Can You Identify This Mystery Racer?!

Reader Juan K needs your help! He came across this mystery race car and can’t figure out what it is. The photo isn’t the best, but it’s all Juan has, plus it makes it more of a challenge! It’s clearly been parked in this spot for a long time and it has some cool features. Initially, I thought it might be made out of fiberglass, but it actually looks like the body is made of metal. And the engine appears to be an inline-six, but it’s hard to say what it is out of. So, take a closer look at this mystery racer and let us know what you think it is in the comments section!


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  1. Tracy Johnson

    Looks like a Bugatti Type 35

    Like 6
    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      That was my first thought too, but the metal along the bottom is different and the Type 35 doesn’t have a sheet metal seam on the rear. It could very well be modified though. I’m actually starting to think it’s a Pur Sang.

    • Philippe H

      It definitely has Bugatti elements (radiator, headlights, bonnet louvres, etc etc), even the seam on the rear (although not on GP models), but likely replica.

      Like 2
      • Chinga Trailer

        Neither Bugatti (the classic original company) nor Pur Sang built LHD cars.

        Like 1
    • Joseph Knight

      It looks like a Bugatti type 59 replica. The 59 has the holes in the chassis rails, the right style asymmetrical windscreen and the right style of exhaust. But the way the exhaust comes out of the hood looks wrong and it’s LHD.

      Like 1
    • Rick

      my first guess was Bugatti

  2. Allen D Hallman

    Def a boog bonnet modified not sure of type. def has the type 35 dash top

    Like 1
  3. Patrick S Newport Pagnell Staff

    Appears to have the dancing elephant which was on the radiator cap of the Bugatti Type 41 Royale.Tho this is no Royale. Probably a replica out of South America.

    Like 4
    • Melvin E Gardner

      My thoughts exactly. Picture makes one think of South America too!

  4. Classic Steel

    1920 Sumbeam Racer?

    The venting under the engine made me step away from a 30s Alfa Romeo racer

    The front shot of grille would have helped tremendously 👀

  5. Eric Z

    Looks like a replica of a 1931Alfa Romeo C8 by Antique and Classic Automotive, Inc.

    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      The subject car appears to actually have an engine in the front, instead of the VW air-cooled one in the rear.
      Some Daimler-Benz cars from the era had cutouts in the side frame rails, like this one.

      Gotta live the Vise-Grip holding something together…

      Like 1
  6. John Cole

    Whatever it is, it NEEDS to get back on the road!!! Someone (including me) is very interested in acquiring it!!

    Like 2
  7. John Mc

    I also would like to buy it.
    I can pay a finders feel.
    John M

    Like 2
    • John

      If there’s a finders feel involved I’d want a photo of your representative.

      Like 3
  8. cltyler

    Well, this actually appears to be a re-worked left hand drive car. Much like the USA chassis that were redone in the 30 s -40 s in S.America for various road races and a entry level for start-up drivers. It could also be a straight 8 flathead (Packard etc) or OHV Buick. Not all had 8 ex ports . The lower valance below the body line, with all the holes does not look like the frame,no taper.too many holes. With the “ribbing” on both the rear fenders and the rear deck it does somewhat mimic a type 59 bug gp. But both Bugatti, Alpha and most of the French and all Brits were right hand drive. It s likely a homebuilt that was at some point better than most. The radiator does favor Bug gp, the Brookland shields are a nice touch, and the louvers look straight.If we could see wheels ,motor, or front of suspension ,we could solve the mystery with a few more clues. clt

    Like 5
    • ALFA fan

      It’s ALFA dude

  9. DayDreamBeliever Member

    I read from one source that the two-seat cars last ran at Indy in 1937. So if a USA-based racer, it would be from before the 40’s.

    Styling cues like the seamed fenders and rear body may help someone find at least where some of the parts came from. As with many race cars, this one might have been assembled from cars of several makes.

    Like 2
  10. michael h streuly

    That car was manufactured by the POS
    Automobile company.

    Like 2
    • Martin

      Feel free to share one of your masterpieces

      Like 23
      • DRV

        This is either a serious early race car or an attempt to build one from pieces. Too bad more info isn’t here.

        Like 7
  11. S Carl

    It looks like the Flintstone Flyer!

    Like 1
  12. JOHN Member

    Whatever it is it’s way cool!

    Like 5
  13. Robert White

    First off, it is not a race car. This is an amalgam of iron oxide & earth that appears to look like a race car until you actually go to move it and then it will fall apart like the Bluesmobile did after Elwood was finished with it in the Blues Brothers movie.

