Home » What’s The Most Out-Of-Place Car You’ve Ever Seen?

What’s The Most Out-Of-Place Car You’ve Ever Seen?

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There are certain cars you expect to see in certain places. In Hong Kong, you’re going to see lots of Toyota HiAce vans; in the U.S. you’ll see lots of F-150s; in Germany you’ll see loads of little diesel hatchbacks; in China you’ll see loads of little electric cars you’ve never seen anywhere else. But sometimes, in the gray monotony of your daily Groundhog Day routine, you spot a car that makes you do a doubletake — a car that doesn’t belong. “What the hell is that doing here?” you wonder as you approach, possibly not even knowing what the car is. Such experiences are fun for car nuts, so for today’s Autopian Asks, we implore you to share a time that you saw a car that was totally out-of-place.

My brother just sent me a link to a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee for sale in his home of Hong Kong. Look at that thing in the top photo; you can see the rear end here:

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It’s got a huge lift on it, and a bunch of off-road goodies bolted on underneath. If I had to guess, it’s probably a UK model, as Hong Kong requires all vehicles to be right-hand drive. Though the exterior photos don’t show a steering wheel, you can tell by looking underhood that this is right-hand drive, as the brake master cylinder reservoir is on the right side of the vehicle. Also, the speedometer is in KM/H and oil pressure appears to be in bar:

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Of course, that’s just a car listing, and this Autopian Asks is about a vehicle you’ve seen that’s out-of-place. In my brother’s case, a good answer is the 1965 Harley Davidson Electra-Glide that he bought recently off the side of the street:

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For me personally, the answer has to be all the American cars that I see when I visit my parents in Germany. U.S. soldiers ship them overseas, and often leave them for the locals to drive around. Germans seem to love big, gas-guzzling American cars!

Our Thomas Hundal chimed in when I asked this question to our team; his answer isn’t so much “that car is rare to see in this country” but rather “that car is rare to see in these conditions”:

So that’s today’s AA: What’s a car you’ve seen that was totally out of place?

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Carter Young
Carter Young
2 months ago

On the border of Glacier National Park there is the small community of Polebridge, MT which has no connection to the electrical grid and can only be reached by 20 miles or so of potholed gravel. In the early ’90s my brother and I saw a brand new Jag XJS coupe with a canoe strapped to the roof barrelling toward us in a cloud of dust. Back then, the nearest Jag dealer would have been 570+ miles away in Seattle.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
2 months ago

I was in Vegas with my Fiat fam when we spotted a Fiat Strada pickup on Mexican plates in the parking lot at Excalibur. Needless to say we got extremely excited.

Maymar
Maymar
2 months ago

A couple years before it would’ve been legal to import, someone in my parents’ building in suburban Toronto drove a Ford Ka (I think it’s still running around).

I’ve also seen an absolute hero commuting in a Lotus Elise on the 401 in a heavy snow storm (although, I guess rust is a minimal concern, and you’ve got weight over the drive wheels).

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
2 months ago

Just last month I saw a newish Renault compact hatchback street parked in Brooklyn.

It had diplomat plates, so that’s how they avoided the 25 year rule, but if you can bring in any car from Europe, why be so practical?

changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
2 months ago
Reply to  Clear_prop

I saw a genuine, facelift Renault Clio V6 (not a 172 or 182, the mid mounted one) on city rd in Melbourne, Aus. They never sold them here, she had her dog on the passenger seat and the driver was an older lady.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago

I was driving down a pothole filled rural road here on Oklahoma, and I saw a McLaren 720S coming toward me.

The driver apparently dodged the craters, then turned onto an unpaved road that led into a new subdivision.

I get that you’re a wealthy land developer and need to get out and check on projects, but don’t you have ANYTHING more suitable for a barely graded, unpaved road?!?

Wangan Tuned Kei Car
Wangan Tuned Kei Car
2 months ago

A Ford LTD Country Squire in the small rural French town where my grandmother lives, parked between a C3 and a Xantia.

TheNewt
TheNewt
2 months ago

I saw what I believe was a restored Willys MB Jeep driving off the ferry in Parikia, Greece.

Viking Longcar
Viking Longcar
2 months ago
Reply to  TheNewt

Europe sounds like an appropriate place for an MB

Dmcallister
Dmcallister
2 months ago

About 8 or 9 years ago I was on vacation in Alaska. In the parking lot a Denali National Park there was a France plated Unimog camper.

Last year at the Animal Kingdom park of Disney World in Florida, I saw a South Africa tagged Ford Falcon XR8 Ute parked in the next row when we arrived.

Carter Young
Carter Young
2 months ago
Reply to  Dmcallister

I may have seen that same Unimog in the Walmart parking lot here in Missoula, MT. It definitely had French plates–plus plenty of stickers.

