Making a Quick Buck
The focus of Vice City on acquiring assets leads to a necessity of an abundance of cash, as property values range from $1000 (Skumole Shack) to $120,000 (Malibu Club). Beginning Vice City's story as an ex-con, you start with nothing. Below are a few hot tips on how to build that bank balance fast.
For any given level of Vigilante, the monetary reward for success is the found through the following formula: $ = 50 x level ^2. This equates to maxing out your cash after 391 levels, presuming you began with less than $8,000,000 on hand - otherwise, expect to max your cash in less time. It is recommended to commence Vigilante at Escobar International Airport's runways, as this results in a high likelihood of repeated spawns at this location.
A Hunter is available at the Fort Baxter Army Base after completing Keep Your Friends Close... or collecting 100 hidden packages. Should you complete both of these tasks, one will spawn at the Ocean Beach helipad. Unfortunately, the magnitude of these tasks make the use of a Hunter to gather much needed cash for purchasing assets impractical, as the first requirement would involve having already purchased at least six of the eight available assets, and the second is incredibly time consuming (and will result in an injection of $100,000 anyway). Nevertheless, the Hunter's Vigilante (Brown Thunder) is often considered the best method for making cash in a hurry, with its auto-targeting minigun and powerful missiles an effective weapon against the criminal contingent you face.
A Rhino is the next best vehicle with which to commence Vigilante in, as you can make good use of its unlimited rockets and its ability to destroy any vehicle it collides with. A Rhino may be obtained with ease at a somewhat more practical time than the Hunter if you can manage to nab one during Cortez's mission Sir Yes Sir! You'll need to head towards the Hyman Condo's left garage as this is the only one large enough to house the Rhino - swivelling the turret 180 degrees and firing rapidly is necessary to shave those vital few seconds off the trip time as you need to bail before the tank blows. Once parked safely in the garage, get out of there and allow the mission to fail to save and enjoy your free Rhino! Should this method be unavailable (having already passed Sir Yes Sir!), a Rhino may be stolen from the law enforcement after achieving a full six-star wanted level (with considerable difficulty). Alternatively, collecting 90 hidden packages will ensure one spawns at Fort Baxter.
Every time Cone Crazy is passed (i.e. your existing time record is beaten), the prize money will double. Equipped with this knowledge, the intelligent gamer (that's you) can exploit Cone Crazy to rack up enormous amounts of cash in a short period of time. Beginning with a $200 reward for the first successful completion of the mission, a 23rd completion will yield more than $800,000,000 and will max out your money. Vice City was edited upon its port from PS2 to PC and XBox, with specific change being made to Cone Crazy. This means that the best method for exploiting the prize money alters depending on your platform.
PS2: The first time you attempt the mission, collect all the checkpoints, then wait just in front of the last one. Drive through it with one second left. Now park the Stallion back where you got it from, exit and enter to restart the mission. Do the mission as previous, but this time, get the last checkpoint with two seconds left. Repeat again, collecting the last checkpoint with three seconds left and so on. If you beat your record by just one second each time, the time required to pass Cone Crazy for a 23rd time will be a very reasonable 24 seconds.
PC/XBox: The change between PS2 and PC/Xbox is that the extra second you receive for each checkpoint for the first six times you complete the mission is removed. Considering this, the most effective method for XBox and PC is as follows. Leave one second on your clock when you pass through the last checkpoint the first six times you complete Cone Crazy. From there, leave two seconds on clock, three seconds next time, four seconds the time after that and so on. Following this method will result in the time required to pass Cone Crazy for a 23rd time being six seconds - this time is possible but you will have to nudge cones around before you start to give yourself a bit more room to move. Even if you don't repeat it 23 times, if you can do it 15 times or so, you should have enough money to finish the game in style.
Trial By Dirt, Test Track
The Cone Crazy trick, above, similarly works with Test Track and Trial By Dirt. The catch is that these two - being far longer events - will be more time consuming should you wish to max out your cash in this fashion.
Once you have purchased Sunshine Autos, you are eligible to enter a number of street races around the city via a pink mission marker behind the car showroom. Entering the $10,000 Vice City Endurance Race will put you up for $40,000 if you win (400% reward or $30,000 profit). If you're a decent enough driver, that's it - repeat wins will earn you a large amount of cash in a hurry. However, if you're no Michael Shumaker and find winning outright a touch on the difficult side, equip yourself with a rocket launcher (there's one in the pool in the hotel just south of Sunshine Autos) in typical GTA style and get to the starting grid. Destroy all of the opposition cars. You will need to be quick, because the race will start as soon as one car is damaged. It is often simplest to stand a distance away with the cars facing towards you, and fire three rockets in quick succession. Alternatively, a well placed rocket right between your opponents will destroy all three in one hit. This process is made considerably easier if you have unlocked the rapid-fire bonus from beating Downtown Ammunation's Rifle Range game a second time (i.e. after you are required to during The Shootist). Once all the cars have been destroyed, you can take your time and enjoy the scenic views Vice City has to offer whilst remaining in first place. As long as you manage to complete the "race" without getting busted or wasted, the forty grand is yours. Note that this trick is also possible with any number of explosive devices, but not with other weapons as the opponent vehicles hold full immunities.
Begin the Interglobal Film Studio's mission G-Spotlight equipped with remote bombs. Proceed through the mission as per usual, except before entering the final marker to complete the mission, drop a remote grenade into it. Now enter the marker, and detonate the bomb during the "mission passed" cinematic. You will die and technically not pass the mission, but the money marker that is established from completing the asset will remain. In effect, this means that you can continually repeat this trick to continually create the money marker which generates cash at the Film Studio. Every time you repeat this trick, you'll improve the productivity of the Film Studio by $7,000 a day.
For a comprehensive list of the best (and all the rest) money making schemes, see this easy money guide.