Lost.. and then found.. in my cars
Over 200 years ago, French emperor Napoleon had police open an office for lost objects, that were found on the streets of Paris. It’s claimed to have been the first of its kind, anywhere.
Since then, Lost and Found offices (or Lost Property/Lost Articles in the UK/Canada) have stored found property and often tried to contact the rightful owner.
As I notch up the 50th vehicle I’ve personally owned, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve found in all those cars, as I investigate them after purchase.
Probably the most valuable item I found in a car, came from one of the cheapest.
I bought the very high kilometre Honda HRV from the auction place in late 2019, after it had been ignored by bidders for a couple of weeks, at a starting price of $500. So, on its third week in the lane, it was offered at just $300 – that’s what I bid, and I was a shag on a rock as the auction closed with no other bids. I picked up this dirty and dusty oddity from the auction backlot, then began to clean it at home.
Once I removed the giant Ronald McDonald face sticker behind the driver’s side sun visor, I got to work on the seating and carpet. An Oxley Bunnings docket in the boot told me that the car had perhaps lived in the city’s south-west. Finding a gold butterfly pendant down behind the back seat told me I was rapidly making ground on the surprise car purchase.
Cash Converters confirmed that it was real gold, but because it wasn’t very big – and, because “Cashies”.. they couldn’t pay me more than $30 for it. Still, it was 10% of the car’s purchase price. There were no books or details on the car’s previous owner, so I just had to pocket the payout. Tough day.
The next car on the list probably had the weirdest find.
The Ford Laser Lynx was a car that I’d long wondered about, so when one came up on Facebook in late 2021 cheap and reasonably close by I snapped it up – even with the “Police Aware” sticker on the windscreen. On cleaning it out at home, many gold coins were found – along with an oily residue in an under-dashboard storage. I didn’t want to know.
But the weirdest find was behind the passenger front seat, in the storage pocket:
Two plain white bread and butter plates – looking suspiciously like they’d been snaffled from a restaurant after a boozy lunch. Maybe the Lynx had done some picnic duty, ‘Luncheon on the Grass’ style, like Manet had imagined. That might explain the oily residue in that drop-down cubbyhole..
I contacted the former owner, who didn’t know why the plates were there, and didn’t want them. Neither did I – nor did my ‘china plate’.
Probably the most comprehensive amount of random items to come with a car, arrived with the 1985 Mighty Boy from its former home at a mechanic’s workshop in country Kingaroy. This car had been a workshop runaround, but had sat for nearly a decade before being put on Gumtree in early 2021.
Not only did it include the former number plates, from many years earlier (which I wasn’t allowed to reinstate on the bumper), but it also offered up the child seat harness point, which had been mounted in holes drilled through the back wall, between the front seats. I don’t know if the car was ever taken on the road with a child seat installed. Given the Mighty Boy’s Suzuki Cervo hatchback basis, it wasn’t such a radical idea.
I have found a number of CDs in cars. Usually only one, perhaps left in the CD player.. But the Ford Taurus I bought in 2019 was a jukebox on wheels.
This car was already in mint condition, but it had been cleaned to a high degree before auction, and then ignored by the wheelers and dealers among the bidders, because c’mon: it was a Taurus. I managed to buy it for a few hundred dollars, plus fees, after some negotiation.
I looked up the name in the owner’s manual and discovered that this mid-90s unloved blob had been bought new and kept on a cattle property, out in the country. It was serviced by the property workshop, and only traded in when the owner, the farmer’s wife, felt it was getting too big to take into “town” – which was no doubt a strip of 8 shops in a sleepy street.
With the car cleaned, there wasn’t much to uncover in the cabin – but in the boot was a CD stacker, which was stacked full of country music. I rang the property and spoke to the farmer, who said I could keep the collection of Loretta Lynn, et al. I said I might personally return them, if I was ever out their way. Loretta Lynn will have a top 10 hit before I have reason to head out there. And it’ll be difficult for her, seeing as she passed away in 2022.
A 2022 car purchase had both a death and a CD linked to it. It was the Suzuki X-90 I bought, after years of searching.
But first on this car and its hidden treasures: I’ve been able to connect with a former owner of the “most stupid” (according to Jeremy Clarkson) four wheel drive, because I found a docket under a seat.
I looked up the name on Facebook and made contact with the man, whose partner had owned the X-90 until around 2013. Kate had also written a ‘for sale’ spiel inside the back window (so, written in reverse), which still shows up when the window gets misty. After Kate sold the Suzuki, it spent some time being thrown around as a “paddock basher” before another owner put it in his garage, hoping to restore it. FIFO work got in the way, so he sold it to me.
Now to the CD/death connection: I took the X-90 out one Saturday in late September 2022 and visited a weekend market, where I bought some secondhand CDs. We’re talking the music you’ll take a chance on, because it’s just $1 a disc. So, Loretta Lynn then. (jokes)
With my handful of music streams on shiny discs, instead of the internet (yep it’s a thing, kids), I retired to the driver’s seat of the X-90 and pressed ‘eject’ on the CD player. With a bit of encouragement, out popped this CD:
Normally, a Coolio CD would make for a fantastic voyage – but the very day that I was out thrift shopping, news had come through on the radio (yep, it’s a thing, kids) that Coolio had died of a drug overdose. I found it spooky. The Clarion unit found any CD undigestible. So, there was no Coolio tribute for the trip home – and the CD was scratched and unplayable at home, anyway. To my mind, Coolio died twice that day.
Finally, in October 2022 I was the owner of a cheap 2004 Daihatsu Charade automatic with a 1-litre engine and some bonus rust, just breaking through a front panel. Roadworthy certificates for the sale of cars are, let’s say, a lucky dip. I could see the rust on my inspection (even though it seems the roadworthy mechanic could not) and I could also see that the driver’s side sun visor, that had been handed to me after paying the cash, had trouble staying up once screwed in (again, roadworthy blindness).
No huge problem for both – the solution would be to source the parts, individually and locally. However, this wasn’t so easy – so, facing a huge bill for getting parts sent from Japan, I found a Charade nearby that had overheated and was now only good for parts.
This Charade had endured a very busy life, visiting building sites all over the place. The former owner even had an umbrella he could mount in the roof racks, to shade him as he worked remotely, using a wall plug mounted under the dash to power his laptop.
The umbrella was included in the sale of the car for just a few hundred dollars. He also threw in spare auto store hubcaps for the tiny tyres.
But the big discovery would come when I opened another under-dash cubbyhole (yes, I know – I should stop doing this).
Enough floss to replace an engine belt. Enough painkillers to dull any roadworthy inspection. Antiseptic cream, lip balm and band-aids. This wasn’t just an office on wheels – it was a packed apothecary to help humans, as much as it was a coolant desert for the engine.
Needless to say, everything except for the sealed lip balm packet and band-aids got thrown out. The medication was out of date, anyway.
It had been lost, then found, then found to be a lost cause.