->"'''''The right of way goes to the biggest guns.'''''"

[[caption-width-right:350:''Be Safe. Drive Offensively!'']]

''Car Wars'' was originally published by Creator/SteveJacksonGames in 1980. In this game, you typically play the role of an 'autoduellist', a futuristic sportsman who drove in autoduelling events. What's autoduelling, you say? VehicularCombat as a future sport, of course.

The game was set TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture ... OK, well, 40-50 years. A number of crises have beset the North American continent, including a famine, a (minor) nuclear exchange, and a [[DividedStatesOfAmerica refighting of the Civil War]]. It's AfterTheEnd, although it's [[JustBeforeTheEnd not all the way at the end]] -- in fact, truck stops are explicitly compared to medieval (or at least fantasy RPG) [[YouAllMeetInAnInn inns]]. Good thing, since there's bandits out there. The sport of autoduelling grew in this environment, what with people treating guns like adventurers might treat swords/axes/bows in fantasy settings. That, and 'Crazy Joe' Harshman winning a demolition derby by MoreDakka. (Well, any dakka is more if you're the only one with it, right?)

Originally, the rules supported normal vehicles--cars and bikes. Naturally, a game system that lets you weaponise anything that's got an engine will expand, and sooner or later someone will wonder what the military will have once civilians are allowed rocket launchers, leaving room for {{Splat}}books to describe just that. The only vehicles that ended up unsupported were outright submarines and spacecraft when support stopped in the mid to late 1990s. Those who want to dive in best hit auctions.

The game was supported by a wide range of expansions and supplemental rulebooks, a quarterly magazine that ran for 10 years, third-party supplements, a video game called ''Autoduel'' by Creator/OriginSystems, two different card games, a ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' roleplaying setting, three novels and even a series of adventure books that mixed a ChooseYourOwnAdventure format with actual game mechanics.

Jackson tried a reboot the core game in the early 2000s with Car Wars 5.0, but the system never took off--it was sold as various prebuilt cars in two-packs with each having a copy of the rules, and gamers who thirsted for the construction rules never got them. It didn't fare that well.

After the success of their Website/{{Kickstarter}} for a new version of Ogre (another classic wargame) Jackson announced that they will be doing a similar Kickstarter for Car Wars sometime in 2014, after absorbing the lessons from the previous fundraiser.

!!This game provides examples of:

