TV & Movie Car Challenge (Round 7): 777 [Results!]

TV & Movie Car Challenge Round 7: 777

Present Day

The pitch has been signed off and production will begin soon on a new summer blockbuster comedy. Taking place in late 1976, three college misfits spend their winter break setting off for Las Vegas to see off America’s bicentennial and to welcome 1977 with a week of debauchery and gambling.

The producers have a specific type of vehicle in mind for the boys:

An American “compact” or “subcompact” from 1974-1976 (trim year). (If you don’t have an American brand in your lore to work with, don’t worry. Just get the style right and you’re good.)

They figure this type of car should fit the misfit personalities of the main characters perfectly, and these types of cars tend to have an inherent comedy in their appearance.

The two most important factors here will be style and historical accuracy. I want a vehicle that captures the essence of these example vehicles as similarly as possible; crap-tastic tech and all. Cheesy 70s graphics and styling cues are highly recommended.

There are two direction you can go here. For an American “subcompact.” I’d expect a wheelbase of 2.4-2.6m, and an overall length of 4.1-4.5m. They should be 2 door coupes, 3 door hatchbacks, or 3 door short wagons. I expect these on a monocoque chassis.

Example subcompacts

Ford Pinto/Mercury Bobcat

AMC Gremlin

Chevrolet Vega/Pontiac Astre

AMC Pacer

Ford Mustang II

Chevy Monza/Oldsmobile Starfire/Buick Skyhawk

The other option would be an American “Compact.” These would have a wheelbase of 2.6-2.8m, and an overall length of 4.6-5.2m. These can be 2 door coupes, 3 door hatchbacks, 4 door sedans, or a 5 door wagon/hatch. Should seat 5 or 6. The example vehicles are monocoque chassis as well, but a ladder frame is acceptable here as well if you choose to use one.

Example compacts

Ford Maverick

Chevy Nova/Pontiac Ventura/Buick Apollo/Oldsmobile Omega

AMC Hornet

Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant/Plymouth Duster

For all entries, I am serious about looking for low-tech period correctness. It is the most important factor in this challenge. RWD with solid rear axles. Rear coils are acceptable, but rear leafs were the norm. Disc brakes would only be found on higher trimmed and larger engines cars. No engines should have fuel injection, or more than 2 valves per cylinder. OHC is acceptable on inline engines, but pushrod was still the norm. V engines should definitely be pushrod. Engines should run on 91 RON and should have 2-way cats. Transmissions should be 3 or 4 speed manuals or 3 speed automatics. Please do some research; I’ve tried to cover here some of the things I expect I will see if I don’t specify, but if you aren’t sure about something, start googling, or if you really can’t find something, ask me, but I will be vague in my response as I don’t want to completely tell you what to build.

Just as important is the vehicle’s appearance. Really try to capture the mid 70s. The compacts are fairly traditional in appearance, but the subcompacts are more quirky, and you can take more liberties when designing one of those. And with either type, I wanna see realistically big impact bumpers. The aesthetic is a primary deciding factor in this competition. Don’t feel the need to go after just the BROWN malaise aesthetic; keep in mind other forms of cheesy 70s trims like faux performance packages, cross-promotional trims, and bicentennial themed trims.

Beyond these factors, I’m looking for factors that the buyer of one of these cars would have cared about at the time. Cheap price, cheap running costs, driveability, reliability, comfort, and fuel economy. But don’t get lost in the sauce chasing stats; these cars will by their nature score poorly, and I would rather see a realistic car than something with good stats that’s less realistic.

Submissions are now open! The deadline will be Noon EDT, Friday, June 26. Please name your model TMCC7 - yourusername


Please use radial tires. Although many of these vehicles would have had bias-plys, Automation’s limitations on bias-ply tire sizes can be a hindrance, so in the sake of simplicity and fairness, just stick to radials.


Coming from someone who’s worked on four Vegas, a Nova, and a Gremlin i’m pretty sure this’ll be where I shine.

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4x4 would be an instabin or not? Thinking in terms of the AMC Eagle and the 70’s Subarus.

AMC didn’t start the 4x4 car thing till the late 70’s-80’s


Yep. First year for 4x4 Eagle was 1980… even though it still used the same body as the 1970 Hornet.

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I think it was still 70’s tech though, and the car it was based upon, the Concord, was little more than a refreshed 1970 Hornet.

Back then, American cars were still quite large compared to their foreign counterparts, so it makes sense.

To that end, choice of exterior color should also be important.


Maybe I can use my 1970 Earl Eagle, adapted to 1974 bumper standards.

Even though it is styled like a “compact” Maverick, Duster, or Nova, it has a 2.4m wheelbase like a subcompact. I hope that won’t be a problem. Maybe by the time submissions open some mods will be fixed so I can make a wood paneled wagon version. Otherwise I might make a “luxury” trim sedan like a Maverick LDO.

One thing I will say is that many of these cars had front disc brakes, at least as a common option.


b r o w n

a v a c a d o g r e e n
h a r v e s t g o l d
b u r n t o r a n g e

Oh hey, cool to see cars which I saw on the subreddit being posted here. Really through build with a lot of attention to detail and period correctness. Def should use that one if they allow for it

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1974 MTC Shaman Browntown


An Australian wagon developed an built by MTC’s American division in Denever, Colorado, to meet the needs of the working class American family. The Browntown is the top trim of the Shaman, and yet comes out to a very affordable $12900.

A lazy revving SOHC straight six coupled to a 4 speed manual with a 2:73 rear end make this a rather sluggish car overall, but it’s not like people would be driving much faster with the 55 mph national speed limit in effect. What differentiates the Shaman from the pack is its four wheel drive system. Introduced around the same time as its main competitor, the North American spec Subaru GL wagon, the Shaman was intended to provide the comfort and drivability of a passenger car while offering the utility and offroad capability of a truck or sport utility vehicle.

Overall, the Shaman Browntown is a competitive entry into the market that proved to consumers than a four wheel drive vehicle could also be a good family car and daily driver, and is widely credited with having created the niche in the automotive market that eventually lead to the crossover craze we’re experiencing today.

edit: fixed the headlights to make them compliant with USDM 1974 regulations

Rectangular four headlamp system was allowed from 1974 but rectangular two headlamp system was allowed only from 1976.

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I didn’t realise that, I even did some research on the matter. I’ll change them so they fit the rules later on.

Rectangular headlamps made their introduction in America in 1975. Large cars were the first to use them, while the smaller cars didn’t start using them until 1978 or so. If you’re going for realism, all submissions should have circular headlamps (or hideaways).




Thanks for pointing this out. For some reason I thought rectangular headlampa were mandated in '74 and not '75

Also you might want to include those 5 mph plastic bumpers. Just take one of those oval chrome bumpers, align it hot dog style, mirror it, and paint it plastic or black.

The rectangular sealed beams were allowed in 1974 and that’s when they started appearing on cars, but on the 1975 models that were introduced later in 1974.


Looking for something… malaise-ing?

How about three shades of brown AND wood grain?

The 1974 Armor Fennec Runabout:


I’ve done a de-facelift of my entry anyway so the car now has round lights with the square ones being a 1976 revision

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