Highway Sighting: Montana Mystery Car


While on a trip through Montana I spotted a classic car dealer along the interstate. They had a few old Chevys and Fords, but this little roadster is what stood out to me. It looked awkwardly familiar. This was obviously someone’s attempt at a home-built sports car, but the owner was not around to ask for more information. Does anyone here know anything about this car? Can you guess which donors were used for the build? We have some ideas, but we will let you guys fill in the gaps.


Every car has a story, but we bet this one has a good one. At first glance it looked like an unfinished project, but upon further inspection I believe it may have actually been drivable. The rear-mounted engine and transmission are long gone so there were no hints to its origin there. Take a look at the photos provided below and let us know what you think about this Montana mystery car.


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  1. Zoo Barthelme

    ….doesn’t look home-built, that crest means something. Come on brothers, heads together now….

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  2. Wayne

    Grille is obviously Packard. Headlight bezels are 48 Studebaker and the tail lights are 51 Nash. Not a bad looking little car!

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    • scot

      ~ score. good eye, Wayne.

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  3. Pete

    The shield on the badge looks like one used by Austin

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  4. Sunbeamdon

    Some parts of it makes me think Nash Metropolitan – but the rear-mounted engine really confuses it. Tail lights do look like a Metro, but???


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    • Foxxy

      How do you figure it is a rear engine car, or do you see something I missed?? I have seen those side vent doors on a studebaker hawk I think. Very interesting ride. love to know more. I can see it with a small front wheel drive eng/trans in the rear to make a little rod out of it.

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  5. David

    I think the emblem on the grille is from a stepdown Hudson

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  6. Dave

    Grill looks like Packard, rear looks like early Ford or Merc.

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  7. A Ewers

    If it’s what I think it is, they had an H6 in it, Porsche or Tatra, I forget which. It was parked outside of Livingston for a number of years. Garage built chassis, bits of Nash metropolitan and VW, built by a guy who was going to go road rallying. Was the story I got when I asked about it back around ’96, anyways.

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  8. 2VT

    There are Packard pieces on it. The badge and grill, head and tail lights and bumpers look like ’48+ Packard 8

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  9. jim s

    looking at the picture of the rear axle area i wonder how there was room for a motor, transmission and drive shift ( with enough travel to permit the axle to move up and down ). interesting find, love to know the whole story on this find.

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    • jim s

      should read ” and driveshaft ” not ” drive shift “

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  10. Danny

    Looks like a Pickard lol

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  11. James

    Thie grille is a packard right down to the crest on the front of it. It looks somewhat like the caribbean but it has side vents and the caribbean doesn’t. and the caribbean has a different grille. the grille looks like it came from a packard eight series. I will continue to look.

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  12. Milt Sylwester

    Based on the diminutive size, I would guess it might have started life as a mid-50’s Eshelman, and thereafter customized.

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    • Terry

      I’m Female, looks like an MG ( Midget ) to me!!

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  13. Wayne

    Thanks Scot! Being a junk yard dawg and working in a vintage car wrecking yard has it’s advantages!

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    • scot

      ~ yeah, buddy! true that.

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  14. Bryan Cohn

    The rear axle is definitely AH Sprite/Midget, also used in the Nash Metropolitan. It looks modified as those cars used an upper link with 1/4 elliptic springs for the lower locating link and lever shocks of course. This looks to have upper and lower links.

    I’m confused as well, how would a rear engine hook up to a diff as shown?

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  15. Mark E

    Right on…the grille is from a 1948-50 series packard and the front fenders are studebaker. And those tail lights look like a nash to me also. Someone spent a lot of time and care in this creation. Too bad he/she didn’t put as much care into the storage!

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  16. Charles

    Convert it to a mid engine car with a trans-axle style drive, maybe something like a Fiero setup with with a V-6, or a small block V-8.

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  17. Koolpenguin

    I’m glad that the Volvo project car didn’t work out, ’cause I think that this is the ultimate Barn Find Project Car!!

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse

      Agreed! It would be a lot more frightening… er, fun!

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  18. Postmandougie

    I’d bet a week’s pay those tail lights are from a 1952 Studebaker; owned one for several years and had to replace one when I got broken. Rims are Austin/Metropolitan units.

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  19. michaedo

    Maybe it’s the different colors of primer but the rear fenders
    sure look like cut down 56 chev. fenders. If you look at a
    stock 48 stude you’ll notice there’s some difference when
    looking at the front fenders. I reckon this is a homemade
    from the bottom up.

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  20. Paul

    Right, 49-50 Packard grill.
    47-49 Studebaker Champion front fenders, which appear to be shortened and lowered, complete with ventilator doors. Tail lamps, Nash or ’52 Stude.

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  21. Jesse Mortensen Jesse

    We have found more information about the Montana mystery car! http://www.barnfinds.com/montana-mystery-car-identified/

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  22. Don in Missouri

    I saw this car in Bozeman in 2009. It was in a lot full of all kinds of cool old trucks and a few other bizarre customs.

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  23. RON

    there are parts from most every marque mentioned in one way or another . As for the tail light. Dougie I will send you my address for the weeks pay check. Those are 52-53 Nash. Have been into Studes for years and hey are not 52 Stude. Front fenders are 47-49 Stude sectioned at front with maybe chevy and the headlight rings are same year Stude

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