* AcePilot: You wish you were one. Uses the old airplane definition, too; if you double this, you're a Double Ace.
* AcmeProducts: Uncle Al's Auto Stop and Gunnery Shop.
* AttackReflector: ''Magazine/TheSpaceGamer'' magazine #51 article "Magic in Car Wars". When an object is propelled through the air (including fire from flamethrowers) at someone protected by the spell "Reverse Missiles", the object doubles back and hits its source.
* {{BFG}}: The ''tank gun'', an army-surplus 105mm cannon only mountable on the likes of trucks and buses (and even then only to the front or rear).
* BodyBackupDrive: A duelist can arrange to have Gold Cross grow a clone from his cells and store a copy of his mind. If he dies, his mind is downloaded into the clone and the player continues to use the character.
* BloodBrothers: All truck drivers belong to The Brotherhood. Fuck with one, you're fucking with all of them.
* BloodSport and DeadlyGame: Autoduelling is noted as coming from demolition derby, just a little more thorough and long-ranged. Note that while you can gun down someone who surrenders without legal ramification, you're bound to lose points with the fans (assuming the referee pays attention).
* BottomlessMagazines: Nope, none here. You gotta pay for ammo, unless you use lasers--in which case, you use up your FUEL.
* CarFu: Inevitable in this setting, but more fun when you buy a ramplate. Comment in-universe was that this was developed for cars AFTER someone started using machineguns.
* CharacterCustomization: Originally simple (driving and weapon skills), later editions tried to go into RolePlayingGame territory with available skills. And of course you can customise your cars.
* ChunkySalsaRule: The confetti rules. If your car gets hit with a LOT of damage all at once, the referee grabs some random debris markers and drops them around where your car used to be.
* ChurchMilitant: Four. Louisiana becomes one, [[strike:Utah]] Deseret tries, and there's cults in Chicago and Australia who'd do it if they could.
* ContinuingIsPainful: You have to pay Gold Cross $5,000 to create a clone for Death Insurance, and of course you lose your car.
* CoolCar: What you want to make. Or Cool Bike, Cool Trike, Cool Hovercraft ([[Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus Full of Eels optional]]) ...
* DividedStatesOfAmerica: Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana break off. A second CivilWar erupts; it ends when the Texans go nuclear. Quebec also makes a break from Canada.
* DuelToTheDeath: Not just in the arena, either..
* EverythingIsBigInTexas: Relatively well-off, considering the USA isn't too forgiving, and Louisiana and Oklahoma aren't all that friendly either. To be expected, given that Steve Jackson is based in Austin.
* FlamethrowerBackfire: A vehicle-mounted flamethrower could burst into flames and explode if hit by weapons fire.
* JustBetweenYouAndMe: ''Autoduel Quarterly'' magazine Volume 7 #2, adventure "Mutant Zone". If the {{PC}}s are captured they're taken to Blob, the mutants' leader, who explains his plans to them.
* KillItWithFire: Flamethrowers and incendiary ammunition let you do this. Fireproof armour and fire extinguishers help you not get this.
* KineticWeaponsAreJustBetter: Lasers are rare and expensive, although they're not treated as odd. One sourcebook mentions that the military doesn't use weapon lasers, due to anti-laser armour.
** When the rules for tanks were printed this was justified by demonstrating that most laser weapons were incapable of engaging tanks and causing meaningful damage, whereas a typical tank can completely shatter a dueling car ''in one shot''.
* MagneticWeapons: The gauss gun, a flechette-ammunition coilgun that in later versions consumed battery power as well as ammunition.
* OilSlick: Available for your purchase. There's also a [[KillItWithFire flaming]] variant, which by the vehicle-description rules could not be distinguished from the normal kind until the oil slick lights up.
* PointBuildSystem: How you bought skills, and effectively how you built vehicles (every chassis had a certain number of "spaces" and a weight limit, and for arena-use vehicles you had to pick a price bracket to compete in).
* PopTheTires: Some dueling arenas have rules against shooting at other cars' tires because it's too easy to disable them that way.
* RetCon: A minor one. In Autoduel Quarterly Volume 2 #2, the "Badlands Run" adventure featured a pair of scorpions the size of semi's for the players to defeat. When the adventure was translated into a ChooseYourOwnAdventure style gamebook, the scorpions were changed to holograms.
* RulesLawyer: A joke item available for use in ''Uncle Al's Catalog from Hell''. Negates the equally fictional Rule Bender, a device used to settle arguments on judgment calls in your favour.
* ScaryScorpions: A giant mutant scorpion in the Autoduel Quarterly magazine Vol. 7 #2 adventure "Mutant Zone".
* SentryGun: The Anti Vehicular Security Stations in the Autoduel Quarterly Volume 1 #4 adventure "Maniac".
* SpikedWheels: Available for car or motorcycle, natch.
* UniversalDriversLicence: Averted. Separate skills for each type of vehicle, with nice penalties if you're lacking it.
* VehicularCombat: The entire point of the thing, although you were allowed some weapons to defend yourself if you left your car for some reason (damage, safety, bathroom run).
* WeaponizedCar: The whole point.
* WeaponOfChoice: It can be fun to build a car with a particular theme. 'Hotshot', for example, mounts flamethrowers.
* WorldWarIII: In-universe averted by anti-ballistic missile systems.
* [[YouAllMeetInAnInn You All Meet At A Truck Stop]]: The walled and heavily defended truck stops of this setting are meant to function as the equivalent of fantasy-RPG inns.