There's action and adventure, but the thing that many popular games have always centered themselves around have also been cars. This is why, from the earliest racing arcades to the most modern titles, the development of automotive industry has always had a direct tie with the shaping of the video game industry. Today, we revert back to the history of cars in games by singling out the most relevant, memorable, and iconic cars that have irrefutably made their marked and affected both gamers and automotive enthusiasts alike. These are the top 10 most iconic cars in video games.
10 Ford GT LM
The Ford GT needs no introduction. But apart from being one of the greatest and most attractive modern supercars to come out of the USA, a certain version of it has also cemented itself as iconic in the minds of gamers globally. We are, of course, talking about Gran Turismo 4's Ford GT LM 2. Though fictitious, the game's epic introductory score featuring stunning shots of this car conquering the runway still holds a special place in our hearts. And for many fans, the Ford GT LM is THE Gran Turismo car.
9 Crazy Taxi
Sega's Crazy Taxi hit the arcades back in 1999, delivering an addictive blend of high-speed and stunt driving, both of which earn the players points to compete. You'd pick up fares across the city and then take them to their destinations as quickly as possible by finding interesting routes and performing stunts along the way for extra points. This game design employed by Crazy Taxi was utterly unique and forever remained associated with this game, which helped make it as iconic as it is today.
8 The Warthog
Another fictitious car that joins this list is the Warthog M12 from the Halo franchise (feel free to also call it a Puma). If you were lucky enough to binge the game, you know exactly what it meant to finally get in this car and start really tearing stuff down. The Warthog is capable of easily hurdling any terrain while ensuring the turret mounted on top does plenty of damage. Though the game was great, hopping into one of these was honestly one of the highlights of playing Halo.
7 Toyota AE 86
The AE86 has a special distinction among iconic video game cars for being popularized not by a racing title as much as the anime it was first featured in - Initial D. Due to the anime's impact in making this car synonymous with racing, many games such as Gran Turismo and Forza included it while retaining its original black-and-white livery from the anime as a token of cultural appreciation. So, if you see a black-and-white AE86 and wonder why this ugly car is given special treatment in racing games or on the streets (lucky you), now you know why.
6 The Green Sabre
If we could set aside only one car in this incredible game as the most memorable, it would definitely have to be the Green Sabre. It serves as an important plot element that allows the protagonist to realize that his 'friends' are collaborating with a rival gang after they see them with the car. You see, the Green Sabre was involved in the drive-by shooting of the protagonist's mother. The mission that followed was hence a major turning point for the game, capturing everything that made GTA San Andreas so great - and the Green Sabre was in the center of it.
5 Nissan 240SX
Every Need for Speed fan has fond memories of climbing up the Pro Street ladder with this customized racing 240SX. But even decades before this car was driven by protagonist Ryan Cooper in the 2007 Need for Speed: Pro Street, this vehicle had already established itself as a legendary JDM race car and one of the best drift cars straight out of the factory. You see, the 240SX was a relatively affordable car with a powerful 2.4L four-cylinder engine strapped to a lightweight chassis with an almost perfect weight distribution for drifting. Because of all this, the 240SX is today one of the most popular JDM cars among racing enthusiasts, and thanks to Need for Speed, even more so among gamers.
4 The Arkham Knight Batmobile
There have been so many Batmobiles in the last half century that it's impossible to use this name without the need to specify. However, when it comes to Batman games, there is only one Batmobile worthy of the title "iconic" - the 2015 Arkham Knight Batmobile. Sure, it's a fictitious car, but boy does it pack a punch. Spinning the wheels are 1200 horses, while the heavy-duty 120-mm armor provides all the protection you could ask for. When you needed that extra kick, there was the WayneTech afterburner that sent the car flying to 60 in 3 seconds and onto a top speed of 209 mph. But, the real fun was in all the artillery it put at the player's disposal.
The Arkham Knight Batmobile is the most iconic version of one of the most iconic vehicles in pop culture ...enough said.
3 FERRARI TESTAROSSA SPIDER
In September 1986 Sega released what would become one of the most popular and iconic arcade racers ever - Outrun. But as much as the game itself, it's the car that was featured in it that deserves special recognition. You may remember this bright red Ferrari Testarossa Spider from the game but not know that there are no roofless Testarossas in existence ...except one. You see, the same year that Sega released this popular title, Fiat's chairman Gianni Agnelli was gifted this special, one-off silver Testarossa Spider as a token of appreciation for 20 years of leadership. And it remains the only officially built model to this day, though there have been numerous attempts of replicating it.
2 Mario's Go-Kart
Mario Kart has mastered the formula of fun all the way back in 1992, and it hasn't looked back since. Today, almost 30 decades later, it's still widely considered the greatest and most impactful console racer of all time.
Though this is not your typical car, it's significance and iconic status among racing arcades is irrefutable. And while there are multiple models included in the game that were equally as good, it's Mario's vehicle that deserves to be recognized as the most iconic.
1 BMW M3 GTR E46
If there's a single video game car that deserves the dub "legendary," then it has to be the M3 GTR E46 from Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Partly a reason for this was the title's immense success among racing arcades, but even more so the "cool factor" it brought to the table coupled with its orgasmic sound emanating from the custom LeMans 4.0L V8.
Despite only 10 units being produced for the global market, the status this car held among video game vehicles paved the way for its feature in dozens of new games, such as 2006 Need for Speed: Carbon, 2010 Need for Speed: World, and 2018 Need for Speed: No Limits - decorated in its iconic Most Wanted blue-and-silver vinyl.