Motor City Online

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Motor City Online
Developer(s) Electronic Arts
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Distributor(s) Electronic Arts
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s)
  • NA: October 29, 2001
Genre(s) MMOG/Racing
Mode(s) Multiplayer

Motor City Online was a racing massively multiplayer online video game released by Electronic Arts on October 29, 2001. The point of the game was to buy classic cars (mostly American muscle cars) ranging from 1930s to 1970s models, tune them up, and race them against other players. The game went offline on August 29, 2003 so EA Games could focus on their current online game at the time, The Sims Online. EA, however, developed a new online racing game, called Need for Speed: World. Many fans of Motor City Online consider Need for Speed: World a Spiritual successor of Motor City Online, although EA has denied any direct link between the two games.

Originally conceived as part of the Need for Speed series under the title Need for Speed: Motor City,[1] all single player elements that may have been developed for the game were discarded in favor of an online-only model. The game featured some role-playing video game elements, such as leveling up after completing tasks (e.g. winning races), and a functional, supply and demand economy for players to get involved in.

Aside from EA focusing on The Sims Online, another contributing factor to MCO's demise was the game's technical setup. Lag, as with most online games, was a problem, with cars acting unpredictably during times of high latency. Falling subscription rates (from an alleged peak of 36,000[2]) and a lack of new interest in the game eventually led to its downfall. Previous Motor City Online users were offered access to The Sims Online, Ultima Online, or Earth & Beyond.[3]


The vehicles featured in Motor City Online were all American models, ranging from coupes, coupe utilities, sedans and station wagons of the 1930s to 1950s, to muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s. Later in the game's life, 3 classic trucks were available. Most of the vehicles could be cosmetically modified by chopping the roof, removing bumpers, which gave the vehicle an additional suffix on its name (i.e. "Ford Ranchero Chopped", "Ford Coupe Bumperless & Fenderless") painting the car different colors or with Scalloped/Flamed paint jobs. Players could've also added little trinkets like fuzzy dice, and even change the sound of the horn. Convertible versions of certain cars were available, as well as specialty and ultra rare paint jobs on cars. These paint jobs couldn't be purchased from the modification shop, as the car had to be purchased with the paint job already. Some of these cars came as shells only if they were particularly rare.

Customization played a huge role in Motor City Online. As in reality, players had to find the right parts and put the right parts together. With over 2,000 authentic and licensed styling and performance parts, each player was able to build their own car with their own taste from ground up and specify it for any Car Class.

Power Handling Aerodynamics Visual/Details
Engine Block Front Tires Chin Spoiler Top Style
Camshaft Rear Tires Rear Spoiler Roll Bar
Carburetor Front Rims - Horn
Connecting Rods Rear Rims - Paint Jobs
Cooling System Front Brakes - Window Tinting
Crankshaft Rear Brakes - Wheelie Bar
Cylinder Head Front Shocks - Fuzzy Dice
Electrical System Rear Shocks - Fog Lights
Exhaust Manifold Front Springs - -
Intake Manifold Rear Springs - -
Lubrication System Front Sway Bar - -
Pistons Rear Sway Bar - -
Valve Train Front Traction Bar - -
Blower Rear Traction Bar - -
Nitrous Injector - - -
Exhaust Pipe - - -
Muffler - - -
Rear End - - -
Transmission - - -
Transmission Cooler - - -
Air Scoop - - -
Air Cleaner - - -

The body type categories are based upon the year in which the car was manufactured. The ranges are as follows:

Body Type Car Year
Vintage '32 - '49
Classic '50 - '59
Muscle '60 - '73
Sports Special
Any Any

The power class of a car is determined by its horsepower to weight ratio.The ranges of the power classes are as follows:

Power Class HP:Weight Ratio
SA 0.26 and above
SB >=0.24 and <0.26
SC >=0.22 and <0.24
SD >=0.20 and <0.22
A >= 0.18 and <0.20
B >=0.14 and <0.18
C >=0.11 and <0.14
D >=0.07 and <0.11
E under 0.07


Near the end of Motor City Online's run, two foreign cars became available. A '97 Mitsubishi Eclipse and a '99 Toyota Supra. Both cars were equipped with V8 engines, and were made to be rear wheel drive in the game. This was controversial amongst the MCO purists who believed that any car going into the game should be true to its real life mechanics, which meant that outfitting an AWD import with a V8 engine and RWD would've ruined the experience. By the time these two cars were released EA had already announced that they were shutting down the game. They were experimenting with import cars as an attempt to attract a wider variety of players.



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