Everyone has a favorite car. Whether they want to admit it or not, it’s true. For some, it may be something classic like a 1968 Ford Mustang or even something iconic like the DeLorean from the Back to the Future franchise. My favorite car is a 1969 Datsun Fairlady Z, and my love for this car comes from interacting with it in video games.
The Fairlady Z first entered my life when I played Forza Motorsport 3 for the Xbox 360 in 2011. This was also my first foray into racing games, after watching my Dad play Need For Speed Most Wanted. At that time I knew that driving took place on city streets and highways, but when I began to play Forza 3, the world of car culture opened up to me. This alongside those open race tracks were something which 13 year old me didn’t even know about or could fathom that people spend thousands of dollars on. And then that’s when I saw the car.
The Datsun Fairlady Z is one of the most beautiful cars ever released and manufactured, the way the hood slopes down to the front and then having the gorgeous rear which has the smallest tail for drag reduction. The name “Fairlady Z” is etched on the sides to the right of the front wheels and having the name pinned on that little spoiler just gives that extra edge, it makes the car feel proud of what it’s inside. It’s a car which blends the style of the 60s and 70s just right. It doesn’t have the rounded edges of 60s cars nor does it have the defined edges of the 70s, it blends them to make something extra special. Because of its age, it is not the fastest car around, but speed isn’t the biggest factor in driving a car like this.
Speed is one thing when driving a car, but the car has to have that feel. Granted, driving a virtual Datsun Fairlady Z is probably nothing like driving the real vehicle, but it always felt right to drive and the larger steering wheel in the car always made me feel like I had more control over the car than having my fingers on some analog sticks. Even the analog speedometer and tachometer on the inside always made me feel comfortable because I knew those numbers were raw and couldn’t be faked on a digital speedometer and tachometer.
Another reason why I genuinely love this car, is because it’s not the show-stopper in movies or TV. It’s a car which lingers in the back shots of city streets, or gets body modifications in an action movie. It’s a workhorse, and that’s part of the charm for me.
When you start most Forza and Need for Speed games, you do the first race driving a very powerful car with high MPH and high torque, and most times it’s the car on the cover. But after the race, you are given the choice of a couple cars to start your journey, and they have significantly less power than the one you just finished a race with. One of those options was the Datsun Fairlady Z, and I don’t remember what the other car options were but I chose this car. After taking it for a virtual spin, I fell in love. This was my car, my first car. I would begin to spend many hours racing in this car, and upgrading its components instead of going for the flashy new cars. There was something fun and humbling about smoking an opponent in a race with an older car.
This love would follow me throughout my various times spent with racing games, and when I was finally able to play the then new entry in the Forza franchise, Forza Horizon, I knew what I had to do. I had to buy it and relive the same moments of joy that I would have driving this car. The ability to drive around an open world where circuits weren’t involved was the literal freedom I yearned for. Driving down the I-70 in a virtual Colorado was awesome, a young Quin was in-game engaging with the freedom that cars brought to people’s lives.
Fast forward to 2019. I hadn’t played a racing game in maybe three or four years. I was able to pick up Forza Horizon 4 months after its launch due to Game Pass, and made an impulse decision to buy the same car which had brought me so many great memories. I dropped playing the game for a while, but due to the current circumstances in the world, I picked it back up. That bond was re-forged, and my sense of ownership to this car was back. Most of the time I spend in Forza Horizon 4 is in this car, and even when I began to play Need for Speed Heat I did the exact same thing. The feelings I have towards this car will always be with me.
Driving this car became a part of my life in ways I didn’t imagine. In both of those games, there are objectives and races to do, but I just want to drive this car. That is a fantasy for me. Getting home from work, and my job has me doing a lot of driving already, hopping into this virtual car and just fucking driving is so catharthic for me. Part of it is due to my love and admiration for this car, but the other part is that it feels good to drive and go fast after following traffic laws for almost 3-4 hours of my day. Now I’m not gonna lie, there have been times when I have pushed my car to go one hundred and sometimes one hundred and ten miles an hour before. The thrill of driving came to me at those moments. I can drive without limits, and that feels good.
I don’t consider myself a gear-head, not even in the slightest. I love cars, but I don’t know anything about them. However, both of these vehicles have brought some of my greatest memories, and driving them has become a way for me to unwind. All of this love is due to a single car, the Datsun Fairlady Z. From the moment I first laid eyes on the car, I knew it was true love. Majority of the time I spend in driving games, I just drive in this car and go as fast as I can blasting music in my headphones until I have to return to reality.