Interstate '76 Enthusiast's Q&A

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I'76: Answers for the Driving Enthusiast

A few months ago, I received a letter from one C. Baho, who asked many exacting and technical questions. Questions most people just wouldn't know to even ask. Unsprung weight, cross weight balancing, strut tower reinforcements, the whole hog. So for all you weekend road warriors who are wondering how I'76 fits into realities performance cars and modifications, read on... What you find may be depressing, but hey, you get to put guns on these cars, so it can't be that bad!

Mr. Sui,
Thanks for making a science out of this wonderful game. Too bad for you, you probably get a lot of guys like me asking you the same dumb questions, but here goes: The manual says that different size wheels have different weights but there is no weight change when configuring vehicle. Do wheels not count in curb weight?

About wheels:

  1. What do the do in terms of size? Better road grip, damage resistance, both, or what?
  2. What sort of effect, if any, does putting different size wheels on the front and back of cars have?
  3. Any drive issues -- RWD, FWD, AWD? I take it they are all RWD, as most of the "real" cars were. Are the rear wheels the ones with "bite?" Where does chassis reinforcement come in handy with regards to traction and steering?

General config:

  1. How can one calc the results of diff engines in any given car? I suppose the horsepower is set, but acceleration differs?
  2. How to calculate road grip - lateral acceleration? What have you found to be the one car/config that "corners on rails?"
  3. What good is side chassis reinforcement? I always drop mine to the absolute minimum and seem to do fine -- but am I missing something?
  4. Does front/rear weight distribution have an effect?
  5. Do brake choices - including the special, X-Aust Brake, have an effect on the hand break?
  6. Do the specials weigh anything? As ammo is used, does it lighten the car?
  7. In what increments does weight make significant changes: is it per pound or like in tens or even 100's?
  8. Does anybody or any site have data on all the cars in Nitro pack like the original I76 player's manual?
  9. Do the lower (1st and 2nd) gears have different performance in acceleration, uphill grip, or engine breaking?

Baho! Your making my life difficult! These are some of the hardest questions I've ever been asked, mainly because most of you questions are items which can't really be tested with any accuracy, but rather it goes on gut feel, so here are my guts... :)

[guts pic]

Now onto some answers. In I'76, bigger wheels (rims, actually) are always better. They provide more traction/grip (possible because the game physics know that smaller rim size=greater torque on the fly?), take more damage, and handle progressively better the bigger they get. It's obvious they should weigh more, and have a huge effect on performance (being unsprung weight), but they don't change weight at all. Dissimilar rim size is an effective strategy in some situations. I can remember many a deadly duel for the 1st place spot on the AVA ladder against EMP Zaphod, who, in an attempt to avoid my AIMs while lining up for his merciless backpedaling mortar attacks, equipped his car with 13" wheels in the rear for an awesome increase split second jink reaction times to avoid my A9's. This was a viable tactic and he nearly prevented me from retaining my ranking on the AVA ladder. All cars in I'76 are true RWD (rear wheel drive). However, they can be driven in FWD format while in reverse, and true to their form, you will find increased climbing ability from a dead start in reverse (FWD cars are better climbers then their RWD brethren). No cars are AWD, but that would be a neat hack for someone to do...

Horsepower per engine is set, but I can't really tell you, other than through the SSSG engine analysis study, how much power there is, and even then, there is torque to consider. By analyzing the data however, it would appear that the 6 cyl engine has near 200 HP, the V-8 250, the V-8 SHO 300+, and the V-10 near 400 HP. In the end, just like real life, it's all about your power to weight ratios. Small cars with small engines are just as fast as big cars with big engines, except they handle better. What corners on rails? Hard to say, but in no particular order, ABX Lep, Phadera Rattler, Picard Pirhana, just to name a few. And that's with the coil overs and 16" rims. All those cars are fairly light and have good body weight distribution (which is why they don't spin out so easily). Side chassis reinforcement is usually only good for protecting you against getting T-boned by an enemy in combat. Usually not worth the armor loss, but you take a risk... Front rear weight distribution does have an effect, but I'm not sure if what YOU place on the car makes much difference. Some cars, like the Manta, or the Jackrabbit, handle plain weird because of their overall shape. In talking with ex-activision test technician, I was told the E-brake physics are exaggerated and modified to fit into I'76 combat, so I'm inclined to believe you can't affect them; that they're hard coded. Ammunition and specials appear to have no effect on weight, though it's obvious to me a blower will tack 50 lbs. onto your front end... Personally I don't notice much difference in handling from weapon to weapon changes, the car will handle better with no weapons... but then who are you going to kill like that? Currently, I know of no site which contains the in-depth data on I'76 Nitro vehicles, though Badlands may have at one time, that site has since been closed.

Manual vs. Automatic shifting, a test of this exact situation was conducted several months ago by several I'76 players. I would have posted results but, unfortunately, there's simply not much to say except don't bother with manual when it comes to accelerating... As for engine durability.. that would be a neat thing, but the only way to blow up your engine in I'76 is to use good aim and lots of ammunition... ;)

Manual vs. Automatic Drag Racing...

Extensive testing has proven that there is no more of an increase in acceleration using 1st and 2nd gear toggles than staying on drive gear. We conduted a series of experiments focused on several vehicle chassis-engine combinations, and sadly, there was no evidence to support our hypothesis that performance could be gained in this manner."

- R66 The Jaff


Great questions, many I had found asking myself at one time or another, it's unfortunate for us "drivers" out there, but I'76 simply doesn't provide for those looking for real world driving situations and conditions. It's simply a hardcore, Mad Max meets Jimi Hendrix kind of trip into another dimension, something it does very well. I've inquired into the possibility of camshaft grind options being available for I'82 but the reply I received wasn't even half serious. From the developer side, there is no interest in making I'82 a 'realistic' auto combat game. Let's hope then, at least, they release the source code so those dedicated to making the Interstate games the best they can be can do it ourselves. Thanks for your questions Baho, as always, it's a pleasure to provide answers!