If there’s one universal truth about car culture, it’s that aficionados strive to drive vehicles that are very, very pretty. Forza Horizon 5, out now for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC, is fundamentally about car culture, and about appreciating such very pretty vehicles. So naturally, I’ve decided to spit in the face of that in the silliest way possible: by driving a wooden car.
Yes, in Forza Horizon 5, you can make it so most every car is made out of wood. (I’m couching that claim in “most” because Forza Horizon 5 features 500 cars and, despite having several weeks with the game, there’s not enough time in the world for me to have unlocked and tested all of them firsthand. Also, a representative for Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.) In the paint menu for every car, simply tab over to the third column and scroll all the way to the bottom. You’ll see a trio of wood paneling options, ranging from a sprightly pine to a robust mahogany.
I understand that it’s meant to be a livery. Still, any vehicle you style like this looks like it’s straight-up made out of wood — a rare wrinkle in Forza Horizon 5’s otherwise crisply ironed visuals. That said, hilariously, your vehicle takes cosmetic damage as if it were built with an aluminium frame, with dents and scuffs rather than the cracks and fractures you’d get with damaged wood. The result is a situationally incongruous vehicle, as if you scored a coveted invite to compete in the Monaco Grand Prix but decided to show up with a toy car.
That’s all well and good when you’re driving, I don’t know, a Honda Civic or a Volkswagen Golf. But when you’re behind the wheel of a bona fide supercar — say, a Lamborghini Aventador (real-world value: A$789,425) — credulity strains. Forza Horizon 5 often has you speeding north of 322 km per hour (mph), even approaching 402 km/h during some straightaways. You’d think a wooden car would fall apart in splinters at that velocity.
But there’s real-world precedence for this exact thing. In 2008, as reported by CNET, a manufacturer in North Carolina produced a vehicle called the “Splinter,” dubbed the “world’s first wooden supercar,” made out of a mixture of maple, plywood, and fiberboard. With a V8 engine and a relatively featherlight weight (1,134 kg., significantly less than a comparably sized Porsche), the thing can reportedly push 386 km per hour.
Go on. Drive the wooden car. You know you want to.