I’ve written before about low-cost, simple vehicles the car companies aren’t allowed to sell here because they don’t conform to the various edicts issued by the federal government regarding emissions (defensible, within reason) and saaaaaaaaaaaaaafety (indefensible, period – as the government has no legitimate basis dictating such a thing to supposedly “free” adults).
Well, here’s one you can at least buy – and it’s legal to own it, too. No government SWAT teams will descend for having one in the garage.
It’s the $15,540 Mahindra Roxor.
It’s basically a rebooted ‘70s-era Jeep CJ, which means it’s a rugged, simple 4×4. It features heavy duty body-on-frame construction, with a rugged steel body designed to be easy – and cheap – to repair.
It even comes standard with a 2.5 liter turbo-diesel engine, paired with a five-speed manual transmission. Reportedly, the thing averages better than 50 miles-per-gallon.
The hitch is you can’t drive it.
Well, not on “public” – that is to say, government-owned (even though we pay for them) roads. It is for off-road use only. Like an ATV, except it’s got everything you’d need to drive on the road except for a permission slip from Uncle. Which it hasn’t got and never will get because it lacks the EPA and DOT certifications which are the legally necessary prerequisites for getting a registration slip and license plates.
But this gives us a window into the Cost of Uncle.
The Roxor’s closest analog in an Uncle-approved vehicle is the current Jeep Wrangler – which is the great-great-grandson of the ‘70s-era Jeep CJ.
A new Wrangler’s base price is $27,495 – a difference of just under $12,000. This is a very good approximation of the cost of Uncle – of his many mandates. It’s true the on-road-legal Jeep has amenities that the Roxor doesn’t, such as air conditioning and power windows and a nice stereo.
But those aren’t the major price padders.
What gets into real money is building a vehicle to be compliant with federal “safety,” emissions and fuel efficiency mandates.
Especially the saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety mandates.
The Roxor hasn’t got any air bags – or even a padded dashboard. There is no automated emergency braking (mandatory in new cars beginning with the 2022 model year). No back-up cameras. No electronic tire pressure monitor system.
You can, however, see where you’re going – because sideward and rearward visibility isn’t occluded by Uncle-mandated girder-like “A,” “B” and “C” pillars, necessary to support the weight of an Uncle-approved car in the event it rolls over.
Its short (96 inch) wheelbase, 9 inches of ground clearance and top-heavy layout means that if you drive it stupidly – by taking a corner at high speed for instance – it might roll over.