“Mystery car” research. Is this the most famous unknown car on the Internet? It’s just one car, in one picture, in one book.

Spoiler alert. Did we unequivocally identify the blue car? Emphatically no. However, until the car or more information comes to light we are happy to say that our theory is the strongest. Strongest because it is the only theory backed up by multi-faceted research. By this we mean for example researching possible cars, computer science, 3D scanning, buying parts to test our theory and much else. We have taken on board criticism and have able to refute this with facts, or amend our thought process if the criticism was valid.

This page records Forte Vision’s Mystery car research. A search that along the way resulted in us becoming a meme. “Is it an Alpine?” rings around the forums whenever an unknown car pops up for discussion. There’s been much ridicule on the web. We have visited Oxford Street a number of times to verify some of our theories. There is much else, but above all, as well as foes, we met some great people on this journey and undertook some research and detective work to be proud of as well as improving our CAD and CGI skills along the way.

So is the blue car, this ‘mystery car’ a Sunbeam Alpine? It could be, but more likely it has a Sunbeam Alpine wheelbase and possibly even some panels but is based on another Rootes car. Why? Because, working back, the picture was taken in 1962. The car would have taken a few months if not a year or more to conceive and build. The “Series” Sunbeam Alpine started production in 1959.

Being a relatively new car in 1961, when the build would have had to have begun as a minimum, the cost to use it for a special would have been considerable. As the Alpine used a floorplan from other Rootes cars, and for other reasons, we believe the mystery car could have been based on any number of Rootes Audax models.

We have chosen the 1959 Sunbeam Raper Series II, as the Sunbeam Rapier from 1955 was the first model to use the Audax unitary body. The Series II won its class in the Monte Carlo rally with the “Rallymaster” engine. A Series I would have been an even better choice with the value circa 1961 being considerably lower.

To test the Audax theory, the goal is to create the car and drive it to Oxford Street and then photograph it in the same position. To this end, we have bought a Sunbeam Rapier and are in the process of building the vehicle.


To systematically:

  • Review previous mystery car research. Mainly from forums such as Pistonheads and Autosport.
  • Analyse every aspect of the image using computer technology and most recently AI.
  • Use a technique called camera matching, coupled with the size of known elements within the image, to gauge the correct size of the blue car.
  • Buy elements of the blue car to further refine the reverse engineering of the design.
  • Once all the above is worked through buy the car that, but we will probably never know for sure, could be the donor vehicle for the Mystery Car, take it apart and further test the theory.
  • Build the car and take it back to the photograph’s location as a further test of the validity of the theory.


The photograph began to appear on the internet c2015. The earliest reference found was 20th February 2015 on flickr in a post by Chris Stanley. Mr. Stanley stated the image came from a collection created by a Mr. Maguire. No further information available.

The next significant event was identification of the image source. This is the book Buses, Trolleys & Trams by Chas S. Dunbar. Publisher was Hamlyn. The earliest identification of the book, we found, was on the Coachbuild forum by user gte4289 on 8th December 2015.

After this date, there was literally no mystery car research found on any forum that could not have been found by conducting diligent research yourself. To be fair, some comments were helpful, but comments are not research as a general rule.


An easy solve.

  1. A large street with many pedestrians and the buses state a route. Anyone with a local knowledge of London would guess Oxford Street.
  2. Bus routes of the time can be looked up or bought on eBay. It is then a simple task to follow the routes on Google Maps.
  3. Knowing and subsequently buying the book the image is in. The book titles the picture “London buses in Oxford Street 1962”.

So now we now know the year, 1962, and the location, Oxford Street, that the picture was taken.

Mystery Car – CGI gallery

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