Gran Turismo 1 and 2 – The most important racing games ever.

For as long as I can remember I have loved cars. When I was a very young child, I would walk along the street and point out every car that we would pass. Then I would proceed to confirm what make and model the car was, and if it was one that liked or disliked. I’m sure the family were concerned but hey, that was how it was going to be I guess!

For Christmas I would always get a book about cars. ’50 fastest cars ever’, ‘Supercars – The masterpieces’ etc, and I would devour these from cover to cover. There was one in particular by Martin Buckley called  ‘Cars: An Encyclopedia of the Worlds most Fabulous Automobiles’, which I was actually obsessed with.

I would read it every day. I took to school. I took it on School trips. This book was with me at all times, and I memorised as much as I could. It had every make and model you could imagine as well as a whole section on Prototypes and failed concepts…..god it was so gooood! I knew then that I just wanted to know about the details behind cars, the history, the process.

Yeah I know books blah blah nostalgia blah blah……….

I cant remember who it was that got Gran Turismo one first. (OI! ANDREW MATE!!! WHO GOT GT1 FIRST!) Whatever the case the world changed almost overnight. There had been racing games before this, Jaguar XJ220 on Amiga, MicroMachinies, the original Need For Speed, FI games etc. However, this was something else. A ‘realism’ focused racer that was just as serious with detail as I was and that played really well for 1997. That was it for the books. There was a new game in town. Literally.  (hehe, literally. Im a f****** genius)

We played it for hours, even now some 23 years later I can tell you exactly what car Andrew stared off in. A mint green Nissan Silvia S13. Here she is below, be still my beating heart.

Now, it’s important to remember that we were still young and dumb as hell. It took actual weeks before we realised that you could sell the constant stream of poor stat prize cars for gods sake. And then came the next big thing for us to stumble on- performance mods.

Suddenly the whole thing got blown wide open. All those boxy 80’s motors we loved? Well you could slap a bunch of parts on and take the fight to the newest metal there was. It’s was amazing, for the first time we had a say in how the cars would behave (ok, you could upgrade in XJ220 but I’m not letting that spoil a good narrative). There was agency over the choices, over the garage we chose to own and use. It was incredible, like winning the lottery and being able to have the garage of your dreams, even if only in the digital world. Then, only two years later in 1999, the absolute greatest racing game in history was released.

Gran Turismo 2. It was just more of everything in the best way possible. More cars, more tracks, more race types. Rallying, Endurance, single make races. It was incredible, even today I’ll bust it out for a couple of hours and have a good old time down memory lane.

The amount of cars on tap was unreal, both at the time and even in the modern day.  Something like 600 cars across 25+ Manufacturers, lots of which were completely new to us both. we would visit each other’s houses at every chance we could. Shit, I’ve forgotten who got this first too. (ANDREW!! SAME QUESTION AS ABOVE BUT WITH A 2 ON THE END!!)

Amazingly almost all of the road cars had a full two page write up of the history and details relating to the model (hands up who can remember the very start of this inane ramble)

Yes! One person at the back who might be trying to call for help! It was just like playing the car books of old, acres of info on cars the likes of which I still haven’t seen in person let alone on U.K. roads in 1999. I would spend hours browsing the New and Used car dealers, soaking up as much knowledge as I could about the cars in the game. Engine options available in the Honda Accord Wagon? Check. Suspension improvements separating the Mitsubishi FTO GP1 from the GPX? You better believe it. It was a car nerds paradise

That was the point at which I knew cars were my “thing”. Yeah other hobbies and the like would come later in life but cars would always be the tent pole that held up the  canvas of interest over the…. crowd of….. yeah I lost this metaphor a while back.

Look the PS1 Gran Turismo’s are bloody great and are probably the main reason for everything else on this site. They are the reason my interest in cars basically ends in the early 2000’s for better or worse, they are my yardstick for all car based entertainment and I love them.

TVR Speed 12 ftw.