Car Wars is an excellent
way to spend a weekend with friends. The game is played on paper maps, using cardboard tokens to represent objects such as cars, peds (pedestrians), smoke clouds, minefields, spike traps, debris, etc. etc. fhayashi
offers an excellent overview above; I just wanted to add some general info that might be of interest to folks wishing to play.
What is now sold as 'Car Wars: The Deluxe Edition' is in fact a collection of previous products, including the Car Wars basic set, the Dueltrack expansion, and various smaller mods. Dueltrack lays out rules for the use of gasoline engines (most vehicles in the Car Wars universe use electric engines, but gas is more powerful - if harder to come by) and metal armor (as opposed to ceramic/plastic).
Car Wars has one of the most fun character creation sequences, surpassed only by Traveller (which requires RPG character actions during character generation). In Car Wars, the first thing folks do is...build their car. It's a classic piece of wish-fulfillment - start with a chassis, add engines, driver's position, passenger position, cargo space if the mission requires, tires, etc. Then the fun stuff: weapons, defensive systems (mine droppers, paint sprayers), armor, turrets, gun computers, and so on.
If you play Car Wars more than once (indicating you like it) I strongly recommend you find the add-ons known as 'Uncle Al's Catalogs.' These are in-character, humorous but useful additional booklets, done up as advertisements and mail-order catalogs for additional, fanciful weapon systems which can be used on cars, including any additional rules required for their use. For example, my personal favorite - the spotlight. Fired like any other direct-fire weapon, the spotlight is trained on an enemy vehicle successfully when a hit is rolled; if that vehicle's windshield is within the spotlight's arc of fire, and the driver does not have protection (autotinting windows, etc.) then the player controlling that car must turn away from the board and play solely by memory until such time as the spotlight is trained away from his player.
Car Wars can be played as a RPG; however, the game system itself is purely a vehicle combat system. One of the best ways to use Car Wars is alongside a RPG system that involves vehicles, using the Car Wars rules and setup to resolve any vehicular action in the RPG campaign - Top Secret or GURPS games or Gamma World spring to mind. Traveller or Star Frontiers or Twilight:2000 are possibilities also.
The Deluxe rules also contain the (originally add-on) rules for semitrailers and panel trucks (called Truckstop), as well as rules for boats and helicopters (a la Spy Hunter). Whatever your vehicular damage fetish, it's sure you'll find it here!