David Escargot
David Escargot
2 months ago
Reply to  Dmcallister

What age was the falcon?… the XR8 came out in ute form in 1997 I believe… unless SA ran a different program

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago

I once saw a Tucker 48 being driven southbound on I-5 near Cottage Grove, Oregon. Admittedly this was [unintelligible] years ago but even at that time I never expected to see one in the wild.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Indeed. I later figured out it was #1046, the one that had been extensively modified and at the time was owned by someone in nearby Springfield, Oregon. It has since been restored to its original specifications:

http://www.tuckerclub.org/tuckers/tucker-1046/

El Jefe de Barbacoa
El Jefe de Barbacoa
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

That’s a beautiful car.

Pro Engineer
Pro Engineer
2 months ago

Probably the Trabant that’s been street parked in Philadelphia since at least 2016

OSpazX
OSpazX
2 months ago

Back when I was a wee lad, the 70’s and early 80’s I saw a black Firebird (or Trans-Am) with the gold screaming eagle on it…. in Australia.

It must have been a, American military person’s (thanks for you service!) personal vehicle, because I never, ever, saw another one in the country

Last edited 2 months ago by OSpazX
JShaawbaru
JShaawbaru
2 months ago

Up until very recently, there was a *very* faded red Mitsubishi L200 with Mexico plates parked in a driveway in my neighborhood. I don’t have any pictures, and it’s not on street view, but it looks to have been a 2006 or newer. The closest Mexico border crossing is over 1600 miles away, so it was pretty far from home.

V10omous
V10omous
2 months ago

I have seen a Ram SRT-10 driving along the banks of the Seine in Paris.

I have seen a Raptor parked in a residential neighborhood in Amsterdam.

I have seen a Ford GT on cobblestone streets in a small French country town.

I have seen a ’59 Eldorado on the #3 Autobahn in western Germany.

I have seen a (rental) Dodge Grand Caravan on a road course during a Viper owner’s event in Las Vegas.

Last edited 2 months ago by V10omous
Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Oh that reminds me: I’ve also watched a Rolls-Royce Corniche go through a slalom. It was like watching a walrus do gymnastics.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Seeing any full-size American pickup on a European street is so striking; I’ve seen it in both England and Croatia. In both cases, I have no idea how they would park or navigate some neighbourhoods – let alone park it.

The Ford GT is rather fitting imho.

StayPutReachJump
StayPutReachJump
2 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

I saw a Fisker Karma in Esztergom, Hungary. It looked so out of place…

Spence
Spence
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

You see full size Rams in the Netherlands all the time. A dude near me when I lived on the canal belt in Amsterdam used to street park his. The thing stuck halfway out into the road. Everyone hated him. Now the city has eliminated that whole stretch of parking and I personally blame him 🙂

B P
B P
2 months ago

A Volkswagen Saveiro pickup driving in Oregon.

LTDScott
LTDScott
2 months ago

This embarassment: https://ibb.co/8m5ZPV0

Back in 2015 my wife and I had a vacation in Europe, including staying with her brother who at the time was stationed at Wiesbaden US Army base in Germany. It wasn’t super uncommon to see US market cars there that were imported into Germany by Army servicemen, and when he was driving us around town (in his US-spec Mercedes E-Class, ironically), I saw a black Chevy Silverado stepside. It had several bumper stickers on the tailgate, and I specifically remember one saying “2 Liters is a soft drink size, not an engine size.” That stuck in my head because I thought that might upset some Europeans given that small engine sizes are common there.

Fast forward to last year and I saw this photo posted by someone else in a Facebook group I’m a member of called “Foreign Market Car Sightings.” Clearly this is a black Silverado stepside somewhere in Europe with the same sticker I saw. I figured there can’t be too many of these trucks in Europe, but the sticker may be a coincidence. Then I noticed the large truck in the background, specifically its visible plate. In Germany the first 1 or 2 letters of the plate tell you the town the vehicle is registered in, and WI = Wiesbaden. This must be the same Silverado I saw back in 2015. What a small world! Of course when I saw it there was nothing about Greta on the back because she wasn’t well known back then.

bomberoKevino
bomberoKevino
2 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

This is amazing. I’m guessing that “Greta” might be a more common name in Germany than it is here, so people who saw this were like “whoa, this dude reeeeaaally doesn’t like his ex-wife” little suspecting that there was a teenage girl climate activist living rent-free in this guy’s head. Would love to overhear the conversation when he rolled coal into that famous German inspection (or do base-based cars get an exemption)?

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
2 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

I remember seeing a Ford Aerostar just outside Munich with American plates years ago.

Figured it was from one of the American army bases; the driver probably died a little every time they had to buy fuel off-base.

Maymar
Maymar
2 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

2 Liters of cola? How did Farva get a foreign posting?

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
2 months ago

Probably the Ram pickup I saw street-parked a few blocks from the Louvre.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Now, that’s art.

LactoseTheIntolerant
LactoseTheIntolerant
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

I was there back in October, and I saw Euro spec Jeep Wranglers on the street that were pre-2019. They really stood out among the sea of Smart Cars.

