Video games have been a popular form of entertainment for decades, and one of the genres that has captivated millions of players is racing. Racing games allow us to experience the thrill and excitement of driving fast cars, competing with other racers, and exploring different tracks and environments. Some racing games also feature realistic physics, customization options, and story modes that add depth and variety to the gameplay.
But what makes a racing game truly memorable and iconic are the cars that we get to drive. Some cars are so distinctive and influential that they become synonymous with the games they appear in, or even with the genre itself. These cars have shaped our childhoods, inspired our dreams, and left a lasting impression on our minds.
In this article, we will look at 10 of the most iconic cars in video games, based on their popularity, design, performance, and impact. We will also explore the history and features of these cars, both in real life and in the virtual world.
10. Ferrari Testarossa Spider: Outrun (1986)
The Ferrari Testarossa Spider is an iconic car that has made a significant impact in the world of video games. This legendary car was first introduced in the classic game Outrun, where players could experience the thrill of driving a high-performance sports car through scenic routes across Europe and America, while avoiding traffic and police.
The Testarossa Spider was a convertible version of the Ferrari Testarossa, a mid-engine sports car that was produced from 1984 to 1996. The Testarossa was one of the most recognizable and successful models of Ferrari, with its distinctive side strakes, wide rear end, and powerful 4.9-liter flat-12 engine that produced 390 horsepower. The Testarossa Spider was a rare and exclusive variant, with only one official example made by Ferrari for Gianni Agnelli, the head of Fiat at the time.
The Testarossa Spider became a symbol of speed, style, and luxury in Outrun, as it was the only car available to choose from. The game was designed by Yu Suzuki, who was inspired by his trip to Europe and his love for Ferrari cars. Outrun was a huge hit in arcades and home consoles, and it spawned several sequels and spin-offs over the years. The game also influenced many other racing games that followed, such as Rad Racer, Chase H.Q., and Need for Speed.
9. Nissan Skyline GT-R R34: Gran Turismo 2 (1999)
The Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is one of the most revered and respected cars in the world of motorsport and tuning culture. This car was also one of the stars of Gran Turismo 2, one of the most acclaimed and realistic racing simulators ever made.
The Skyline GT-R R34 was the fifth generation of the Skyline GT-R series, which started in 1969 as a high-performance version of the Nissan Skyline sedan. The R34 was produced from 1999 to 2002, and it featured a 2.6-liter twin-turbo inline-6 engine that delivered 276 horsepower (although some sources claim it was closer to 330 horsepower). The R34 also had an advanced all-wheel drive system, a six-speed manual transmission, a sophisticated suspension system, and a sleek body design.
The Skyline GT-R R34 was one of the most popular and sought-after cars in Gran Turismo 2, which was released for the PlayStation in 1999. The game featured over 600 cars from various manufacturers, including many models of the Skyline GT-R series. The game also had realistic physics, graphics, sound effects, and gameplay modes that made it a masterpiece of simulation racing. The game sold over nine million copies worldwide, and it cemented the reputation of both Gran Turismo as a franchise and Skyline GT-R as a legend.
8. M12 FAV Warthog: Halo (2001)
The M12 FAV Warthog is not a real car, but it is one of the most iconic vehicles in video game history. This futuristic military vehicle is featured in Halo, a sci-fi first-person shooter that revolutionized the genre and became a cultural phenomenon.
The Warthog is a four-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, hydrogen-injected ICE-powered vehicle that can carry up to three passengers: a driver, a gunner, and a passenger. The Warthog is equipped with a variable armament, such as a machine gun, a gauss cannon, or a rocket launcher, depending on the model. The Warthog is also highly durable and agile, capable of surviving harsh terrain, enemy fire, and even falls from great heights.
The Warthog is the primary vehicle of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC), the human military force that fights against the alien Covenant and the parasitic Flood in Halo. The Warthog is used for various roles, such as reconnaissance, patrol, transport, combat, and command and control. The Warthog is also a favorite vehicle of the game’s protagonist, Master Chief, a super-soldier who often uses it to escape from danger or to assault enemy positions.
The Warthog has appeared in every Halo game to date, and it has become one of the most recognizable and beloved symbols of the franchise. The Warthog has also inspired many fan-made creations, such as toys, models, replicas, and even real-life versions. The Warthog has also been featured in other media, such as novels, comics, animated series, and live-action films.
7. Lamborghini Diablo SV: Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998)
The Lamborghini Diablo SV is a stunning supercar that has dazzled many gamers with its speed and beauty. This car was one of the highlights of Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, one of the most popular and influential racing games of all time.
