Ever since I started writing here I've had one piece in mind. This one. It's always fascinated me to see my own car history and wonder how video games have treated my former vehicles. After all, actually going out and buying these cars in real life is neither A) practical, B) cost effective and C) actually possible in some cases.
Like many, the cars I drove are now quite rare because of time, rust and the relentless pace of progress. So I've found what I can, or at least as close as I can, of my previous cars in video games and, I'll be honest, it's surprised me how little some of these appear.
Video games are a very European/American/Japan heavy medium when it comes to car choice. While we strive for escapism, and Britain has provided some amazing cars, you won't find many of your bog standard Vauxhall Corsa's that a lot of people learned to drive in. So my thanks to the Internet Game Cars Database (IGCD.net) for helping me find some of the more obscure ones.
What cars have you owned that you've played in video games? Let us know in the comments below.
Nissan Micra (Nissan Micra Super Turbo - Gran Turismo 2)
My first car was an F reg red Mk. I Nissan Micra, much like the one pictured below. 5dr, 1.0 engine and obligatory young idiot 6x9 speakers on the parcel shelf. It's a car that actually survived my start in motoring, despite the steering rack breaking completely and turning the car being comparable to navigating a barge in treacle.
Now you'll find many of the Mk. II Micra's in racing games, especially those around the late 90s. But I only found the one Mk. I and it's this, the Nissan Micra Super Turbo, featured in Gran Turismo 2. A car both super charged and turbo charged and also featuring a 1 litre engine. Given that this is a Playstation 1 game you can forgive the slightly dated 3D but I'd actually say they seem to have done a good job comparatively.
Vauxhall Astra Mk. III 1.4 (Vauxhall Astra SRi 2.0 16v Mk. IV - Gran Turismo 2)
This car was the sporty hatchback every 19-20 year old should not have. This is the reason that insurance premiums suck. It was a lovely car with a great engine, a little bit speedy and about as much traction as a melting ice cube. I loved it. I crashed it.
Oddly, there isn't any Mk. III Astra's in games apart from the well forgotten Europa Racer game for PS1, which featured an unplayable Police Astra. I find that a bit of a surprise given how prevalent the car was and how Vauxhall were a part of the Touring Car championships of the time. But the closest I could find was again from Gran Turismo 2 and it's the Mk. IV 2.0 16v SRi version.
Rover 218 (Rover 216 - The Getaway: Black Monday)
Here is another car that met its end at my hands but this one was a well known problem, it blew the head gasket. The best thing that could be said for my diesel tank was that it was in that lovely shade of green that was as close that I could get to British Racing Green. It didn't help that I was still quite young and hooded jumpers were pretty much the only clothing in fashion at the time. I got many producers from Police Officers who thought I was too young to actually have this car. They were right.
Thankfully, gaming has largely forgotten the twilight of Rover but, somewhere in the annuls of PS2 mediocrity is The Getaway: Black Monday, a sequel to the much hyped The Getaway. This was Grand Theft Auto clone from Sony's own London studio, which put the player at the centre of a London based gangland war. Just remember that British cinema at the time was awash with London crime movies. The closest you'll get to my car though is its petrol brother, the Rover 216.
Vauxhall Cavalier Mk. III (The Getaway: Black Monday)
Because I didn't have a lot of choice or money when my Rover decided to die, I found a very quick to buy Vauxhall Cavalier that, if it did blow up as well, wouldn't cost me the earth to fix. Look I was in bands at the time, I needed a big car to drive all the stuff around, OK? Another car that's not only well known by UK drivers but also but one that did have racing pedigree with the Touring Car championships between 1990-1995.
That was when the Cavalier ended production however so it largely missed the video games of the time. Except of course for the incredibly British heavy The Getaway: Black Monday. The game was not well celebrated and outside of nostalgia and I can't see its car list really making anyone yearn for the past, as this very poor screenshot will attest to.
Range Rover (The Getaway)
Now this one shocked me slightly because I loved this car. I wish I still had it. It is arguably iconic. My 3.5 V8 beast from 1985 (now dubbed the "classic") took me all the way to Swansea and back after being displaced from work following the Buncefield Oil Depot explosion and it only took four fill ups. Seriously though, the moment you hit 70, that fuel gauge dropped right before your eyes.
So it's shocked me that this wonderful vintage vehicle isn't in any games except The Getaway. Sure the Range Rover is now a sporty car, the Forza Horizon series has done great work in showcasing it and military games have shown Land Rover models from the past as well. But this was the car I remember from my youth that first bridged that gap between 4x4 utility and everyday car.
Renault Laguna Mk. 1 (Gran Turismo 2, TOCA Touring Cars)
Here we go, another family style car. I don't have a family by the way so my only excuse is that these cars did not cost me much to buy. At all. My 2.0 litre 8 valve Laguna Executive, which I believe was a P reg, still lives on today somewhere. But for a change, this car DOES have some video game presence!
Not only was the V6 version featured in Gran Turismo 2, which really is a love letter to 90s cars at this point, but we have our first car to actually feature in the Touring Car series! The Renault Laguna 1 was featured in the first two Touring Car games. You might even remember the car being featured very prominently as it was driven by Alain Menu in that lovely blue and yellow livery.
Ford Fiesta Mk. IV (Ford Racing)
Not only are Ford probably the best represented manufacturer in games at this point, they are also the best represented on this list because I've owned two of them. Both of them Mk. IVs and both of them reliable and workhorse like. One of them I owned immediately after my Range Rover became too expensive and so it was dubbed "The Ewok" due to its size difference. It's only been a year since I sold my last one.
Unfortunately, you can only find it in one place. A game called Ford Racing, a series that spawned multiple sequels and had the gall to start you off in a Ford Ka. But unfortunately, until recently, Ford's motorsport Focus (pun intended) was on another new model that was taking the rally world by storm. Now however, you'll find the newer Ford Fiesta in many games.
Hyundai i30 (Hyundai i20 WRC - WRC 7)
And now we're up to date. This is the car I currently drive. Inspired by watching the sibling of this car, the i20, in the World Rally Championship I took one for a test drive. Didn't like it. Ended up getting the i30. Maybe I'm just a sucker for family vehicles. Although the new i30 N will have something to say about that and I'm sure we'll see it in a game soon.
Which will be good because there isn't a single i30 anywhere in video games right now. Plenty of i20's of course from the official WRC games, DiRT games, even Forza Motorsport 4. You'll find the Genesis, the Coupe and even the Velostar in gaming. But no i30. Well you can have a picture of the closest relative available, the WRC i20.