Eventually, I found the Fiat/Ram/Jeep dealer that had a new Wrangler out in front among the Fiats. No Rams though.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Was just in Paris two weeks ago and rolling right around by the Louvre was a black 458 Italia sounding glorious in the 38F winter weather.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

The French have been into American cars for years, in C’etait un Rendezvous there’s a 69 Mustang parked on one of the streets and I think they occasionally show up in other films. In one of Delacorta’s early 80s books he specifically mentions the local big shots driving Detroit Iron.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

I have two sightings.

The first was a 1967 Chevy Malibu station wagon with a bright green rattle can paint job wallowing among the bikes, trikes, jeepneys, and Toyotas in the Philippines. Truly a whale in the narrow streets packed with vendors and pedestrians. Most likely a GI castoff that didn’t make the trip home at end of tour or an expat retiree.

The second was a light blue, late 70s Chevette tootling along in the extreme right lane of the autobahn on its way to the air base ever day for two years. Slow and steady definitely doesn’t win the race and this little fish out of water was nothing but slow.

Crover Gleveland
Crover Gleveland
2 months ago

Might be a Oz market ZJ shipped over? UK version likely mph vs kmh.

Also JDM cars are pretty cheap and easy to import into HK – oil pressure would be in bars over there

Last edited 2 months ago by Crover Gleveland
Live2ski
Live2ski
2 months ago

beat up cars with Hawaii Plates on the mainland. it must have cost more to ship than the car is worth.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
2 months ago
Reply to  Live2ski

They were OK when they left Hawaii – it’s the drive over that beats them up.

El Jefe de Barbacoa
El Jefe de Barbacoa
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Still less rust than your average Michigan commuter.

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago
Reply to  Live2ski

I always assumed that was military-related. Service members have allowances for moving personally owned vehicles when they’re permanently transferred.

LTDScott
LTDScott
2 months ago
Reply to  Live2ski

I often see car carriers full of fairly late model Hawaiian-plated cars in San Diego. I assume they’re rental cars returning to the mainland.

Clark B
Clark B
2 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

That tracks, a friend of mine in high school had an ex-rental Focus and it had Hawaii plates on it when he got it.

OnlyFlans
OnlyFlans
2 months ago

I once saw a Tesla Model 3 at a Costco gas pump. I assume it was a Hertz rental, and the confused driver looked pretty embarrassed as the look of realization washed over their face as the attendant was explaining the problem to them.

Last edited 2 months ago by OnlyFlans
V10omous
V10omous
2 months ago
Reply to  OnlyFlans

There have been some good ones here but this has to win.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

seconded

James Davidson
James Davidson
2 months ago
Reply to  OnlyFlans

Regular or super?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  James Davidson

High-ion!

James Davidson
James Davidson
2 months ago
Reply to  OnlyFlans

The attendant Elon-splained the problem to the driver.

Last edited 2 months ago by James Davidson
Jack Swansey
Jack Swansey
2 months ago

I saw that matte-green-wrapped Ferrari F40 street-parked in Berkeley a few years back.

AssMatt
AssMatt
2 months ago

The Ferrari in my garage!

Last edited 2 months ago by AssMatt
Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
2 months ago

Honda City in Metro Detroit, I knew that particular Honda looked different from the distance specially the size of it, what a Civic used to be.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago

Where I live, you see a surprising amount of cars being tested that are models (or sometime OEMs) that aren’t sold here in the U.S. Early 2023 I saw the Chinese market Mondeo/Fusion being tested alongside a bunch of other camo’d Fords.

Other mentions:

Chevy Astros and Chevy Express vans in Tokyo, driving around.

A Windstar parked on the streets of London, why, why the fuck would you bring that trash over to the UK?

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago

A Toyota Hiace in rural FL.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I’ve spent a lot of time in Hiaces in Central America. This was a recent model. Definitely didn’t come here under the 25 year rule. It was coming towards me so I didn’t catch what type of plate it had unfortunately.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Gotta be. My only other guesses were PR and Canada, but I guess they aren’t available there. The Québécois love Central FL during the winter.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

FWIW I’ve also seen a Peugeot 406 on I275. That was probably like 15 years ago, so again no 25 year rule there. I recently saw what I believe was some kind of Chinese van, but I have no idea what it was. It wasn’t a big van like a Hiace, it was maybe a little larger than something like a Windstar or Venture. Sad thing is I thought about pulling screenshots off of my dashcam and I was like nah, I’ll never need that for anything.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
2 months ago

A less than 25 year one is definitely odd, but rural mail carriers are starting to use imported older hiaces more. The supply of rhd xjs are getting thin, the newer rhd wranglers dont have the durability, and the crushing amazon load makes more than one trip, (that is very hard to get paid for!) the norm for many carriers. A reliable 4wd van is looking mighty appealing these days. I was about to get one to back up my xj but prices on hiaces have recently surged. ????

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