Most modern racing games consist of facsimiles real cars used under licensing agreements from the automakers. The reason is easy to grasp: If you’re playing a racing game in the first place, you probably have at least a passing interest in automobiles, and a car you actually recognize or like could deepen your attachment to the experience.
This wasn’t always the way. In the years before licensing arrangements were common in games, developers designed their own cars. Sometimes, the results were shameless copies, skirting legal action by avoiding names and logos. Many of these interpretations were very well done, given the limited technology of the day, though not all were.
The most ambitious designers, though, constructed original cars that drew cues from familiar vehicles, but repurposed them into a unique whole. These are some of the most memorable cars of my childhood, but these days, they’re somewhat lost to time as game makers favor the real stuff. That ends here: Today, we’re giving some of these fictional beauties their due.