If you’re interested in car design and play video games, Frank Stephenson’s YouTube channel was pretty much made for you. The designer of the BMW Mini, Maserati MC12 and McLaren P1 lets viewers in on his creative process and mindset with every episode, while also contextualizing some of the most polarizing designs of the modern era.
The virtual world has attracted much of his attention — he’s critiqued the fictional cars of Cyberpunk 2077, Burnout Paradise and Grand Theft Auto V. Considering GTA has hundreds of cars — and just received more with the recent Los Santos Tuners update — the designer’s decided to go back and take a look at what he missed the first time around. I never expected he’d actually come away preferring a GTA car to the actual car it’s ripping off, though.
Frank doesn’t have wonderful things to say about most of the fake cars in his latest video, save for one. That would be the Dinka Jester RR, GTA’s stand in for the Toyota GR Supra. And he doesn’t find it merely to be a fitting tribute — he totally digs it.
I think this is the first car that GTA has done that actually improves on the looks of the OEM version. This car speaks my language; in other words, there’s a lot less confusion of surfaces, everything starts to seem like it’s designed with one idea, one theme in mind. It’s a lot more cohesive. I feel we’re in a parallel dimension because here, we’re operating in a world where GTA typically takes two cars that don’t really make a lot of sense, and they smash them up and you get something a little bit strange. Where in fact, they smash two cars together here and they do make sense.
To be honest I’m not exactly sure what car Frank believes Rockstar Games’ artists mashed up with the Supra to create the Jester; maybe he’s saying that it’s part Supra, part made up, I don’t know. At any rate, Frank praises the memorable scowl of the front end on the Jester, as well as the decision to delete the Supra’s awkward fender vent behind the front wheels. Personally, the garish hexagonal center grille of the Jester is impossible for me to see past, but it evidently won over an influential designer and that’s really all that matters.
While GTA’s car designs have always leaned hard into parody, the Los Santos Tuners update brought designs that aped well-known cars more egregiously than I’ve ever seen Rockstar attempt before. It’s often hard to tell where the joke ends and the tribute begins, because some of the vehicles — like the Celica GT-Four ST205-derived Karin Calico seen above — are so similar across the board, save for one or two elements that leave the copycat effort feeling tongue-in-cheek. GTA thrives on satirizing our world, and its designers have become experts at mocking enthusiasts’ favorite cars simply by making slightly ruined versions of them.
As usual, I recommend watching the rest of what Frank has to say here. It’s a long video, but it begins with the designer analyzing two cars inspired by his own creations — the Weeny Issi and Progen T20. The Mini-inspired Issi especially leaves Frank wondering how they massacred his boy, and I sort of feel bad for the guy.