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For the motorcycle in Grand Theft Auto Online, see Vortex.

The Vortex is a hovercraft in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

The Vortex is a single-seat hovercraft, distinguished by its unique large fan and an air cushion below its main hull. The vehicle uses a steering wheel that is connected to two rudders located on the back, giving the steering ability on it. The engine uses two exhaust pipes than seems to have no extra fixing point, therefore the player can see them wobbling while driving the vehicle.

Like some of the vehicles in the Grand Theft Auto series, the Vortex is probably an original concept from Rockstar Games. The Vortex may spawn with a two-tone paint scheme, with the secondary one as a wide stripe on the middle, as well as the large fan case and rudders.


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Being an amphibious vehicle, is capable of moving both on land and water. The vehicle has extremely poor handling, and often slides off roads. Its' acceleration and top speed are mediocre, but workable. Due to being a hovercraft, it has no grip, and will eventually slide off an angled surface if allowed enough time at idle power. Using the handbrake allows the Vortex's rudder to deflect beyond normal limits, sacrificing speed for extremely powerful turn forces, which allows the vehicle to rapidly rotate. The vehicle's "brakes" (which can be assumed to be reverse thrust from the fan) are extremely weak, and at top speed, it is often more efficient to rotate the Vortex 180 degrees using the handbrake key, and begin accelerating forward. The Vortex appears to be powered by a twin-cylinder engine.

It has a top speed of 55 mph on level ground, which, unlike other vehicles, is not affected by ground type (asphalt, grass, railroad, etc.) due to the fact that it simply floats over the ground. It has a speed hardcap at 99 mph, which is extremely difficult to achieve, normally only achievable by dropping the vehicle from an extremely high height, or driving down an extremely long downhill grade created via modding.

The Vortex is also capable of gliding short distances if the player sends the vehicle flying off a high location, which behaves similarly to controlling an airborne car. With some effort, it is possible to 'fly' the Vortex from the summit of Mount Chiliad to Whetstone and beyond.

The Vortex's rear fan can be damaged by a ram to the rear end, which can potentially reduce the vehicle's overall performance greatly if the damage is great enough. The motor will also begin generating a trail of black smoke much thicker and more opaque than a normal car's engine smoke.

GTA San Andreas Overview

Watercraft Statistics - 3D Universe
(0-60mph / 0-100km/h)
Top Speed
(mph / kmh / knots)
(Inboard / Outboard)
(kg / lbs)
N/A 93 / 150 / 81 Petrol 1900 / 4189
N/A N/A Parallel-Twin (In-game model) Cannot be observed

Special Variants

  • Three Vortexes with unique color schemes can be found during the mission Cut Throat Business. Two of them, which are used by Carl Johnson and Madd Dogg to chase OG Loc, are all-white, while the third Vortex driven by OG Loc is black with a white stripe. The player can only store any Vortex in a garage by failing the mission, as the chase eventually switches to a Kart chase at a pier, forcing the player to abandon the hovercrafts. In addition, while it is possible for the player to use any of the hovercrafts to chase OG Loc while he is on a Kart, the player will ultimately lose the vehicle upon completion of the mission.

Prominent Appearances in Missions

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

  • The Vortex makes an appearance in the mission Cut Throat Business, where OG Loc attempts to escape from Carl Johnson and Madd Dogg by using one of these. Following this, Carl and Madd Dogg also uses two Vortexes to chase OG Loc.
  • The Vortex is also used for two tests in Boat School, although in the latter, the player cannot exit the vehicle.


