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Lost and Found overflow – oddities from other countries, part 2

Published in blog.hemmings.com

You have questions, dear reader, we have answers. Most of the time. Y’see, Lost and Found is as much a journey for you as it is for those of us in Hemmings HQ — we’re just as fascinated by vehicles that have gone unheralded for decades and which might have unique stories to tell that somehow weave themselves into the rich tapestry of automotive history.

Also, it’s not unusual we come up empty in our sleuthing. Our library is well stocked and our google fu is unparalleled, but Google doesn’t really have the answers if you don’t know the right questions, and there’s always something to learn — even for the experts. That said, we have one heck of a hive mind to tap into, so not all hope is lost.

So let’s start this edition of Lost and Found overflow (for more regular Lost and Found entries focused on the domestic automarket, make sure to subscribe to Hemmings Classic Car) with a good warmup: something unusual, but not very mysterious. When we first came across this photo on From Deco to Atom, we were skeptical about the Lloyd Alexander caption; Lloyds look more cute-as-a-bug than this, after all. But according to WheelsAge, it is indeed an Alexander, though one coachbuilt by Giovanni Michelotti in 1958. Production, of course, never commenced. Now where is it today?

Gary Harville, of Franklin, Tennessee, spotted this Nissan Sovereign not long ago. Though an unusual vehicle on these shores, it shouldn’t raise any antennae given the growing popularity of JDM classics. However, Gary believes there’s more to the story:

Many years ago when the Nissan factory was just built in Middle Tennessee it, or one like it, was a common sight. I would see it almost daily as I took my daughter to kindergarten (she’s now 30). Since it was in an exclusive section of Nashville I assumed that it was a Nissan executive on his way to the Nissan factory. Its much larger and more ‘Americanized’ than the Nissans of that era. After almost 25-30 years it was exciting to see it again.

Did Japanese execs expatriate JDM cars to their overseas factories? And if so, are the areas around those factories hotbeds for interesting VIP cars?

We feel we’ve seen this Fiat-based whatzit that Calder Smith spotted, but after digging through our sources, we haven’t been able to put a name to it, and the rear angle is just too steep to read the nameplate on the back of the car. Whatever it is, we dig the fins, the Dagmars, and the incorporation of the air scoop into the rear quarters.

The word on the Kombi Mania Facebook group is that this is a Willys prototype from 1953, though whether that’s based off of fact or merely the dog-dish wheel covers, we’re not sure. That assertion also begs the question: Why is it right-hand drive? Was it a prototype for export to the U.K.? Or is it a British brake wearing Willys wheels?

Lotus recently put out the call for Colin Chapman’s first car, which carried two registration plates: PK 3493 and OX 9292. According to William Taylor’s book on Lotus cars, Chapman built it in 1948 or so, then sold it in November 1950 to somebody in the north of England. “It is highly unlikely that the Mark I (as we now call it) still exists, since despite much research by enthusiasts, no sign of it has come to light,” Taylor wrote. “In all probability, it’s (sic) relatively frail form of construction will not have withstood the march of time.” But nobody has documented it as destroyed, so maybe it is still out there.

Finally, we’ve decided on our first restoration project for our upcoming Славный журнал российских автомобилей, thanks to Steampunk Vehicles. A few more bits and pieces from whatever we have laying around in our garages, and it’ll be good to go.