My Name’s Adam And My Favorite Cars Aren’t Real

Illustration for article titled My Name’s Adam And My Favorite Cars Aren’t Real
Photo: Adam Ismail

We’ve all gotten the question before: You have a finite amount of cash to blow on one — or maybe if you’re lucky, two or three — vehicles of your choosing.

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We all have our go-to responses. Because I grew up playing Sega Rally and Need For Speed II, my answers invariably include the Lancia Delta Integrale and McLaren F1. Those are the answers I tend to give, but they’re not necessarily the answers I want to give.

Howdy, my name’s Adam. I’m a new writer here, but I’ve been lurking around these parts as a reader for a long time. It’s fair to say that my appreciation for this weird and wonderful world of cars we all enjoy was shaped significantly by this site and the storied names that have penned its many blogs. But long before that, I fell in love with cars by way of video games.

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I really don’t know which passion was cemented first. My earliest childhood memories are of playing Daytona USA on my brother’s Sega Saturn, watching replays of my horrendous driving in Ridge Racer Revolution, and spinning hopelessly in the grass at Autumn Ring Mini in an Aston Martin DB7 Volante in Gran Turismo. We traded in Yoshi’s Story on the N64 to get GT — I wasn’t too happy about that at the time, but it brought me here, so I suppose everything has a way of working out.

When I consider the cars that occupy my dreams, the usual suspects appear: iconic Group B rally legends, Le Mans homologation specials, Japanese street racing heroes and whatever the hell the Aixam Mega Track is.

The venerable Assoluto Bisonte of Ridge Racer Type 4 fame in its many flavors.
The venerable Assoluto Bisonte of Ridge Racer Type 4 fame in its many flavors.
Image: Bandai Namco

But there’s also a world of cars that could appear only in my dreams, like the Assoluto Bisonte from Ridge Racer Type 4, a racing game so rich with lore in its fictional car companies and teams, it’s a great travesty it was never adapted into at least a manga. Or the all-wheel-drive FTO LM Edition racecar from Gran Turismo, which should have compelled Mitsubishi to launch a ludicrously expensive global GT program in real life based on its looks alone. And who among us could forget the legendary Hornet of Daytona fame, canonically piloted by Virtua Fighter star Jacky Bryant?

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That R33 GT-R LM homologation special at the top of this post may as well have been made up. There’s exactly one in the entire world, and those who watched it roll off a trailer in the intro cinematic for the original Gran Turismo 22 years ago likely weren’t even aware of that. You can imagine my shock and utter bewilderment when I found it at the 2018 New York auto show, of all places.

Somewhere in my parents’ basement, there are Sterilite drawers overflowing with sketches of racetracks that were modifications of tracks from my favorite titles, and you’ll find old thumb drives loaded with random design experiments, from game interface mockups to branding for Wipeout racing teams. And like every dude on the internet, I have a podcast, called Time Extend, where a friend and I chat at length about these things.

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I’ve already noticed a serious deficiency on my part though — I own but one car. This falls well short of the Jalopnik contributor quota of many cars, though I’m willing to correct that. I own an orange Fiesta ST nicknamed Tails; the red Dart and blue Focus that preceded it were named Sonic and Knuckles, respectively. I can hear your eyes rolling and I don’t blame you — this is probably going to happen often, so we best settle in and get used to it now.

Seriously though, I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the best dang community of car nerds on this web, and I hope to make things y’all enjoy. And if I’ve inspired you to consider the fonts in your ride’s instrument cluster or dig up a copy of a forgettable racing game you haven’t played in 15 years, I’ve done my job.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. 2017 Fiesta ST. Wishes NASCAR was more like Daytona USA.

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DISCUSSION

You sound too young to remember this, but back in Daytona USA’s hey day (I actually still have my early model Sega Saturn, that I nowadays more play imports on than my NA library) the arcade was everywhere in any major arcade. If the place wasn’t able to pony up for Daytona USA it was Virtua Racing instead (typically the two player cabinet), and most of the time these places would still have some good older racing game hold outs such as Super Monaco GP (the sit down one prior to Sega having to remove the ‘Marlbobo’ and ‘Hoster’s’ advertisements) or Hard Drivin’.

Starting in later 1994 there was a local arcade entertainment “fun zone” to me that in addition to having an indoor fun park, one of the best laser tag games I’ve ever played, and a full service McDonalds, their star arcade attraction was an eight player Daytona USA setup complete with the auxiliary televisions that would show the track map and “TV” race to people standing around. It was very much possible to play all eight players simultaneously for a race and instead of the #41 Hornet car each player was given 1 through 8. Once every blue moon if the place wasn’t busy the attendants would up the arcade’s track setting, which instead of 8 laps on the beginner oval you could run 20 (‘grand prix’) or 80 (‘endurance’). Even 20 laps against a full field of eight live players was a racing experience that absolutely just doesn’t exist anymore, even online, because effectively regardless of how good you were at Daytona USA you still weren’t actually great at it, and most races turned into smash fests or just messing around.

It took me a while to like actual road cars. I grew up watching mostly motorsports (was more of an Indycar fan, since it’s hey day prior to the 96 split was in the later 80s/early 90s, and that’s mostly when I watched it as a kid) but as I got closer to driving age I started enjoying road cars more.

I have a story similar to the R33 story. I was in Tokyo last year, and decided to make a random trip to Odaiba island. There was a few things I wanted to see there so dedicated the whole day to it. I was wandering around the VenusFort mall (it’s a huge mall that has a medieval/greek-ish theme to it). Toyota has a free-entry museum there along with a “showroom” and a small restoration shop. Just randomly sitting in a side room along with a bunch of rally Celicas and Corollas was the extremely rare AW11 MR2 222D that only had two built and was never raced. It was a car I had always read about over the years but never thought I would see it in such a random place. And I thought the Toyota 2000 GT in an earlier room was the craziest thing I was going to see on the trip.