My two cents worth
For 1/8 onroad, I'm pretty sure Capricorn is the top dog. That said, it's an expensive top dog. I'm driving an Edam (little known company) in my first year of 1/8 4wd and I have no complaints. The car is easy to set up, handles like a dream, seems fairly durable, and costs me about 1/3 the price of a Capricorn. I think if I get my engine/clutch details worked out, I'll be able to demonstrate the potential of the car better, but it's definitely a cheap and decent alternative for those who don't have thousands to spend.
For pan, Motonica gets kudos from me as they are the only thing around at this time, I have to give them credit for making the attempt. That said, this winter I'll be building my own pan which will be a hybrid of a few cars. It'll be our own pan design, but most of the parts will be off the shelf, partly to save on cost, but also to give people (should we mass produce the thing) the option of building their own car using what parts they feel comfortable with.
Our car will feature aluminum bulkheads, aluminum front axle and side bars...we're going for the durability king. In the past, nothing beat a Delta Super J for durability. We're going to match that, but also try to keep the rolling chassis cost down to 300 or less (200 for build your own) since I refuse to accept you can't have fun without taking out a second mortgage.
We're going to utilize the front and rear hub setups off an Edam 1/8. This will give people the full range of options for setup as to camber, caster and such, but also save a buck since the parts are so cheap.
We'll also be using the Kyosho drive train from the Inferno line. That gives us a diff that seems to be a rock crusher, plus no belt to wear out, no jackshaft with bearings, and steel gears that will probably last the life of the car.
The rear hub setup will allow a person to use brand new rubber and run them right down to the rim without dragging the pan. I like the Motonica guys being able to run cast-off tires from 4wd, and so we'll incorporate that idea.
A lot of breakage in 1/8, pan and 4wd, seems to be from side impact. We're going with a type of adjustable nerf bar that will serve a number of functions. It'll give another grab point to the car, stiffen the body, and protect from the side impact.
We are shooting for a car that doesn't cost a bundle, has extremely high durability, is very low/zero maintenance, and still fast and competitive. I really don't think this is a tall order. The advantages we bring to making that happen are, we've designed and built all kinds of things over the years so we've got some experience in making things happen, plus we're more interested in helping the hobby than making a buck (can you say low overhead?)
I used to build computers for a living. I noticed that the computer built out of off the shelf items was cheaper and worked better than brand name. Cheaper because it's not brand name, and better because the parts were built with interchangability in mind. Working on a Dell used to be a pain because lots of Dell computers would only work with Dell parts..you couldn't grab an off the shelf display card and make it work well (and I'm certain that was on purpose.) We want to keep plug and play, so if someone has a personal preference for other stuff, they can still incorporate that.