    Rule #1 never purchase rust.
    Rule #2 always purchase steel & sell rust.


    Like 3
    • DayDreamBeliever Member


      Actually, what can be seen in the single photo appears to be pretty solid.

      Perhaps not a functioning racecar now, but it may well have been at one time. And therein lies the interest.

      Like 9
  14. Richard Linneman

    This is why I love this site. Not only cool cars but people that love cars and know them. They way all of you can figure it out buy what is there, you are great. Even if we never find out what it is, your input was amazing. Thank you.

    Like 1
  15. roadsterguy

    folks, it’s a left hand drive car so obviously not bugatti nor alfa. plus it’s a 6cylinder. pretty clearly somebody’s home built special with bugatti design elements.

    seats and frame look pretty modern to me . . .

    Like 1
  16. stevee

    The carefully crafted fenders and the well done cowl + windscreens lend credence to being a factory built car. Louver panel near where exhaust manifold exits is very well done. Bugatti, Delage…? What continent is keeping this gem hidden?

    Like 5
    • cltyler

      Stevee, one problem, it s a left hand drive car, Bug, Delage , Talbot-Lago, Delahaye , Maser, Alfa and all the Brits are right hand drive. It s an early mod of a American production car to sportize it up ,or a South American road race car built on a production chassis. Or it s a very early kit car left out in the Florida mung and it s nicely molted into a ageing patina !!

      Like 1
      • stevee

        I offered Delage up because I was shown a buried-in-a-garage-find 1930-31 Delage open car that had similar side rails, done w/ louvers not circles. It was left drive, four seater and an unusual custom body (not a race car) with a similar front 1/2. A friend bought it, restored it and I think still has it.

        Like 1
  17. Gerry

    Could it be a modified Allard?

  18. Skippy

    It’s junk. A Bugatti replica body on a GM or some other large chassis. Note how the drilled panel along the chassis line does not follow the body and sticks out at the front. It is also a panel and not part of the actual chassis frame like all period cars. Much wider and longer. External exhaust where the handbrake should be. Run away. There is a very good reason it is sitting outside rotting.

    Like 3
    • cltyler

      Yippee, you get it sir !! well done and a good eye, you ve been around the barn once or twice !

  19. moosie moosie

    it’s a henway

    Like 3
    • Kyle

      What’s a henway? 😉

      Like 2
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        About 3 pounds.

        Like 9
  20. CanAm302

    Pretty cool home build is my guess.
    I wouldn’t say no to the chance of finishing it.

    Like 1
  21. Jon G

    It does appear to have the dancing elephant. And look how long the hood is. Especially when compared to the house. The whole car looks long to me when compared to the house. How cool would it be if it was a left over Royale frame and hood mated to a different Bugatti rear! With God only knows what kind of engine.

    Like 1
  22. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I think Juan K is a troll. Looks like an old photo and you can’t tell us the location? Mom and Dads basement? Cool car though.

    Like 5
    • Jeepster

      I second that… Over 30 comments but not a single one from the person who took the picture!

      Like 3
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Great handle Jeepster, and cool rigs also. Maybe it is only us old Jeep people that see it as troll. Surprised Jeff would post this with as little info that is provided. A day gone by and still nothing from Juan K. Good fun I guess anyway. Take care, Mike.

        Like 2
  23. John S

    Amazing, the range of comments on this car… some intelligent & inquisitive, others… well, not so much.
    Anyway, my take on this thing is that it looks like a Buggatti or a replica of one.
    Whatever it is,it got cooked. Possibly last years wild fires in northern California. I’ve been through there and it’s a heartbreaking scene. There were dozens (or more) of cars, trucks, you name it, that burned up in the fires and the owners, not having anywhere to put them, (or anything at all for that matter) left them where they sat. Some were re-located but not to sheltered areas. This could very well be the case here.

    Like 2
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Nah, does not look like a fire survivor to me. A friend lost a BMW M2 in one of those, and this car has not been exposed to that kind of heat. Unless moved from elsewhere, the current setting indicates an abandoned property in a bit of a humid climate. Weathered doors, mossy growth on the walls, and leaves piling up.

  24. jd

    Take more photos … it will help immeasurably, the blind leading the blind is not going to help at all.

    Like 2
  25. Peter

    The chassis does not appear to be tapered at the ends which leads me to think it is home built.

    Straight six racing engines tend to be English or Maseratti. The grill shell could have been lifted from a Maseratti.

    When you look at the tight bends of the exhaust pipe and bending down, it might have a V-engine.

