From my office high up in a downtown Seattle office building, I look down on the roofs of several neighboring buildings. A few of these are the top levels of parking garages, so sometimes, during long phone calls, I play a game where I try to identify all the parked cars I can see far below. I'm not great at it, in part because most of the cars I'm looking down on are such generic sedans and small SUVs that I wouldn't much care to tell them apart up close, much less be able to from afar. There are plenty of cars I do recognize, of course, and occasionally there's something interesting or desirable. Once, at night, I saw two kids trying to drift on an empty rooftop; other times, I've watched people park their cars at just the right angle to take some flattering photos, presumably for their favorite forum, or when looking to sell. But one car has stood out since the first day I moved into this office: a red muscle car—one I couldn't recognize from this distance—on the top of the farthest-away garage I can see.

I've been in my current office for about a year and a half, and I quickly noticed that this mystery car never seemed to move. Always parked at the same angle, in the same spot; I started almost unconsciously checking for it every time I walked into my office. I've spent late nights at the office, come in at odd hours and on the weekends; it makes no difference, the car never moved, and I could never conclusively identify it. I'd even buy lunch from places near the garage it was parked in, but never bothered to hike up the stairs and see what it was. Until today.

The parking lot in question is on a corner frequented by an odd and unsavory crowd of vagrants and panhandlers—which, in downtown Seattle, tends to involve severe and and visible untreated mental illness or substance addiction. A few weeks ago I saw someone step off the curb at the same corner and get hit by a passing car (a brand-new Audi S6); for a while, it looked like a miniature riot might break out, before the police came and the corner emptied, aside from a few witnesses and one very angry man, with uncharacteristic alacrity. The garage itself looks run-down but otherwise typical from the outside, but, as I discovered today, has a surprisingly well-maintained, mirrored, carpeted, and air-freshened elevator. The elevator stops one floor below the top, so I was treated to the additional suspense of walking around the corner and up the ramp before I saw my prize.

And what a prize!

It's a 1971 Mustang Mach 1 in Bright Red, bone stock but for aftermarket wheels.


The front tires on both sides are flat, and the rears look low. The paint isn't perfect, but it's about as good as it gets for a 40-year-old car that spends a lot of time outside in the rain, and it's very clean—especially considering I've never seen anyone wash it, though I've tried to keep an eye on it from a distance.

The interior is red with black stripes and looks nearly impeccable, although the windows were too fogged up from the drizzle to get a great look at it. Interestingly, the license plates and parking permit seemed to confirm my suspicion that the car doesn't move, as if the flat tires hadn't already: its tabs expired in March 2010, and the parking permit in the window bore an expiration date of July 2012.


Although I now know what model the mystery red muscle car is, I'm more curious than ever about its story, and now when I look at it out my window I'll be daydreaming curious scenarios. Did the owner pass away and leave it there, and the heirs don't know where it is? Or did the owner leave no one to go looking for this treasure? But if so, who is cleaning it? For that matter, although this garage never seems very full, why haven't the garage owners bothered to have it towed in the 20 months since the parking permit expired? If someone cares for it—even if it doesn't run, which might explain the lack of current tabs—why have the tires, which otherwise look serviceable, been allowed to go flat? If it was stolen and abandoned, presumably it wouldn't have a parking permit, albeit expired, that appears to match the cars around it, would it? And why is it parked on the roof, out in the elements, when it could be left one level down, under cover, in a busy but by no means full garage?

Maybe one of you knows the story, or knows how to find out. I'd love to know more. But until then, I'm happy to keep looking out my window a few times a day, wondering about this car's story.