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Montana Mystery Car Identified


Well, it turns out that there was a reason that the Montana mystery car looked so familiar and it wasn’t because of the hodgepodge of parts used. It has actually been on and off the market since 2005. The seller has been trying to piece together it’s past since about 1997 when they bought the car in Billings, Montana. It supposedly came from a collection in Wyoming and although they dont know who built it, they do know a little more about its original drive-train and have since lovingly christened it a 1957 Nackardbaker. It is also back up for sale here on eBay with more photos and more assumptions.


The seller is fairly confident that the engine and transmission were of Fiat 500 “Topolino” origin because of a tip from a guy in Switzerland. It would have been mid-mounted with the radiator out back. Their listing is confusing because they use part of their description from 2005 and claim that there were some errors, but do not mention which of those they have corrected. They may be right about the Fiat engine, but that doesn’t line up with a comment made in our last post. Ewers claims that this vehicle was parked outside of Livingston (not far from Bozeman) for a few years and that it was built by a local guy who wanted to take it road rallying. It was fitted with an engine from a Porsche or a Tatra. At least that is what they remember when they inquired about it around 1996. We like that story more, but who knows?


As suspected, the  body panels and trim pieces were donated by Packards, Studebakers, Nashes, etc. The car is small and the construction crude, but someone put a lot of heart and soul into this project. There is some speculation that it could have built by engineer Frank Calvin Mann. We haven’t found any evidence to back that up though. This home-built car is interesting, if not for its sporting aspirations, then for its mysterious past. It is quite a sight to see in the flesh. We assume that the owner has listed it online with an optimistic asking price ($20k) in hopes of gathering more information without actually selling it. We hope some of our BF sleuths can oblige.

UPDATE: We just found another listing for the car on Desert Classics out of Butte. They claim it was powered by an air-cooled v-twin and that it was “built by someone named McMahon in Southern California”. They were also only asking $4,500. We are not sure where this fits into the picture, but it really makes us question the seller’s story. Find the photos provided by DC below:

Screenshots: eBay, Desert Classics


  1. scot

    ~ cool, the plot thickens!

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  2. scot

    ~ 57 Nackardbaker Fiat 500 Topolino Sports Car Devin Kellison LaDawri Cheetah Kit.

    . good description.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yeah, that’s called keyword stuffing. I’m guessing that they hope to attract the attention of the kitcar guys.

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      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        Ironically they have it listed under “fenders” in the “vintage car parts” category. That might not be the best way to get it seen.

        Like 1
  3. Peter Vossen

    The front and rear suspension are Fiat Topolino and not the rear engined Fiat 500!

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      The Topolino was actually a 500, but yes, we are not referring to the rear-engined 500. I have updated the text to clarify that. Thanks.

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  4. junkman Member

    Looks like its going and coming at the same time. Some folks have way too much time on their hands.LOL

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  5. rich

    Don’t think it was rear engine as it has a solid rear axle which would make it hard to be even mid-engine as the driveshaft would be to short to allow enough movement. Then it also looks like the built in a bell houseing of sort into the front crossmember .
    @20k way to much not having history and all

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  6. Robert J

    Now THAT would be one awesome Barn Finds project car. Let’s see if we can get them down to $500.

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  7. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    The plot just thickened even more!

    I just found a listing for the car on Desert Classics out of Butte. They mention that it was “built by someone named McMahon in Southern California”. They also claim it was powered by an air-cooled v-twin and that it sits on a Fiat chassis. Best part of it all is that they were only asking $4,500! Hmmm…

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    • jim

      an air-cooled v-twin ( like HD or Moto Guzzi ) or flat twin ( like bmw) with transmission would work. but without a fan i think it would be hard to cool. so maybe a car motor of some brand with a fan. i do not know what this seller is up to but??!!.

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    • Horse Radish

      my guess it’s an older listing and now being flipped by the ebay seller…
      he must think money still grows on trees anywhere but in Montana….
      he has 16800 clicks and 109 watchers,……
      but sure looks like zero buyers snapping this one up in a hurry……

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  8. Dolphin Member

    Lots of spamming going on in the eBay listing—13 pages by my count.

    I guess that’s what you do when you have something, but you don’t really know what it is, and you still want 20 Big One$ for it.

    Among all the information and compatibility claims there’s bound to be something that’s correct…….right?

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  9. Rich Venza

    The photo of the front crossmember and suspension is definitely a Fiat Topolino 500 from 1936 to 1948. I’ve owned several and know them quite well.
    I suspect the fellow from Switzerland is probably noted Fiat parts vendor Ezio Casagrande.

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    Taillights are early 50″s (“53?) Chevy.

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  11. Wayne

    HOLY COW!! 20K????

    Time for me to dump that ocean front property in Arizona!!!

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  12. daniel

    Designed by Frank Loyd Wrong…..

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  13. Foxxy

    I could never bring myself to pay the asking price, but I think it would make a great little hot rod with a Suzuki Hayabusa engine in it mid mounted it would even have a pretty good balance mid mounted. I think a person with the skill could build one cheaper than this one. being a home built that has no history othe than being for sale at various times. kool tho.

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  14. tom

    so Ed McMahon made it? LOL.

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  15. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    As for the possibility of a Porsche or Tatra engine back there, both used a transaxle, The Tatra flat 4 bolts up to a VW trans. So with that live rear axle, no way it’s a Porsche or Tatra 4. [The Tatra V-8 would likely be too tall to fit in there.]

    Like 0

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