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Rules of the Yellow Car Game

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I first came across The Yellow Car Game while listening to John Finnemore's Cabin Pressure, a quite excellent Radio 4 sit com which I heartily recommend, and which starred John, Roger Allam, Stephanie Cole, and Benedict Cumberbatch1.

Yellow Porsche entering Lochloy Road

In later episodes when they're driving somewhere together someone will suddenly exclaim "Yellow car!". This is never explained beyond the fact that they are clearly playing a game of some sort.

Despite this lack of explanation Beth and I now play The Yellow Car Game. We use these rules for which we have built up over time.


Let's start with the basics:

  1. The essence of the game is that whoever spots a yellow car first says "Yellow car!" and so wins that round.
  2. The number of players of the game can be any number, including one2.
  3. Although the game is about winning no formal score is kept as that is Not The Point of the Game™.


So this sounds straightforward ... until you start to play and then you slowly realise that you need more rules. Ours are as follows:

  1. The yellow car must be in motion3.
  2. The yellow car must be going in the opposite direction4.

    Yellow Porsche(?) crossing the Kessock Bridge
    Yellow Porsche again, this time crossing Kessock Bridge

  3. Vans and commercial vehicles don't count5.


Now comes the fun part which is that areas where ambiguity remains and so you can happily waste a few minutes arguing, which is what really makes this an ideal car game. These include:

  1. Is a car truly yellow6?
  2. How much of the car must be yellow7?

    Mainly yellow car
    Yellow car with black roof and highlights but is it yellow enough? ...

  3. What happens if the yellow car is going in the opposite direction to you but turns off before it gets to you8?
  4. Does a yellow car count if it is being towed in the opposite direction to you?
  5. Does a yellow car count if it is on a recovery truck going in the opposite direction to you?
  6. Do six yellow cars count if they are on a delivery truck going in the opposite direction to you?
  7. ... And do they count as six, or only one?


We have spent many happy hours playing the Yellow Car Game which, despite rule 2, is definitely a lot more fun with two or more players because that way you can spend lots of time arguing over interpretation of the rules and I recommend it for long car journeys.

  1. Which apparently became a minor problem as recording of the series progressed as Cumberbatch was becoming rather famous and attracting audience members who were there to see him, not the show.
  2. I play this game on my own. A lot.
  3. Added to avoid the counting of parked cars.
  4. Added after a discussion as to whether yellow cars in front, or indeed behind, us in the queue counted. They don't.
  5. Added to stop the counting of yellow AA vans.
  6. This is by far the most common source of debate. Ideally the yellow should be vibrant, but the more insipid yellows are normally allowed however there are shades of yellow which are drifting in the general direction of orange and this is often an area of dispute. Mustard however is Not Allowed.
  7. There's at least one car locally which is also has big areas painted black.
  8. I contend that it doesn't count and that "pass you and" should be added after "must" to rule 5 but this is still in dispute.

Tags: humour Written 02/07/23

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