Sorry about the bump but, it feels right.
I've been trying for a while now to get the phoenix in the beginning of the game. And, in the time spent waiting I have not figured out any way to increase the odds of anything. Though, I suppose its possible to shuffle the spawns, in a sense. I have figured out the quickest way to filter through the villain's vehicles. I hop on an HPV-1000 (usually waiting for me in the Marina garage) and head up the boardwalk. I face South and trigger Vigilante. If the red blip shows up at the end of the pier near the Brown Starfish I proceed forward to ID the car/bike/van. If I don't want it I cancel the mission and return to where I started. If the red blip shows up anywhere else I simply ignore/cancel it. Its as easy as a double click (R3 for me) and repeat and/or drive forward, depending of course on where the villain spawns. I can move up to the side of greenish building where I believe grenades can be found. Any further than one car length from the North wall of this greenish building and the villains won't spawn at the end of the pier. This method takes 1 - 10 seconds to find a new level 1 Vigilante vehicle. And, if you're thinking that driving forward shouldn't be necessary if the villain can only drive towards you/CJ -well- in fact it often times is required. Its a weird glitchy thingie I think but, can be very benefitial. Sometimes the villain just won't advance until you're closer. Sometimes it does indeed speed towards you/CJ. But, that's about 25% chance each. The other 50% the villain actually exits the vehicle. Depending on how close you are he/she might re-enter the vehicle and then again its about 50/50 if they stay or go. This has been very handy for me. No shooting or pitting required. They just step out and start shooting or swinging. At that point you can cancel the mission and you now have a parked vehicle with no driver ready to be snatched up. If you should kill the villain the mission will obviously advance to level two. But, this will void the "multiplier" glitch thingie (learned about that from one of zmoonchild's videos). So, if they get out just ignore them, hop in your new found vehicle and drive back to the beach. Return to the villain to find a duplicate of your car. Repeat until you have achieved the desired number (there's probably a limit) paintjob or body style OR the timer runs out. And, being that the mission started so close to an imobile target the timer should be quite plentiful. Again, the odds are about 50% that they will get out and run around instead of driving off. Perhaps, the odds are affected by where [specifically] the mission is innitiated or how quickly you can confront the villain. Needless to say, if they do speed off its simply a good head start at best. I've gotten good at herding them into solid walls before they get to the beach but, its still tricky.
To shuffle the spawn family I just drive along the coast killing beach ballas. I'll go to 24-7 and eat a bunch of snacks (I never eat meals at the restaurants - its just something I [don't] do) and collect some weapons from across the map. Six hours before sun rise I save the game. This way there is always light out to see the colors/paint on the vehicles better.
And, that is what I did for what feels like 10 days. Maybe it wazs 9. Maybe it was 15.
Wow, I said a lot more than I thought I was going to.
I only figured this out a week ago. And, this topic has aged over a year since the last reply. So, I wouldn't be suprised if someone's figured this out or better yet has discovered a more effiecient method. I think, rather, most would just not care or have no trouble anywhere on the map but, eh- it worked for me so I thought I'd share.
And, using this method I, too, have become absolutely sick of hotknifes. But, I got lots of little trophies all over.
I just love using Vigilante missions to aquire rare cars with rare colors (rare prior to trans vendor and excluding pay-n-spray). I <3 my Red Phoenix with Red stripe.
Hi. My name is David. I play San Andreas.