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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Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

Does a 2WD, I4/3A 2000 Dodge Caravan crawling the washout dirt trails of Titus canyon in Death Valley count? Or a plain Jane 1986 Toyota Corolla doing the same?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I got an incredulous look from the driver of a mud-spattered Tundra tricked out with all the off-road shovels & Trax boards on a muddy road along a ridge. I was in my old wrx with decent snow tires. I understood that look a mile or so later when I encountered the massive mud pit & turned around

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
2 months ago

The most out-of-place vehicle I had seen was Toyota Mega Cruiser in Munich. It had German numberplates starting with M (Munich). Given its wide stance, I couldn’t imagine how the owner would be able to park it on Maximillianstraße (Munich’s equivalent of Rodeo Drive) and show off his “wealth”.

Drunken Master Paul
Drunken Master Paul
2 months ago

We were in France for the 2019 Women’s World Cup and staying in Paris. We were there for the whole 5 week tournament and rented a car to drive to matches in other cities. Well, technically we bought a car but that isn’t the point but it is a bizarre and apparently legal story. Anyway we were heading out of Paris for a match on a lovely day and drove smack into complete gridlock near one of the notorious Paris intersections with no less than 45 streets crossing the same spot and stoplights that were as meaningless as the referees in the Scotland/Argentina match. So we are very slowly inching our way across as everyone negotiated this automotive slidey number puzzle when off to the right I see a pristine 1964 Chevy Impala convertible making it’s way towards us. I learned to drive on a 64 Impala with 3 on da Tree so I was completely befuddled to see this car the Armée de l’Air could land jets on in a city with streets narrower than Hank Hill’s urethra. As it drew close I made a point to create a gap in front of us so it could get past and I could give the driver a wave. At first he thought I was pissed at him, but then gave me a big grin when he realized I was just loving the wheels.  

Come to think of it…maybe he caused the backup. Still there wasn’t a scratch on it so a tip of the chapeau to his driving prowess.  

Beached Wail
Beached Wail
2 months ago

A tie between an immaculate left-hand drive AMC Pacer parked in Bath, Somerset, England, in 2015, and a ZAZ Zaporozhets 965 in commute traffic in San Jose, California in 2016.

Paul E
Paul E
2 months ago

Back in the early 2000s, on a visit to Italy: a Ford Crown Vic PI parked on a side street in Florence.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
2 months ago

The owner of the company I work for occasionally visits the warehouses where all the work is done.
His G-wagen parked amongst the more proletariat offerings in the employee parking lot is off putting to say the least.
It’s not exactly a moral boost.

Sometimes he parks his ridiculously expensive cars in the warehouse for months. Taking up precious space while we toil around them on our forklifts.

On a good day I can appreciate his success and business acumen, and I can just enjoy the vehicles for what they are. He has good taste.

On a bad day I envision what could happen if one of us workers happened to have a forklift incident.
Dropped a load of lumber in the exact wrong spot.
Oops.

Sorry boss. Not sorry. You’re not my boss anymore.
Just got a better paying job just up the road.
Good luck with your insurance claims jackass!

Never should have parked it there.
You’re not a leader. You’re just an asshole with too much family money.

Last edited 2 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Ford_Timelord
Ford_Timelord
2 months ago

I have a few well off friends and they all keep it very subdued. Musty 10 year old Volvo Wagons, Subaru Outbacks. Landcruiser 200 and 300 series. Some have a classic like a 911 for sunday driving All good cars though. Spend their money on travel and property.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
2 months ago

Covert ability… meet plausible deniability.

Jesse Linch
Jesse Linch
2 months ago

De Tomaso Pantara driving down the road. At the time there were three registered in my state, this was the black one. Actually seen that one at several car shows, but never in motion at one. A Batmobile driving by with the real jet engine. A Saab SUV several decades after Saab left the market.

Henry Smith
Henry Smith
2 months ago

A few months ago I was poking about a northern Russian city (I think it was Murmansk) on google street view when parked outside a deteriorating Soviet era Khrushchovka apartment was a rather well preserved US market Eagle Vision. I’m familiar with Soviet cars, but when I saw the Eagle it was so out of keeping that it was like it didn’t register for a second. But there it was.

Then there was the time I saw a very early 1930s Chrysler Imperial pulling a Model A on a trailer in afternoon rush hour traffic on the Gardner Expressway.

Kevin Cheung
Kevin Cheung
2 months ago

Always loved seeing American Iron where it doesn’t normally belong. Got my license in China and saw my fair share of abandoned Cadillac Broughams and stretched Lincoln Town Cars in carparks.
Weirdest thing I saw though was a 90s Corvette blasting down a rural highway in Ningbo, speeding and weaving through traffic, probably on its way to a nearby inspection centre. Most of the 80s and 90s cars in China have long since been crushed into scrap (due to emissions restrictions, most carbed and single-point EFI cars are no longer road-legal), so seeing a survivor like this was a real bright spot.