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Like the Kart, the Vortex will only spawn in specific locations after the mission Cut Throat Business, appearing in the following locations:

  • The Panopticon, northwest Red County in a shed
  • On a pier at the end of a short river in Marina, Los Santos (beside a Gang Tag)
  • Available at Easter Basin docks for importing after third list completion for $20,800 on Sunday
  • At the Pirates In Men's Pants casino, The Strip, Las Venturas
  • Spawns on a beach in Bayside, and is known as the 'Ghost Vortex' because it seemingly moves by itself off the beach and into the water. In fact, the Vortex spawns on an inclined angle on the beach so it will slide down due to gravity.
  • On a jetty near Valle Ocultado (near a unique stunt jump)
  • In the lower deck of the aircraft carrier in Easter Basin Naval Base. WARNING: Entering this area will trigger a five-star wanted level!
  • During the mission Cut Throat Business, the white Vortex is more easily attainable, requiring the player simply ignore the instruction to chase OG Loc at any point of the hovercraft chase, failing the mission and gaining full control of the vehicle. OG Loc's hovercraft is attainable after he ditches the vehicle at the pier, and also requires the player cease to pursue him and fail the mission. Another method involves killing Madd Dogg before the cutscene where OG Loc runs to the Vortex. All of the Vortexes are full immune before the cutscene followed by the pursuit. To obtain the indestructible variant, simply stop before the cutscene activates, somewhere near the trees, have the vortexes on sight, and kill Madd Dogg to fail the mission and choose a vortex. The player can obtain both variants by driving them both to the nearest garage while alternating between them, so that they won't disappear.
  • The vehicle can also be spawned using a cheat code. This can be used anytime in the game, even before the Vortex becomes available.



Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

  • The Vortex plays Radio X by default when entered.
  • According to the game's files, the Vortex is considered an aircraft rather than a boat or a car. Because of this, a moving Vortex will not experience motion blurring and when it is about to explode, it will first become engulfed in black smoke, and the resulting explosion will be significantly stronger and larger, like an aircraft. Furthermore, if the player deliberately destroys a Vortex by damaging it until it explodes, they receive a two-star wanted level, like with aircraft. In addition, enemy Hydras will attempt to shoot the player down at higher wanted levels and Police Mavericks will not engage the player. Strangely enough, the player will not attract missiles if the Vortex is driven into or around Area 69 or the Easter Basin Naval Station.
  • In the PS2 version, exiting a Vortex while going at high speed may freeze the game. This may be explained by either the lack of code for the "exiting animation while running at high speed", or by how the game handles the Vortex (it is considered to be an aircraft). The game may also freeze if you exit a Vortex after getting it repaired. This was fixed in subsequent platform releases.
  • If a Vortex's rear end is rammed hard enough, the fan may begin spewing thick black smoke and will lose performance accordingly to the damage taken. If the damage is bad enough, the fan blades may even begin occasionally flipping into reverse briefly, and in only the most extreme cases, this can prevent the vehicle from even accelerating, as it flips forward and backwards almost randomly. This kind of modular engine damage is seen only on San Andreas' aircraft, and no other surface vehicle in the 3D Universe can have its' engine malfunction in this way.
    • This, along with the Vortex's mediocre top speed, makes it a poor choice for highway travel, as the highways of San Andreas are notorious for bad drivers ramming stopped or slow vehicles at dangerously high speeds.
  • A Vortex left floating on the water may suddenly sink when out of the player's camera view.
  • There may be a glitch where the Vortex's sound effects will change for a different (and strange) sound effect.
  • The Vortex in the Easter Basin Naval Base cannot be driven out of the lower deck of the aircraft carrier as it is too large to be driven through the doors. Additionally, entering the base will give the player an instant 5-stars wanted level, spawning a high amount of SFPD officers inside the ship, making acquiring it nearly impossible without cheats/mods.
  • If an unaware player hovers the Vortex from land to water and attempts a corner in the process, the vehicle can be seen flipped and instantly despawns before it completely flips over, killing the player inside.
  • Despite the fact that the Vortex lacks a horn, pedestrians will still react when the player presses the horn button.
  • In the PC version, if "Fly with mouse" is enabled, the player will be able to steer the Vortex while it is in the air, due to its aircraft coding.
  • Interestingly, despite being coded as an aircraft, a full-health Vortex will never immediately explode on high-speed impact with a wall, in the manner that fixed-wing aircraft do.

See Also