Street Rod is in my opinion one of the greatest games ever created. Published in 1989 by California Dreams, it was based on a truly original concept: allow the player to participate in the street-racing world of the 1960's. Rather than just choosing a car and then being thrown into a race, in Street Rod you had to buy a car, customize it to your liking, and then head down to Bob's Drive-In to look for opponents to challenge. The ultimate goal of the game was to beat the King and succeed him to his title.
The game starts in an empty garage, and the first thing to do (after turning off the radio, which plays horrible PC speaker music) is pick up a newspaper and look through the used car ads to find a car you can afford. Once you've bought one you like you can buy better parts or tires, have the roof or bumpers chopped, repaint the car, or even buy stickers (eight to choose from, including ones that read "I'm not a cop", "not bullet proof", and "Love bandit"). After you buy parts, however, you first have to remove what's currently in your car, and then put the new parts in (you even have to fasten the screws). This is by far the best feature of the game, and the one which really set it apart from other driving games of the time. When you're happy with the car you go to the aforementioned Bob's Drive-In where the other racers hang out. When you find an opponent you like you can challenge them to either a drag race (where you can bet $10, $50, or race "just for kicks") or a road race (where you can bet $25, $100, or the pink slip to your car). When you win a car you can sell it or keep it, upgrading it as you like and racing it later. As you win more races you get more money which can be used to buy even better parts for your cars or even new cars. This continues until you've won enough races and have enough money to compete with the King (who drives a black 1963 Corvette, the best car in the game). First you have to beat him at a drag race and then you get your shot at a road race, and if you win that too you've become the King of the Street.
All the cars in the game are made by the big three car companies (Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors), and each manufacturer has their own set of parts (i.e. you can't put a GM transmission into a Ford Fairlane). Some of the cars available are a 1957 Ford T-Bird (my favorite), a 1958 Chevrolet Impala, and a 1932 Ford deuce coupe. There are three sizes of engines for each of manufacturer (one V6 and two V8s, around 290 cu.in. and 340 cu.in., respectively), four types of transmissions (auto, 3-speed, 4-speed, and racing 4-speed), as well as a variety of manifolds and carburetors.
The game is impossible to rate for graphics (320*200*16 colors) or sound because the standards have changed so much (although i gather they were considered rather good at the time), gameplay-wise this one is a classic. I still have a copy of it on my computer which I play every once in a while. The only annoyance I can think of is that once you have a good car opponents are less likely to want to race you (rejecting you with lines such as "Whadda loser!" and "Get outta my face!"), so you'll be forced to race one of your not-so-good cars. It's also quite easy to win the game (although this isn't necessarily a bad thing).
A copy of the game, as well as its sequel, Street Rod 2, is available for download at http://www.the-underdogs.org