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I just forced myself to read through all 14 pages... (it IS a pain)
anyway, I found out that there is 2 ways to unlock cars. First, race those blue dot(or triangle) racers, those guys are the main "storyline" you will go through; second, do the red dot side races, I unlocked class C cars just by doing this kind of races (without beating any of this blue dot racers at the beginning of the game), and it will unlock performance parts for the previous class as well. But centain city has its own "unlocking limites". In San Diego, you can't unlock anything that beyone Lv2 performance for class D, and class C cars. In Altanta, it will be Lv2 performance for class C, Lv3 tires for class D, and class B cars. In Detroit, you can unlock everything.
so if you want to get class A before you race any of the blue dot racers in Detorit, just keep doing red dot races, you WILL unlock them.
I got the psp verison... and I hate the missing paint color (2-color mix and color shifts).