How to play Spotto.


I am not sure who exactly invented Spotto. I am pretty sure that nobody has ever put their hand up to admit it, but in millions of cars all over the world, you can hear the cry “SPOTTO”.

So just what is it?

It is a game that you play when in the car, traditionally during lengthy journeys. When a yellow car comes into vision, the first person to see it yells SPOTTO and gets a point. At the end of the trip the person with the most points wins. In our family, you don’t actually win a physical prize, you just own the title until the next trip.

My boys have built up eagle-like vision when it comes to yellow cars. They can even see them before they come around the corner. Side streets can also dig up some veritable gems.

Now, over the summer we spent a lot of time in the car and SPOTTO was played regularly. The thing about SPOTTO is that it becomes an intrinsic part of your behaviour, a bit like Pavlov’s dog I suppose. Mr Woog and I would be in the car by ourselves, running errands, fetching stuff and other such exciting pursuits. We might be talking about plans, or feelings, when all of a sudden he will interrupt proceedings and yell “SPOTTO.”

Another observation is that the further you move north, the more competitive SPOTTO gets, as you see I am of the belief that northerners are more adventurous when it comes to car colour choice. You can even download an ap now, to make sure that the game runs smoothly. Click here.

So what about SNOTTO? Yes, that is what you yell when you see a green car. Another game that we made up was DOGGO, which is what you yell when you see a canine. You get a bonus point if you can name the breed.




I am continually delighted in the important information that I am constantly able to deliver to you.

What is your family’s signature car game?

Or has in build DVD players taken over?

  • Karen Finch

    My mother’s favourite car game, which she taught to my children, is to make up a slogan to describe the driver of the car in front of you, working with the letters on the numberplate…can get extremely silly!

    • tara

      That sounds like fun. More restrictive in the ACT where every number plate begins with the letter Y.

      • Karen Finch

        Ah…but that’s part of the challenge!

  • I Spy with letters or colours. The main rule is the thing being spied has to be inside the car or the games just too random.

  • KJ

    A yellow Suzuki Swift is Spotto GAME OVER!

  • Mum Of Five Girls

    haha when I am in the car alone I sometimes say SPOTTO to myself…how sad is that !!!!!

  • Heidi D

    When we had 3 children with us we had a dvd player but didn’t do long trips often. I still excitedly shout “train” if I see one even though it has been 10 years since we had a train loving 3 year old. Having said that I also still rock shopping trolleys & pat any bag I am holding after years of constantly having a baby when we did short term foster care even though my last baby is now 12 🙂

  • tara

    We play car cricket. Someone is ‘in’. They get runs for every oncoming vehicle – 6 for a truck, 4 for a motorbike or caravan, 1 for an ordinary car. If you pass a red car, they’re out. Whoever has the most runs at the end of a set period of time, or number of innings, wins.

  • Brenda

    We play MIX-IO – for when you see a cement mixer. We once drove past a concrete “shop/warehouse/factory/whatever” where they had about 20 of the bastards in the carpark – my daughter rubbed it in all day!

  • Erika

    “Spotto a 57 chev, a blown 57 2 door” – cult movie for all Australian revheads, Running on Empty (1982)

  • My parents were always one for an educational game – it was number plate maths in our car.
    Mum nominated a number plate that we could all see then it was game on: (1st number of the number plate) x (2nd number) + (3rd number). First to shout out the right answer got the point.

  • Jan Davis

    On trips out of town, my nanna played the wishing game. If you saw a white horse, you had to cross your fingers and wait till you saw a dog – then you could make a wish and uncross your fingers. Amazing sometimes how many white horses you’d see – and how few dogs! In town, it was just dogs.

  • merliyn

    yes to spotto! … ok I was around in the days when it was invented mrs woog!
    one obtained the stack of printed out slips of paper from the BP service stations and one had to find what was on these sectioned out “cards” … an early form of marketing, no doubt!
    we played it from Adelaide to Brisbane back in the 60’s in the vanguard panel van! heloo! … memories! every generation likes it don’t they … simple! keeps the troops in order! lol m:)X

  • mummamoo

    We do Spotto with personalised number plates. We also LOVE “In My Suitcase”, a memory game which you play going around the occupants of the car, each having to list all the items previously put “in the suitcase” then add one of their own. We have played it over the 2-way radio in a convoy of tractors, trucks and harvesters on a 5 hour shift. eg. In my suitcase I’m going to pack…. a banana…a towel…some sunglasses…a book…the dog….dog food….a bottle of rum….an ice machine…

  • I never knew it had a name? We used to play in NZ as kids, but then the roads were so sparse that we’d often resort to just counting any cars!