The Diablo SV was a special version of the Lamborghini Diablo, a mid-engine sports car that was produced from 1990 to 2001. The Diablo was the successor of the legendary Countach, and it was designed by Marcello Gandini, who also worked on the Miura and the Lancia Stratos. The Diablo SV was introduced in 1995, and it featured a 5.7-liter V12 engine that generated 510 horsepower. The Diablo SV also had a rear spoiler, larger brakes, improved suspension, and an adjustable air intake on the roof.
The Diablo SV was one of the most desirable cars in Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, which was released for PC and PlayStation in 1998. The game introduced the concept of police chases, where players could either evade or pursue other racers using various tactics and weapons. The game also had stunning graphics, realistic physics, diverse tracks, and a wide selection of exotic cars. The game was a critical and commercial success, selling over five million copies worldwide. The game also spawned several sequels and spin-offs that continued the legacy of Need for Speed as one of the best racing game franchises ever.
6. DeLorean DMC-12: Back to the Future (1985)
The DeLorean DMC-12 is not only an iconic car in video games, but also in cinema and pop culture. This car was the main vehicle of Back to the Future, a classic sci-fi comedy film that inspired several video games based on its story and characters.
The DeLorean DMC-12 was a sports car that was produced by DeLorean Motor Company from 1981 to 1983. The car was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who also worked on the Ferrari 250 GTO and the Lotus Esprit. The car had a distinctive stainless steel body, gull-wing doors, and a rear-mounted V6 engine that produced 130 horsepower. The car was also notorious for its poor performance, reliability issues, and high price tag.
The DeLorean DMC-12 became famous after it appeared in Back to the Future, which was released in 1985. The film starred Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a teenager who accidentally travels back in time to 1955 using a modified DeLorean that was turned into a time machine by his eccentric friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). The film was a huge hit at the box office and with critics, and it won several awards and nominations. The film also spawned two sequels that took Marty and Doc to different eras and locations, such as the Old West, the future, and an alternate 1985.
The DeLorean DMC-12 also appeared in several video games based on Back to the Future, such as Back to the Future: The Game (2010), a point-and-click adventure game that continued the story of the films; Back to the Future: The Pinball (1990), a pinball machine that featured various scenes and sounds from the films; and Lego Dimensions (2015), a crossover game that featured Marty and Doc as playable characters and the DeLorean as a vehicle. The DeLorean DMC-12 also made cameo appearances in other video games, such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002), Burnout Paradise (2008), and Rocket League (2015).
5. Batmobile: Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)
The Batmobile is not just a car, but a weapon, a gadget, and a partner for Batman. This car was the main attraction of Batman: Arkham Knight, the final installment of the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham series.
The Batmobile in Arkham Knight was a custom-made vehicle designed by Lucius Fox for Batman’s needs. The car had a sleek and armored body, gull-wing doors, and a rear-mounted jet engine that boosted its speed and performance. The car also had a transformable mode, called Battle Mode, that turned it into a tank-like vehicle with a wider wheel base, higher ground clearance, and various weapons and abilities, such as a Vulcan minigun, a 60mm cannon, missiles, non-lethal riot suppressors, EMP, drone virus, and power winch.
The Batmobile was directly controlled by the player and was used to traverse the open-world Gotham City, as well as to engage in combat with enemy vehicles and drones. The car could also be remotely controlled by Batman to assist him in puzzles and stealth situations. The car could also interact with the Batwing, which could deliver upgrades and supplies to the car. The car was also essential for some boss battles and story missions, where Batman had to use its firepower and mobility to overcome his foes.
The Batmobile was one of the most praised and criticized aspects of Arkham Knight, as some players enjoyed its gameplay and integration with the story, while others felt it was overused and forced. The car also had several skins and variants that could be unlocked or downloaded, such as the classic 1960s Batmobile, the Tumbler from The Dark Knight trilogy, or the Jokermobile from the game’s ending.
4. Koopa Clown Car: Super Mario World (1990)
The Koopa Clown Car is a bizarre and whimsical vehicle that belongs to Bowser, the main antagonist of the Super Mario series. This vehicle made its debut in Super Mario World, one of the most influential and beloved platform games of all time.
The Koopa Clown Car is a flying saucer-shaped vehicle that resembles a clown’s face, with eyes, eyebrows, a nose, and a mouth. The vehicle can carry Bowser or other enemies inside its cockpit, and can also spit out fireballs or other projectiles from its mouth. The vehicle can also change its expression depending on its situation, such as smiling, frowning, or crying.
The Koopa Clown Car was first encountered in Super Mario World, which was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990. The game introduced Yoshi, Mario’s dinosaur friend who could eat enemies and gain different abilities. The game also featured 96 levels across seven worlds, with many secrets and hidden paths to discover. The game was a huge success both commercially and critically, selling over 20 million copies worldwide and receiving universal acclaim.
