Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Found in the Wild: The Unknown Car
Many gearheads pride themselves in being able to positively ID any old car at a glance. For some it's a distinctive piece of chrome, the curve of a fender or even the sound of its exhaust. However, this process gets harder the more the car deteriorates. Today's specimen has been reduced to little more than a skeletal chassis. But is anyone out there good enough to ID it?
This thing has been sitting on the shore of the river behind my parent's house for as long as I can remember. It used to be a little more complete but I never remember it having a full body or engine. There used to be a door and the remains of a gas tank nearby but they've since been washed away or eroded. There also used to be a steering wheel attached. It was a white plastic wheel with chrome "banjo" spokes. My ten year-old self once identified it as an old VW Beetle but looking at it now, this is impossible due to it's obvious front engine layout and leaf springs.
Now it's time for some real automotive archaeology. What do we know about this car? Well it was never a big car, that's for sure. Whatever this was, it's doubtful that it was American. We can tell it had 4-bolt axles, leaf spring rear suspension with a solid axle and a fully independent front suspension. It's also rear drive and probably front engined.
We can also tell that it used four wheel drum brakes and floor hinged pedals. Here we can see the very crusty front suspension components. My best guess is that it's something British or Japanese from the early to mid '60's.
It's going to be a long shot to identify a car in such a decomposed state but I've always wanted to know what that car behind my house is. Hopefully I can find out before it completely returns to the earth.