What’s Going On With This Red Mini-Van?

I was shooting some buildings around Madison Ave in the 20’s Tuesday (just before the snowpocalypse of 2010 hit) when I noticed this red minivan parked illegally. Specifically, what caught my eye was not the car itself, but rather the weird wire coming out of the rear window, running into the gas tank, coming back out of the gas tank, and finally attached to a bizarre axle on the tire. What the heck is this for?

Red Car 01

While I know very little about cars, I can only assume this unusual device is directly attached to the flux capacitor, and helps transition the car into a  gentler time warp once it hits 88mph. But, on the off chance this is wrong…

Red Car 02

What’s going on here??


PS – In a weird coincidence, I swear I saw either this very red minivan or an identical one with the same rear left tire get-up later that very day while crossing the Williamsburg bridge . It was then that I realized I had to know what the new trend was.

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  1. I have a guess that it might be some way to get electrical power or measure the speed or something? I do not think it goes into the gas tank – that is probably just to keep it in place.

    Just a guess though, I really have no idea.

  2. yup, looks like some kind of sensor connected to a computer inside the car. i don’t think the cable goes inside the gas tank.

  3. Ja, I guess it is a simply way of Tank-To-Wheel connection to find out how much gas the car really consumes.


    (this is german but on page 10 it says something about tank-to-wheel gas consumption measurement)

  4. I’m going to guess that it’s some sort of accurate distance measuring device – perhaps used for official measurement.

  5. You’re all wrong. The wire controls the release of the tire shredding mechanism, just like in the chariot race in Ben Hur. Some drivers don’t like to have to worry about other vehicles edging into their lanes.

    P.S. If I’m right, I think I want one.

  6. well the last comment made me lol
    Looks almost freaky, actually!

  7. Maybe it’s a babyseat version of a subway brake. Baby tugs wire from the backseat forcing Soccor Mom to lose traction. 🙂

    If you can arrange a group discount, I want a tire shredding mechanism too. Count me in

  8. Maybe I should learn to spell before I post comments!

  9. Obviously a self-destruct switch.

  10. i bet click and clack of car talk would have an idea: http://www.cartalk.com

  11. You know, it’s the duct tape that really sells it.

  12. More than likely its a logging device to measure how far the van drove. But that’s not the story I’m gonna stick with. A GPS could do the same easier. Maybe its a new version of the Google Street View Car?

  13. There must be a mad scientist mini-van cult out there.

    I snapped this pic, back in Sept.


    Still, maybe it’s the current climate, or just my fear of potential whackos, but I steer clear of any cables dangling where cables ought not to dangle.

    Especially when they’re dangling in or around the gas tank!

  14. It could be an illegal taxi cab. I bet the fares are cheap.

  15. Fuel-air bomb! Call 911!

  16. Um, Im not from NYC by my first inclination, when seeing something like this esp parked illegally, would be to contact 911. Let the professionals deal with this- It might be nothing, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

  17. lololololololololollolololoollllolllloloololoolollolollllll cindys right,

  18. my friend Bill in Kentucky sent you a solution;

    Oh that’s easy. They have those on Chicago Busses, it’s an optical shaft encoder that someone homemade that counts the revolutions of the wheel. From that you know the exact time and miles on the tires.

    Thank you I like challenges that can keep me going for seconds trying to figure stuff out!

  19. Well, it’s a Toyota.
    Maybe the driver’s taking some kind of weird precaution for braking? 🙂

    press button – pierce gas tank – back wheel comes off -cruise to a safe stop

  20. Wow… Some good responses to this, but I could not help but reply. Okay to the unintelligent, take a look at the whole thing. There is a wire that goes to a free spinning assembly on the “rear” tire. This wire passes through the gas lid to keep it from slapping around. Look at the assembly. Well if you knew anything about cars, that kinda looks like a rough speed sensor used for who knows what. Maybe gas consumption. No big deal.

    And to Cindy, you are a true undereducated and stupid American. Keep your nose out of others F-in business or we will put our nose into yours too. I think I may report your post to the cops because you just might be a terrorist the way you analyzed this picture. This was your van wasn’t it?… And now you are trying to cover your tracks now right?

    You may say I’m wrong, but why should we believe you? Stupid paranoid Americans. Maybe if you all learn something other than how to get your bling on, maybe our country would be productive again.

    Oh and even though I live here too. I am not American. I am human. No more, No less.

  21. “Idiots” (the user, not idiots in general) needs to chill out. If I saw something that looked suspicious, especially in this day and age, thanks to radical/extremist/idiotic religeous zealots, you’re damn right I’m gonna call 911 and report it. What a jerk.

  22. To a much less extreme extent, I am with Idiots on this one, Scott. We really need far fewer paranoid soccer moms in this country. They are, after all, the ones who brought you Bush II’s second term.

    Whatever it is (and I’m leaning towards some sort of rev counter for the wheels as well), it’s very apparent that it’s not dangerous (well, except for those driving next to it, perhaps?). Calm down, and go back to whatever sleepy Midwest town you reside in, and stop looking for terror cells. You’re NOT helping.

  23. I saw a car like this in Maricopa Arizona today it was an infinity that had the same device attached to the wheel going into the gas tank. What caught my attention first was Michigan license plate that said manufacture and there was black tape on the Infiniti logo infinity name and more black tape covering the infinity bottle type on the car. There was also a camera or some type of device attached to the hood above the passengers front windshield. It was all pretty bizarre.