When it comes to car modeling, the developers behind Turn 10’s Forza Motorsports 6 racing simulator for the Xbox One do not mess around.

“We start with CAD data from the manufacturers, if it’s available, but the spec sheets—those aren’t detailed or accurate enough for us. Data research needs to be approached with a skeptical eye,” explains Turn 10 community manager Brian Ekberg.

“We’ve never built a car that we didn’t at least take thousands of photos of. In short, we don’t build a car from scale models, brochures, or extrapolation—we must get our hands on it in some fashion.”

The video game’s car team will use laser scanning to get precise measurements, run hundreds of hours of dyno testing to capture audio, and review pages and pages of sophisticated tire research – and, in fact, conduct their own – in order to make their virtual vehicles look, sound and handle like the real thing.

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But what happens when they can’t find an example of the rare car they’re looking to scan? When the owner of a “unicorn” won’t let them dyno it? When they have to model how bias-ply tires made using pre-war methods behave at high speed?

That’s when they turn to a handful of very generous, yet highly secretive, classic car collectors.

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Chasing unicorns in Seattle

“Obviously, the rarer the car, the harder it is to track down,” said Jon Knoles, design director at Turn 10, when I quizzed him last year about Forza’s car selection process.

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“And there were a couple of barn finds [in Forza Horizon 2] we wanted to do that were really rare, and we just literally could not find one guy in the world who has one. Or if we did, we just weren’t able to convince him to let us put it in the game.”

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But, Ekberg adds, every year since since the launch of the first Forza Motorsports in 2005, their car sourcing team has expanded their directory of classic car owners who are down to let them tear their cars apart in the name of virtual hoonery.

“Some owners are huge Forza fans and some are completely unaware of gaming in general. Some owners race their vintage cars and some consider them treasures to be locked away,” he says.

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“We now know a surprisingly large number of collectors who fall into the former categories on both counts.”

For the full story on how Forza’s Turn 10 Studios convinces collectors to let them dissect their priceless classics, check out Autofocus.ca.

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