A Motorgate Mystery

Abandoned Minnesota Car Mystery Solved

Updated 3 years ago Peter McCarthy
Motorgate Minnnesota Mystery Car, a Mystery No More
Motorgate Minnnesota Mystery Car, a Mystery No More
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

It had to be at least five years, but no, the folks at the Motorgate office guessed that the abandoned Nissan Maxima with the Minnesota plates had been collecting dust for no more than four, better for my guilt, but still wrong, I think.

I stopped in my tracks, the filthy car that puzzled me for years suddenly had tires. It no longer sat like a premature junker on its metal rims, sans tires.

Now I had to find out.

My sleuthing instincts lacked enough oomph to push me into looking for answers for years. Meanwhile, more layers of filth laid down the seasons on the car's body. Oil seemed to seep out from underneath, and I was no wiser about it than I was the first time I saw it.

With parking spaces more precious than real jewels, I wondered why this relatively new but abandoned hunk of junk was allowed to occupy space on the parking garage's fourth floor. Should I check the office, see what I could find out? Maybe I could uncover a scandal or official laxity. Maybe they'd tell me it was none of my business, which I guess is pretty much true.

What did Public Safety know about it?

In my wildest flights of fancy, I imagined the Maxima belonged to a drug dealer or was associated with some other crime, impounded as evidence. But wouldn't somebody have run yards of yellow crime scene tape around it long ago?

Drearier speculation suggested that it's owner had died or become incapacitated, and the estate was mindlessly paying the parking fees, month after month.

I admit I parked on either side of the dirt-laden Maxima when I could. An abandoned car does not ding its neighbor's door.

Finally, my procrastination broke. On the roughly 300th time I walked by on the way to my own car, I photographed the Maxima's license plate. Back home, I searched on the internet. Nothing came up, and I assumed this meant its license had expired out in Minnesota. Sitting on rims, of course, it's inspection had run out, and it probably wasn't registered.

Now, I told myself, get off your butt and ask about it at the office, but something remarkable happened before I could.

Yesterday, I went to get my car for its weekly Costco outing and was shocked to find that my favorite misplaced junkyard relic suddenly had tires.

The Maxima looked like a car again.

It hadn't been cleaned, it's windows were caked with filth, but it wasn't sitting on concrete anymore.

Off to the office I marched.

They knew exactly what car I meant.

"Oh, yeah," the manager confirmed, "he paid $780 and drove it out yesterday."

After telling me that the owner was a Roosevelt Island resident who regularly paid for another vehicle in Motorgate, the manager explained, "He said they stole his tires."

"But it's been years."

Here's where no one in the office would accept my five year estimate.

There was so much unexpected in this story.

Personally, I found it hard to believe the owner put tires on a car after five years - Sorry, I'm stickin' with five - and drove it, unregistered and without a valid inspection sticker, out into the world but never bothered to clean the front window. Graffiti dug in the dirt remained.

I imagined the driver cruising over the Roosevelt Island Bridge with his head stuck out the side window, but maybe he figured a way to see enough, peering through layers of grime.

But after going to all the trouble of putting on four wheels, plunking down $780 and driving through the gate, why didn't he just go through the car wash or at least wash the window?

How long can this go on?

Stay tuned. I'll keep you updated.

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