As some of you will have already seen, at the end of last month Maxorator released his Vehicle Loader; a refreshing new take on vehicle modding in VC. Maxorator's script hooks directly into the game when placed in the 'mss' directory of a Vice City installation (MSS stands for Miles Sound System and was originally intended to auto-load additional audio code libraries), and from there it handles tasks normally associated with installing a vehicle manually. What's extraordinary, is its methods are both easier and more feature-rich than any 'mod-installer' currently available.
The tool works on the simple (and increasingly popular) premise of not actually modifying the game's original data files. A vehicle's model, textures and collision (.dff, .txd and .col respectively) are instead packaged in a 7-Zip compressed archive, which is then placed in a directory named 'vehicles' (that you must create yourself) in the Vice City installation directory. If you're not already familiar with 7-Zip, it's identical in function to ZIP or RAR archives, and is compatible with all good archive software.
Each archive should contain the model, textures, collision, and an XML file. Crucially, this XML file is where you can configure all vehicle attributes that would otherwise be defined in handling.cfg, default.ide, and so on. What's really exciting is we're not just confined to settings already editable in those old data files - Maxorator is steadily adding additional features, some of which were previously almost impossible to edit. Some of the already-existing features include configuring your vehicles with AI (unlimited additional custom police cars/bikes/tanks anyone?), animations, sounds, and version 0.93 adds support for bodykits/tuning parts similar to SA.
If all of that sounds a little confusing to start with - don't worry. Maxorator has included multiple example XML files for many of the original Vice City vehicles. If you're interested in creating an archive compatible with his tool, it's as simple as creating a new .7z archive; adding the .dff, .txd and .col; then editing one of the example XML files to your tastes before including it in your package. Downloaders need only place the .7z file in their 'vehicles' folder, and the car will be added to the game. What's even more awesome, is the car is added - it doesn't replace an already existing vehicle. On top of that, you can add new vehicle archives while the game is running, and it will load them on-the-fly! You can either spawn your car or wait for it to appear (assuming you configured it to do so). I'm sure I don't need to elaborate on how useful all this is.
Notably, the script will also detect custom wheels on vehicle models, and automatically disable the generic wheels that are configured for original VC vehicles. This means after almost a decade of service, DMagic1's Wheel Mod can be retired from active duty.
Besides the modding features, there are also huge mod-management advantages too. Since no original files need to be modified, you can return your installation to its original state simply by removing the 'vehicles' folder containing the script's archives. This one tool handles everything, and it does so with almost no input from the user. No worrying about backups, or lengthy debugging!
Be sure to check out the link to his tool below - Maxorator is still adding even more features to new versions, and there's lots more info in the mod's description. You will also find some links to VC mods there (including mine!) that are now available in MVL-format.
Maxo's Vehicle Loader