Car modeling techniques

Hi I am after some advice on car modeling techniques, more specifically for games
in most games now damage is a big part of game play and thus how the car is modeled, this must mean that all the panels are now separate instead of backed or textured panel gaps.

as games require a limited polygon count how would one model this, would you model all the car as a single mesh, getting edge flow following everything through the entire car or model each part separately allowing different edge flows from piece to piece.

for example the lights on a car are not attached to the metal body, there may be a lot of complex geometry leading into the lights area, the lights wouldn't necessarily need all those edge loops to continue through them, so in industry would they model it separately disregarding the surrounding geometry or would the car be modeled as one and then detached at the end to its separate parts to ensure perfect match up of shape? (there could be minute differences in shape with different amounts of geometry on adjacent panels. also I would image that it would be entirely possible than mesh smooth may also change some shapes right?)

I remembered this image from some time ago, this is one of the best "potential real time" car model I have seen,

they have theirs continuing over some parts, however the front bumper is different and the thing that most stood out to me was that it has tri's, now this inst anything bad, however for meshsmooth I was always taught to have 100% quads, if the car in this image was not intended for meshsmooth then there is a lot of optimisation to be done, especially at the top of the front wheel arch, the polygon distribution seems a little off, having too much in one area than another.


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