  • Janelle Spear

    We play Spotto all the time in the car, but instead of getting points, you punch the person beside you. So you can only imagine what this is like with a car full of kids and they start playing. My boys are nearly 12 & 15 and now I cop the punch because they sit in the front seat. Although the other day I got 3 in a row with my eldest on the way to the shops. I think he was glad to get to the shops, because I kept giving him little punches on the arm. I even find myself saying ‘spotto’ in my head when I am in the car alone!! Sad I know!!

  • Megan

    We play spotto with punches too! But if you get in fast enough yelling safe you can avoid it. Also punchbuggy for vw beetles . But I make sure as the driver I’m immune as my boys hurt now they’re bigger

  • Shellbell

    Punchbuggy – played with the kids for years! If you see a Volksy you have to say Punchbuggy then the colour of the car i.e. “punchbuggy yellow”then you can give the family member next to you a gentle little arm punch. The critical thing to add is ” no returns” so if they see a Volksy on the same trip they can’t punch you back. Like you, we have done the punch buggy as grown adults without our kids. Maybe its just a Victorian thing??? but its fun!

  • Emma

    Big spotto players here too; also punchabuggy (banned the punches too many tears). And we use points. My girls have combined spotto and punchabuggy. A yellow beetle – spotto punchabuggy – scores double points. With both being girls they modified the rules so that maximum points ( double again for 4 points) were scored with spotto pink puchabuggy! It became a whole lot easier to score maximum points when a toilet sanitary bin collection group purchased a fleet of pink beetles as their corporate fleet!

  • Veronicaoscar

    Spotto is a given. We also play “beaver” …whenever you see a white horse you call out beaver. It was a game played by my father and passed on to the kids by my mother.

  • Janelle

    We play cow alert on long trips, when you see a cow or herd of cows, first one in yells cow alert. Everyone comes back with pee ew

  • COgal47

    SlugBug! When you spot a Volkswagon Bug(really old) or a Beetle you yell Slugbug and if you are not averse to violence the person gets to slug in the arnm all others. We do NOT do the slugging and in fact I have been known to decree “NO touching of any kind!!” when back seats seem to get too small. I don’t know about the rest of the USA but here in Colorado/Utah/Wyoming area it is popular with kids of all ages.

  • Kel

    I grew up with slap a van and punch buggy. Now we play the more mature game of WINDMILL. When you see a windmill, you yell it. As loud as possible, especially if there are people sleeping in the car. And you see them more than you’d think – the score was 36-32 after our last trip to the Gold Coast.

  • I’ve banned Spotto in my car. It was getting a little violent and I felt bad for the poor unsuspecting kids who hopped in our car and got a thump when they didn’t spot the yellow car first! My kids also worked out that they could ‘save’ the punches..

  • Fiona

    Car cricket. Excellent for maths skills. When a person is in they count their runs according to the colour of car passing (blue/black=4 runs, white=no ball, all colours except red=1 and red=out and trucks=6)… And they keep going until a red car. Then it’s the next persons go (you add to your score when it’s your turn again). Play til you arrive or a set score like first to 100. It gets really funny when there’s more than one red car in a row. 🙂 oh and you have to touch your belly button if you see an ambulance.

    • We lift our feet for railway tracks and touch you head and your toes for ambulance (and hope to never go)

  • I have never heard of Spotto. But with Jarvis only being three, his fav game is to pick a colour, and the first person who spots that colour wins. Yesterday on the drive to Seaworld his colour was rainbow. Nup no one got that one, think we may have to go to Nimbin or Byron.

  • I find myself playing ‘spotto’ when I’m by myself. It’s torture. x

  • Angie

    Don’t forget ‘Taco” for an orange car – even more rare than yellow ones (unless you’re in QLD – don’t know why that is).

    We tried ‘Paco’ for pink and purple cars but that was just going too far.

  • My Esther has a fascination with green cars and rubbish trucks so every time we are on the road she will point them out. She also points out police cars which can also be very helpful. 🙂

  • Kirrily

    We grew up with Spotto but it was very different. BP gave out sheets with 20 things that had to be spotted on the journey. For example, a trailer, a cat, a wrong way go back sign ……..

  • We play spotto but it got too easy, so we had to look for Volvos. We also have to neigh if we see a horse. You can image how out of control the animal noises end up in a long drive.