Hi there. We’re moving into part two of our look back at gaming’s less impressive automobiles. Here’s part one, in case you missed it.

Proton Wira – Network Q RAC Rally Championship (Europress, 1996)

Without stepping into review territory, it’s hard to credit that this game was once considered ‘da bomb’, if you forgive the expression [no, it’s unforgivable – FFG reader] in PC racing circles, and I remember PC Zone excitedly declaring it superior to Sega Rally, darling of arcades and consoles of the time.

In keeping with its boxy and slightly pedestrian interpretation of motorsport, there are some suitably unexciting motors to choose from. Those of a certain generation would naturally gravitate towards the Skoda, given it was the butt of many playground jokes in the 80s (“your Dad’s got a Skoda/Lada” etc) and in numerous motoring columns by Jeremy Clarkson as well, no doubt.

However by the mid–late 90s they actually weren’t bad cars. My Dad would now say, they’re basically a Golf, but cheaper. My wife would say, I don’t care, it’s still a Skoda, and if you think we should get one it’s further evidence that you’re turning into your Dad. So, in this case, we’ll plump for the equally crap–sounding Proton Wira.

Mundano – Grand Theft Auto (BMG Interative, 1997)

In 90s Britain, the vote of ‘Mundano man’ was widely considered to have been key in Tony Blair’s reimagining of the Labour party, and the subsequent landslide victory for New Labour in the 1997 general election.

Ahem. Grand Theft Auto isn’t technically a racer, but I’d credit it with being one of the better games to accurately recreate the feeling of driving a crap car quite fast. I mean, in real life, if you floored it in any car and drove like a maniac, it’d be scary, right? You wouldn’t be thinking, “ah, but this is just a Ford Fiesta, I’d really need to be driving a Porsche to feel anything approaching terror.”

Volvo S40 – TOCA Touring Car Championship, (Codemasters, 1997)

Along with rallying, the British Touring Car Championship is another great showcase for the unexciting hatchback or saloon. The selection in TOCA is a veritable middle–class 90s parents’ evening car park.

Helpfully, the game never gave you sufficient information about each vehicle to make an informed decision: I’m sure I remember reading in some magazine or other that the Audi A4 was the best because it was 4 wheel–drive, but I don’t know if that was true. In–game, the Renault Laguna always seemed to finish near the front when controlled by AI opponents, but in my experience was more prone to TOCA’s trademark unexplained sliding off the road when you selected it yourself.

It’s a tricky choice, but in any game that offers you the chance to drive a Volvo, it has to be the Volvo.

Mazda Demio – Gran Turismo (Sony, 1998)

This is meant to be a PC–only list (don’t write in) but the GT games have a proud history of crap cars, even if driving them (in my opinion) isn’t particularly exciting. Anyway, in the original Gran Turismo, you’re forced to do the first licence tests in this boxy embarrassment, which just adds extra humiliation to your failure to do something as simple as drive for a bit and stop in a box.

Some years later, during my one and only concerted attempt to get though Gran Turismo 3‘s career mode, I spent ages trying to win one of the early tournaments, and received some other tiny Japanese hatchback (moderate internet research suggests it was most likely either a Suzuki Alto or Daihatsu Cuore) which I assumed, despite modest appearances, to be some kind of upgrade from my current motor and I tried in vain to soup it up. It turns out you’re just supposed to sell it for the cash or something.

Jaguar XK8 – Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (Electronic Arts, 1998)

As we go through this list, I can’t quite decide whether we’re meant to be looking at the best slow cars or the worst ones. If it was the former, then the Mercedes–Benz SL 600 would be the one to choose from NFS III, ahead of the Aston Martin DB7.

At the bottom of the pile, we have the Jaguar XK8. As well as being peak 90s soft–top naffness in appearance, it never seems as if it’s going very fast at all, regardless of what the speedometer says, and sounds as if it’s stuck in a middle gear at all times due to some kind of mechanical fault.

(Side note: I hadn’t played this for ages, but can report that, despite occasionally iffy handling and boxier graphics than I remember, NFS III still holds up pretty well).

Cadillac Eldorado – Midtown Madness (Microsoft, 1999)

The revamped VW Beetle would be an obvious candidate here, except it was quite a novelty at the time and well-suited to nipping about in urban environments. And, I know, you can drive a bus and a truck in Midtown Madness, but they don’t really count. (Warning: in later lists, trucks and buses may count).

Instead I’m going to plump for the Cadillac Eldorado, which may be a perfectly ok car, but shares a name with one of the worst ever BBC soap–operas, and seems to be the kind of dull 4–door saloon no–one would ever want to go racing in. But you can throw it about a bit and it goes quite fast.

(Note: this screenshot is from Midtown Madness 2 – DON’T WRITE IN!)

In Part 3: The early 00s! With rally games and street racers galore…