Late last year, a colossal amount of wood and other miscellaneous debris washed up on the coast near San Remo, Italy, following a couple of bad storms. The beach looked like a hurricane hit it but the carcass pictured below nonetheless stuck out like a sore thumb.
How exactly does a badly-mangled heavy metal object wash up on the shore? It’s evidently been at sea for a while so our best guess is that it was caught in a floating pile of wood. How it ended up in international waters is a mystery – it could have simply fallen off a ship loaded with scrap metal or it could have been thrown overboard by the folks who cut it up, though that’s a lot of trouble to go through just to get rid of a presumably stolen car.
After turning the carcass over, we put our automotive archaeology hat on in order to determine what this car once was. The size and the color pointed us in the right direction and the footwells looked familiar – our instincts told us that this was a small-ish car built in the 1970s or 1980s. We removed a plastic clip that once held on the brake lines and noticed a part number along with both the Volkswagen and the Audi emblems. Although unlikely, the clip could have been a used part sourced from a junkyard so it didn’t necessarily confirm the car’s identity, but the same logos stamped in the sheetmetal removed all doubts.
In short, we were looking at a Volkswagen product likely built in the 1980s. It was too big to be a Polo and too small to be a Passat or anything built by Audi which left us with the Golf and the Jetta. Odds are it’s the former because the Golf outsold the Jetta in Europe.
On an unrelated note, you wouldn’t believe the looks you get from passers-by while photographing a rusty piece of metal on the beach. They range from “walk the other way, kids, that man is crazy!” to “that guy must be a detective! I bet there was a murder here!”