIOOOO 3.8 s
Braking Distance, 60-0 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOIOOOOO 121 ft
Roadholding, 200-ft circle: OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOIOOIOOO 0.88 g
EPA Fuel Economy (Combined/city/highway): OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.O 11/10/13 mpg

Thanks to @Executive for the Bannock Sheridan BS20. If you want your own car reviewed, please read the directions in the thread’s first post.


Road Test: 1995 AVION Vulkan Turbo 200

Highs: OOOO.IOO.O True, value-minded sportiness; Good interior appointments; Flashy looks Lows: IOOO.IOOO Harsh ride and gearing; Unforgiving steering dynamics; Absent practicality Summary: OOOOOOOI.OOOThe most serious light sports coupe to date - for better or worse


From Issue #8 of 1994

The resurgent light sports car market - consisting of both front- and rear-drive coupes and two-seater roadsters - has reshaped the face of performance recently, stealing the spotlight from larger, more luxurious GTs and personal luxury coupes - even hobbling the sales of longstanding muscle car nameplates. Avion, ever the savvy company, has entered this market swinging, and with a somewhat unique configuration: A hardcore two-seater coupe.

This car, the Vulkan, is in many respects a front-engined alternative to something like an MR2: No back seat, a dedicated platform with advanced suspension geometry, and rear wheel drive. This Turbo 200 trim is equipped with a 1.8-liter boxer four augmented by a turbo, producing - as per the name - 200 ponies. All this is covered up by a svelte, contemporary two-door body with a considerable amount of aerodynamic elements. We think that it looks much more ferocious than most current sports coupes - which is always welcome.

The inside of the car is similarly nice. Trimmed with black and red leather in the Turbo and complete with in-dash gauges, the interior has an overall ‘throwback’ vibe rather than a ‘hyper-modern’ one. This is enhanced by the presence of chrome and steel in places such as the gear lever and door latches; the sunroof is also welcome, but the absence of a proper CD player is disappointing. Another gaffe - though an aesthetic one this time - is the incongruently beige headliner.

On the open road, the Vulkan is only acceptable. While the sophisticated suspension soaks up bumps pretty well overall, the front springs and dampers are extremely over-tightened, and for no apparent reason to boot. The engine’s big single turbo takes a while to spool, and - to make matters worse - has no traction control to brace against when it does. While this won’t disturb an experienced driver much, it’s still nice to have some slip regulation for rainy days and such. And as a sour cherry on top of this heap of imperfections, the close-ratio transmission doesn’t actually have a good overdrive ratio - at all. The overall drive ratio in fifth is legitimately comparable to a 1960s Rock Crusher transmission - that is, you’re screaming away at almost 3500 RPM at highway speeds. To Avion’s credit, however, interior space is much better than one would expect, thanks to the company not attempting to cram baby seats in the back; we only wish more manufacturers would follow this example.

Predictably, this punishing street behavior translates to serious track prowess. Even with the mild tires from the factory, the Vulkan Turbo’s staggered setup and nonexistent weight allow for serious grip in corners, enhanced by the considerable downforce it produces - something that most coupes don’t bother with. The steering is neutral to a fault - and while the suspension is sophisticated enough to preclude wild and constant oversteer, it can get unnerving from time to time. Acceleration is strong with proper, turbo-friendly shifting technique, rivaling more powerful and expensive coupes. There is only very minor brake fade; it’s not a real issue. Overall, the Vulkan Turbo 200 is properly fast - which is exactly what it was built to be.

In the world of light sportscars, the Avion Vulkan is a very good offering overall - quick, light, and not overly expensive. You get an alloy engine, rapid acceleration, very good handling - all that jazz. However, if you’re the kind of person to daily a sportscar, look the other way: this is a weekend and track anomal that knows nothing of peace.

By The Numbers Price as Tested:OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOI.OOOOOOOOOOOOAM$27,900 Body and Layout: OOOOOOOOOOOOO2-door coupe, longitudinal front-engine rear-drive

Engine: OI124ci flat-4, 16-valve DOHC, alu block/alu head, electronic port injection, turbo charger

Suspension(F/R): OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIIIOOOOO Control Arms / Multi-Link
Brakes(F/R): OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 12in vented steel disc / 10.8in vented steel disc
Wheels(F/R): OOOOOOOOOOO.OOOOOIO Alloy rim, 205/50ZR16 / 225/45ZR16 tire


Acceleration, 0-60 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 5.7 s
Best-fit Gear Passing, 50-75 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOI.O.OOOOIOOOO 3.7 s
Braking Distance, 60-0 mph: OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOIOOOOO 118 ft
Roadholding, 200-ft circle: OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.OOOOOOIOOIOOO 1.02 g
EPA Fuel Economy (Combined/city/highway): OOOOOOOOOOOOO.O.O 24/24/23 mpg

Thanks to @alen.alic1983 for the car. If you want your own car reviewed, please read the directions in the thread’s first post.


Good stuff. :sunglasses::ok_hand:
Just the way I imagined the car to be :sunglasses:

Honestly speaking, I want one now. :smiley:


There is one issue though…
It’s Vulkan, with a K :sunglasses:

The file I got said ‘vulcan’ and I went off that at the time of writing. Will correct.

1 Like

My bad, my fault as well

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Heyo, listen my car has an interior but its really low detail and isnt thought about much, can you explain why having a detailed interior matters so much?

It matters because usually, if somebody’s taken the time and care to make an interior, then the rest of the car is at least somewhat well designed and engineered. Which is important for getting a decent review out.

Do you have something until 1990 that you’d really like to check out? A specific kind of vehicle?
Until 1990, because I did not build a newer car yet.

I dunno, send me a preview or something in DMs. The reason I haven’t done a review in a while (aside from the updates) was that people were sending cars that just didn’t make sense on any plane.

I’ll send in a car this afternoon!