    If the radiator mascot was from a Bugatti Royale, it would be worth just restoring it!

    Like 1
    • cltyler

      Well, after listening to the ” tail ” of the dancing elephant , it s closer to a dancing jackass. If one looks carefully at the exhaust port layout and count the stagger exh. , int.,exh.exh.,int.,,exh. ………says to me Chev inline 6. and like any good little pig . “That s all Folks”

  26. Mike

    For every potential clue I see, there could be an easy counter if more was shown. Agreed that the punched panels are not the actual frame rails. Seats could be early E type, or lightly upholstered plastic school chairs – just not enough to go on.

    Hope the answer is forthcoming, though!

    Like 1
    • Little_Cars

      We have the seats identified. LOL

      Like 6
      • Mike


  27. Wayne

    It is just plain cool looking. It looks to be a reasonable quality build from what I see. Original, copy, fake or reproduction, it still looks like fun to play with if the price is not too steep. Imagine the fun just the disassembly/discovery/research would be!
    Barn or not, just a neat find!

    Like 1
  28. robbert

    Replica to many design flaws that would make designers of the time turn in their grave. Having said that it could be a nice tourer without worrying about car park scrapes and the price tag that lets say an original Bugatti would attract.

    Like 1
  29. Bill McCoskey

    Well here’s my 4 cents [inflation]; It’s certainly not a dancing elephant ornament, I have one [picked it up in Germany 40+ years ago for 300DM [under $100], and I know the original is a lot larger than what is shown in the photo. Bugatti made far more of those ornaments than just for the few [7] Royale cars built. Until the outbreak of WW2 they could be bought at the factory, mounted on a marble base [as mine was/is]. If I remember correctly, the Schlumpf Museum had several on display, in addition to their Royale cars. Plus, the ornament on this car appears to be made of brass, and the elephants were solid cast & polished stainless steel.

    Now as for only showing a single photo; Perhaps he was not the photographer, nor has he seen the car in person. I have hundreds of photos similar to this one, various unusual & home built cars from all over the world, each a single photo, no info on the back, and I’m still finding them at auctions and flea markets.

    Some of the more difficult photos to identify are side shots of a vehicle. I recently obtained a wonderful photo of a family in an European car of around 1915 to 1920. The open bodied car has a unique body in the shape of a small boat, and it’s obvious the car was created with this body when new.

    But because of the single side view, no one who has seen it can identify the car’s maker.

    The exhaust on this car in question is fascinating, as it appears to show [starting from the front] a pipe transversing across the front of the engine from the opposite side, then 2 pipes that come rising upwards from below the opening, and then a back pipe that also seems to have come from the opposite side of the engine. As for the center 2 pipes, If the exhaust ports are on the side of a V type engine, I can see them pointing down and then making a 180 degree turn upwards to the point where we can see the pipes again.

    This suggests the possibility of a V-type engine, perhaps a V-4 with 4 different exhaust header pipes. This lends me to speculate that perhaps there is a flat 4 cylinder engine under the hood, perhaps VW or Porsche.

    Like 1
    • Peter

      Bill, following on from what I said above, I was thinking the engine could be a V8. The front pipe has a lot more spacing than the other pipes. It’s possible the front pipe is from the opposite side exhaust manifold and the remainder from the other four cylinders.

  30. John S

    I blew up the picture to get a better look… I (think I) see 6 exhaust pipes that go down, make a 180 degree turn & go up into the collector that is outside the engine bay. I also (think I) see the bottom, front corner of the intake/exhaust manifold box where the exhaust warms the air… like a Chevy inline 6… with weird headers and a stock-ish intake… who knows, the rest of the car is unique as well…

  31. Bill McCoskey

    That’s entirely possible as well. I suspect we’ll never know for sure.

    Many people would think that it would be easier to simply create dual exhausts. But back then, it was important for the driver to hear the exhaust coming from all the cylinders, not just one bank of a V-8. So creating a system to funnel all the exhaust past the driver, will allow him listen for any change that would suggest problems with fuel/air mixture, ignition, valves, etc.

  32. Lon Sloan

    Looks like a Bugatti I saw last weekend at a car show in North Webster, Indiana.

  33. ron m

    Im with Gerry,Allard,Allard,Allard

  34. robby

    it looks like a prewar miller. its a company that went out of business a long time ago but has lots of its elements. not sure exactly but its is very close, even has the right exhaust.

  35. Santiago

    I can help Juan to solve this mystery, i live in Juan´s country so if you want, i can get in contact with him

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