For the most part, the world-building in the show is incredibly impressive. The signs, the way that SF adopted more of a Japanese, pedestrian-friendly feel, the state trooper on the way to the neutral zone... All of this came together to really make the show work. But there was one problem I noticed. The cars in the show, though definitely a great effort by the production company, are not necessarily accurate.

First, one example that is not related to historicity (or whatever it might be in an alt-timeline show): The truck that Joe drives out to Canon city has very weird, and unbelievable, proportions. The box is far too short for that chassis and cab. It looks to me like they took a truck that was once a semi tractor and added a box because that’s what it needed to be for the show. Sure, I suppose that could have happened, but the proportions are still really cartoon-y.

Second, there are a number of vehicles driven in the series that either would not have been built had the war ended like it did, or would require explanations that go far beyond what one might have assumed.

The first set of these kinds of vehicles are the German minicars built by BMW and Messerschmitt that you see in both New York and SF scenes. These are the little 3-wheel or whatever tiny vehicles that often open from the front or the top. Minicars like these were only popularized in a Germany torn by their loss and industrially restricted by the terms of surrender. The companies that built them were barred from building military aircraft so they turned their production lines to building cars for a newly-impoverished post-war Europe. In the show’s timeline, these companies would have remained focused on the war effort and these designs would have never come into being, let alone production models.

The second set of vehicles like this poses a different kind of political question: what happened to the Russians? In the show’s San Francisco, Japanese troops can be seen driving a number of Soviet vehicles, like the UAZ-469 and the GAZ-69. Now, there could be timeline explanations for this, namely that the Japanese were provided with Soviet tooling post-war and continued to developed their designs the same way. If someone has a map of what the rest of the world looks like in the show’s timeline, it would help get to the bottom of why the Japanese have them, let alone how these vehicles might have made it to production at all.

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The last one, and perhaps the most interesting one, is the VW Iltis in which Rudolph is driven to Hitler’s castle. Ignoring the most glaring issue with it, that it only entered production in our timeline in 1978, I don’t think that this timeline’s Germany would have produced a vehicle like this given what I would assume their access to resources would have been like. It was a rushed design, aiming to use as many civilian market features and components as possible. In the show, such design considerations would be unnecessary, as the military remained a top priority to an economy strictly controlled by the government.

Add to this the fact that the rest of the vehicles in the show were production models produced in economic conditions created by the post-war dynamic in our timeline, I think it’s safe to say that there would have been significant differences in every vehicle, let alone every consumer product, that we see in the show. Still, there were some really high points with the use of cars to build the world too. The Toyota Crown taxi we see repeatedly in San Francisco is one, as are the Mercedes 600 Grosser limos used by the Nazi elite and the Unimogs used by soldiers the series over. Those details really make it, even if I’m still poking a few holes in it.

Photo Credit: IMCDB, Gunther E. Biernat, Stefann Kuhn, Viggen, Utzasky Vodink, and Marcela