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April 17, 2006 7:23 PM   Subscribe

ParanoiaFilter: Several years ago I was riding down a Southern interstate and I was passed by a convoy of five or so SUVs. Everything except the front windows on the bodies was covered with what appeared to be black padding. No license plates that I could see. They gave me the sense of being military, but what the heck was the padding all about?
posted by thebrokedown to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
The padding could have been disguising the new bodywork of a concept car. I've often seen "spy" photos of similarly taped-up, padded cars in auto magazines.
posted by flod at 7:28 PM on April 17, 2006

Jeeze, thanks. Never even crossed my mind. I guess I need to rethink my fear of gubmint in light of Occam's razor.
posted by thebrokedown at 7:31 PM on April 17, 2006

On Michigan highways, it is not an entirely uncommon sight to have a couple of cars drive by under what appears to be car covers (like the one's that people use when leaving their cars out in the sun for months). They are designed to have mesh over the windows to allow drivers to see out. These are often concept cars or upcoming models.
posted by i love cheese at 7:36 PM on April 17, 2006

Were there any helicopters about at the same time? Could have been some kind of movie shoot.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:49 PM on April 17, 2006

Now, that would have really freaked me out.
posted by thebrokedown at 7:50 PM on April 17, 2006

A little off-topic, but is that legal? Don't cars have to have their license plates showing? Otherwise, what's to stop a criminal on the run from putting such a cover over his car just to disguise it as he makes his escape to the border?

Or do these questions only fuel thebrokedown's paranoia?
posted by magodesky at 7:56 PM on April 17, 2006

I live near Washington, DC, and I worked in town for many years. When you drive around here, you learn that diplomats do not have to abide by our laws, and that there are more diplomats than you think.

Road closures and convoys are normal enough that you just get used to them. The president's motorcade isn't much different, except for the length.

So it might have been a concept car, but if you consider Virginia the south, it might not have been.

Oh, and don't rule out military, either. There are certain rules they don't have to follow.
posted by bh at 8:43 PM on April 17, 2006

Spy photos of disguised models on road tests are frequently published by Jalopnik and other auto blogs.
posted by cenoxo at 8:56 PM on April 17, 2006

I doubt it was military. I live near Fort Bragg and I have never seen anything like that.
posted by konolia at 5:42 AM on April 18, 2006

Neat! I've been seeing a car with weird stuff attached to it all around the neighborhood, and wondered what was up.
posted by ph00dz at 6:08 AM on April 18, 2006

Were you near Nashville? The Saturn plant is in a nearby town called Columbia. Perhaps they were concept versions of the Saturn Vue.
posted by kimdog at 7:02 AM on April 18, 2006

You don't say which southern interstate you were on, but several automakers have manufacturing plants in the south that make SUVs, and it is extremely common to see disguised "test mules" on the interstates in and around those communities. The Mercedes plant on I20 near Tuscaloosa, AL, the Hyundai plant on I65 near Montgomery, AL, and the BMW plant on I85 near Spartanburg, SC are all likely candidates.
posted by fearless_yakov at 7:52 AM on April 18, 2006

Don't forget the Nisan and Saturn plants in TN, fearless.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:32 AM on April 18, 2006

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