The Koopa Clown Car was used by Bowser as his final weapon against Mario in Super Mario World. In the last level of the game, Bowser’s Castle, Mario had to face Bowser in his Koopa Clown Car in a three-phase battle. Bowser would fly around in his vehicle and drop Mecha-Koopas or fireballs at Mario, who had to throw them back at him or use Yoshi’s tongue to hit him. After being hit enough times, Bowser would retreat into his vehicle and fly away, only to return with a different attack pattern. After being defeated for the third time, Bowser would crash his vehicle into the ground and explode.
The Koopa Clown Car has since appeared in many other games in the Super Mario series and spin-offs, such as Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996), Paper Mario (2000), New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009), Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (2014), and Super Mario Maker (2015). The vehicle has also been used by other characters besides Bowser, such as his son Bowser Jr., his minions the Koopalings, or even Mario himself.
3. Audi R8 Spyder: Forza Horizon 4 (2018)
The Audi R8 Spyder is a stunning convertible supercar that has impressed many gamers with its performance and design. This car was one of the highlights of Forza Horizon 4, one of the most realistic and immersive racing games of recent years.
The R8 Spyder was a convertible version of the Audi R8, a mid-engine sports car that was produced from 2006 to 2020. The R8 was inspired by the Audi Le Mans quattro concept car and the Audi R8 race car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times. The R8 Spyder was introduced in 2009, and it featured a 5.2-liter V10 engine that produced 525 horsepower. The R8 Spyder also had a retractable soft-top roof, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and an all-wheel drive system.
The R8 Spyder was one of the most desirable cars in Forza Horizon 4, which was released for Xbox One and Windows 10 in 2018. The game featured over 700 cars from various manufacturers, including many models of the Audi R8 series. The game also had dynamic seasons, weather, and time of day that changed the gameplay and visuals of the open-world Britain. The game also had various modes and events that challenged players to race, drift, stunt, and explore. The game was a critical and commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide and receiving several awards and nominations.
2. Ford Mustang GT: Need for Speed (1994-2017)
The Ford Mustang GT is a classic muscle car that has appeared in almost every Need for Speed game since the beginning of the series. This car has been a staple of the franchise, offering a balance of power, speed, and style.
The Mustang GT is a high-performance version of the Ford Mustang, a pony car that was introduced in 1964 and has been in continuous production ever since. The Mustang GT has gone through several generations and variations, each with its own features and specifications. The Mustang GT has also been featured in various media and pop culture, such as movies, TV shows, comics, and video games.
The Mustang GT has been a part of Need for Speed since the first game in 1994, where it was one of the eight playable cars. The car has also appeared in many other games in the series, such as Need for Speed II (1997), Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998), Need for Speed: Underground (2003), Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005), Need for Speed: Carbon (2006), Need for Speed: Undercover (2008), Need for Speed: Shift (2009), Need for Speed: The Run (2011), Need for Speed: Rivals (2013), Need for Speed (2015), and Need for Speed: Payback (2017). The car has also been featured in various forms and models, such as the Shelby GT500, the Boss 302, the RTR-X, and the Hoonicorn.
The Mustang GT has been one of the most popular and versatile cars in Need for Speed, as it can be customized and tuned to suit different styles and modes of gameplay. The car can also be used for various events and challenges, such as races, drifts, drag races, pursuits, and stunts. The car has also been involved in some of the most memorable moments and stories in the series, such as being chased by a helicopter in Most Wanted, being stolen by Razor in Carbon, being driven by Jack Rourke in The Run, and being modified by Ken Block in Payback.
1. Mario Kart: Super Mario Kart (1992-2021)
The Mario Kart is a simple but effective vehicle that has been used by Mario and his friends and foes in the Mario Kart series. The Mario Kart is one of the most fun and iconic vehicles in video games, as it has been featured in every Mario Kart game since the first one in 1992.
The Mario Kart is a small and colorful go-kart that can be customized with different parts, such as tires, gliders, and engines, depending on the game. The Mario Kart can also use various items and power-ups, such as shells, bananas, mushrooms, and stars, to gain an advantage over other racers or to hinder them. The Mario Kart can also perform tricks and drifts to boost its speed and maneuverability.
The Mario Kart is the main vehicle of the Mario Kart series, which is a spin-off of the Super Mario series. The Mario Kart series features characters from the Super Mario universe racing against each other on various tracks inspired by their games. The series has been praised for its multiplayer modes, gameplay variety, and charm. The series has also sold over 150 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.
The Mario Kart is not only a vehicle, but a symbol of friendship, rivalry, and fun. The Mario Kart has brought joy and laughter to millions of gamers around the world and has become a staple of Nintendo’s legacy.
Ferrari Testarossa Spider from Outrun, the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 from Gran Turismo 2, the M12 FAV Warthog from Halo, and the Mario Kart from Super Mario Kart.