The Automobile Assembly Line for Top Secret/S.I.

Written by ivanhoe22

Sebastian Cord was in hot pursuit of his archenemy Ling. Sebastian up shifted in a desperate attempt to make up some ground, but his 1987 Volkswagen GTI had a lot of miles on it. Driving skills could not make up for the fact that Sebastian’s car was almost 15 years old…

TSR last published an official accessory for Top Secret/S.I. in 1990. The wonderful equipment guide, Guns Gadgets and Getaway Gear, was originally published in 1987. While guns are just as lethal today as they were in 1987, cars do not age quite as well. Many of the automobiles that were manufactured in 1987 are no longer made today. Even those models that have been in continuous production hardly resemble their predecessors with manufacturers making improvements with every model year. In this article, I’ll attempt to lay out simple guidelines that will allow anyone to derive Top Secret/S.I. game play statistics for any automobile based upon its real life attributes.

First, where do you find the information that you need to calculate the statistics on automobiles? That’s simple. Car magazines and web sites often provide the statistics that you will need. Car & Driver and Road & Track are excellent magazines. Another obvious source of information is an auto manufacturer. Do you want to calculate the statistics for a Pontiac Trans Am? Well, is a no brainer. I’ve found to be helpful as well. Most car reviews will provide statistical information such as Cost, Maximum Speed, 0-60mph times, Road Hold, and Braking. These values can easily be converted for use in Top Secret/S.I.

Let’s start with the easiest statistics to calculate. Maximum speed is easy. If the car review that you’re reading says that the maximum speed for a Chevrolet Astro Van is 106 mph, then that’s the maximum speed for Top Secret/S.I. The number of passengers is also a no-brainer. A four-passenger car seats four. Duh!

The thing about cars is that even the same model of auto could come in different varieties that affect performance. Depending on how anal-retentive you are, you may want to calculate the performance difference between a Pontiac Grand Am with a four-cylinder engine versus that with a six-cylinder engine. A subtle difference to be sure. I generally have little interest in creating more work for myself, so when there are slight differences I usually either pick the statistics for one or the other. In the alternative, you can average the statistics. I almost always average the cost of a vehicle. For example, the cost of an Acura CL might range from $27,000 to $35,000. For game purposes, most of us don’t need to know whether the upholstery is leather or cloth. However, this is exactly the type of thing that results in a car being more expensive. The law of averages will allow you to keep things nice and simple. $31,000 sounds like a fair price for that Acura.

Range is pretty straightforward too. I usually base this on the gas mileage that is projected for the car. Usually there is a city value and a highway value for miles per gallon. I usually average the numbers and then calculate the range based upon the number of gallons that the vehicle’s gas tank can hold. While the math is pretty easy, I’ve found it difficult to determine the fuel capacity of many vehicles. Frankly, it’s not a question that factors into the decision of a car buyer.As a general rule, a typical car usually has a fuel capacity of somewhere between 12 and 16 gallons.Performance cars, such as a Porsche or a Ferrari, generally have smaller gas tanks with poor gas mileage. An SUV or a pickup truck will get poor mileage but generally has a large fuel tank.

Now that we’ve covered the easier Top Secret/S.I. statistics, let’s move on to calculating Acceleration. I usually base this score upon a car’s time when traveling from 0-60 mph. This is a general standard for determining an automobile’s acceleration. Here’s a recommended conversion table.

Time in secondsTop Secret/S.I.
from 0-60mphAcceleration Score

Braking is calculated in a similar manner.Most car reviews will include a how many feet it takes for a car traveling at 60 mph to come to a complete stop. I’ve devised a chart for making this conversion quick and easy. There is some room for discretion with these tables. If you read a review comparing the braking of a Ferrari F40 and the McLaren F1, the review might say that one has superior braking compared to the other. Depending on your mood, it might be best to deviate from a rigid conversion system. The bottom line when converting the statistics is that you should feel comfortable with the statistics you’ve created.

Braking TimeTop Secret/S.I
60-0mph (feet)Braking Score

OK, next up is Handling. This is a difficult statistic to calculate. There isn’t really a real-life statistic that would be considered a definitive standard for handling. I’ve settled on Road Hold as the statistic upon which I’ve based the Handling score. My understanding is that Road Hold is a measurement of how well a car stays on the road when cornering.If you’ve ever been in a Corvette, you know it can corner a lot faster than a Cadillac. This is because it has a lower center of gravity and the wheels can maintain traction on the road at higher speeds. Here’s the conversion chart for Road Hold to Handling.

Road HoldHandling

The last Top Secret/S.I. attribute that needs to be created is Protection. The thing about Protection is that it differs from any rating for safety that a car manufacturer might test for. Let’s face it; auto manufacturers are interested in how well a car survives a crash. They’re not interested in whether a car is bullet resistant. This is a rating that will have to be determined solely on the GM’s discretion. The Equipment Inventory that was included in the Top Secret/S.I. Boxed Set is a good reference point. Depending on whether you think a car is sturdier or not will determine whether the score you give any particular vehicles is better or worse. One general rule that I apply is that convertibles have a -15 penalty to their Protection score.

VehicleProtection Rating
Dump Truck-65
Semi/Delivery Truck-60
Pickup/4WD Truck-50
Full-sized Sedan/Van-45
Compact Sedan-30
Sports Car-20

Well, hopefully that provides the rudimentary steps that are necessary to create the Top Secret/S.I. statistics for any real world automobile. Hopefully, when your agent is chasing his archenemy, he won’t be faced with the difficulty of being forced to drive a car that dates back to 1987.

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