There have been many mystery novels written since the 19th century debut of Sherlock Holmes, the most famous detective of all time.


‘Sherlock Holmes was able to solve many complex murder mysteries during his reign as king of the gumshoes, but he never had to face any automotive mysteries.’


Every car guy will encounter some very tough mysteries when it comes to old vehicles and we decided to present the biggest who-(or specifically what) dunnits in the hobby.


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The first mystery on our MSCC list is The Strange Case of the Strange Noise. Something that shakes, grinds, rattles, or goes bump in the night should be a legitimate reason for a car guy to put on his funny-looking detective hat (better yet coveralls) and seek out the root cause of the mystery noise.


1952 Chevy 34 truck 002


The Sherlock Holmes of the gearhead set will identify the location of the mystery noise from many possible areas that will extend from the headlights to the tail lights. Seasoned car guys will have enough experience to solve these mysteries very quickly based on the nature of the noise.


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The second mystery on our list is The Strange Case of the Strange Leak. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and fluid leaks from old cars. The experienced car guy will be able to visually identify the liquid in the leak fairly quickly and then he or she will narrow down the location of the leak.




The solution for the leak problem will range from ultra-complicated (cracked block) to very simple (loose nut, bolt or filter).


The third mystery is The Strange Case of the Strange Odor. There can be many aromas associated with an ancient car and they will be the biggest clues for the car guy when they encounter mysterious odors. Some old cars reek of unburned hydrocarbons because of fuel delivery issues, timing issues, or just because they are old and have worn-out internal parts that allow oil into the combustion chambers.




Some odors have the sweet smell of antifreeze that has escaped from the cooling system, while other aromas have hot metal fragrances from bad wiring or metal-on-metal contact in the power train or brake system.




Most veteran car guys will easily identify the strange odors and solve the mystery smell-if not the actual problem in a big hurry.
The fourth mystery will be The Strange Case of the Missing Cylinder. The seasoned driver may notice a big drop in performance when he or she are behind the wheel of the old car. When the idle is rougher than a dental appointment with Moe from the Three Stooges, it may be a misfiring cylinder.




The simple solution to this mystery may be as easy as a bad spark plug or wire. The likely solution is a valve problem and most car guys know how unleaded gas can be the bad guy that wreaks havoc on an old valve seat.




The final mystery is The Strange Case of the Ghostly Smoke. Smoke is never a good thing when it comes to anything other than the rear tires on a car. Most car guys have encountered mystery smoke from somewhere other than the rear tires and soon learn why “where there is smoke there is fire” is a very scary cliché when it comes to old cars.





The smoke problem needs to be solved much faster than a lengthy Sherlock Holmes novel and most car guys probably fear mystery smoke from any area of their car more than any of the other mysteries listed before them.




Some of the best detectives in history can be found in real life.



‘They’re called car guys.’


Jim Sutherland


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