Last edited 2 months ago by Kevin Cheung
Ford_Timelord
Ford_Timelord
2 months ago

An Ireland registered stock 2002 Subaru Forester GT on my street in Fitzroy, Melbourne Australia. I checked the website on their sticker on the back window. Yes they had driven through about 20 countries with only a change of wheel bearings and consumables along their way around the world.

A JDM Nissan Rasheen in the same suburb. Such a mundane yet boxy little car to import.

Gerontius Garland
Gerontius Garland
2 months ago

Imagine you’re at a Walmart, in the South, and you see a guy in a cowboy hat who’s open-carrying a big shiny revolver. He’s loading groceries into his vehicle covered in McCain ’08 and NRA stickers. You’re probably imagining a brodozer or rusted out muscle car or Malaise sedan, right?

It was a 2nd gen Prius. Never seen anything like it before or since.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago

Not quite comparable, but there was a camo-wrapped Smart car at a local printing company for some time. It was the Treebark pattern, which is definitely a political statement in these parts

James Carson
James Carson
2 months ago

Before I moved to central Canada in the mid 80’s I grew up, and went to school in Regina Saskatchewan. Regina, for those not in the know, has two seasons, winter, which resembles Hoth, and summer, which resembles Tattonie. A friend of mines father owned a Citroën SM and a DS, in a nearby neighbourhood was a Saab Sonnet. Near my home, has regularly parked a Marcos – a 60’s or early 70’s version, an Alpine a110, a Rolls Royce and a TVR. There were numerous other rare and obscure cars all over town. For a city of 200k in the middle of nowhere, I could not figure out how any of these beauties ended up there, or how they where serviced, and maintained.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  James Carson

An old Rolls Royce lived at a formerly fine, but now shabby mansion in the turn just before a local 1/8mile oval track in a county which billed itself as the Moonshine Capital of the South. The juxtaposition of a Roller to the line of beaters & pick-em-ups waiting to turn into the track always made me smile

Clive Wilson
Clive Wilson
2 months ago

An Australian Valiant Charger, on a motorway in northern England back in 1988. I was visiting the UK from Oz, and it was quite surreal to see it so far from home.

(Also spotted on that trip, the Porsche UK 928 press car with ‘THE928S’ plates that I’d seen not long before in the pages of ‘Car’ magazine.)

Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
2 months ago

What’s really strange is that most of these involve microcars. The first things that popped to mind were a Messherschmidt of some sort parked under an office building in Croydon, UK, and a ratty looking Citicar parked on the street near Gare St. Lazare, in Paris. I was surprised to find a largish collection (6-8) of miscellaneous Fiat 500’s and 600’s in a tire shop just west Oconomowoc WI. Oh, and that Bugatti Type 35 driving through (might have been a replica, it was moving, but it had the right wheels/brake drums) Place Saint-Michel. There’s also a red TVR 280i that I see parked on the street, in my neighborhood, in Milwaukee. Most of these aren’t so much ‘How did that gat here?’, as they are just strange things to see anywhere.

Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
2 months ago
Reply to  Motorhead Mike

…And a Cocktail Weinermobile driving around Madison WI

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
2 months ago

Other than the Weinermobile anywhere, a VW XL1 outside the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN.

In a land of big ass trucks and SUVs (especially TN) the sleek, diesel space ship of the XL1 looked like a toy

StayPutReachJump
StayPutReachJump
2 months ago

A number of years ago, I was on vacation in Europe, and I saw a Fisker Karma with South Carolina dealer plates on it in Esztergom, Hungary.

Also a few years ago, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw some nut-job in a nearly new Tesla Model S P85 towing a utility trailer full of yard debris at the dump. (That nut-job was me. I’m a nut-job…)

Huja Shaw
Huja Shaw
2 months ago

You’ll get the odd ball car here and there in Hong Kong. I once came across a heavily modded 2nd gen Subaru Forester XT in Shenzhen, China. That caught me off guard.

Von Baldy
Von Baldy
2 months ago

Being in a college town in indiana, you sometimes see eclectic cars roaming the roads, beyond the occasional aston or lambo, even a ferrari or two in the seas of teslas from the overseas students, i came across a seat cupra with spain plates on it running about.
Sometimes you get a rolls, sometimes its a bitter, but we have all kinds of wacky stuff that shows up here on occasion

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  Von Baldy

As a faculty brat, I loved the weird cars I’d see in the various college towns we lived in.

