Reverse Engineering The Mystery Car

To coin a phrase, the kitchen sink was thrown at this conundrum

CAD, buying parts, 360° panoramic photography, 3D scanning, buying a book and magazine collection. Everything that could have conceivably been done to solve this problem was done.

Our approach regarding The Mystery Car was to research it in parallel with developing the solution to known solvable features within the photograph. For example cars, buses and the buildings within the scene could be recreated from plans, scanning and measuring by traditional methods.

Having already had three major car research projects completed (and a number of minor ones) Rapport Forte, Midas Marcos and Bugatti Type 35, we had a good track record of ferreting out information. Even we were surprised at the difficulty of finding information regarding this vehicle.

Our approach was as follows:

  • Use photogrammetry to get the basics of the car shape, including dimensions, worked out. Create an initial CAD model.
  • Research for information on the vehicle.
  • Having ascertained the likely parts used on the vehicle, buy them and then reverse engineer to add into the CAD model.
  • It became apparent that one car, the Sunbeam Alpine from 1959 onwards and one conglomerate, the Rootes group, had likely been the basis and source of parts for The Mystery Car. At this stage, the whole design process circled back to see whether this view had validity.
An early render of The Mystery Car
Sunbeam Alpine polygon data surface
Sunbeam Alpine and The Blue Car data overlaid
The Blue Car and Sunbeam Alpine data overlaid. Shown in original picture position.

One of the criticisms we have had from forums is that we have been blindly pushing the Sunbeam Alpine narrative from day one.

Nothing can be farther from the truth. The narrative we have been pushing is a wheelbase of, or within a few mm of, 2184mm or 86 inches or even 7 feet and two inches. Please choose your own measuring system.

This is provably so as can be seen from the images below, which are screen shots from the Pistonheads website. These screenshots represent the web pages as they are today (1st August 2022). Back on 29th June 2018 I went with a wheelbase of 2184mm. The Sunbeam Alpine was first mentioned as the car I felt The Blue Car was based on 26th March 2019. I have not changed my view, since as nothing has been discovered that is a better option.

As you can also see  from the screenshot on 26th March 2019, the experts, or in this case “expert” were quick to ridicule. Such is forum life. For anyone missing the “joke” six days later was April 1st.

Declaration of 2184mm wheelbase on 29th June 2018


Declaration of Sunbeam Alpine on 26th March 2019


Researching Period Publications

As well as working from known information such as vehicles and the location, we scoured many internet resources and our own motoring archive.

The research involved examining thousands and thousands of pages of car based material.

One of the areas of research we thought would be good, but came to nothing was purchasing the Racing Car Show Programs from 1960 to 1965. Nothing. Nada.

Do we now know the car or the builder?

No. However, that is research for you. Success is never a given. I would count success for The Blue Car project as trying my best regarding research and design and raising the profile of the car in the hope that something I missed is uncovered. This might make my whole hypothesis look daft, but that does not matter.

Can you help? Please share.

Having not been able to go definitive myself, please share this aspect of the website. If you hate my conclusions, please share this section of the website. By doing so, and hopefully sparking interest in other people to ask questions, we may be able to solve this mystery.

If you have any information to pass on directly...

My email address is Would love to hear from you, however tenuous or flimsy you think the information is.