Revisiting Lake Wakatonka: Looking Back at Ford's Driving Simulation Software

In 1987, Ford Motor Company published a game for the long-defunct disk operating system universally known as “DOS.” In reality, the software was less of a game and more of a digital showroom that allowed you to demo the company’s 1988 lineup from the comfort of your personal computer. As marketing materials go, you couldn’t have done much better than this for the era, and now it’s a top-rate piece of automotive nostalgia.

Ford Simulator was essentially the car-based equivalent to the CDs distributed by America Online, but before such a thing even existed. The software just had a way of casually showing up and finding its way into your computer room. This was an era when promotional materials were physical and technology had reached a point where the industry could experiment a little.

Tragically, the internet has eliminated this phenomenon like a dog with rabies. You don’t see much physical media at automotive trade shows anymore and any games that include branded models come through publishers that are able to work out a deal with automakers.

However, for almost 10 years, Ford produced a series of computer programs many of us remember fondly — despite being objectively terrible to play.

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  • Verbal Back in the 90's there was a bumper sticker that said, "Would you drive any better with that cell phone up your a$$?"
  • FreedMike On the one hand, it doesn't look good. On the other hand, not releasing the car into the hands of the general public until the obvious bugs are worked out is a good idea for a brand new company. Time will tell.
  • FreedMike I do take phone calls using Car Play if I'm not in traffic; it's a little bit of a distraction, but not much. I think it's certainly within an acceptable risk margin if you're not in heavy traffic. Back in the old days when I had a manual car and no Bluetooth, I never used the phone while driving at all.
  • FreedMike I guess some folks are just bound and determined to drive around with a grenade in their steering wheel.
  • FreedMike Bit dear, but these might have collector appeal, particularly one with 20,000 miles (assuming that's not a doctored figure) that hasn't had the full "whip" treatment.