Von Baldy
Von Baldy
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Its kinda nuts what i see roaming around, hell a couple of days ago, a brand new fisker ocean was at a kohls.
We have a guy somewhere with an ariel atom, and a theres been a handful of r32,33,and soon a 34 im sure.
Even a couple kei cars. Its like a bingo game.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  Von Baldy

That’d be one hell of a large bingo board! 😉

Von Baldy
Von Baldy
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Indeed, along with the absolute weird contraptions, rusty beaters, and other goofy stuff.

Wanna see an s10 with a wooden bed and log bumpers, we got one

A buick lesabre on a k5 blazer chassis? Bingo

A jeep fc 170? Yup

And opel gt mudder? Sure do

A jensen shooting brake? Heres a pair.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  Von Baldy

I feel like I see way less of the homemade stuff than I used to. Used to be several Bugs on Jeep chassis running around. 4wd El Caminos w/36” tires were almost common. Subaru GL wagon turned pickup after a tree fell on the back, that kind of thing.
I don’t think I’ve even seen a XJ with partial/full roof-ectomy in maybe a decade.

damnit: I don’t like this grey world!

hell, even the Stratus that somebody with a vision turned into an at least recognizable clone/homage of/to a Lamborghini hasn’t been at Cruise Night in 8 years

Von Baldy
Von Baldy
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Yeah, anymore its kids in clapped out civics and body kit frs’s

But leave it to the country boys to still have the imagination flame still going

Look, a Volvo!
Look, a Volvo!
2 months ago

Semi-new Huracan sitting in the parking lot of a Harbor Freight in suburban Arkansas

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  Look, a Volvo!

Used to see a bright red Ferrari 318 at a local Advance fairly regularly. Always brought a smile—especially when it was parked next to a survivor MustangII. I went and talk to the Mustang guy of course 😉

Tim Cougar
Tim Cougar
2 months ago

First time we went to Slovenia in 2010, my uncle’s GPS took us up a winding series of narrow switchbacks climbing a mountain that turned into a gravel road and then turned into the driveway to a farm on top of a mountain (turns out the GPS was taking us the most direct route OVER the mountain instead of the faster route AROUND the mountain), and parked next to the barn at this mountaintop Slovenian farm was an MN12 Ford Thunderbird.

Also on that same trip saw an ’80s Cadillac with Minnesota license plates driving near Lake Bled.

Tim Cougar
Tim Cougar
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Cougar

In a similar vein to the snowstorm Model T, I’ve seen a 1906-1910 Franklin determinedly climbing Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, though the weather was great at the time.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Cougar

A second gen Mustang (the big ones) street parked & taking up most of it on a tiny back lane in Nagasaki around 1979. It was just absurd compared to the rest of the tiny cars there.

Myk El
Myk El
2 months ago

I’ve seen a Citroen 2cv here in Tucson, just out driving, within the last 5 months.

Clark B
Clark B
2 months ago

While driving out to Russellville, KY I was about 20 minutes outside of Bowling Green and headed away from civilization, when I saw a Lamborghini going the other way. I’ve been traveling there my whole life and seeing a BMW in that area was an oddity. Admittedly less so these days, but still…a Lambo!

At my very first track day, back in 2011, there was a guy who showed up in a rental Kia Optima. Same guy was there the next time in a rental Mustang.

When my ex and I visited Peru, we spent eight of our days there with his aunt and uncle in Lima, specifically Miraflores which is apparently the nicest part of the whole city. Even so, you never saw nice cars. At all. Lots of old Toyotas and Beetles and small hatchbacks and trucks. But there was one building that had a few totaled, late model BMWs and Mercedes, street parked with flat tires and tarps over broken windows. I didn’t even see any luxury cars like that on the road the whole two and a half weeks I was there.

And I guess if anyone saw my lowered GTI at the top of a mountain, having climbed up there on a disused mining road, that was pretty out of place. We were planting trees at an old strip mine in eastern KY as part of my Environmental Writing class in college. Still can’t believe I got off that mountain with my oil pan intact.

GK450
GK450
2 months ago

I saw a VW Transporter T6 (pre-facelift, 2016-19) on I-95 driving through Connecticut in mid-2022. IIRC it was for a flower delivery service of some kind that yielded no google results. I managed to get a quick photo and it’s unmistakably a T6, but I have no idea how or why it ended up here.

Vee
Vee
2 months ago

A few weeks ago I saw a guy driving a Suzuki Every van through the Taco Bell drivethrough. He was big enough and the van small enough that he just reached over to get the food. I regret talking to him, however.

I’m also reminded of the time about two years ago I saw an absolutely pristine Pontiac TranSport with wheels so shiny they were blinding sitting in a grass field with no tire tracks in the calf high grass in the middle of nowhere with nobody around and with no houses for at least a mile in either direction. As if it were some altar to minivans that had appeared as a good omen.

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